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Interview with author, Molly Gloss

TS. Molly likes to brag (just a little) that on her mother’s side, she’s fourth generation Oregonian, from German immigrants. On her father’s side she’s fourth-generation Texan, as her great grandmother  was the first white child born in Irion County, Texas. She is widowed with one son and was recently blessed with a new grandson!  She says, “Why didn’t anyone tell me how magical this would be?! Oh, right, they did tell me, I just wasn’t listening!” She’s been writing full-time since  1980. “I’m a slow writer, but I’ve managed to eke out six novels and about 20 short stories.” She currently lives in Portland, Ore. 

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

Writing….

MG. I like to be comfortable. I wrote The Jump-Off Creek in longhand while sitting in my favorite overstuffed chair. When desktop computers became the thing, I wrote while sitting at a desk, but I never loved it, and now I write on a laptop, sitting on the living room sofa with my feet propped up on an ottoman and the laptop literally in my lap.

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.)

MG. Nope. I open the file I’m working on, reread the last few pages, and go to work wrestling with the next sentence. But I do have to have my favorite Roget’s Thesaurus close to hand. And also The American Thesaurus of Slang. Good for finding just the right period-perfect term for historical fiction.

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

MG. I have never lived on the “dry side” of the West where many of my novels and stories are set. I grew up on the “wet side” and live here still, in a suburban townhouse at the edge of Portland.

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

MG. I try to write from post-breakfast to pre-dinner, with a short break for lunch, but that schedule can vary greatly now that I live alone and have no children or husband or dog to contend with. Now sometimes I surprise myself by writing late at night. But it’s a sad irony that I do have more trouble sticking to a set schedule now that I have more time to write. When I had a family at home and had to keep up the housework, the grocery shopping, the gardening, making meals, etc, I was more disciplined about squeezing my writing into the available time. Now I’ve become a procrastinator!

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

MG. Speaking of which! I’m not the best person to give this advice, as I’ve become a terrible procrastinator myself, horribly addicted to the lure of the internet. I had to go away to a place without wifi in order to finish my last novel. Perhaps that’s my advice? Disconnect from wifi!

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

MG. More often than not, a new character arises out of research for a previous novel. In researching for The Jump-Off Creek, which is a novel about a single woman homesteader, I came upon Teresa Jordan’s book of oral histories, COWGIRLS: WOMEN OF THE AMERICAN WEST, and there for the first time heard about young girls traveling the countryside breaking horses during the nineteen-tens, and my character Martha Lessen in THE HEARTS OF HORSES arose out of that research. And then while I was researching the history of horse training for that novel, I fell into a cache of material about how horses were trained (and misused) in the Western movies of the 1930s, and that was the beginning of my character Bud Frazer, a Hollywood stunt rider in FALLING FROM HORSES.

Q. What first inspired you to write?

MG. I’ve always wanted to write. I was a voracious reader and I think I’ve often been driven by a desire to write the story I couldn’t find on the library shelves.

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

MG.They are intertwined. The character doesn’t exist for me until I know what sort of situation they are in. And the situation doesn’t mean anything to me unless I can see how it impacts a particular person.

Don’t miss Part two of this Interview on January 25th
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MY BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!   December:  Jayne Ann Krentz (Amanda Quick)  January: Molly Gloss. February:  Patrick Canning and March: Poet, Joe Albanese
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Interview with author, Jayne Ann Krentz (Part 2)

Q:  How has your life experiences influenced your writing?

A: Before I got this cool writing gig I did time in the corporate and academic worlds so I often use elements from those experiences in my plots.  I’m convinced that every writer has a core story. We spend our careers exploring it.  My core story is romantic suspense—a murder mystery entwined with a passionate relationship.  I love that combination.  The love story raises the stakes in the suspense and the danger raises the stakes in the romance.  When I plot I try to make sure that every twist in the suspense affects the relationship and vice versa.  This is true across the three time zones in which I set my stories:  historicals, contemporaries and futuristics.

