I’m getting a bit excited about the release of the next book in my dystopian survival series. Broad Plain Darkening (The Pale #2) will be published on October 20th. Thank you to my awesome publisher Odyssey Books.
If you are keen to reacquaint yourself with the canini and to meet the equii, this is the sequel you’ve been waiting for. Oh, and there are some interesting humans as well, not to mention the humachines of the Pale…
In the meantime, I’m playing with a number of online tools to create posts and notices. The beautiful wolves above are from Canva’s extensive library of free images.
Last Word of the Week: Today I am very pleased to welcome Patricia M Osborne, an English author/poet whose novel House of Grace: A Family Saga does for the 1950s-1970s what Poldark does for the late 18th century: presents us an immersive historical world with great characters, love, trials, conflict, tragedy, romance, and the promise of more story to come. (You know, part of me flinches when describing this period as ‘historical’!)
Patricia: Thank you, Clare for inviting me over to chat.
LWOTW: When did you write your first story, Patricia?
I’ve been writing stories for as long as I can remember but I was around twenty when I sent my first story into a competition. I’d typed it up on my portable typewriter. To be honest, after studying Creative Writing since 2011, I can now see that it wasn’t very good. It had far too much telling and not enough showing.
LWOTW: I think we learn a lot about our craft as we go along, the ‘telling vs showing’ thing especially. What do you think of dreams, imagination, and planning?
I’m all for dreams and see them as a gift: whether it’s a nice dream or a nightmare, it can be used for story purposes. I have a vivid imagination, which is a great tool for a writer. Re planning, I plan to a certain extent but also run with it so see where it takes me.
LWOTW: Interesting. I think I need to do more planning! What’s the highlight of your writing career so far?
The publication of my debut novel, House of Grace, A Family Saga, in March 2017 just before my birthday but also winning first place in a poetry competition, student category at Brighton and Hove Poetry Festival earlier this year. The icing on the cake was having my prize presented to me by Poet Laureate, Carol Ann Duffy. The presentation was worth more to me than the £100 prize.
LWOTW: How amazing! What are you most busy with at the moment?
I’m just finishing off my thesis and a poetry collection for my MA dissertation in creative writing. The research has been fabulous fun as I explore the myth, folklore and legend around trees and express these stories in poetry. I am also working on the sequel to House of Grace, called The Coal Miner’s Son, which can also be read as a stand-alone. I’m hoping to release it later this year in time for Christmas. So watch this space.
LWOTW: We certainly will! If you could say one thing to aspiring writers, what would it be?
Believe in yourself. Get involved with other writers and offer and receive critique/feedback. Critique helps to make a better writer. And never give up. Sorry, that’s three things.
Three very valuable tips! And the Last Word of The Week:What’s your favourite colour?
Purple is my favourite colour. As a child it was always blue. I love purple and plum and wear these colours a lot as I find they suit me. I had purple as my theme on my wedding day.
Thank you for having me, Clare. It’s been fun answering your questions.
It’s been an absolute pleasure! We must chat again 🙂
Today I’m pleased to host S.C. Karakaltsas on Something to Say, an occasional blog series in which I chat with creatives who have a timely event or launch to talk about.
S.C. Karakaltsas is the author of two historical fiction novels, Climbing theCoconut Tree, and A Perfect Stone. Sylvia has also written a contemporary short story collection, Out of Nowhere. She has received awards for two of her short stories and has work published in the Lane Cove Literary Awards Anthology and Monash Writers Anthology. In her spare time, Sylvia also blogs and reviews many amazing books at https://sckarakaltsas.com/
Welcome to STS Sylvia. What project are you talking about today?
Thanks for having me. My current project is my new novel called A Perfect Stone.
A Perfect Stone is set for release today, I see. Congratulations! Is there one aspect of the novel that you relate to most – a favourite character, scene, or effect? Can you tell us more about that?
A Perfect Stone is a dual timeline historical fiction novel set in 1948 during the Greek Civil War and Melbourne in 2016. Released 10 October and launching 18 October, I am very excited about this project.
It’s a story told from the point of view of eighty-year-old Jim, who finds something which triggers the memories of the childhood he’s hidden, not just from himself but from his overprotective daughter. When Jim has a stroke and begins speaking in another language, his daughter is shocked and confused. Jim must confront what happened when, as a ten-year-old, he was forced at gunpoint to leave his family and trek barefoot through the mountains of Northern Greece to escape the Greek Civil War in 1948.
