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Interview with Author, Kristina McMorris (part 2)

Q. Do you ‘get lost’ in your writing?

KM. Oh, goodness, yes. Usually, as luck would have it, right before school hours are over. 

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

KM. I’m working on another WWII novel that I’m not quite ready to talk about yet but can’t wait until it’s time to spill!

Q. How long after were you published?

KM. I started writing my first novel in 2007, sold it in 2009, and was over the moon to see it published by a large NY house then appear on actual store shelves in 2011!

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

KM. Not if I have any say in that! For me (even more so because I work on a computer all day), I undoubtedly prefer a printed book when reading fun. And I’m pretty sure I’m not alone in that. At least I hope?

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

KM. Once I have the general gist of a premise and main characters established in my mind, and enough research completed to know what’s possible, I essentially picture the story rolling out like a movie in my head. At that point, I create a basic plotting board using mini Post-its, and off I go!

Q. How has your life experiences influenced your writing?

KM. Since I literally grew up in the film industry, cinematic forms of storytelling continue to have the strongest influence on my writing. And of course, bits and pieces of myself and people I’ve met throughout my life inevitably sprinkle my stories—both the heroes and the villains!

Q. What’s your down time look like?

KM. Spending time with family and friends and catching up on life (which, after a tight deadline, largely includes laundry, bills, and much-needed sleep)!

Kristina with her family

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

KM. If I were to choose another genre, it would have to be psych thrillers, since that’s another type of story I thoroughly enjoy reading.

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

KM. Just because you can doesn’t mean you should.
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Click here for Part I of the Interview

Review of Sold on a Monday
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MY BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!    July — Catherine Ryan Hyde.  August:  My interview with Susan Wiggs  September: Alan Foster (sci-fi) and October: Kristina McMorris
 
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Interview with Author, Kristina McMorris

TS. Kristina was inspired to write by the newspaper photo shown below. I was inspired by the beautiful cover of Sold on a Monday to buy the book and subsequently interview her. Kristina McMorris is an acclaimed author of two novellas and five historical novels, including Sold on a Monday, which is now celebrating five months on the New York Times and USA Today bestsellers lists. Initially inspired by her grandparents’ WWII courtship letters, her works of fiction have garnered more than twenty national literary awards. Prior to her writing career, she owned a wedding- and event-planning company until she had far surpassed her limit of YMCA- and chicken dances.  She lives in Oregon with her husband and their two sons, ages thirteen and fifteen going on forty.

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.

KM. Something that’s probably unique about my writing space is that, although it’s always located somewhere in my house, the specific spot changes with every book I write. By the time I spend a year or more working on a manuscript, I’m so tired of sitting in the same place day after day (my rocking chair, office desk, kitchen table, living room couch, etc) that I have to switch it up for the next book. I often joke that after a few more books, we’ll have to move to a new house because I’ll have run out of fresh spots for writing!

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.)

KM. As a recovering event planner, I still absolutely have to have a clean work space. A large tumbler of decaf tea is a must (admittedly with an embarrassing amount of vanilla creamer) and fuzzy socks are the norm.

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

KM. I was fortunate enough to spend an entire college year living in Florence, Italy, an incredible experience that taught me an enormous amount about pasta and wine and, best of all, tiramisu. Ha. Seriously, though, I learned so many important life lessons there, and now even enjoy weaving Italian characters into my stories.

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

KM. That’s an easy one to answer: school hours. The clock starts when the kids get on the bus and stops when they come charging back through the door full of stories from their day!

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

KM. Unplug from the Internet. (It’s hard, I know!) Take a walk, think about where the story is going, write the next scene by hand if needed (in other words, change things up), and sit down in the chair and just write.

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

KM. A nugget of a premise always comes to me first, then I start to imagine who landed in that situation. I figure out how they got there by backtracking and digging deeper into their lives until I finally understand who the characters are at their core.

