Author Interviews

Kim Baccellia’s Earrings of Ixtumea

Friday, August 10th, 2007

microphone1.jpgThanks to Dorothy of Virtual Book Tours, I had the pleasure of interviewing young adult multicultural fantasy author Kim Baccellia, who has been touring this August promoting her book, Earrings of Ixtumea.

I hope you enjoy my interview with Kim as much as I did.

Hello and welcome to Fiction Scribe. Tell us a little about yourself.

I’m the YA author of the multicultural fantasy, Earrings of Ixtumea.

How did you get into writing? Did you always want to be a writer?

I’ve been writing ever since I can remember. My earliest school project was putting together something on President Nixon’s historical trip to China. I cut out a lot of the pictures from newspapers and acted like I was an interviewer on the tour. I remember thinking how much I’d love to be able to write articles and later stories. Oh, by the way I got an A+ on my assignment.

You’re currently on virtual tour for your book “Earrings of Ixtumea”. Tell us a little about the novel.

Earrings of Ixtumea is a fast-paced fantasy featuring a young Latina who discovers ancient traditions in her family history that propel her to a magical civilization, where she struggles against evil forces that threaten her family, her heart, and her life.

Where did you draw inspiration from for the book?

From my desire to have a book with a Latina heroine, which the market lacks. Sure there are some but I want to see more.

Did you do a lot of research for the book?

Yes. I researched Mesoamerican culture. I read books on Mexican mythology, legends, and history. I loved researching Mexican urban legends. Very fun! I also gathered dichos-sayings from a variety of sources.

This is your first book out, if I am correct. Tell us a little about how you felt through the publication process.

The whole process from editing my story to actually getting it out in print was very interesting and informative. I admit I was nervous having an editor go over my story. But my editor Jeannette Cézanne was wonderful. Working with Michael Leadingham on my cover was fun too. He was able to catch my vision of Lupe’s first encounter of Ixtumea perfectly.

I find all of the authors I interview have a lot in their lives that seems to make writing a near impossibility sometimes. How did you and how do you have time to write?

Wow, right now is the time of the year I have to be creative or else I don’t write. My son’s out of school, so I try to find ways of squeezing in fifteen minutes or more. I also get up an hour or more early and write.

During the school year I’m able to write in three or more hour slots. I have my own writing room. Once I’m in there, I close the door and turn off the phone. I also put a sign outside my door telling others I’m working.

What are you currently working on?

I’m revising Crossed Out, a YA paranormal. I’m also writing Bullets of Truth, an edgier YA that deals with bipolar disorder in 1976.

Are there any authors who inspired/inspire you in your writing?

Yes. I love Orson Scott Card. Not only is he my all time favourite author but he’s very supportive of writers. I’d love to meet him!

Do you have a muse? If so, who or what is it?

I really don’t believe in a muse. If I waited around for inspiration, nothing would happen. I found I have to force myself to write everyday. If I’m having a writer’s block, I free write. Sometimes this is how I’m able to break through that wall.

Do you have any guilty pleasures when it comes to writing?

I love being able to write *the end* Seeing those words at the end of my story gives me a great sense of accomplishment. I also love to get inside the heads of my characters. Oh, and having someone write me a letter saying they loved my story is also great.

What are your dreams for your writing?

My dream is to get an agent who is passionate about my work. I’d love to get a three book deal. Another dream would to see one of my stories on the big screen. And of course I’d love to have a cross country book tour. That is as long as someone is there to make sure I get to the right places. I’m terrible with directions!

Do you have any advice for writers in general?

Yes. If you want to be a writer you have to write. I don’t know how many people tell me they have always wanted to write but don’t actually do it.

Also be persistent. Realize each rejection gets you closer to receiving that ‘yes’.

Thank you for your time.

PG Forte’s Waiting for the Big One

Friday, August 3rd, 2007

microphone1.jpgThanks to Dorothy of Virtual Book Tours, I was able to fulfill a dream I’ve had since starting the author interviews - interviewing an erotica writer.

PG Forte is currently on virtual tour for her book Waiting for the Big One. She decided to stop at Fiction Scribe, and I’m certainly glad she did!

Enjoy.

Hello and welcome to Fiction Scribe. Tell us a little about yourself.

Hello. Thanks for the welcome, it’s great to be here.

Let’s see a bit about myself, huh? Hmm. Well, I’m originally from Jersey, grew up within sight of the GW Bridge. Didn’t move at all as a kid but, boy, have I made up for it since then. I’ve lived in Manhattan, the Jersey shore, Florida and all over California–North, South and Central Coast.

