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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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Interview with best selling author, Anne LeClaire

TS. Anne LeClaire is a best-selling author of ten novels, one memoir and a children’s book. She lives on Cape Cod and is married with two adult children. I discovered her in one of my searches for new (to me) authors and found ‘The Orchid Sisters‘. 

writing space

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.

AL. For years I worked at a desk in the far end of our bedroom. My next space was in the guest room in a friend’s home with a view that over looked a salt water pond. After a year there, I upped my game and rented a single room in an office building only two miles from our home. Then in 1991, I designed my dream work space. It is attached to my home and when friends first saw it they likened it to a chapel. It has lots of light and a vaulted ceiling and I enter it through a set of French doors and small library alcove that serves as a transition between two lives.

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.)

AL. Attire first: I wear very comfortable clothes – usually sweats. I once read about an author who put on a suit and went out his front door, re-entered his home through a side door and went to his writing space as if to a job. That sounded like a lot of work to me just getting to the desk. Plus uncomfortable. I mean, a suit?
I usually have a cup of tea or glass of water at the desk. I always begin by checking my email (also known as an act of procrastination) before settling in to begin. I then open up the file to the work from the previous day and begin by working on that and before long I am into the new work. Why this way of beginning is important for me is because I don’t have to begin with a blank page. I am seduced into the new pages.

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

Anne with friend

AL. With social media, web sites etc, my life is pretty much an open book. I give lectures and teach workshops both throughout the US and internationally. I am a licensed pilot. My music tastes are varied, encompassing opera, classical, county, jazz, ragtime and  tunes from the 40’s.
I guess readers might not know about the summer jobs I held while in high school and college: Two summers working in the Connecticut valley tobacco fields, two summers working in a plastic injection-molding factory, a summer as a dishwasher on Cape Cod and a summer as a chambermaid. Great experiences for a future writer (although I didn’t realize it at the time) which helped broaden and shape my social views.
One other thing: Once Jane Hamilton, Gail Tsukiyama and I opened a benefit with a Rap performance. I can confidently say there is little chance of being back for a repeat.

Join us for Part 2, June 21st

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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, Boo Walker (conclusion)

Q. What makes a writer great?

BW. Persistence and butt-in-chair time hone a writer’s craft but I do believe some have an inherent ability to see life in interesting ways, which leads to the fresh voice we all crave to read.

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

BW. I write an outline first, using Scrivener’s corkboard feature. I find I’m faster and crisper when I follow a storyline. Of course, I’m always open to following my characters if they want to take a detour. Once my outline is in place, I write each chapter without much looking back. I want to get the bones onto the page. Sometimes I feel like writing detail, but sometimes, I’m almost writing a sketch. Whatever feels like coming. Then I go back and edit and edit and edit. I add flesh and clothes to the bones.

Q. How has your life experiences influenced your writing?

BW. I think a life spent behind a desk can be dangerous for writers. I have traveled a good bit in my life, and I think it helps me climb into other character’s minds with an open heart.

Q. What’s your down time look like?

BW. What’s downtime? If I do get to enjoy some of this so-called downtime, I love being with my family.

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

BW. I started out writing thrillers but have most recently been writing book-club fiction. Something about the challenge of writing page-turners without a mystery to solve or someone to chase intrigues me.

Q. I see your guitars on the wall of your studio. Tell us about your music and Nashville.

Just for fun!

BW. My first connection to the muse was when I started writing songs in college. I fell in love with the five-string banjo, and it became all-consuming for many years. I moved to Nashville from Charleston with a band called The Biscuit Boys, and we enjoyed some great success, playing with Travis Tritt, Sam Bush, John Michael Montgomery, Ricky Scaggs, The Dixie Chicks, and many other heroes. Along with playing banjo, I found my creative stride writing lyrics. My career was cut short by a hand disorder called Focal Dystonia. I moved back to Charleston and tried to figure out the rest of my life. I needed to find a more grown-up job and joined a day-trading firm. But my muse still spoke to me. That’s why I started writing novels! 

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

BW. Enjoy the ride.

Did you miss the first part? 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 Boo Walker, Part II

At Boo’s 5 acre vineyard in Cally

We continue with part II of an interview with
Cowboy/winemaker/musician Boo Walker.
Did you miss Part I?

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

BW. I think so much about procrastination. It gets us all. Like I mentioned, I love the Be Focused app. That and setting a word count. I have word counts that I force myself to hit, and I don’t allow myself to enjoy much more of the day until I hit my count. In other words, once I clean my room, I can go out and play! Hit the word count and the rest of the day is mine.

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

BW. They come to me on walks and in dreams. Often, they start as real people and begin to morph into a more exaggerated persona. I find that when I try the least to find them is when they come to say hello, and that can be any time of day. The muse is full of characters, but she waits until you’re quietly listening to share.