When I was growing up my formative books included Nancy Drew and Andre Norton.  But it wasn’t until I graduated from college that I came across the book that changed my life:  Anne McCaffrey’s RESTOREE.  Looking back, I think it’s clear that she pretty much invented the futuristic romantic suspense novel with that one book.

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

A: There has always been plenty of room for my stories in the romance genre. In my opinion it is the least confining of all the genres. The others all seem to have rather strict conventions and expectations—writers violate them at their peril.  But there is plenty of scope for storytelling within romance.  The settings can be historical, contemporary, futuristic or paranormal. The sexuality can be sweet or intense. The suspense can be anything from a serial killer thriller to a cozy plot.  Romance writers are  free to deal with almost any social issue.  No limits, really.  All that is expected is a romantic relationship and the HEA.  Works for me.

Q. What’s your down time look like?

JAK. I was recently introduced to boxing as a workout and fell in love with it. Which is a good thing because  I love to cook AND eat and, therefore, I need the workout!

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

JAK. Nope.  As has been noted, the paper book is still the simplest and best way to preserve information and stories because it can survive hundreds of years.  Our technology, on the other hand, evolves so fast that anything preserved in that format will probably be impossible to read even a hundred years from now. 

Q. What makes a writer great? 

JAK. Voice. It’s impossible to define but in the end it is the only thing that really matters.  If the writer’s voice is not compelling readers will not finish the book.  But here’s the sticky part — no two readers respond to a book in the exact same way.  Everyone brings something different to a book and everyone takes something different away.  Readers will fall in love with a lot of different voices over the years. 

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

A. One scene at a time. 

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

A:  Figure out your core story early on.  Every writer in every genre has one.  It has nothing to do with a particular fictional landscape.  It is all about the emotions and themes and values that compel you as a writer.  Once you truly understand your core story you will realize that you can take it into any genre.

Did you miss Part I of this wonderful Interview? Click here

Untouchable will be on sale January 8, 2019
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MY BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!   October: Alretha Thomas. November: Joe English. December:  Jayne Ann Krentz (Amanda Quick)  January: Molly Gloss and February:  Patrick Canning.
To receive my posts sign up for my   On the home page, enter your email address.  Thanks! 

 

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Interview with author, Jayne Ann Krentz (aka Amanda Quick)

TS. I have been buying and reading Jayne Ann Krentz and Amanda Quick (pseudonym  for her period pieces) for more than three decades and am one of her biggest fans. Since 2013 I have been requesting an interview from this author and finally the stars aligned and Santa granted my wish. Wink. It is my honor to share with my fans, writers and readers this fascinating look into Jayne Ann’s writing processes and down time. 

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.

JAK: I like to write in my office.  It’s my refuge, retreat and comfort zone.  That said, I can—and do—write just about anywhere—on a plane, on vacation, etc.  Writing is an addiction for me.  No matter where I am or what I’m doing there’s a story going on in my head.  I can make notes, work through plot issues, and jot down ideas with a pen and a yellow notepad but I do my most creative writing on a computer because I’m fast with a keyboard.  That means my fingers can keep up with my thoughts.  Every morning when I sit down to write I send up a personal “thank you” to the teacher who taught that touch typing class back in high school!

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.)

JAK:  No special rituals, well, except coffee.   I just need my computer and a keyboard and a cup of coffee.  I also need solitude.  I know a lot of authors write to music but I can’t do that.  My brain starts going in two different directions, one part following the music, the other trying to focus on the writing.  Guess I can’t walk and chew gum at the same time.

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

JAK:  Nope.  Okay, I love to shop at Nordstroms (Seattle, Washington) and I love to cook vegetarian/low carb but those two passions are not exactly secrets. Everyone who follows me on Facebook or Instagram knows that much about me. (and apparently also loves to crawl around in Lava craters.)