I fell in love with my character Jim. He’s endearing and vulnerable but also quite eccentric in some ways. He makes me laugh and he makes me cry and he reminds me of a few older men I know, including my own father.
That sounds really interesting. What do you think drives you to pursue your creativity? Is it family history or the past in general, for example?
With my novels, I’m inspired to tell little known stories. In my first novel Climbing the Coconut Tree, I was inspired by the double murder of two Australians living on a phosphate mining island. In A Perfect Stone I was inspired by the fact that 38,000 children from the ages of 2–14 were forced to leave their homes without their parents during the Greek Civil War. Of the ones who survived, many ended up behind the Iron Curtain and some never saw their families again.
I write short stories as well which are mostly contemporary looks at life in suburbia, poking fun or digging at the unexpected things that happen. I wrote a short story collection which was published last year called Out of Nowhere which was well received.
Many writers describe their processes using analogies – the famous Hemingway one, for example, in which he says that writing is simply a matter of sitting in front of the typewriter and staring at a blank page until you start to sweat blood. Others speak of stitching scenes together, following characters on a journey, immersing themselves in a storyline. What can you say about your process?
My process is purely and simply sitting down and writing to see what comes out and it often shocks me. I only started writing four years ago after having spent years in the corporate world and I’m staggered that I can string at least a sentence together let alone a whole novel.
That’s amazing. Finally, what five words would you use to describe yourself as a writer?
Persistent, single minded, wide-eyed and dogged.
That sounds like a recipe for even more success. Thank you so much for joining me in Something to Say, and all the best for the release and launch of A Perfect Stone.
You can find the books by SC Karakaltsas at these links:
This week I am very happy to be speaking with prolific New Zealand author Deryn Pittar, whose novels range across several genres, but always includes interesting characters and arresting situations. Deryn is also a published poet, and her felicity with words is eveident in her writing. Welcome, Deryn!
Last Word of the Week: Deryn, when did you write your first story?
Deryn: When I was a young mother, surrounded by small children. It was a short story about a guardian angel who’d been demoted for losing a client and was a nervous wreck over the antics of her new charge. It was published in a magazine for women. I didn’t write seriously again for many years as life intervened. Then ten years ago I wrote three novels in a row, none of them ever published, but it was a great learning curve and I’m still learning.
LWOTW: What do you think of dreams, imagination, and planning?
Without my imagination I wouldn’t be writing. Yes, I dream, but they are hardly ever of any use. As to planning, I barely plan. Just a few goalposts/turning points to aim for. A basic premise and some bare bone plot lines – the rest is ‘pantstering’ . I do make notes and jot down ideas but often find by the end of the books I’ve only used half the ideas and plot lines.
LWOTW: What’s the highlight of your writing career so far?
When my first contract arrived six years ago. Such a thrill. From there I learned all about the editing and publishing process. I have had eight books published since with various publishers.
Earlier this year Junction Publishing released my dragon story, and a cozy mystery. In June/July they also released my series of five paranormal romances called ‘The Future Movers’. I sometimes enter competitions and have had short stories, flash fiction and poetry published both in hard copy and in e-books. I like to stretch my craft by writing in different genre.
LWOTW: That’s an impressive CV! What are you most busy with at the moment?
I co-wrote a novella this year with a fellow author. It was a first for both of us and we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. The process flowed as we swapped ideas, then chapters; rewrote, tightened and added, each improving the finished story. It is being released at the end of next month (October) in time for Halloween. Called Angelfire, it’s about an angel who falls in love with a soldier. He has to thwart her brother’s schemes for Halloween and rescue her from harm. It was supposed to be a horror but turned into a romantic black comedy. Lots of fun with quirky enchanting characters. We are hoping to write a sequel and all going well I should be doing that, or have just finished it! I don’t plan too far in advance in case a better idea pops up. I will certainly be busy promoting this release and hope to have the cover to show you by the time this goes to press. We both learned we can’t write horror.
In between I’ve had two sweet novellas accepted for anthologies and I’m currently writing a contemporary romance involving a wager between two guardian angels. The angel theme seems to be reoccurring. I have no idea how long this will be.
LWOTW: Angelfire sounds great. Can’t wait to see it.If you could say one thing to aspiring writers, Deryn, what would it be?
Listen to advice and take what applies to you, because some of it won’t.
Don’t slavishly follow all the instructions you read about how other people write. Everyone’s creative process is different and you need to do it your way. Some people plan to the nth degree before they start, others pantser from the very first sentence. I’m a bit of both…
You should write with whatever method makes you feel happy, because writing is a creative craft and being creative should give you satisfaction – not angst, worry or despair. If you are suffering from those, you are doing it all wrong. Throw away the advice books and try another method.
