DE. I was going through chemo again in 2019. My hair had grown back in, [at least I had hair at the moment]. but I was about to lose it for a second time – and within two months of this photo, I had none. I just got home from receiving a heavy dose of chemo at the hospital.
Q. Are you working on something now or have a new release coming up? If so tell us about it.
DE. I’m always working on a new book, and my next novel, When the Jessamine Grows, releases January 23, 2024. It’s a different story from my others because I’ve stepped back further in time to the Civil War era. This is a morally complex story about the McBride family, subsistence farmers whose principles are brought to the foreground after their eldest son runs off to join the Confederacy after being influenced by his staunch Confederate grandfather. The father, Ennis, goes after his son, leaving his wife, Joetta, (my main character) to look after their younger son, and the farm. What follows is a harrowing time for her, and the rest of the family as she is bound to stand by their beliefs, and by doing so, becomes a pariah in the community.
Q. When did you begin to write seriously?
DE. In 2008, when the company where I’d been working for twenty-five years went bankrupt. I’ve often wondered if they hadn’t, whether or not I would’ve started. It was the shove I guess I needed, because I’d thought I would retire from there. I’m so happy they folded. (haha)
Q. Do you think we will see, in our lifetime, the total demise of paper books?
DE. No – at least I hope not. (You do have wonder about all that paper, and the trees, and the pulp industry) But, I think this was already sort of proven when there was those few years when it seemed e-books might surpass sales of paper books. I haven’t looked it up lately to see if e-books are overtaking sales, but I think we’d hear it from the industry if that were to happen. Speaking from my own personal experience, paper book sales for my work is always higher than e-books.
Q. What makes a writer great?
DE. Speaking personally, what makes a writer great for me is when I look forward to getting back to the book, when they teach me something I didn’t know, or when they write about a concept, or topic that’s never been written about before. It’s when their way with words makes me re-read their sentences. Some writers hit all of these marks, some hit maybe one or two, but some aspect of these things, or all, are what I think make for a really brilliant writer.
Q. and the all-important: What does the process of going from “no book” to “finished book” look like for you?
DE. It looks . . . never-ending. It looks impossible. It looks like a fever dream. Chaotic. Messy. Dumb. I’m usually at a loss at the start. There are days/weeks of staring at nothing. Days/weeks of thinking, thinking, thinking. Trying to write, tossing it out, trying something else. It’s endless discussions with other writer friends. Eventually, a foundation, an inkling of THE idea comes. Then, it’s brick by brick through the first sentences, to the first paragraphs, and first pages. It’s getting through those 1,000 words a day goals. It’s self-editing, killing words, and birthing better ideas. Then comes the moment of angst when someone else reads it. Then the agent reads, and then the editor. There’s praying involved during the “others are reading it” phase. Lots of it. Then comes the polishing, (copy edits) honing, (first pass pages) and then, voila. Book!
Q. How have your life experiences influenced your writing?
A. I’m a Stage IV cancer survivor, and at one time, I was a single mother, and all along, I’ve been known to be stubborn (hard-headed???) so, this is something I draw on when writing my stories. I gravitate toward writing about characters with fortitude, and mental strength. Physical strength is important, too, but, writing about characters overcoming the odds because of their convictions – whatever those might be – is compelling. I love writing about people who were doing just fine until something comes along and knocks their world topsy-turvy, and now they have to figure out how to straighten it up. I’ve been there, we’ve all been there, and it’s rewarding to overcome obstacles.
Q. What’s your downtime look like?
DE. Well. Downtime for me is getting away from my computer. I used to run, but since I can’t do that anymore due to all the radiation I’ve had, I like to walk
(sometimes with weights) or go on a long bike ride. I also love to go to the movies, or watch a movie on TV, or a good series. We got caught up in Yellowstone, but then it started getting over the top. We gravitated toward the origin stories (1883 and 1923) and enjoyed those more. I love to go to the Blue Ridge mountains, and to sometimes take day trips – like I just took my grandkids to the zoo this past week.
Q. Have you or do you want to write in another genre?
DE. I did write this one book . . . that will likely never the see the light of day. It My agent said it was a “hard crime” novel.
Q. Note to Self: (a life lesson you’ve learned.)
DE. What you worry about at night is nothing in the morning.
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A few BOOKS BY TRISHA SUGAREK