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We’ve Lost One of the Great Writers

Dorothea Benton Frank

TS.  By now fans around the world have heard about Dorothea Benton Frank’s passing earlier this month. A rare blood cancer swiftly took her life at age 67. When I interviewed Dorothy Benton Frank back in 2015 it was a large feather in my cap as I had been a fan for decades. I found her warm and friendly, much like her stories. As a tribute to this wonderful story teller, I have resurrected that interview so that we might once again enjoy her humor and inspiration. You and your stories will be sorely missed, Dorothea.

The interview

dottie.lowcountry.5

in her office

Q. Where do you write? Do you have a special room, shed, barn, special space for your writing? Or tell us about your ‘dream’ work space.

A. I write in my office in my home in NJ or in my office in my home in SC. My dream work space would be to occupy my little office in SC full time. This cruelty of this past winter’s plummeting temps, deep snow and black ice has cured me of any desire I may have had to remain in NJ. It’s not that I have anything against NJ. I have had many wonderful years here. It’s that I’m trapped indoors for months. But check back with me in a few years when I finally do reside in SC and hurricanes have me screaming for higher ground. Is anyone ever completely happy?

Q. Do you have any special rituals when you sit down to write? (a neat work space, sharpened #2 pencils, legal pad, cup of tea, glass of brandy, favorite pajamas, etc.)

New Release 2019

A. Water. Solitude. My work space is neat and tidy in chapter one. By the end of a book it looks like someone dropped a bomb on my desk. Usually I dress for work the same way you would if you reported for work in a very casual corporate environment.

Q. Could you tell us something about yourself that we might not already know?

A. The nuns who taught me in high school told my parents I wasn’t “college material.” Nice, right? In 1970, parents believed teachers, especially clergy, as though their words were spoken Ex Cathedra.

Q. Do you have a set time each day to write or do you write only when you are feeling creative? 

Click here for more

The book that started it all….stories about the low country>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

 

 

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MY BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!   June: Anne D. LeClaire and July — Catherine Ryan Hyde.  August:  My interview with Susan Wiggs  September: Alan Foster (sci-fi) and October: Kristina McMorris
 
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Book Review~~Allie and Bea

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 5 out of five quills      A Review

Allie and Bea by Catherine Ryan Hyde is breathtakingly beautiful. Once again the author takes two unlikely characters and puts them together in such a way that the reader doesn’t question how or why it happened. It becomes believable and a delightful read. 

I could especially relate to Bea. Senior citizens are mostly only a social security check away from destitution. One little thing can tip the scales. And since I avoid writing spoilers, at all costs, that’s all I’m going to say. 

The story is crafted by this author, word by word. It had everything for this reviewer. Struggle, pathos, heartbreak, friendship, love, and a surprise ending.
My favorite book in the world is Hyde’s Have You Seen Luis Velez? but Allie and Bea runs a very close second. I loved this story!
A must read!

Did you see my Interview with CRH?
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MY BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!   May: Boo Walker, June: Anne D. LeClaire and July — Catherine Ryan Hyde.  August:  My interview with Susan Wiggs  September: Alan Foster (sci-fi) and October: Kristina McMorris
 
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Book Review ~ Oysterville Sewing Circle

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   5 out of 5 quills ~~ A Book Review 

Domestic violence is when a husband or boyfriend physically abuses a mate and only in the privacy of their home. Right? Wrong. Who would have thought that the bigger than life, extraordinarily beautiful models strutting down the runway, would be hiding a dirty little secret? And had the bruises to show for it? You don’t imagine their life filled with anything but exotic locations, Krystal Champaign, fancy yachts and handsome escorts.

In Susan Wiggs’ newest novel, The Oysterville Sewing Circle, she explores the fashion industry and the mental and physical abuse that regularly occurs there. But, oddly, this is not a dark story. It’s filled with love and hope and two of the most adorable children you could ever hope for. 