Join some writing groups (on line or off), find some critique partners (not family or friends) and just keep writing. Get feedback, try different genres until you find your niche. Read, read, read and write, write, then write some more. You can’t edit a blank page. Words are great things. You can put them in any order and make different scenes. Be brave!! Even if you get it all wrong, no one is going to shoot you. Laugh, learn and start again.
Sorry this isn’t ‘one thing’ is it? But then I’m a writer and words are my tools.
Thank you for this opportunity and good luck to all of you who have read this far.
It’s been an absolute pleasure, Deryn, thank YOU for taking part. And for the very Last Word of The Week: What’s your favourite colour?
RED. (It’s vibrant and energetic, and warms me up when I wear it.)
Today we are speaking with Rachel Nightingale, and we’re all very excited about the release of Columbine’s Tale, the second book in Rachel’s delightful and mysterious – not to say addictive – travelling players series.
Last Word of the Week: Greetings, Rachel. Tell us, when did you write your first story?
Rachel: I think I was about 8. It was about Pasha the bear and his roller-skating little sister, Sasha. Unfortunately that marvellous manuscript has been lost to time, but I still have a copy of Big Chief Puff-Puff, which I also wrote and illustrated around that time. My dad even laminated it for me. I think it was the wish fulfilment of a child who wanted more cake than she got, because the chief ate lots of delicious food before exploding, so I had to draw cupcakes and lollipops and all kinds of tasty treats.
LWOTW: Sounds delicious – you must have had quite an imagination as a child. What do you think now about dreams, imagination, and planning?
If you mean dreams as in goals, I think they’re vital – they give drive and hope. I wouldn’t have got to where I am now without my dreams of becoming a published writer.
Imagination is one of the crucial tools in my writing kit. I try to exercise it as much as possible. Unfortunately, the downside of a very active imagination is a tendency to over-worry so I have to watch out for that.
And I’m definitely a planner. I like to see the big picture laid out before me first, then I can jump into the middle of it and be confident about where I’m going.
LWOTW: That probably explains how you get so much done so well. What’s the highlight of your writing career so far?
There have been so many in the last year since my first book, Harlequin’s Riddle, was published, that it’s hard to pick one. I’ve learned that it’s important to celebrate all the highlights, big and small, because the rollercoaster ride has as many downs as it does ups.
LWOTW: A nice cautionary touch for all of us writers! What are you most busy with at the moment?
Finishing Pierrot’s Song, the third book in the Tales of Tarya trilogy. Although I have it all plotted out, it’s not just a case of getting words on the page because the end of a series requires me to tie up a lot of loose ends. All the characters need some sort of resolution to their story arc, all the elements of the mystery need to come together in a satisfactory climax, everything needs to have continuity. It requires a fair amount of concentration and I double check anything I’m not sure of. Mina has come a long way from the young woman who wanted to find her brother – now the weight of the world is on her shoulders and I need to make sure readers are happy with how she deals with that.
LWOTW: Sounds like quite a task. A writer’s work is never done! If you could say one thing to aspiring writers, what would it be?
Treat your writing as a craft, something that will continue to develop the more you work at it, and you will go a long way.
And the Last Word of The Week: What’s your favourite colour?
Last Word of the Week: Greetings, Elizabeth! Tell us, when did you write your first story?
Elizabeth: When I was young, I never imagined I would write stories. It seemed outside the realm of possibility. I remember writing poems as a child, but unfortunately have no record of them. Luckily, my aunt kept a story I wrote back in primary school, about a girl with magic spectacles. Since I now write fantasy, it is a sweet story I’m glad I still have.
LWOTW: As a fantasy author, what do you think of dreams, imagination, and planning?
I write best when I am in a rather dreamy head space, almost as if I am once-removed from the work itself, so I guess dreaming is an essential part of my writing life. As for planning, I refused to plan my first book, but have since been won over to the idea that my muse quite likes some sort of guidance. When it comes to imagination, if there was no opportunity for colouring outside the lines I think life would quickly become very dreary.
LWOTW: Good point! What’s the highlight of your writing career so far?
I love the fact that Esme’s Wish is published and people actually read it and enjoy it enough to want to read the sequel – I’m still pinching myself! Another highlight that comes to mind is receiving Wendy Orr’s commendation for my book cover. A writer friend encouraged me to ask her and to my absolute surprise, Wendy, a wonderful and generous veteran author who has written many award-winning books, agreed.