I’m happily married with two amazing kids and a bunch of pets (only four right now, down from a high of twenty–not counting the fish). And I’ve just finished writing my twelfth book and second series.

How did you get into writing? Did you always want to be a writer?

I’ve always made up stories–always–even before I was old enough to write them down. But, actually, I thought I’d end up as an artist. The idea of writing entire books was too daunting for a long time.

You’re currently touring around blogland for your book “Waiting for the Big One”. Tell us a bit about the book.

Waiting for the Big One was my first erotic romance. It was also my first non-paranormal, first non-suspense, first novella. So a big departure in a lot of ways.

It’s a very lighthearted story and it was the most fun of anything I’ve written–thanks in part to the main character, Gabby. This is the story of Gabby’s search for true love (which, of course, is waiting right under her nose) and her relationships with two very hunky guys.

You write erotic paranormal and fantasy romance. Exactly where does “Waiting for the Big One” fall under these categories?

It doesn’t really. Of course, there is a great deal of discussion of Astrology in this book–I don’t count that as paranormal, but I guess some people might. I think of this book as being strictly erotic contemporary romance, but, then again, I’m not good at staying within the confines of any one category. I like to color outside the lines.

What is it about erotica that you like? Have you always written erotica?

You know, now that I think about it, I’ve always written stories that were pretty sexy, even as a teenager, so it wasn’t a real stretch to start writing erotic romance. The very first book I wrote started out as a mystery and ended up a romance. Or, as I like to put it, I chose sex over violence.

To be honest, I don’t really see that much difference between my erotic romance and my romantic suspense–other than the element of danger is largely missing and I’m placing a little more emphasis on the characters physical relationship.

What I like most about erotic romance is the fact that it makes people feel good. The world needs light, happy, life-affirming stories right now and so I figure I’m providing a public service. You know–make love not war.

Is there anything about it you dislike?

Sure. The fact that it’s so easy to do it badly. It’s hard work to do it right! Unpleasant people having unsatisfying sex is not erotic. Also, staying fresh can be a real challenge. You have to find a way to balance the sex and the romance so that you’re not boring your readers–or yourself!

Have you encountered any negative reactions from people when they find out you’re an erotica writer? Positive?

Living in Berkeley, I’ve actually had more negative reactions due to the fact that I write romance. There are a lot of intellectual snobs who don’t consider any kind of popular fiction to be ‘real’ novels. So, to some people, writing erotica is actually a step up.

Of course, there have been some people–such as my sister in law’s co-workers–who classify what I write as ’smut’. I personally think they should try reading something before they pass that kind of judgment on it, but, hey, I don’t mind being controversial. It probably helps that I don’t think it’s actually possible for any of us to write anything that will appeal to absolutely everyone anyway.

I find all of the authors I interview have a lot in their lives that seems to make writing a near impossibility sometimes. How did you and how do you have time to write?

Sometimes it is impossible. I’ve been lucky. My family has been very supportive. The dishes and the laundry have suffered, my kids both learned to cook (really not a bad thing), I don’t watch TV anymore and most of the time I used to spend reading I now spend writing.

Are there any authors who inspired/inspire you in your writing?

Probably every author I’ve ever read. Either they leave me thinking, “wow, I wish I could write like that.” Or, “hell, even I could do better!”

Do you have a muse? If so, who or what is it?

Well, if I do have a muse it’s a tiny voice that whispers intriguing opening lines in my ear when I’m doing something mundane like drinking coffee in a sidewalk cafe or driving through LA traffic.

Do you have any guilty pleasures when it comes to writing?

That’s impossible to answer since I don’t ‘do’ guilt. But I’ll try.

I guess one of my more secret pleasures with writing is to insert into my books inside jokes that I know only a few people will get.

There have also been a couple of people whom I’ve had a grudge against that I’ve written into a book and I’ve either had terrible things happen to them or I’ve let other characters say terrible things about them.

But that’s a very private form of revenge. I’m the only person who has any clue who they are–and I’m not telling!

What are your dreams for your writing?

So many people have told me that my books would make great movies or TV mini-series that I think I’d really like to see that.

Other than that, I just want to be able to keep doing what I’m doing. Of course, a little more money would be nice too!

Do you have any advice for writers in general?

Write from the heart, believe in yourself and don’t give up. It’s a tough business but you can’t think about that when you’re writing–there’ll be time enough to stress about that once your book is done! Your job is to write the best book you can–not the best book in the world, just the best book in you.