Q. What first inspired you to write?

KM. About a dozen years ago, I was creating a homemade cookbook featuring my grandmother’s recipes, meant as a Christmas gift for the grandkids. When I interviewed her for the biographical section, she shared that she and my late grandfather had dated only twice during WWII, fell in love through an ongoing letter exchange, and were married for fifty years until he passed away. Then she said, “Would you like to see the letters?” After spending an afternoon poring over those beautiful wrinkled pages, I envisioned a Cyrano de Bergerac-type story set during WWII, which ultimately became my debut novel, Letters from Home—and the course of my career at that point completely changed.

Q. Do you ‘get lost’ in your writing?

Review of Sold on a Monday

Don’t miss Part II of this Interview next week.
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MY BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!    July — Catherine Ryan Hyde.  August:  My interview with Susan Wiggs  September: Alan Foster (sci-fi) and October: Kristina McMorris
 
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Interview with Sci-Fi author, Alan Dean Foster (part 2)

With Tom Christian, great-great-great grandson of Fletcher Christian – Pitcairn Is.

Q. What first inspired you to write?

AF. In Carl Barks Uncle Scrooge comics, Scrooge has to travel to unusual, exotic places either to check on his vast array of businesses or to hunt for treasure. Very early on, these comics inculcated in a desire to emulate Scrooge. Before I could do so in reality, I did so in my imagination. That desire has continued to afflict me to the present. My parents also had an old book by Richard Halliburton. I remember very clearly a picture of Halliburton standing in front of the Taj Mahal. I thought it impossibly romantic (and yes, I got to the Taj eventually).

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

AF. Could be either one. If an interesting character occurs to me, or if I meet one in my travels, I might build a book or story around them. If a plot idea comes first, I’ll populate it with suitable characters. I never know which will come first.

Q. Do you ‘get lost’ in your writing?

AF. Completely. I’m told my writing is very visual. This is because I “see” everything I’m writing about. I literally describe what I’m seeing. It’s as if I’m operating a video camera in my mind. I go to all the places I’m describing.

For example, this was taken of me in Tuareg headdress where the borders of Niger, Mali, and Burkina Faso meet. Not a safe place nowadays due to the depradations of Isis and Boko Haram. In life, you have to pick your spots.

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

AF. I do a monthly column on art and science for a local monthly paper (5enses; you can read the column on-line. Book-wise, I’m in pause mode.

 

Q. When did you begin to write seriously?

AF. My senior year at UCLA I discovered the film department. I’d always been a facile writer in high school. Film and TV writing courses offered an opportunity to acquire credits toward graduation that was very easy for me. I didn’t realize it was difficult for everyone else. To take a break from writing scripts, I started to write short fiction, and submit it. My first sale was to Arkham House. A long Lovecraftian letter that I thought might amuse the editor, August Dereleth. Imagine my surprise when he offered to buy it and publish it as a “story”. Payment was fifty bucks. I intended to frame the check…a resolution that lasted about ten minutes. The story, which is included in my first collection, was “Some Notes Concerning a Green Box”. It was set in the bowels of the UCLA library, an on-campus sanctuary for me.

Q. How long after that were you published?

Dog’s name is Zipper. Cat is Caesar.

AF. Although “Some Notes…” was my first sale, my first published fiction was the short story “With Friends Like These”, which appeared in Analog magazine in June, 1971.

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

AF. Not in our lifetime. But eventually, mass market paper books will disappear as a consequence of cost and ecological concerns. I believe there will always be a market for those who love to collect “real” books.

Q. What makes a writer great?

AF. Find a new way to describe the human condition and how it interacts with is surroundings.

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

AF. George Orwell once said that anyone who wants to be a writer is certifiable. It’s slow, agonizing, brain-wrenching work. And it never gets easier. As I tell students, page one is easy, page 400 is easy. It’s the 398 pages in between that’s hard. Ideas, characters, plots are easy enough. Turning them into stories that people want to read…that’s hard.

Q. How has your life experiences influenced your writing?

A. My travels percolate all through my writing. Locations, characters, new ideas…they all show up sooner or later. Sometimes, like the aforementioned oriental gentleman, an acquaintance will become a character. Other times I’ll get an entire book out of a trip, such as SAGRAMANDA (India) or INTO THE OUT OF (Tanzania/Kenya). Or parts of a book, like CATALYST (Peru, Australia). I don’t know how writers can imagine or create other cultures without having explored those right here on Earth.