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

JAK:  I’m definitely a morning person. I get up around five am. My husband and I love our breakfast routine which includes coffee, cottage cheese, peanut butter on rye crisp and three different newspapers.  After the papers, I take my last cup of coffee to my office.  I’m usually at my computer by six-thirty at the latest.  I write fairly steadily until noon with a one hour break at some point for working out.  Afternoons are for the other things that go with writing—untangling plot problems, figuring out motives, checking research, and, oh, yeah, real life.


Fun Fact
: Is there any fan out there that doesn’t know that Jayne Ann Krentz and Amanda Quick are one in the same??

 

Join us for Part 2 on December 21st

Untouchable will be on sale January 8, 2019

Coming Soon!  My Review of Untouchable

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MY BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!   October: Alretha Thomas. November: Joe English. December:  Jayne Ann Krentz (Amanda Quick)  January: Molly Gloss and February:  Patrick Canning.
To receive my posts sign up for my   On the home page, enter your email address.  Thanks! 

 

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Interview with author, Joe English (part 2)

Q.  Do you ‘get lost’ in your writing?   

JE.   Definitely.   The rest of the world goes on, I am told and occasionally realize, while I am puzzling over a phrase, a sentence.   Should I add a poem to the beginning of a given  chapter to foreshadow  the chapter’s worth?   Should I use the word large or big?  Is the simile in the sentence “The sky was as blue as the bluest  eye. . .” apt?   [Answer:  no.  Why not?  Well, the sky is vast; the eye, small]. How about “The sky was as blue as the bluest eye and the jungle as green as gold”?  The second half not as bothersome, but still not quite there yet.  So, after hours and hours (literally) of tinkering, thinking, playing, rewriting:   throw the sky overboard.  Go with just the jungle:  “The rising sun stoked greens—emerald and jade, myrtle and moss—into glistening gold.”   There! 

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

JE.   I am working on a short story.   What has kept me going all these years is that many, many readers have praised SCHUGARA.    Gratifying.   But the bills must be paid.  I am not sure I want to  put myself through the torture, abuse, neglect, duplicity, that an unestablished  novelist must endure.   Tell me:  is posthumous  recognition appealing?  I think frequently of Gray’s “Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard”:  

Full many a gem of purest ray serene, 
The dark unfathom’d caves of ocean bear: 
Full many a 
flow’r is born to blush unseen, 
And waste its sweetness on the desert air.
  

Q.  When did you begin to write seriously?    

JE.  Since I was a child, ten years of age of thereabouts.  I have always been fascinated with words.   Elegance has all but disappeared from writing.   From our use of language.   From our culture.   From the ways we interact with others. 

Q. How long after that were you published? 

JE.   High school.  Literary publication. 

Q. What makes a writer great? 

JE.   Having something to say and saying it well.  

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

JE.   I quote Lily Tomlin in SCHUGARA:  “No matter how cynical you become, it’s never enough to keep up.”  I don’t like saying so, or recognizing this, but I have come to the conclusion that, for the most part, people simply don’t care, don’t give a damn, pay lip service to the concerns of others, and live inside solipsistic bubbles.  My advice to aspiring writers:  get off the beaten path.   If you are in a city, move into one of the many “ghetto” areas the United States cultivates, dumping grounds for people without money, for the most part people of color.  Do not get sucked into the television world of lies and happy faces:  YOU DESERVE A BREAK TODAY!  HAVE IT YOUR WAY!   Those who are idealists in their teenage years and twenties sell out by age thirty without ever realizing so.     Do we need more stories about suburban angst?

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

JE.   A book is NEVER finished.  The writer must force himself/herself to stop.   Now that I have been forced to stop, I suffer the slings and arrows of trying to get attention paid.   The literary gatekeepers keep a close-knit mutually praising society, frightened, so it seems, at anyone or anything that goes against the grain.