Thank you for your time.

Thank you! It’s been great.

GA Whitting

Friday, July 13th, 2007

microphone1.jpgThanks to Wendy J. Dunn, I recently got in contact with GA Whitting, an award-winning author and Melbourne native. I was intrigued from the moment she said her book is titled Pickle to Pie.

I enjoyed taking the time to get to know GA, and I hope you will as well.

Hello and welcome to Fiction Scribe. Tell us a little about yourself.

Hi Jaime. What a question. I hardly know where to start, however, my writing biography more or less says it all. I was born in Melbourne in 1941, left school at fourteen, became a hairdresser, married and raised two sons. At the age of fifty, returning to study as a mature aged student, I obtained my VCE, which led to a BA at Monash University and an MA in Creative Writing at the University of Melbourne. As I write this, I have to smile. I never planned any of this. It just sort of ‘happened’.

Q:How did you get into writing? Did you always want to be a writer?

I’d always liked writing and once I won a pair of downhill skis in a ‘one hundred words or less’ competition. That was the full extent of my writing career. I didn’t start writing seriously until 1997 when I needed one last literature unit to complete my BA The only subject that fitted into work and family commitments was Fiction Writing. I was terrified to put pen to paper and as for reading out loud, forget it. However, by the end of the term I knew that I had found a passion that would sustain me for the rest of my life.

You mentioned to me your book, Pickle to Pie. I have to ask – where did the title come from?

One of the main metaphors within the novel is cooking. Many sections have Grossmutter and Fredi in the kitchen baking cakes and making German homeopathic remedies. Later, when the main character, Frederick Fritschenburg marries Mary their preferences at mealtime reflect the clash of two cultures. To me, Frederick is a man caught between the Sauerkraut and pickle culture of Germany and the meat pie world of Australia. Hence the title, Pickle to Pie.

Q:What genre is Pickle to Pie?

I’m not sure. It’s based on fact, veiled in fiction and is about, among other things, a boy, his great-hearted German grandmother, some healing and a man caught between two cultures. Can you suggest a genre?

Q: Now that is an interesting answer. When you originally wrote the book, did you set out to write something that wasn’t easily classified by one genre?

I didn’t even set out to write a novel. It started during that fiction-writing course at University. I wrote a short story based on my father’s life and was amazed when it was highly commended in the Judah Waten International Short Story Competition. This gave me the courage to keep writing. That story became the basis of this novel.

Q: What is it about the German Australian experience that draws you?

It has been a labour of love. It began with the discovery of a shoebox full of German/Australian postcards. Most of the messages were written in Old High German. On translation they revealed my hidden heritage and I began to wonder about all the other children of German descent growing up in Melbourne during the last century. And, as usually happens, I found myself talking to others about their experiences and discovered, that like me, their family name had been changed before they were born and that they too had a feeling that there was something to be ashamed of, some past family history that needed to remain buried. However, it was only a month ago that I fully realized that writing the novel has been my way of dealing with these issues in my life and today, having researched and written about a tumultuous time in German/Australian history, I am now at peace with myself. I am finally comfortable in my German/Australian skin.

Q: What kind of research did you do to write the book?

Only a first time novelist would attempt to cover an entire century that had two world wars and a worldwide depression. However, it didn’t seem a mammoth task because I researched as I wrote. If I needed information I would start with the Internet until I found an authentic source. This could be a book, article, or government publication on the subject. For instance, when I needed information on German immigrants in Australia I found, on the Internet, many articles and books by Ian Harmstof, who did his PhD on the subject. I contacted him and found him to be an insightful person who generously shared his research. This was a turning point, not only for the historical accuracy of the novel but also personally. A friend, who is a nursing sister, helped with medical research. At the same time, via the many libraries at Melbourne University, I had access to all the major search engines, academic journals, theses, newspapers etc. And by nature I am a gleaner (someone who walks through the paddocks after the crop has been harvested and ‘gleans’ whatever she can find), such as the fragments of messages on the postcards, small clues in newspapers and the oral histories that so many people were sharing with me. All this comes under my heading of research

Q: Your novel co-won the 2006 International Ilura Press Fiction Quest. Can you tell us a bit more about the competition and what that was like?