Q. What’s your down time look like?

Alan with Ronnie Dio

AF. I lift weights, now only twice a week. I spend too much time on the web surfing the planet. I read as often as my strained eyesight permits. I am not averse to television, everything from The Simpsons to American Experience (PBS). I enjoy spending time with our pets (currently six cats and one tolerant dog). I listen to a lot of classical music interspersed with heavy metal and interesting newcomers (Angelina Jordan, Courtney Hadwin, The Hu). Me and the late Ronnie Dio, of DIO…a big fan of Spellsinger. After a concert. I was perspiring more heavily than Ronnie was.

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

AF. I’ve written science-fiction, fantasy, contemporary, historical, western, detective, and non-fiction. I’m very comfortable sliding between genres.

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

AF. No matter how bad you think your situation is, it is undoubtedly a thousand times better than that of the person next to you.

Check out Part 1 of this Interview
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MY BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!    July — Catherine Ryan Hyde.  August:  My interview with Susan Wiggs  September: Alan Foster (sci-fi) and October: Kristina McMorris
 
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Interview with Sci-Fi Author, Alan Dean Foster

Alan Dean Foster

TS. His first attempt at a novel, The Tar-Aiym Krang, was published by Ballantine Books in 1972. Hence began close to a 40 year writing career. Since then, Foster’s sometimes humorous, occasionally poignant, but always entertaining short fiction has appeared in all the major SF magazines as well as in original anthologies and several “Best of the Year” compendiums. His published oeurve includes more than 120 books.His work to date includes excursions into hard science-fiction, fantasy, horror, detective, western, historical, and contemporary fiction. 

Though restricted (for now) to the exploration of one world, Foster’s love of the far-away and exotic has led him to travel extensively. After graduating from college he lived for a summer with the family of a Tahitian policeman and camped out in French Polynesia. He and his wife JoAnn  have traveled to Europe and throughout Asia and the Pacific in addition to exploring the back roads of Tanzania and Kenya. Foster has camped out in the “Green Hell” region of the Southeastern Peruvian jungle, photographing army ants and pan-frying piranha (lots of small bones; tastes a lot like trout); has ridden forty-foot whale sharks in the remote waters off Western Australia, and was one of three people on the first commercial air flight into Northern Australia’s Bungle Bungle National Park. He has rappelled into New Mexico’s fabled Lechugilla Cave, white-water rafted the length of the Zambezi’s Batoka Gorge, driven solo the length and breadth of Namibia, crossed the Andes by car, sifted the sands of unexplored archeological sites in Peru, gone swimming with giant otters in Brazil, surveyed remote Papua New Guinea and West Papua both above and below the water, and dived unexplored reefs throughout the South Pacific and Indian Ocean.

The Fosters reside in Prescott, AZ in a house built of brick salvaged from a turn-of-the-century miners’ hotel/ brothel, along with assorted dogs, cats, fish, several hundred houseplants, visiting javelina, roadrunners, eagles, red-tailed hawks, skunks, coyotes, and bobcats. He is presently at work on several new novels and media projects.

Ready to work with help from Stubbs

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

AF. For years I worked in a tiny tack room attached to a large garage. When we had enough money saved, we pulled the roof and made a single room above the garage into my study. Since it’s a separate building, I’ve always had a sufficiency of peace and quiet.

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.)

AF. I read news from around the world until I get tired of it. Then I enter my own world(s). I have (as you can tell from photos) possibly the most organized work space of any writer alive. It’s just…me.

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

AF. In the 1965-69 198lb. class, I have a world record in competitive raw power lifting…and a bunch of state records. Healthy mind in a healthy body.

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

AF. I prefer to work in the morning. My mind is clear and I have a lot to do around the house in the afternoon (my wife’s physical condition restricts what she is able to do). But if the muse strikes, I can write anytime.