Ours is a close minded culture, wherein those who know know they know better.   They are the tastemakers.   Do you think a novel published by a struggling tiny press located in Louisville, Kentucky, clearly the hayseed  capital of the nation, has a chance of being reviewed by the New York Times?

Did you miss part 1: Click here 
To purchase Schugara
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MY BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!   August: Mega best selling author, Susan Mallery. September: Jonathan Rabb.  October: Alretha Thomas. November: Joe English. December:  Jayne Ann Krentz (Amanda Quick)  January: Molly Gloss and in early 2019  Patrick Canning.
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Interview with Author, Joe English

I admire a writer who, for his first  novel, writes a saga of 500+ pages. A Place Called Schugara is such a book and took Joe thirty years to write. (Review coming later.)  I love Joe’s answer:  What can one do?  Submit! “  That’s what all of us writers have to do, willingly or not.  I think my readers will really enjoy this unique interview. 

 

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.  

 JE.   I write at my desk, on my laptop.  Nothing sexy.  I have my desk positioned so that it faces a wall, not a window.    

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.)  

JE.   Other than the manacles I place on my wrists and the chains I lash on my feet, nothing. 

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

JE.   I worked on A PLACE CALLED SCHUGARA for 30 years, rewriting, rewriting, rewriting.   People kept reading—to the last word, so I kept at it.  After 1,100 + rejections from agents and publishers, a courageous woman, Amanda Rotach Lamkin, owner of Line by Lion Publishing (Louisville, Kentucky), a small, independent (not vanity/subsidy/participation) press sent me a contract. 

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

JE.   Preferably mornings.   The first draft—30 years ago—took a year and a half.  With incredibly few exceptions, I woke at 3 a.m. and wrote to 6 a.m., spending the rest of the day in a daze as my mind was not on my job but on the goings-on in my story, the characters, the  dilemmas. 

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

JE.  Force yourself to sit at your desk, your laptop, your writing surface.  Stare at the page.   Scribble some words.   Erase.  Scribble others.   Sooner or later, generally later, the pump will be primed.   When you are not at your desk, carry a small notebook to write down inspirations/thoughts/observations/ideas/phrases.  

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

 JE  For the most part (Luigi Pirandello), they discover me.  “Here I am,” each says.  “You must tell my story.”  At the onset of A PLACE CALLED SCHUGARA, I had no idea that a character by the name of Albert Sidney McNab, would insist on being so prominent.   What can one do?  Submit! 

Q. What first inspired you to write?    

JE.  The most important rule of writing is having something to say.  I have felt for many years that our overstressed, capitalistic, materialist culture is life-deadening.  What would it be like to chuck it all?   To disappear?  To start over?  So I came up with an “everyman” figure, Travers Landeman (name intended to suggest his trapped life), who is trapped in a loveless marriage, is harassed by government bureaucrats, whose business is failing, who fakes his own death on “Mabouhey,” an unknown Caribbean island.   Will he get away with it? 

Q. Being a new fiction writer, how did it happen that your first effort was an ambitious 500+ saga?  
 
A.  The story is all.  The writer becomes captive to his/her characters, who rule.  I had no idea whatsoever that SCHUGARA would turn into such a saga.  But there you have it and here it is.  I have read and reread SCHUGARA, at least 75 times in the past two years, with a view towards paring it down.   Here and there I was able to jettison a word, phrase, or paragraph.   But, for better, I hope, the story is what the story is.  To amputate solely for the sake of brevity would be as sinful as fluffing for the sake of heft. 

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

JE.   The situation.   Then, one by one, the characters arrived. 

Don’t Miss Part Two of this Interview November 16th
To purchase A Place Called Schugara
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
 
MY BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!   August: Mega best selling author, Susan Mallery. September: Jonathan Rabb.  October: Alretha Thomas. November: Joe English. December:  Jayne Ann Krentz (Amanda Quick)  January: Molly Gloss and in early 2019  Patrick Canning.
To receive my posts sign up for my   On the home page, enter your email address.  Thanks! 