LWOTW: That’s wonderful! So, what are you most busy with at the moment?
I have finally got back into writing the second book in the Esme series. I’m also working on getting better at photography. Now that I live near the water I am newly inspired. I used to paint and I miss being visually creative, even though I do get to imagine scenes for my books.
LWOTW: I’m glad to hear that Esme #2 is on the way. Now, if you could say one thing to aspiring writers, what would it be?
I always give the same advice. Write a lot, read widely, seek useful feedback and stay humble. Eventually you might find you have on your hands a publishable story or two!
And the Last Word of The Week: What’s your favourite colour?
Today’s guest in Last Word of the Week is Jane O’Reilly, an English author whose SF writing I very much enjoy – the novels Blue Shift and Deep Blue, respectively numbers #1 and #2 in the Second Species trilogy. Jane has written in other genres too. Her space opera is being published by Hachette in Australia. I admire how prolific and witty Jane is across many platforms – see the links at the end of the interview.
Last Word of the Week: Welcome, Jane, it’s a pleasure to have you here. Tell us, when did you write your first story?
Jane: The first one (not including all the ones I wrote at school) was about 9 years ago. I had been at home with my children for several years and had reached the stage where I’d started to feel like my brain was dissolving. I needed something to challenge me mentally, but it had to be something that I could do at home that wouldn’t cost a lot of money. I had read somewhere that Nora Roberts had started writing when she’d been at home with young children so I decided I was going to give it a try.
LWOTW: Good plan! So, what do you think of dreams, imagination, and planning?
My dreams are weird, my imagination is sometimes more of a hindrance than a help, and planning is key. Lots of writers like to pretend that stories are built using some sort of magical ability which only they possess, but I don’t think that’s true. A story has form and function which is why you can write 100K but not actually have written a story. I didn’t plan my first few manuscripts because I didn’t understand any of this. Once I began to learn about story structure I also began to plan, not just because it is really helpful, but because I understood how.
LWOTW: That bit about planning sounds like something I should consider a bit more often. I know you’ve had a deal of success, but what’s the highlight of your writing career so far?
Definitely seeing one of my books in a bookshop for the first time. That’s really exciting. I had been digitally published for several years (11 titles in total) before I got an agent and a paperback deal, so seeing my book in a bookshop represented a massive step forward. It was in a bookshop called Foyles on Charing Cross Road in London.
LWOTW: I would love to see mine there one day! Jane, what are you most busy with at the moment?
I just finished the third book in my space opera trilogy so I’m waiting for my agent to let me know what she thinks of it, and in the meantime I’m working on a new book. No title as yet but it’s about a woman who discovers that her neighbour is an alien. She finds herself being taken off planet with said neighbour (who is not exactly thrilled with the situation) and adventures and shenanigans ensue. It’s a bit like Jupiter Ascending (with added space dinosaurs).
LWOTW: Space dinosaurs! What could be better? Now, if you could say one thing to aspiring writers, what would it be?
Getting published isn’t a quick business despite how many stories you see of people in their early 20s being signed for a six figure sum from a partial straight out of university. It can take years and multiple manuscripts before you sell your first one and that’s OK.
And the Last Word of The Week: What’s your favourite colour?
Today on our occasional Something to Say series of interviews with a variety of creative folk, I’m very pleased to speak with Perth playwright Liz Newell, whose play Alone Outside (what a chilling title!) has finally reached us over here in the east of Australia after debuting in Perth in 2017.
STS: Welcome, Liz. You have exciting news for us?
Liz: My one-woman play Alone Outside is making its East Coast debut as part of Melbourne Fringe, thanks to the glorious guys at Lab Kelpie. It’s on in the Fringe Hub at Arts House from September 14-29. It’s a warm, funny, occasionally bittersweet exploration about the journey home – about how the things we leave often wait for us to get back, and about how we wouldn’t be who we are if it weren’t for where we’ve come from (whether we like it or not). The play premiered in my hometown Perth in 2017 as part of FRINGE WORLD Festival at The Blue Room Theatre, so this is its second outing, and my first play to be produced on the East Coast, so it’s a pretty exciting time.
STS: Alone Outside sounds very interesting. What aspect of the play do you relate to most – the character, a scene, an effect? Can you tell us more about that?