The characters are well drawn. The reader is rooting for Caroline and the two orphans from page one. Sewn into the fabric of the tale is a wonderful love story. And redemption for the survivors of domestic abuse. 

As my readers know, I don’t write spoilers in my reviews.  For me it’s all about the story and the writing. Susan Wiggs never disappoints. Her latest offering is filled with surprises, twists and turns. I highly recommend this book. 

Did you catch my Interview with Susan?

For more information about domestic violence:
#MeToo
www.thehotline.org
1-800-799-SAFE
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MY BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!   May: Boo Walker, June: Anne D. LeClaire and July — Catherine Ryan Hyde.  August:  My interview with Susan Wiggs and September: Alan Foster (Sci-fi)
 
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Interview with Author, Susan Wiggs (part 2)

Q. What first inspired you to write?

SW. It wasn’t an inspiration but a suspiration. Seriously, I thought everyone thought in stories and to me, it was as natural as breathing. I know this is true because I had a very patient mom who would write down my stories as I dictated them to her, because I was too young to read or write.

Q. What comes first to you? The Characters or the Situation?

SW. This varies from book to book. For The Oysterville Sewing Circle, the characters and situation are so entwined that they appeared concurrently on the page. Caroline, an aspiring designer, is not inherently interesting until we see her confronted with a situation of epic proportions—a shocking tragedy and the need to protect two small children. That sets the story in motion. I’m a sucker for stories about an ordinary person thrust into extraordinary circumstances he or she never expected.

Q. Do you ‘get lost’ in your writing?

Susan’s first novel

SW. I love when that happens! When the world of the story and the characters feel as real as life itself. The downside is, there are situations and characters that break my heart, as in The Oysterville Sewing Circle. I have to confess; I experienced a lot of anger when I was researching and writing this book. I hope I did justice to the women who shared their stories with me.

Q. Are you working on something now? If so tell us about it.

SW. I’m desperately trying to finish The Lost and Found Bookshop (Summer 2020), set in a vintage bookshop in historic San Francisco. The main character finds hidden artifacts in the old building that turn out to be clues to her family’s past.

Q. When did you begin to write seriously?

SW. I wrote my first novel while studying for my master’s degree at Harvard. I wrote it on a typewriter and it was probably awful but the experience was completely exhilarating, and I never looked back.

Q. How long after that were you published?

SW. A few years. I sold my first book in 1986 and it was published in 1987. My very first editor was Wendy McCurdy and we’re still friends to this day.

Q. Do you think we will see, in our lifetime, the total demise of paper books?

SW. No.

Q. How have your life experiences influenced your writing?

SW. It’s like holding up a distorted mirror. A character might reflect an old memory of mine (Caroline’s first love in The Oysterville Sewing Circle or the first time I learned to surf…) More importantly, my world view and heart are reflected in my writing. I believe in the fundamental kindness of humanity, the power of following your passion, and the absolute necessity of opening our hearts to one another.

Q. What’s your down time look like?

SW. Reading. And more writing. I also enjoy hiking, biking, and skiing. Spending time with my mom and granddaughter. They’re both named Clara, and my daughter Elizabeth.

Q. Have you or do you want to write in another genre`?

SW. Sure! I want to learn the craft of screenwriting, for sure. I keep wanting to write a mystery or thriller, but I’m too squeamish.

Note to Self: (a life lesson you’ve learned.)

SW. Probably one of the biggest life lessons came from The Oysterville Sewing Circle! Believe women. Believe your gut. If something doesn’t “feel” right, it’s not right. And if something’s not right, speak up. For some women, this takes enormous courage—but the rewards are boundless.