 

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Interview with Author, Playwright, Alretha Thomas (part 2)

Part 2: 

Q. What comes first? The situation or the characters.

AT. The situation comes first.

Q. Do you ‘get lost’ in your writing?

AT. I become completely immersed in my writing. I get so lost in the world I’ve created, I forget where I am, and hours fly by. It’s really a high!

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

AT.My latest work was released August 7, 2018. It’s the first book in my new Dancing Hills Mystery Series. It’s called “The Women on Retford Drive.” It’s about a mother and stepdaughter who have endured abuse at the hands of their husband and father respectively. The day they shape plans to leave him, he goes missing. The women, afraid the police are going to name them as suspects, try to find out what happened to him. Did one of them kill him or is there another agenda at play unbeknownst to the women and the police far more sinister?

Q. When did you begin to write seriously?

AT. I began my first serious work in 1999. I wrote a novel loosely based on my dysfunctional childhood called “Daughter Denied.” I had no idea what I was doing. However, readers fell in love with the ten-year-old protagonist Renee.

Q. How long after that were you published?

AT. It was fifteen years later before I received a publishing deal. Thank goodness we can’t see the future. If I had known it would have taken over a decade, I might have given up. Lol!

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

AT. Yes!!!! There was a time when I couldn’t imagine reading a book on a computer, but now my Kindle library is filled with books. I do, however, still enjoy reading a paper book. I like seeing them on the bookshelves in my library. However, electronic books are so easy to manage, especially at the gym.

Q. What makes a writer great?

AT. Someone who has studied their craft and that has a passion for storytelling. You must be open and free to write what you know and what’s in your heart, not the latest trend.

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

AT. It starts with an idea. I turn that idea into an outline. I determine the end of the story. I decide what my plot twists will be. Then I get into the characters. I create bios for all my characters. I determine what the main characters want, what their obstacles will be. I complete a first draft. I have beta readers go over my work. I complete more drafts. Then when I have the final draft, I send it to my developmental editor. After she goes through it, and I address all her concerns, I complete another draft. Once that is final, I send it to my editor who also proofs the book. Then I’m good to go! It’s about a six-month process.

Q. How has your life experiences influenced your writing?

AT. I’ve had an interesting life. My childhood at times was harrowing. I lost my mother when I was 14 and she was only 36. God got me through. My twenties were crazy, due to my childhood and my own bad choices. I began to grow up in my thirties and from there, my life has been fabulous. Not perfect, but amazing. Nineteen years ago, I met the love of my life. We had a beautiful wedding. In 2000 we went to Africa together. In 2001 we bought a home. In 2012 my husband retired and in 2016 I retired and am writing and acting full time. Because of all my experiences, I feel deeply. I’m passionate. I can relate to pain, disappointment, hurt, exhilaration, joy, all the things you’ll find in a good book. I believe my life enables me to write books that move and inspire readers.

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

AT. I started writing women’s fiction. In my Cass and Nick series, it dawned on me that in all four books someone dies and that there is an element of suspense in each book. In 2015, I made a foray into writing murder mysteries and I’ve never looked back.

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

AT. Don’t ever cry too hard over the person, job or material object you wanted and couldn’t have, because God has something so much better in store for you.

Did you miss Part I of this wonderful Interview? Click here
To see more of Alretha’s books: click here
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Interview with Playwright, Author, Alretha Thomas

  Shortly after graduating from USC with a degree in journalism, this prolific writer soon realized her interest in her major was not heartfelt. Instead of writing news stories, she wanted to write plays and books. Several years later, her church gave her an outlet to fulfill her writing desires through their Liturgical Fine Arts Department wherein Alretha penned twelve theatre pieces—the community response was overwhelming.  In between plays, Alretha’s first novel Daughter Denied was launched in 2008 and has received glowing reviews from readers and book clubs across the country.  Alretha was awarded the Jessie Redmon Fauset Literary Award for her indie novel Four Ladies Only. Alretha returned to acting and is now writing and acting full time. 