Q. What first inspired you to write?

BW. I read Plum Island by Nelson Demille while trekking across Ireland in the late nineties. From that moment on, I wanted to create a character as cool and funny as John Corey.

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

BW. Depends on the book. I’m open to both, whatever the muse leads me toward.

Q. Do you ‘get lost’ in your writing?

BW. Totally. That’s what keeps bringing me back. If you sit long enough typing a story, you’ll enjoy such a feeling. It’s the best in the world, better than any drug. You’re writing and suddenly you’re pulled in and become the character. When I wake from this daydream thirty minutes later and realize my fingers have been flying over the keys, I know I’ve written something special. But it wasn’t me at all, was it? My best writing is when the muse is the one writing. I’m just a conduit with fast fingers holding on for dear life.

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

Bed head ignored. Busy writing!

BW. I can’t share much, but I’ve recently moved to St. Pete, Florida from Washington State, and I’m in love with this place. The next two stories take place in St. Pete and will be chock-full of familial dysfunction, love stories, and characters searching for meaning. I like throwing difficult circumstances at characters and seeing how they overcome.

Q. When did you begin to write seriously?

BW. Perhaps ten years ago, but what led me to becoming a pro is reading the life-changing book The War of Art by Steven Pressfield.

Q. How long after that were you published?

BW. Until recently, I’ve always self-published. It took me a few years to write my first book, Lowcountry Punch. I did a lot of reading at first, learning the craft. And I interviewed the Charleston DEA and did some serious research. Then I wrote and rewrote and burned drafts. Finally, four years later, my book hit the shelves.

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

BW. No, I don’t think so. I suspect there will always be a place for them. How sad to think there would be a world without bookstores. But for me personally, I have gone almost entirely digital.

Q. What makes a writer great?
   
Don’t miss the conclusion to this wonderful Interview ~~ May 31st.

Watch for my review of Red Mountain Rising (sequel) Coming soon!
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MY BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!   February: Rick Lenz, March: Patrick Canning, April: Poet, Joe Albanese and May: Boo Walker, June: Anne D. LeClaire,  July: Catherine Ryan Hyde
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Have You Seen Luis Velez? ~~ Book Review

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6 out of 5 quills  ~~ A Review 

PERFECTION!! A masterpiece of a story. Every word impeccably placed.

I don’t write spoilers, (as my fans already know) so I will write about the universal message of this story. It begins with the improbable friendship between Raymond Jaffe and Mildred Gutermann, two of the most unlikely people to ever meet and develop a bond. But it’s about more than that. This is a story about ‘us’ and ‘them’. About all of ‘us‘ and the kindness that runs deep in every one of us. The instinctual compassion for one another that transcends the differences, the tribalism, the fear, the suspicion. 

“Oh,” you might say to yourself, “who needs another feel good book?” This book is not another feel good book. The story represents us and the unique characteristic in the human species. Empathy. An emotion that bubbles up easily or sometimes unwillingly in spite of ourselves.  The message is so subtly and cleverly woven into such a terrific story-line that you don’t even realize there’s a message until the last few pages.

If I hadn’t read this book and then I discovered how good it was but wouldn’t have an opportunity to read it, I would be profoundly bereft at the loss. Exaggeration? No. It’s that good. You can’t go through life and not read this book.

 

I hope to announce soon that I will be interviewing this special writer…so stay tuned.

Release date: May 20, 2019  To Purchase click here
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MY BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!   February: Rick Lenz, March: Patrick Canning, April: Poet, Joe Albanese and May: Boo Walker 
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Book Review~~The Orchid Sister by Anne D. LeClaire

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5 out of 5 quills        A Review

How do I write a review, for this book, without giving away the twists and turns of the story and end up writing a spoiler? I can’t.  This beautifully written book has plenty of twists and turns. It’s a love story sort of, a story of intrigue sort of, a story of grief, revival and survival in huge doses. The threads of this tale are so tightly woven that to write about the plot is a spoiler x ten.  I just can’t do it. 

The writing is superb.The characters are well drawn and I cared about every one of them. If I had one tiny criticism (and it disappeared within the first six pages) it was that it had too much narrative for my taste. But after page six, I understood how the author constructs her story.   So I was immediately drawn into the story so much so that long descriptions (rather than the dialogue telling the tale) didn’t bother me.  

I highly recommend this book to my readers. 

Available now.Click here to buy

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MY BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!   February: Rick Lenz, March: Patrick Canning, April: Poet, Joe Albanese and May: Boo Walker 
To receive my posts sign up for my 

 

  On the home page, enter your email address.  Thanks!