I am so lucky to be with www.ilurapress.com They are a new independent publishing firm that is quite unique, the members of the team are all writers. Can you imagine the joy of having people who understand the writing process, who are considerate and nurturing, in charge of publishing your book? They produce a literary journal titled Etchings featuring essays, art, photography and poetry from writers from Switzerland to Kuwait. To provide an avenue for, as they puit it, ‘Creative writers whose work deserves a receptive and willing audience,’ and to launch their move into publishing novels, they ran the 2006 Fiction Quest. My tutor at Melbourne University sent all her class an email outlining the details and I hastily posted a copy of Pickle to Pie. When told that the manuscript was short listed, I hardly dared to breath. Pickle to Pie had made it to many shortlists but had always just missed out. After much nail biting and hovering over the phone I was overcome with relief when told that the manuscript had won, that this time the story would be published.

Q: What was it like winning an award for your writing?

To co-win (the other author is from the UK) the Ilura Press International Fiction Quest was an unbelievable, delicious experience, because the award was a publishing contract and $5,000 advance. It took a week for me to come down to earth but now I hug it to me, because I know that this story about alienation and dislocation that I’m so passionate about will become a book. I can’t wait to hold it in my hands and see all the old rhymes, recipes—one for tomato jam— quirky customs and postcards preserved in print.

Q: Was winning an award ever a personal writing goal for you?

Not a personal goal. It’s all about the story. I firmly believe in getting your work out there and getting published. A great way to do this is via competitions and anthologies, etc. It’s a bit like buying a tattslotto ticket. You have to be in it to win it.

Q: Your book is going to be launched at Melbourne’s Writer’s Festival on August 25th. How are you feeling about that? Would you have ever imagined yourself at this point, preparing for your book launch?

I am so excited and scared at the same time. All I ever thought about was getting the book published. I’m not sure what will happen and it’s taking me out of my comfort zone, but I wouldn’t miss it for anything. I feel that it is a great honour that Ilura Press have arranged to launch Pickle to Pie during Melbourne’s premier writing festival.

Q: You mentioned your book was also short listed for the Victorian Premier’s Literary Award for an unpublished manuscript, but even after that you had to deal with rejections. Did the awards help keep up your confidence through the rejections?

Definitely. A shortlisting, or award, shows you that other writers feel that your novel has worth, and is a valid project that appeals to others. It gives you the confidence to keep going. To not abandon it to the bottom drawer. And being shortlisted for the Victorian Premier’s award meant that I could attend the Academy Award style evening at the Sofital Hotel in Melbourne. Just to be there with my writing buddy, Wendy Dunn, was the most amazing experience and one I will remember for the rest of my life.

Q: I find all of the authors I interview have a lot in their lives that seems to make writing a near impossibility sometimes. How did you and how do you have time to write?

How does tapping away at this keyboard at 3am sound? I know that it’s crazy, but if I have a project on the go I find that I have a couple of hours sleep then it will niggle at me until I get up and start writing. Of course I end up sitting here bleary eyed, in my flannelette pajamas and thick ski socks. It’s not a pretty sight

Q: What are you currently working on?

A story titled ‘Hens Lay, People Lie’, ‘about two women, two cultures, one dream. In 1975, at the Burke and Wills dig-tree in outback Australia I met an older American poet. For thirty years our letters have criss crossed the globe. Mickey is now ninety and lives in Arizona. This is the story of our friendship.

Q: Are there any authors who inspired/inspire you in your writing?

Oh, yes. Sally Morgan’s down to earth book My Place about an aboriginal girl growing up in Australia made me realize that I didn’t have to be ‘literary’ to write a story, or need to dress it up in fancy words. All I had to do was to simply tell it as it was. Other books that influenced me were, Frank McCourt’s Angela’s Ashes, Hugo Hamilton’s The Speckled People, Markus Zuzak’s latest, The book Thief, and all those academic theorists we studied at University. All have their place. I find that other authors can inspire, delight or simply inform our writing.

Q: Do you have a muse? If so, who or what is it?

I’ve never really thought much about the source of my inspiration. I’m not quite sure where the stories come from. I just know that I get carried away with an idea and simply can’t let it go until it’s completed. That can take three weeks or ten years. I can move away for a while and write other things, but the characters refuse to leave and I always come back to them. Like Mickey’s story, and for years I’ve been working on a children’s tale about supermarket trolleys. It’s all fleshed out and my husband is now quite used to me asking him to stop the car while I jump out and snap a photo of an abandoned trolley in an unusual setting. I’ve told him to tell everyone that I’m a lunatic and he’s looking after me.

Q: Do you have any guilty pleasures when it comes to writing?