Did you miss Part I? Click here 

 My Review of The Oysterville Sewing Circle

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MY BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!   May: Boo Walker, June: Anne D. LeClaire and July — Catherine Ryan Hyde.  August:  My interview with Susan Wiggs and September: Alan Foster (sci-fi)
 
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Interview with Best Selling author, Susan Wiggs

TS. Susan Wiggs’s life is all about family, friends…and fiction. She lives at the water’s edge on an island in Puget Sound, and in good weather, she commutes to her writers’ group in a 21-foot motorboat. She’s been featured in the national media, including NPR, and has given programs for the US Embassies in Buenos Aires and Montevideo. She is a popular speaker locally, nationally, internationally, and on the high seas.

The author is a middle child, a library enthusiast, a former teacher, a Harvard graduate, an avid hiker, an amateur photographer, a good skier and terrible golfer, yet her favorite form of exercise is curling up with a good book. She lives on an island in Puget Sound, where she divides her time between sleeping and waking.

Q. Where do you write? Do you have a special room, shed, barn, special space for your writing? (your shed, room, closet, barn, houseboat….) Or tell us about your ‘dream’ work space.

SW. I write all over the place and always have. On the patio, on the sofa, on the ferry, on planes and boats…pretty much everywhere. I write when I travel. A good portion of The Oysterville Sewing Circle was written during storm season in Ilwaco, WA, close to the historic town of Oysterville. I learned early on that I can write anywhere. For me, the place is not as important as a good span of time to focus.

Q. Do you have any special rituals or quirks when you sit down to write? (a neat work space, sharpened #2 pencils, legal pad, cup of tea, glass of brandy, favorite pajamas, etc.)

SW. Oh, where do I begin? Clairefontaine grid-ruled notebook—check. Sheaffer fine point fountain pen with peacock blue ink—check. Mariage Freres French blue Earl Grey tea—check. Lenny (spirit animal)—check. After my first handwritten draft, I read the copy into WordPerfect. then edit on screen. And then print off that draft and edit by hand. It’s a messy process, but I’ve been at it for 30+ years and it seems to be working. The actual writing never gets easier, though. Every book is its own unique challenge.

Q. Could you tell us something about yourself that we might not already know?

SW. I’m left-handed, a middle child, I speak French, I have several art pieces by Dr. Seuss, and I’m working on an unauthorized screenplay about his life.

Q. Do you have a set time each day (or night) to write?

SW. I try to do the “heavy lifting” (composition, revision) first thing in the morning before the internet wakes up to distract me.
Emerging writers often lament that they don’t have time to write. I’m not having it. You make time for what’s important to you. There was a time when I was a full-time teacher with a small child, a house, dogs, etc. And yet I still wrote 2 books per year. My writing session began at 9pm after a full day. I’m grateful that I don’t need to do that these days, but the point is, it can be done. It’s all in the motivation.

Q. What’s your best advice to other writers for overcoming procrastination?

SW. Do as I say, not as I do! Minimize distractions and set realistic goals for the day. Decide you’ll write a scene, or a minimum number of pages (3 or more is good). Try not to get lost in your own process, “plotting it out” should not take six months.

Q. Where/when do you first discover your characters?

SW. It varies from book to book. In The Oysterville Sewing Circle I discovered Caroline in bed next to me. My husband Jerry is an apparel designer, and I wanted to write about his world. The story took a dark turn, however, as I interviewed women in the industry who dealt with workplace harassment and worse. Their stories fueled one of the most heartfelt novels I’ve written—the explosive issues around domestic violence and the drama and healing that can result when women come together.

Q. What first inspired you to write?

Part 2 of my interview with Susan ~~ August 23rd.
Book Review for The Oysterville Sewing Circle ~ click here

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MY BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!   May: Boo Walker, June: Anne D. LeClaire and July — Catherine Ryan Hyde.  August:  My interview with Susan Wiggs and September: Alan Foster (Sci-fi)
 
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Interview with author, Catherine Ryan Hyde (part 2)

Q. What first inspired you to write?

Astrophotography by CRH

CRH. I can’t define myself as a writer without mentioning Lenny Horowitz, my high school English teacher. I never called him Mr. Horowitz. He let us call him Lenny. Lenny sent my world in a completely different direction (and if you’d seen the direction I was going at the time, you’d understand that he was a lifesaver): he taught me to love reading again, and he told me I could write.