 

Interview with author, Boo Walker

TS. After picking a five-string banjo in Charleston and Nashville and then a few years toying with Wall Street, Boo chased a wine dream across the country to Red Mountain in Washington State with his dog, Tully Mars. They landed in a double-wide trailer on five acres of vines, where Boo grew out a handlebar mustache, bought a horse, and took a job working for the Hedges family, who taught him the art of farming and the old world philosophies of wine. Recently leaving their gentleman’s farm on Red Mountain, Boo and his family are back on the east coast in St. Pete, Florida. No doubt the Sunshine City will serve as a setting for a novel or three soon. Boo’s bestselling page-turners are instilled with the culture of the places he’s lived, the characters he’s encountered, and a passion for unexpected adventure. 

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.

BW. I write in my dream space, my mancave in a Spanish-style house built in 1925 by an opera singer in St. Pete, Florida. I’m surrounded by guitars and banjos that constantly try to distract me.

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.)

BW. I have a pretty serious coffee ritual to start my morning and writing day. I always have a bag of single-origin, fresh-roasted beans, which I grind that morning. I measure out an exact amount with my scale, and then brew using a Chemex coffee pour-over. Once the caffeine starts to kick in, I’m sit at my desk. I’ve come to rely so much on this routine that my entire day is shot if I don’t have my perfect cup.
Depending on my mood, I most always write to music without words, be it jazz, classical, or electronic.
I also have a couple less productive rituals that are actually more like procrastinating actions. I’ve somehow come to think I need to restart my computer before ever writing session. It’s totally stalling. And then I’ll grab my guitar for a little warm-up session. Another stalling tactic. Once I’m ready to dive in, though, I use an app called Be Focused, which sets 25-minute intervals where I do writing sprints. I don’t allow myself to surf the net or answer calls or texts. The sprints are writing only. No distractions.

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

BW. R.D. Blackmore lingers somewhere high up in my family tree on my mother’s side. He wrote a book called Lorna Doone. He was a big inspiration for Robert Louis Stevenson, among others.

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

BW. If I haven’t written by noon, I’m in trouble. I’m such a morning person, so only under deadline and at gunpoint can I write much in the later afternoon or at night.

Part II of this fascinating interview posts May 24th.    Click here to read my REVIEW of Red Mountain.
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MY BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!   February: Rick Lenz, March: Patrick Canning, April: Poet, Joe Albanese and May: Boo Walker,  June: Anne D. LeClaire,  July: Catherine Ryan Hyde 
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Book Review ~~ Red Mountain by Boo Walker

reviews, authors, writingreviews, authors, writingreviews, authors, writingreviews, authors, writingreviews, authors, writing5 out of 5 quills  ~~~  A Review

Once in awhile I troll through bookstores online looking for an interesting author that I have never heard of. I kiss a lot of frogs but it’s worth it when I find an author like Boo Walker.

Red Mountain is a special place. It has the perfect soil and weather for growing wine grapes.  And growing people too, who gravitate to the mountain, often to hide or to find themselves. Besides the interesting characters that Boo Walker has drawn, I felt as if the wine was a character unto itself. The growing, the nurturing, the fermenting, the aging and sampling the final product. Resembling what life is all about. 

Boo Walker weaves a wonderful story with rich, flawed characters that you can love or love to hate. I can’t wait to read the sequel, Red Mountain Rising. And don’t miss my interview with Boo later this month. 

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MY BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!   February: Rick Lenz, March: Patrick Canning, April: Poet, Joe Albanese and May: Boo Walker 
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Book Review~~Four Funerals & Maybe a Wedding by Rhys Bowen

                                             5  out of  5 quills  ~~ A Review 

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By far the best in the  series, the  Royal  Spyness Mysteries.  I  love  this  series. In Four  Funerals….  there  was  not  a single  misstep by its author. The story weaves faultlessly to the final pages. Ended by a deep sigh of satisfaction from this reader. 

All the elements were there historically. Queen Elizabeth as a child, Prince Edward and the notorious Wallis Simpson. Even Hitler as a black cloud on the horizon. But we pick up with Lady Georgiana (Georgie) preparing for her wedding and worrying about where she and Darcy will live on their meager combined income. It appears to be hopeless.  Add in Fig and Binky, Georgie’s granddad and a band of slap-dash servants. And my  favorite character, Queenie (the maid) is back in full force. 

The whole story is delightful from the first page to the last.This is a must read for fans, old and new, of Rhys Bowen. I highly recommend it.

 

To Purchase Click here

Did you miss my Interview with Rhys Bowen?
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MY BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!   December:  Jayne Ann Krentz (Amanda Quick)  January: Molly Gloss.  February: Rick Lenz, March: Patrick Canning and April: Poet, Joe Albanese
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To Purchase