Alone Outside is a pretty personal work for me – by no means autobiographical, because I’m nothing like Daphne is (I wish I were!), but it’s very much based on people and places I’ve experienced. I grew up in a small regional city in south-west WA and the story takes place during a woman’s first few days back in her small home town after a long absence. The coast, the rolling green hills, the little islands in the harbour, the cold nights and warm days, the dingy pubs, the school friends she hasn’t seen for ages who are all married now – it’s not much of a stretch for my imagination because I’ve experienced it first hand many times.
Daphne also wrestles with this sense of unease upon her return, with the knowledge that she doesn’t particularly enjoy being there anymore, but that so much of who she is now has to do with the place and its people. It’s strange to confront the things that make us who we are, and even stranger when we’re not sure if we like them anymore, and I think a lot of people who grew up in places or situations they don’t look back on fondly can relate to that.
Playwright Liz Newell and performer Sharon Davis.
STS: Yes, I totally agree. What do you think drives you to pursue your creativity?
Writing is the only thing I absolutely love doing and feel like I sort of know how to do. Other things I probably know how to do, but don’t enjoy, or I do enjoy, but I don’t know how to do them.
I draw a lot of inspiration and motivation from theatre and TV shows and any kinds of stories that I see and think are phenomenal in one way or another – well acted, well written, well structured, a solid story, a surprising character arc, anything. I saw Sydney Theatre Company’s production of Caryl Churchill’s Top Girls (directed by Imara Savage and featuring Helen Thomson and Kate Box, amidst an all-star cast of ladies) in March this year and I still think about it nearly every day. I also recently devoured US sci-fi show Counterpart on SBSonDemand in a single weekend; it’s brilliantly acted, and a master class in narrative structure. To create something at least half as good as the things that light a fire in my belly, and maybe give some other audience member the experience that I once had, is the dragon I’m forever chasing.
A lot of my work is very character-driven and female-centric, and I think it’s really important, especially in this day and age, to give people the chance to see themselves onstage wherever possible – especially, with any due respect, people who aren’t Straight White Middle Class Males. I’d like to give a bit of a voice however I can to anyone who can’t see themselves in anything Arthur Miller, Tennessee Williams and others of the Canon have ever written.
STS: Chasing dragons, eh? Many writers have described their processes using analogies – Hemingway staring at a blank page until he sweats blood for example. What can you say about your process?
Hemingway’s “sit at a typewriter and bleed” is a classic. I think of that often and I think there’s an important lesson in there that I like to remember – that in order for words to really sit perfectly on the page, or for a story or scene to really sing, you do have to put a tiny piece of yourself into what you’re doing; some small truth which, if it weren’t there, the work would be lesser for it. The audience might never know what it truly means, and you might never tell anyone how true it is to you, but it’s still there, doing an important job.
I’m also a fan of the often-used expression that to write a first draft is to just “vomit onto the page” and deal with it later; the key is to just get something out as a starting point. It certainly feels like that sometimes when you’re pushing through a scene or plot point that you’re not convinced is working yet, and all the words on the page look like slop.
Bleeding, vomiting, it’s all pretty unpleasant stuff but then, the act of writing can be pretty brutal!
For my overall process, I tend to think of every beat or scene as a building block. I move them around, stack them on top of one another, replace them with bigger, better ones. Eventually, hopefully, you end up with something strong enough to bear the weight of the director, actors and creative team who will eventually jump up and down on it in rehearsals.
STS: Wonderful images; thank you for those! Finally, what five words would you use to describe yourself as a writer?
This week we are being totally charmed by the gorgeous Felicity Banks, the Australian author who channels the Antipodean Queen (how cool is that?) among other things. Felicity is also published by the impressive Odyssey Books.
Last Word of the Week: Welcome, Felicity. Can you tell us when you wrote your first story?
Felicity: I can remember attempting my first novel when I was seven or so, during an idle afternoon at my grandparents’ house. It was about a family of cats, and the big drama was that Pamela (the mother) had gained weight. What unimaginable horror!
Then the amazing twist was that she wasn’t overweight after all. She was having kittens. There is no greater possible end to a story than brand new kittens.
LWOTW: A happy outcome indeed. What do you think of dreams, imagination, and planning?
It seems I was born to plan out my stories before I write them, given that I was outlining novels at age seven. Sometimes I write out pages and pages of character notes, maps, and so on. Most of the time I have about an A4 handwritten page of notes when I start writing a novel and if I’m having trouble with a scene I might write out another page of notes just for that scene. Sometimes things change dramatically partway through the story, and I’m fine with that. Once I had a weird dream and then woke up and started writing a novel that afternoon.
Imagining things is easy; real life is hard.
