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?’

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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