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.

AT. I write in the family dining room/hang out room. My computer is up against a wall and it’s my special place.
Whenever my husband wants to get my attention, he’ll leave a note on my keyboard knowing it won’t be missed! He calls it my home within the home. Lol! My husband and I often talk about buying a bigger home, if, and when we get a windfall. My dream workspace would have a view of the Pacific Ocean.

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.)

AT. I have to be very comfortable when I write. Thus, I write in very loose-fitting clothing. Usually my blue sundress my husband bought me or my ripped up blue robe. I guess it’s something about blue.  I also must have my desk fan blasting. I have about a half dozen little stuff animals and toys that I keep to the right of me. I think they’re my good luck charms.

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

AT. I volunteer every Tuesday at a nursing home not too far from my home. There are about six people there that I feel very close to. I paint nails for the ladies, tell stories and most times just listen. The residents have no idea how much they do for me mentally, emotionally and spiritually. They are wonderful people who for one reason or another are in the nursing home. It makes me grateful and it makes me appreciate being able to get around right now. No one knows what the future holds.

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

AT. I love writing at night after my husband has gone to bed and it’s quiet in the house and the neighborhood. I just love it. I feel like a little girl in a sandbox. No matter what I’m doing during the day, I get excited when I think about the fact that later that night I’ll be writing. So many ideas about what my characters are going to say and do flood my head during the day. It’s wonderful when I can put it on paper.

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

AT. Just do it! I’ve never had a problem with writer’s block or procrastination. Thank goodness. If anything, you have to pull me away from the computer!

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

AT. I believe my characters discover me. They enter my subconscious and take over my being. They slowly began to evolve. Case in point are the main characters in my latest mystery novel, “The Women on Retford Drive.” I’ve never met anyone like my protagonist Julia Pritchard or her stepdaughter Blythe Pritchard. One day I just had this feeling about writing about a mother and step daughter being abused and working together to escape their plight. From there, the story just took off.

Q. What first inspired you to write?

AT. My fifth-grade teacher inspired me to write. She gave the class a short story assignment. I got an idea to write a story about a bag boy in a supermarket who falls in love with a young customer. I guess you could say that was my first romance story. The following day our teacher congratulated the entire class on our work. However, she said there was one story that stood out. And that story was mine. I nearly fell out of my chair. I couldn’t believe it. She read it aloud and the class was riveted. While I was watching the expressions on the faces of my peers, I knew in that moment I wanted to be a writer for life.

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

Join Us with Part Two of this fascinating Interview on October 26th
To Purchase Alretha’s books, click here 
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

MY BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!   August: Mega best selling author, Susan Mallery. September: Jonathan Rabb.  October: Alretha Thomas. November: Joe English. December: Molly Gloss. Coming this winter: Jayne Ann Krentz (Amanda Quick) and Patrick Canning.

To receive my posts sign up for my   On the home page, enter your email address.  Thanks! 

 

To Purchase

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Interview with Jonathan Rabb, Writer (conclusion)

TS.  This has been a terrific Interview. All writers achieve the same goals using different paths to get there. 

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

JR. Muscle memory. That’s where it is now. I can’t imagine not having a book I’m working on. In other words, I have to be working on something. So, in some sense, I never fully enjoy “finished book” because I’m always at least thinking about the next one. In the same way, I never feel I’m in “no book” territory.

You don’t get a lot of resolution in your creative life if you’re a novelist (at least I don’t). It’s probably why I do crossword puzzles. Resolution is immediate.

Q. How has your life experiences influenced your writing?

JR. How can they not? When I first started writing, I was in NY and single. Now, I’m in Savannah, married with two kids, and a professor of writing. Save for that first novel, I don’t borrow from my own life as the foundation of a novel. Yes, my characters grapple with the same anxieties I grapple with, but they aren’t me in a fictional guise. But as the challenges have changed in my life, I think they’ve changed for my characters as well. And my interests have shifted. Five years ago I would never have thought about a book in Mexico. Now, I can’t imagine not writing it.