Oh, yes. I feel totally guilty, and it is a self-indulged pleasure to steal time when I should be ‘gainfully employed’. Like leaving the housework to sit here in my room, surrounded by my writing life and tap away between shopping, while dinner is cooking or even at 3am in the morning. If I’m tired, I find a huge cheese sandwich in whole grain bread keeps me going.

Q: What are your dreams for your writing?

I want to record the stories of ordinary people. To reveal the narratives that are left untold. This can take the form of biographies or they can be a meld of fact and fiction. There is a quote that sums it up for me and I can’t remember who wrote it, ‘I know not all things and only sing songs of mind and memory’.

Q: Do you have any advice for writers in general?

To write anything and everything. The most amazing stories can begin their life on tiny scraps of paper. Don’t confine yourself to one genre—unless you have found your own personal niche. Experiment. Write plays, nonfiction, essays, letters to the editor, but write with compassion. The more you write the more you realize that everyone has a story to tell. And once you have completed a story, find it a home. Kiss it on the cheek and send it out into the wide world with your blessing. Let it have a life of its own.

Thank you for your time.

Thank you for having me here, Jaime. Sometimes in the rush of life we don’t take the time to sit and think about our hopes and dreams. This interview has made me focus on my life as a writer: to look back at where I have been and to look forward to where I am going. What a wonderful passion to have. When I try to explain it to some of my friends I say, ‘Just think of writing as my form of golf.’ I’m always trying to improve my handicap and if I manage to collect a couple of trophies along the way it’s great but the most important thing of all is, that when I’m writing, I’m happy.

Wendy J. Dunn

Friday, June 22nd, 2007

microphone1.jpgI recently had the honour of interviewing award winning Australian author Wendy J. Dunn. In this interview, she tells us a bit about her life, her love for historical fiction, and her advice for writers.

Enjoy.

Hello and welcome to Fiction Scribe. Tell us a little about yourself.

Thank you so much for this opportunity, Jaime! I really enjoy your site. I’m delighted you asked me for an interview! BTW – big congrats on your recent wedding!

Thank you very much. How did you get into writing? Did you always want to be a writer?

I wanted to write since I was eight. Over the many years since then, I’ve gathered that eight to ten seems the age a lot of people feel the tug of their life’s calling. I won a poetry prize at ten, but it was a long, long time before anything like that happened again. When I was sixteen, I had a go at a fantasy novel. According to my family, I went into my bedroom at the beginning of the school holiday and didn’t emerge until school started again. While the novel was terrible, it pushed my love affair with writing into a lifelong obsession.

But my life’s journey hasn’t involved just writing. I married at eighteen and had my first child at nineteen. By twenty-four, I was the mother of three young children and studying for my Bachelor of Arts. At the end of that, I decided to go into teaching. Because I have a great passion for creativity in all its forms, I added another diploma to my Diploma of Education – a Graduate Diploma in Arts Education. That happened in my early 30’s. It was a wonderful, two year course that really encouraged my own creativity and provided the push I needed to get on with writing my first novel. By the end of the course, I had completed the first draft. Of course – I was such an innocent then - I didn’t realise how much work is still needed after completing the first draft! But even in its early life publishers looked at Dear Heart with interest.

I could only bear sending it out twice a year, so it took ten years to find a publisher. Every summer holiday I would re-edit it and lift the sections pulling it down. I’m very thankful now for those ten years. If I regret anything it is not working on something else at the same time. But I needed to prove to myself I could get a book published before imposing living through a second novel on my family.

I love the act of creating a world from words. For me, it is the best magic there is.

What is it about historical fiction that you love?

The unexpected journeys it takes you on and its universal themes; history reveals to us that the essence of humanity flows down the centuries unchanging – we love, hate, suffer and experience joy in the same way no matter what period forms the backdrop for our life’s stage.

Anything about it you hate?

Hate is a very strong word…I dislike the deliberate rewriting of history just to cause controversy or to sell books. In my own writing, I try my best to respect the lives of people who were once living and suffering human beings. For instance, Anne Boleyn was innocent of the crimes that robbed her of her life. Surely she suffered enough in her final days without fiction writers blackening her name without true substance? While I write fiction, it is very much drawn from historical records and what I learn about the personalities of my characters through my research. Once I know my characters and the events happening in their world, the story takes care of itself.

What is it about Tudor history specifically that draws you?

Tudor history speaks to me – don’t ask me why, it just does. Sometimes I wonder if I had a past life then.