LWOTW: We’re with you there. What’s the highlight of your writing career so far?
It took me a long, long time to get published—fifteen years after finishing my first novel. At around the same time as my first novel was published, I discovered the world of interactive fiction (like “Choose Your Own Adventure” novels, but usually digital), and nowadays my writing is actually in demand. That is absolutely amazing, and I love it.
I really enjoy going to conferences and fairs, especially meeting people who’ve read my books and come back for more.
LWOTW: That must be very affirming. What are you most busy with at the moment?
Trying to actually do the writing I’m meant to be doing! Which is precisely why I’m here, doing other things.
LWOTW: Well, we’re glad you took the time out to talk with us. If you could say one thing to aspiring writers, what would it be?
Don’t! The average full-time writer in Australia earns only $12,000 per year.
But if you’re the type of person who thrives on being told not to do something, then the long years of rejection will be perfect for you. Or you can just write for fun (and if you get paid, great). That’s what I do.
And the Last Word of The Week: What’s your favourite colour?
Thanks for speaking with us!
You can find out more about Felicity’s steampunk fantasy books here.
Felicity’s interactive writing can be found under the name Felicity Banks at the site here – but beware, it’s addictive!
Felicity’s latest book is a middle grade novel called The Monster Apprentice and features monsters AND pirates. You can find Felicity’s various pirate tales (some for children, some not) here.
Today we’re speaking with the Melbourne writer Deborah Sheldon.
Some of Deborah’s latest releases, through several publishing houses, include the noir-horror novel Contrition, the dark literary collection 300 Degree Days and Other Stories, the bio-horror novella Thylacines, the dark fantasy and horror collection Perfect Little Stitches and Other Stories (winner of the Australian Shadows Award “Best Collected Work 2017”) and the monster-horror novel Devil Dragon. Deborah’s short fiction has appeared in many well-respected magazines such as Quadrant, Island, Aurealis, SQ Mag, and Midnight Echo. Her work has been shortlisted for numerous Aurealis Awards and Australian Shadows Awards, long-listed for a Bram Stoker Award, and included in “best of” anthologies. Other credits include TV scripts, feature articles, non-fiction books, stage plays, and award-winning medical writing.
Something to Say: Welcome, Deb! That’s quite a list of achievements. What project are you talking about today?
Deborah: Award-winning press, IFWG Publishing Australia, is releasing my noir-horror novel, Contrition, today – September 3rd. The back-cover blurb reads:
In her late teens, Meredith Berg-Olsen had all the makings of a runway model. Now in her late forties, after everything she had been through – including horrors that John could only guess at – she looked bloodless instead of pale, skeletal instead of slender, more dead than alive…
John Penrose has two secrets. One is the flatmate he keeps hidden from the world: his high-school sweetheart, Meredith. His other secret is the reason he feels compelled to look after her.
Contrition is a horror story with noir undertones and an atmosphere of mounting dread.
STS: Is there one aspect of Contrition that you relate to the most – a favourite character, scene, effect? Can you tell us more about that?
My novel has two timelines: the present day and the 1980s. For the latter, I drew upon my own memories of high school for inspiration. If some of my old chums were to read Contrition, the basis of a few events might seem vaguely familiar. Since I hadn’t thought about my teenage years in a long, long time, it was interesting to sift through the memories, both good and bad. I think doing so gave the novel’s earlier timeline its rawness and pathos.
STS: What do you think drives you to pursue your creativity?
My brain is hard-wired to write. I started writing when I was a kid, and I’ve been a professional for 32 years. I’ll write until my dying day. There are two of me: the subjective self who lives this life; and the “observer” who squirrels away occurrences, feelings and thoughts to use in fiction. Every experience is potential fodder. I often reassure myself while going through a rough time, “Deb, elements of this will make good stories.” And it helps!
STS: That’s an interesting way to approach hard times. I like it! Now, many writers have described their processes using analogies – the famous Hemingway one, for example, in which he says that writing is simply a matter of sitting in front of the typewriter and staring at a blank page until you start to sweat blood. Others speak of stitching scenes together, following characters on a journey, immersing themselves in a storyline. What can you say about your process?
I see each writing project – whether it be a short story, novella or novel – as a kind of jigsaw puzzle. I know what “picture” I’m trying to create. I just need to find some way to put all the pieces in the correct order. I’m technique-driven. To use another analogy, I build a story like an engineer builds a bridge.
STS: Jigsaw-like, that’s excellent. Finally, what five words would you use to describe yourself as a writer?