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

JR. I’ve been accused of bucking genres. My first two books were clearly thrillers, based around historical documents. Then I dove into historical fiction entirely with three books in Germany and Spain in 1919, 1927 and 1936. Yes, there was a mystery in each of those, but the mystery was always less important than the political and social anxieties that the characters were dealing with. Some reviewers called them historical fiction, others literary fiction, still others mysteries. And then I jumped to my last book, which is Savannah 1947 – a much more intimate novel, less about the historical backdrop and more about one man’s struggle. And now I’m doing contemporary Mexico in one book, and 1606 Venice in another

So, I don’t really think in terms of genres. I just write what excites me. So far I’ve been lucky enough that my publishers let me do that.

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

JR. Writing is hard, maybe harder than anything else in the arts for the simple reason that everyone thinks they have access to language. Very few people walk around thinking, Yes, I can design a dress or produce a self-portrait. But everyone thinks, Hey, I can write. Just look at me on Facebook….

But that’s not true, which makes writing even harder if you really want to take a stab at it.

So, the lesson I’ve learned is: do whatever you can to make writing easier while you’re writing. Take the pressure off and just try and get a single sentence down that you don’t hate. Some days, that one sentence is enough. It paves the way for the days when you write 5,000 words and you can’t imagine how you did it.

Give yourself a break. Writing is hard. Don’t make it harder than it has to be.

Did you miss Part 1 or 2 of this fine Interview? Click here
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MY BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!   August: Mega best selling author, Susan Mallery. September: Jonathan Rabb.  October: Alretha Thomas. November: Joe English. December: Molly Gloss. Coming this winter: Jayne Ann Krentz (Amanda Quick) and Patrick Canning.

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Interview with Professor of Writing, Jonathan Rabb (part 2)

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

JR. The paperback of my last one came out a few months ago, and I’m at work on two very different projects right now. One is contemporary in Mexico; the other is 1606 Venice. I’ve never written two at once, but it’s proving to be exciting, even if it is more challenging. We’ll see how it works out.

Q. When did you begin to write seriously?

JR. I was 28 or 29. I decided that political theory wasn’t for me, and I got the idea for that first book, The Overseer. There was no pressure, so I don’t know if I really thought about it as “serious” writing (there’s the old chestnut: you have a lifetime to write your first book, about a year to write your second). But somewhere in there I began to think, “Maybe this is what I’m meant to do.” I got lucky and have been allowed to do it ever since.

Q. How long after that were you published?

JR. I started The Overseer in late 1993 or early 1994. I finished the first draft (a very economical 750 pages) in July of 1996. By happenstance, I was working a translating job and someone else on the job heard I’d written a manuscript and said he had a friend in Lectures at William Morris. He said he’d be happy to show the first chapter to the woman at WM. I sent it to him, he sent it to her, and three days later, the woman called and said she had sent it on to someone in Literary. Three days later, the agent in Literary called and said he needed to see the rest of the manuscript. I sent it over and, two weeks later, I signed with WM. My agent had been an editor, so he helped me trim the manuscript down to 525 pages. We sent it out, got rejected, sent it out again, and then Holt, Crown and Harpers all came in with offers. We went with Crown in June of 1997, and the hardcover came out in June of 1998.

Q. What makes a writer great?

JR. I don’t know. I think you have to find whatever it is that makes writing a need for you, and that’s purely idiosyncratic. And then commit yourself to it. Writing a novel is like any long-term relationship. There’s the infatuation at the beginning, but then the feelings mature. And it can be hard. But it’s the best kind of hard you’ll ever experience if you keep your focus.