What was it like winning an award for your writing? Was winning an award ever a personal writing goal for you?

Winning awards a personal goal? Not really. If I enter contests it is because I believe they do offer an opportunity to hone a piece of writing for a purpose and test it amongst your peers. I’ve been a reader for a few contests in my time. It taught me that there is a lot talent “out there,” and you must be “up there” to even gain a short-listing.

My writing goals are to finish projects I start. Without my knowledge, my publisher put Dear Heart into two awards. I felt so humble that he had such belief in my work, and even more humble at gaining the awards. I still can’t believe it, but it was great affirmation that I should keep writing!

Tell us about your award-winning book “Dear Heart, How You Like This?”

Dear Heart is very much a story of love, loss and letting go. Told through the voice of Sir Thomas Wyatt, a poet who knew Anne Boleyn, it recounts the tragic story of Anne Boleyn.

You’re married, have four children, are a University graduate, teach, blog, research – heavily by the sounds of it – for your books… How did you and how do you have time to write?

Big smile. My blog is very much neglected. I’m on paid Long Service Leave at the moment, feeling this how I want my life to be, not too worried about money, able to write to my heart’s content. But few writers earn enough to support themselves purely through their writing.
Three of my children are no longer children, and two no longer live at home. The house is beginning to feel somewhat large for four people. It is still difficult to balance my roles as a wife and mother of a child and three young adults with my vocation as a writer. Often, parenting my young adults, discovering their own paths in life, is far harder than parenting my ten-years-old son. Perhaps because I am now watching them fly without the safety net of the family nest. I have to trust them to make the right decisions for themselves.

Like so many women, I’m a juggler trying hard to keep all my balls in motion, willing to pick them up when they drop to the floor. Talking about floors…I am not good housekeeper; good cook, yes, but I rather write than wash floors and keep a spotless house. I have also discovered the great benefit of a slow cooker in winter. Prepare a meal in the morning, put it in the cooker and forget it for the rest of the day. If you cook a good evening meal it generally lets you off about the unswept floors. Well, that’s my theory!

What are you currently working on?

My current work, Falling Pomegranate Seeds, narrates the early years of Katherine of Aragon through the voice of her kinswoman and best friend, Maria de Salinas, her fellow exile in England. I’m reading the book through today before saying it is ready for the next step and I can start on my next novel. I did plan for FPS to be the first book in a series about Katherine’s life. But the muse has been nattering loud about another subject. As FPS has been a painful book to write and the first book can be read as a stand alone, I thought I would give Katherine’s story a rest for a time and work on another subject with more hope of a happy ending.

Are there any authors who inspired/inspire you in your writing?

To be a good writer you need to read good books. Lots of good books. I’m indebted to all the writers of all the good books I have read over the years. Personal favourites…I still read my Rosemary Sutcliffe books, Elizabeth Goudge’s Child from the Sea, Mary Renault, Winston Graham, Dorothy Dunnett and new writers like C.W. Gortner, Sandra Worth and Brian Wainwright.

Do you have a muse? If so, who or what is it?

LOL. Thomas Wyatt…I ignore his annoyance that my name is on Dear Heart, and not his.

Do you have any guilty pleasures when it comes to writing?

At the moment, I’m warm in bed with my laptop, while my husband works in a cold factory…Oh dear, that isn’t guilty pleasure, that’s just plain and simple guilt.

Dark chocolate???

What are your dreams for your writing?

To no longer need my day job and possess the freedom to allow loose all the stories in my head.

Any advice for historical fiction writers?

Whilst respecting known history, remember we are first and foremost storytellers. Let history be the key to the past, but don’t let it lock the story into stalemate. You know, I am really reminding myself here. In my new work, I could only find the barest, albeit fascinating bones about a woman I wanted as an important character in my novel. Because I wanted to be so certain of her history, the problem of Beatriz stopped the novel moving forward for months. Then I decided the bones were enough for my imagination to flesh out. I gave Beatriz her head, and she just took charge of her story. I just love that!

Any advice for writers in general?

Persevere, persevere, and persevere. Believe in yourself. Feed your muse by reading good books. Join a writing group. Enter writing contests; learn to love using the red pen. And don’t forget family and friends!

Thank you for your time.

My pleasure!

I’ve been Interviewed

Friday, June 8th, 2007

microphone.jpgHello, hello.

Yours truly has been interviewed by the lovely Sara, creator of the Brand New Aspiring Writers group. You can read the interview here as posted on the BNAW’s blog, Fallen Words.