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

AF. Persistence. Internalized anger at your inability to set down words. Just tell yourself to write one page. Just one. Even if the content is goop. Usually I find that I end up writing two, three, or many more pages. It’s those first few words that get you started. Just like turning the crank to start a car in the old days. Keep cranking, as it were.

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

AF. Some I invent out of whole cloth. Some I base on people I’ve encountered. As an example of the later, when I was writing the novel CACHALOT I needed a dignified gentleman of oriental extraction to fit a character. You never know how something like that will morph. Here’s a rather unusual example.

Q. What first inspired you to write?

Check out Part II of this wonderful interview on September 27th.
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MY BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!    July — Catherine Ryan Hyde.  August:  My interview with Susan Wiggs  September: Alan Foster (sci-fi) and October: Kristina McMorris
 
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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 ~ Oysterville Sewing Circle

reviews, authors, writingreviews, authors, writingreviews, authors, writingreviews, authors, writingreviews, authors, writing

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

 

 

 

 

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 Catherine Ryan Hyde (conclusion)

One of my favorite writers; the interview reveals the thinking and processes of a gifted author. Did you miss part 1?

Q. When did you begin to write seriously?

CRH. January of 1991. I was working as a baker and pastry chef in a local restaurant. I live in a tourist town, and the restaurant closed its doors in January. That’s not the time to find a new job in a tourist town. So I got stuck home on unemployment. I woke up one day and realized I should write that novel I always swore I would write if I ever had the time. Because, like it or not, I had the time.

Q. How long after that were you published?

CRH. Depends on what you mean by published. I started getting stories published in literary and small circulation magazines in 1994. But that’s probably not what you mean. You probably mean when did I get my first novel published. 1997. Felt like a slow slog, but it’s not the saddest story ever told in the publishing business.

photo by Catherine R.Hyde

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

CRH. No. We will not. And, strange though it may sound at first, I say this as a horse owner. When I decided I wanted a horse to own and ride, I was not told, “Sorry, they no longer exist. The horseless carriage caused their total demise.” The world is still full of millions of horses. All the horseless carriage could do was bump them out of their spot as the mainstream form of transportation. The law of supply and demand will always assure the survival of anything people want.

I’m older than a lot of readers and writers (seriously, I’m pretty old) and I actually remember when “books on tape” (modern translation: audio) was going to kill the book. The book is still alive, and audio is thriving alongside the book as an alternative reading style. EBooks add another alternative. They take nothing away.

Q. What makes a writer great?

CRH. No idea. If I knew, I would bottle it and sell it. I do know that, for my own reading pleasure, an author has to make me feel something. Shed some light on the human condition without making it feel hopeless.  Good story-telling skills are, of course, a plus.

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

CRH. It looks like a lot of two- or three-hour mornings in front of the computer, doing what I love to do best. You probably wanted a more complex answer, but it feels simple. I sit down and do the work until it’s done.

Q. How have your life experiences influenced your writing?

CRH. Hard to say, because I don’t consciously go to my own life experiences to find a story. Looking back at the work, I can see patterns. I felt a bit lost as a child, so my books are full of coming-of-age characters getting found, usually by grownups who are not rightfully in charge of finding them (see previous link to Lenny story). And I do have questions about humans. Why we do what we do and don’t what we don’t. And they tend to come out in the work. But my fiction is far less autobiographical than people tend to guess. I really do make this stuff up.

Q. What’s your down time look like?

CRH. It has a fair amount of horse hair on it.

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

CRH. Not really. I do have one book of photos and an essay collection. And I’m not a huge fan of genre fiction per se. The work tells me what to do more than vice versa. So I just keep writing character-driven stories.

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

CRH. Take what you believe and apply it to yourself. Leave everybody else alone. What they’re doing may look wrong to you, but they are on a path, and it’s really none of your business. You will be happier and so will they. Besides, if people didn’t do strange things, fiction writers like me would be out of a job.

See 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.  Coming Soon!  My interview with Susan Wiggs
 
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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
 
To receive my posts sign up for my 

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