When I was little, nobody had to teach me to love reading. Books were water; I was a duck. I pitched into Dr. Seuss, Winnie the Pooh, the Black Stallion series. I was unstoppable. Then came school, in which my irresistible force met an immovable object. I hated the books I was given to read. They didn’t speak to me. They were almost as bad as–I hate to even utter the word–homework.

I began to avoid reading if possible. I honed the talent of writing book reports on books I hadn’t read. To this day, I have a chip on my shoulder about the classics. I’ve tried twice to read Moby Dick. I give up. I’m not ashamed, either. I like modern, fast-moving fiction. I’ve taken my last run at the great white whale. Ever. It’s over.

Back to Lenny. He gave us different books. Books written in the same century he assigned them. Books with down-and-out characters, people outside the mainstream. I understood these people. I was outside the mainstream. I was overweight and had braces on my teeth. My peer group thought I was from outer space. I liked reading about characters on the margins. We had something in common.

Miracle of miracles, I woke up. One day Lenny gave out a creative writing assignment: an essay, on any subject. I still remember how he walked up to the blackboard and wrote, in big block letters: I AIN’T TAKING IT AFTER FRIDAY. Not exactly your run-of-the-mill English teacher, right? I was so impressed by his willingness to meet us where we lived that I decided to impress him back. I wrote an essay intended to be funny. Always risky. It was a takeoff on the “my dog ate my homework” excuse note, a long, rambling, slapstick story explaining why I was not able to hand in my essay on time.

Sight unseen, Lenny read it out loud in front of the class. They laughed. Everybody, including Lenny. They laughed a lot. For a long time. It was my first whiff of the rare smell of success. Lenny told the class my essay was clever. Later I found out he was still talking about it in the staff lounge that day. He told all my other teachers I could write.

Q. What comes first to you? The Characters or the Situation?

CRH. It’s a tie. What comes is a character in a situation. For example, Jody in WORTHY, watching as someone puts a dog out of a car and drives away. Or Pete in SAY GOODBYE FOR NOW, finding the injured wolf hybrid beside the highway. Or Roseanna in HEAVEN ADJACENT, getting into her car and driving away from the city to some remote location and never going home. Or Ruth in ASK HIM WHY, arriving home from school to find that her brother has returned prematurely from the Iraq war in less-than-honorable circumstances. It’s not enough (for me) to find a character. I have to know what is making their life so interesting/challenging in that moment.

Q. Do you ‘get lost’ in your writing?

CRH.   Not really. I’ve been doing this for quite a while. I’m on my 39th book, and that doesn’t count anything that ended up in a drawer. If I get lost, I might get lost. End up nowhere, or somewhere I did not intend to be. Now I’m more like a person following a roadmap. Not calculated, exactly. But fairly organized.

Q. Are you working on something now? If so tell us about it.

CRH. Always. I’m on a two-book-a-year contract. There is never a time when I am not working on something new. And here’s what people don’t tend to see, unless I tell them. You see the book that just came out, and then you want to know if I’ve started another. I’ve started three others. And finished two of them. The one I wrote after Have You Seen LUIS VELEZ, I just finished reviewing the copyedited manuscript. The one after that, I’ve finished with the developmental editing, and we’re going over cover design. The one I have in progress is almost done. But I don’t want to talk about that one, because I haven’t even finished writing it yet. So I’ll tell you a tiny bit about the other two.

STAY is a novel set in the Vietnam War era (but here at home, not in Vietnam). Its hero is a teen boy whose brother is overseas, and who is trying to hold his family and friends together at home. Of course the plot is more complex, but this is just a quick glimpse. Its theme is more or less suicide-related, but there is no suicide in it. It’s about the opposite of suicide. It’s about staying.