I also think taste plays a large role in any of the arts. I suppose we can all look at a select group and say, Yes, those are great writers, but even then, I don’t know. I’d be hard-pressed not to include Graham Greene on that list or Ivo Andric or Joan Didion, and some folks can’t stand any of them. Is there something that ties all the greats together? Maybe it’s that, if they ever wavered, they never gave up entirely. Even Kafka. If Kafka (by my lights in the top three of all time) could muscle through it, then anyone can.

Did you miss Part 1? Click here

Part 3 of this Interview will return on September 28th.
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MY BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!   August: Mega best selling author, Susan Mallery. September: Jonathan Rabb.  October: Alretha Thomas. November: Joe English. December: Molly Gloss. Coming this winter: Jayne Ann Krentz (Amanda Quick)

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Interview with Writer, Jonathan Rabb

TS. I stumbled upon Jonathan Rabb, a local, fellow author and transplant, quite by accident. I found his take on writing fascinating and asked that he share it with my readers.

 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.

JR. I have a study in the house, which many of my old friends say uncannily resembles my old one-room apartment back in New York before I got married. It’s bookcases everywhere, maps, and an entire shelf devoted to my kids’ artwork. When the writing is going well, it’s hard to find a path from the door to the desk. I like to keep the blinds drawn, with a single overhead soft light. And the desk is an architect’s desk – a flat space with no drawers.

As it turns out, it is my dream workspace.

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.)

JR. My ritual (now) starts with the kids getting up, breakfast, the dog out for walk, carpool (on my days), and then a mug of hot water at the side of my computer, which I refill throughout the day. I usually dive in at about 8:30 and, if I remember to eat lunch, a break at 1, then on again until about 3. And then the kids come home. If I’m deep into a book, then I’m in the study at all hours. Those last three weeks are tough on everyone.

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

The Whiffenpoofs

JR. I sang in a group called the Whiffenpoofs in college (the oldest cappella singing group in the country). I also soloed with the NY Pops at Carnegie Hall.

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

JR.  As I said, usually in at 8:30, out at around 3. But that shifts the closer I get to the end of a book. That’s when I need to be with the characters, and I need to know how the whole thing will find its way to a conclusion. Not necessarily a resolution but a stopping point. I can’t step away from it for too long when I’m at that point.

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

JR. Writing is all about making choices. They don’t have to be big ones (or at least appear to be big ones at the moment), so make one. Writer’s block and procrastination are really just about being overwhelmed by the infinite number of choices you could make. That can freeze you. So choose. It might be the wrong choice, but at least you’ll be writing. And nothing is ever completely wrong.

It’s the old NY Lottery motto: you have to be in it to win it.

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

JR. For me, place is always a central character, so I usually start there. Then I have to find the people to interact with that character, and that’s when idiosyncrasies and cadences begin to make themselves known. But the best part of creating characters is when they surprise you. That’s when you know you’ve created someone real.

Q. What first inspired you to write?

JR. I was an academic at Columbia in political theory, and I needed an escape. So I came up with an idea for a thriller, in which the main character is a young academic at Columbia in political theory….who saves the world. That was great for my ego and sent me to the computer every day to see how the character would make good on that promise. It turned out to be my first novel, The Overseer.

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

JR. Hard to say. I think both are crucial – at least according to Stephen King – but I’m not sure I can distinguish them from one another as completely as I’d need to in order to prioritize one over the other. The characters reflect the demands of their situation; the situation shifts to meet the needs of the characters. I suppose the answer shifts from situation to situation and character to character.

Q. Do you ‘get lost’ in your writing?

JR. Yes. My wife often has to call me to remind me to have lunch. Those are the great days.

 

My interview with Jonathan continues September 21st. Don’t miss it! 
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MY BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!   August: Mega best selling author, Susan Mallery. September: Jonathan Rabb.  October: Alretha Thomas. November: Joe English. December: Molly Gloss. Coming this winter: Jayne Ann Krentz (Amanda Quick)

To receive my posts sign up for my   On the home page, enter your email address.  Thanks! 

 

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