Go take a peek to find out a little bit about me, what I’m working on, and how I came to work as your Fiction Scribe for the 451Press network.

Sandi Kahn Shelton

Friday, May 25th, 2007

microphone.jpgEvery night over the past few weeks when I started my bath, lit the candles, and poured in the bubble bath, there was an important thing I never forgot to take with me on my special relaxation trips away from the outside world:

A Piece of Normal, by Sandi Kahn Shelton.

This novel was out of my normal reading sphere, but I loved every minute of it. Sandi will tell you a little about her novel in the interview I had with her.

Sandi has done me the honor of stopping at Fiction Scribe on her internet book tour of A Piece of Normal, and I’m pleased to have her as my guest.

Sit back, relax, and enjoy. Also, please keep Sandi and her mother in your thoughts as Sandi spends time with her mother, who was recently diagnosed with colon cancer.

Hello Sandi and welcome back to Fiction Scribe. Tell the readers a little about yourself.

Hi, Jaime! I’m delighted to be here on your wonderful site. Honestly, I don’t go a day without reading all the tidbits of information you’ve gathered from all over the web. And congratulations on your wedding, by the way!

Let’s see…about me…well, I’ve always wanted to be a fiction writer from the time I was a little girl and would make up stories. In fact, I “sold” my first book when I was six years old and my mother wouldn’t give me money for the ice cream man, so I went in the house, wrote a story about a king who slept three hours and forty-five seconds, and sold it to the neighbors for the price of a banana popsicle. My mother was mortified and had to go and buy the story back!

Since then, I’ve written lots and lots of stories—though not always with such immediate, tangible and delicious results. I married young and had two kids and always planned that if and when all the laundry was done, I’d write a novel. But life doesn’t always go the way you plan, and when my marriage ended when my kids were ages four and one, I instead got a job as a reporter and then editor of a local newspaper. Nothing like learning a skill like journalism on the job!

To keep myself amused between covering Planning and Zoning meetings, I started writing a column about my daily life as a single working mom. I didn’t know at first that this was a humor column, but people seemed to feel it was funny, and then Working Mother magazine started running it…and then a publisher discovered it and offered me a book deal. Which led to a larger publisher offering me two larger book deals to write humor books about babies and toddlers.

sandi-barney.jpgIn the meantime, I had remarried, had a third child, and had started writing for magazines in addition to my day job, which was then as a feature reporter. I had started a novel, which I took out and worked on whenever I had even one spare moment…and seventeen years later, much to my surprise and delight, it (What Comes After Crazy) was bought by Shaye Areheart books (a division of Random House.) I then wrote a second novel, A Piece of Normal, and am now at work on a third, which will come out in the summer of 2008.

You’re currently on tour for your book A Piece of Normal. Tell us a little about your book.

A Piece of Normal is the funny, poignant story of two estranged sisters–one a very together, hip advice columnist and the other a runaway punk rocker–who have to figure out what it means to forgive their quirky pasts and embrace the craziness and chaos that can lead them to both to love and grace and healing.

Lily Brown is an advice columnist who has life so together, she’s the envy (and caretaker) of all her friends: she’s a divorced 34-year-old woman whose ex-husband still depends on her to find dates for him. She lives in her childhood home, a beach cottage in a little colony on the Connecticut coast, with her 4-year-old son and the lovely neighbors who were friends of her parents. Lily’s a wee bit stuck; in fact, she hasn’t so much as moved the furniture around in that house; it’s exactly the way her gifted, artistic mother had left it.

But even though she seems to have it all together, there is a tragedy at the core of Lily’s life: 12 years ago her eccentric, flamboyant mother and lawyer dad were killed suddenly in an auto accident, and Lily came home from college to raise her 16-year old sister, Dana. Lily imagined a life of closeness and compassion between the two grief-stricken sisters–but, instead, Dana acted out, took drugs, slept with every guy she could find, and ended up running away to be a tambourine girl in a punk rock band.

Lily, left alone, had something of a nervous breakdown, with only the colony neighbors there to help her regain her balance. She ended up meeting a nice, neurotic New Age therapist named Teddy, and they married and had little Simon–and when the marriage ended in divorce, Teddy remained in the area because he and Lily were better friends than spouses. She still feels responsible for the hapless Teddy, and tries to fix him up on dates with her friends, so that she can at last feel less guilty about leaving him and can find love herself.