PAs to the author, Ella & Jordan

BRAVE GIRL, QUIET GIRL is about a woman who briefly loses her infant daughter in a carjacking, and her eventual relationship with the homeless girl who finds her.

Did you miss Part I?

Conclusion to this wonderful interview is August 2nd.
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MY BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!   May: Boo Walker, June: Anne D. LeClaire and July — Catherine Ryan Hyde.  Coming Soon!  My interview with Susan Wiggs
 
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Book Review…’Before and Again’ by Barbara Delinsky

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5 out of 5 quills           

A  Review

 

Are second chances very common? Can divorced people reconnect and put all the bitterness and heartbreak behind them? Mackenzie Cooper ran far, far away from unimaginable heartbreak and pain. She rebuilt her life and was relatively happy, until her ex-husband showed up. Not in town just for a visit but  purchased an Inn and a house.

Once again, Barbara Delinsky has crafted a beautiful story about real people and real places. The reader is immediately drawn in and becomes a resident of Devon, Vermont, until the last page. What a delightful trip.

This reviewer has been reading Barbara Delinsky for well over 20 years. She never disappoints. Rich, well drawn characters that the reader readily relates to and cares about. 

I highly recommend Before and Again to my followers. 

Did you miss my Interview with Barbara Delinsky?
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MY BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!   May: Boo Walker, June: Anne D. LeClaire and July — Catherine Ryan Hyde, August: Susan Wiggs and September: Alan Dean Foster 
 
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Interview with Catherine Ryan Hyde

TS.  I found Catherine when I stumbled across her stunning novel: Have You Seen Luis Velez?” By now most of my followers know that I am a voracious reader so it’s really something when I tell you,  …Luis Velez is the best book I have ever read.
Catherine Ryan Hyde  is the author of 39 published and forthcoming books. Of all of them, Pay It Forward seems to be the most important to other people. Catherine says it’s not the most important to her. She says she writes two books a year, because she  has always written fast, and now, “I have a publisher who is willing to keep up with me. When not writing, I ride my horse, travel, and take photos of distant galaxies and nebulae (spoiler alert: this is not easy). I’m also learning to play the cello, but not well. Yet.”

Q. Where do you write? Do you have a special room, shed, barn, special space for your writing? Or tell us about your ‘dream’ work space.

CRH. I write in my easy chair in the living room. When my mom was alive, and shared my home with me in her retirement, and my sister and her kids came up to visit regularly, we created a writing studio for me. We had it built over the garage. But my mom passed away in 2012. My sister is also deceased, as is one of her children. The other is a full-grown adult. So now the main house is very quiet. I have a zero-gravity chair, which is better for my back than sitting up in a desk chair at a desktop computer. It has a sort of lap-desk arrangement, and I write on a notebook computer. There’s a seed feeder and a hummingbird feeder hanging right outside the window on my right, and plenty of light. So this is where everything gets done. The studio is now a guest quarters.

Q. Do you have any special rituals or quirks when you sit down to write? (a neat work space, a laptop at the ready, sharpened #2 pencils, legal pad, cup of tea, glass of brandy, favorite pajamas, etc.)

CRH. Nope. The only thing I need is a good enough sense of the next scene. I’m not putting down people who do. Whatever works. But I think we need to be careful about stating what we “need” to write. I just need an idea and I’m good to go. If I sat down with a cup of tea it would only get cold.

PS: What exactly would a #2 pencil have to do with writing a novel? (Kidding. Half. Well… mostly kidding. No, not kidding so much at all. It’s 2019.)

Q. Could you tell us something about yourself that we might not already know?

CRH. Hmm. Let’s see. I’m a big Randy Rainbow fan, and I know his mom. She’s one of my readers, which got me all fangirling, and then she was all fangirling because I’m a Randy fan, and we fangirled our way into a friendship.
I ride classical English dressage with my horse, because I guess nothing is ever too challenging for me. I am a major glutton for punishment.
I spent a week in an ashram in Rishikesh, India, at the invitation of a very well-known and venerated swami who was (he is since deceased) a big fan of the book and foundation (Pay It Forward). 
About three years ago I celebrated my 61st birthday by flying to Nepal, taking a small STOL plane to “the world’s most dangerous airport” (Lukla) and then trekking several thousand feet uphill for a stay at the Hotel Everest View. As previously stated, I like a good challenge.
Anybody who follows me on Facebook knows I’m learning astrophotography (speaking of being a glutton for punishment) but I’m sure there are also many people who don’t know.

Q. Do you have a set time each day (or night) to write?

CRH. Yes and no. If I have something ready to go, I’ll sit down in the morning. I get up in the morning, do some Yoga and deep stretches, a little bit of meditation, then one cup of coffee and I’m off. But there are mornings when I don’t write. It comes and goes in fits and starts.

Q. What’s your best advice to other writers for overcoming procrastination?

CRH. If you haven’t started the project, make a digital file for it. Put the title and author in the header. Number the pages. Type “Chapter One.” Then challenge yourself to write a first sentence. Nothing beats an inability to start like starting.

If I have something in process, but can’t seem to get the next chapter or scene going, I’ll get into the file to just add one sentence or paragraph. In almost every

case I end up with several new pages before I close the file again. If that doesn’t do it, it might be time to look at what you’re writing. Have you lost interest in it? This may surprise you, but my advice might be to dump it. You may have lost interest in it for a reason. Don’t throw it away. Never throw anything away. Just give yourself permission to work on something new. If it’s not inspiring you to write it, it may have trouble inspiring total strangers to read it. Try to find a project that’s exciting, and that calls you back to work.

Q. Where/when do you first discover your characters?

CRH. When I have finished a novel and turned it over to my agent, and I know I need a new idea. I open up for a new idea, and I meet a character. I generally just see a glimpse of them, having some sort of life experience. Then I spend a few weeks in my head, with nothing down on paper yet, coaxing them to tell me more.

Q. Q. Where did the concept for ‘Have You Seen Luis Velez?‘ come from?

CRH. Oh, how I wish I knew. I have no idea where any of this comes from. Sheer imagination, and anyone who understands it has a better brain than mine.

Interviewer:   I so understand. Most of my stories I can identify where they have their Origins. My mother and her equally outrageous sisters are the basis for that fiction. But I also write rather bloodthirsty True Crime Mysteries and I have no idea where they came from. I just hang on for the ride.

Q. What first inspired you to write?

Continued…July 26th: Part Two

Did you miss my Review of Have You Seen Luis Velez?
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MY BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!   May: Boo Walker, June: Anne D. LeClaire and July — Catherine Ryan Hyde
 
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Interview (part 3) with writer, Anne LeClaire

Anne with friend, Deborah

Q. How long after were you published?

AL. I spent the next three years writing and rewriting and learning how to write a novel, getting to understand the importance of structure, etc. I was very fortunate to work with the brilliant Linda Grey

Q. Do you think we will see, in our lifetime, the total demise of paper books?

AL. No. When my previous book, The Halo Effect, came out I visited forty-eight book clubs, mostly in person although a few were skyped. Over and over, I heard from readers that they love to hold an actual book. They used eBooks out of convenience but the tactile satisfaction, the holding of it, gave them a pleasure they didn’t get from an eBook. I have both and think there is a place for both, but my first love is paper.

Q. What makes a writer great?

AL. Define great. And to whom? Compilers of 100 greatest lists? Or those who list books that have been timeless in appeal? At what age? Loving a book is so personal.
Another thing I witnessed when visiting book clubs is exactly that. I do know what compels me to recommend a book – to press it into the hands of friends and near strangers, and that is a combination of characters and their stories who haunt me long after I have finished, that make me think and feel and change me in an essential way.

Q. and the all-important: What does the process of going from “no book” to “finished book” look like for you?

AL. A roller-coaster.

Q. Have you or do you want to write in another genre`?

AL. Eleven of my books are novels, one is a memoir in which I explore my practice of not speaking two Mondays a month (Listening Below the Noise) and I have written on children’s book. (Kaylee Finds A Friend.)

Q. How has your life experiences influenced your writing?

AL. Remember that book, Everything I Need to Know in Life I learned in Kindergarten? Well, many of the things I needed to learn in life, I acquired in writing: What makes people tick? How do we learn to forgive? What is the purpose of grief? How do we grieve? How do we love? If we want to love and be loved, why do we sabotage ourselves? Above all, by sliding into the skins of characters very different from me, I began to develop empathy That’s one of the great things fiction can do for readers and writers.

Q. What’s your down time look like?

Red Sox fan

AL. That depends on the seasons. In the winter, I am a house mouse. I read and rest and go inward. Do yoga. Attend movies or concerts or theatre with friends. The rest of the year, I am more active in my down time. I swim, run, hike, hang out at the beach. I’m always reading regardless of the season. One time inspired by an exercise in The Artist’s Way, I decided to do a one-week reading fast. I lasted three days and those days weren’t pretty. I actually grew short-tempered. Reading is like oxygen to me.

Did you miss the beginning of this interview? Click here
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MY BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!   April: Poet, Joe Albanese, May: Boo Walker, June: Anne D. LeClaire and July — Catherine Ryan Hyde
 
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Interview with author, Anne LeClaire (part 2)

Q. Do you have a set time each day (or night) to write?

AL. Mornings and into the afternoon are the times I write. When I am working on a first draft, I can usually only put in four hours before I need to stop. (I am always surprised by how physically tiring writing can be). But when I am working on rewrites, I can go until late in the afternoons. I love doing rewrites.

Q. What’s your best advice to other writers for overcoming procrastination?

AL. Remember how good it feels when you are finally at the desk writing.

Q. Where/when do you first discover your characters?

AL. Where? Everywhere. Dreams, newspaper articles, overheard conversations and, as the book progresses, from the story itself.

Q. What first inspired you to write?

AL. Love of story. Almost as soon as I could hold a pencil, I was scratching out stories, some only a sentence long. And reading, of course, lead fuel to the fire.

Q. What comes first to you? The Characters or the Situation?

AL. I’ve had times when character comes first and times when an idea or situation grabbed me initially. Five of my novels rose out of situation and five from character.

Q. Do you ‘get lost’ in your writing?

AL. Yes. I lose all track of time. One time my husband had been out for hours and he came into my studio and asked what I had for lunch. I told him I hadn’t eaten yet. He informed me it was 3:30. I thought it was probably around noon.

Q. Do you have a new book coming out soon? If so tell us about it.

AL. My most recent book was published this May. The Orchid Sister is set in Mexico and Cape Cod and concerns many of the themes that fascinate me: how we deal with grief, loss, betrayal, families, faith and fear. In short, all the big things in life.

Q. When did you begin to write seriously?

AL. I have written as long as I can remember. I had a newspaper column in the local paper when I was in high school. In my 20s and 30s I wrote for newspapers and magazines. At the same time, I was beginning a novel. At the encouragement of an editor at Yankee Magazine I sent a brief outline and sample chapter to an agent. Four months later I had enough for her to submit to a publisher who bought the book on the basis of an outline (which I actually had to learn how to write) and three chapters.
I still haven’t mastered the skill of outlining a book. I think I like the story to unfold as I write it instead of knowing everything ahead.

Did you miss part I? Click here

The conclusion will be on June 28th. Don’t miss the end of this terrific interview.

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MY BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!   April: Poet, Joe Albanese, May: Boo Walker, June: Anne D. LeClaire and July — Catherine Ryan Hyde
 
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