But when Dana suddenly returns to town after ten years on the road, she brings with her all the life and hell-raising spontaneity that Lily’s settled-down, buttoned-up life has been missing. Yet she also brings back the memories of the grief they suffered so many years ago, as well as an explosive secret about their mother’s double life. But even more importantly, Dana develops a crush on Teddy and leads him on into a passionate relationship that threatens to crush hers and Lily’s newfound bond of trust.

It’s only when Lily goes through a series of losses–her “second” dad, her job at the paper, as well as her role as emotional caretaker for her ex-husband–that she comes to face the fact that control is really all an illusion anyway, and that the best lives are lived with risk and spontaneity and learning to embrace the past rather than shut it away.

Between not dating until she finds a girlfriend for her ex-husband and the sudden appearance of her ten-years-gone sister Dana, Lily Brown’s life is certainly an interesting one! How much of her life and personality comes from your life and the lives of those around you?

Hmm. Well, as all you fiction writers know, characters may come from a little kernel of an idea that you get from people you know or see out in public, or are possibly related to…but then they take on personalities of their own and become completely different from anyone you already know. I think I wanted to write about sisters because there always seems to be one sister who “has it all together” while the other sister is seen as more spontaneous and flaky. I wanted to know what would happen when those two sisters have to find out that each of them has something the other one needs and wants…and how they can figure out how to forgive each other when one has betrayed the other.

Finally, you are not only a successful novelist but a single mother. You also had an interesting line written in your writing contract – another book due within ten months. We all want to know: How did you do it?

LOL. Well, I’m not a single mother anymore, thank goodness! And luckily I wasn’t when I had only ten months to write the second book, or I don’t know how I ever would have done it. But seriously, it was something of a shock. I said to my agent when I saw the contract: “Did I ever say or do ANYTHING that indicated that I could write a book in ten months?!” She just laughed and said she was sure I could do it…and you know something? I did.

When you have something that you HAVE to do, it makes all your priorities somehow much clearer in a very excellent way. I decided early on, with a piece of advice from a friend of mine who has written one book a year for the past 11 years, that I would do three pages a day, no excuses. They didn’t have to be good, they didn’t have to be finished-draft stuff; there just had to be three of them. That gave me a lot of freedom. Even when I wasn’t “inspired,” I could do the three pages. And the most amazing thing about that to me was that at the end of the book, I honestly couldn’t tell the difference between the pages I had done when I had to drag my lazy self over to the computer, and those I had done when I was just zinging with enthusiasm. NO DIFFERENCE. And the best part was: the pages piled up, the book got done, and after a while, I was wanting to write 10 or 12 pages a day, just because I was so into the book.

To tell you the truth, when you’re writing a novel and no one is waiting for it, it seems to be the thing that always has to be put on hold, always put away—whenever anything else is going on. Laundry? Time for vacation? In-laws coming to visit? The novel has to disappear for a while. But when somebody has said, “HAND THIS IN BY MARCH FIRST,” it gives you the excuse you’ve always been waiting for. It was almost a dream come true!

Thank you so much for your time.

Oh, Jaime—thank YOU so much! It was a pleasure.

Literary Fiction and Fantasy

Friday, May 4th, 2007

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World traveler, writer, teacher, and historian, Dr. Gillian Polack is a busy woman, but that hasn’t stopped her from pursuing her writing passions. Dr. Polack has agreed to take time out of her busy schedule to answer a few questions here on Fiction Scribe.

Enjoy.

Hello and welcome to Fiction Scribe, Dr. Polack. Tell us a little about yourself.

Since you’ve asked for me to descibe myself, let me poach from something I wrote for Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine (issue 28). Describing myself is too difficult to do twice in such short a time. I write novels, short stories and anything else that can be captured in prose form. Alas for humanity, the things I capture reach print from time to time. The first Gillian-novel in captivity (Illuminations) contained footnotes and the second will have dead morris dancers. Stray information on my writing life can be found on my blog and much more interesting stuff on food history can be found on < a href="http://www.foodpast.com">my other blog.

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Historical Fiction Author

Friday, April 27th, 2007

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Historical fiction author Brian Wainwright, author of Within the Fetterlock and The Adventures of Alianore Audley has taken time to join us on Fiction Scribe. Mr. Wainwright became a full time author in 2006 and has more projects in the works.

I hope you enjoy what I found to be a very down-to-earth interview.

Hello and welcome to Fiction Scribe. Tell us a little about yourself.

I’m 54 years old and slowly starting to feel it. I’m married (to Christine, since 1989) and without children. My mother lives with us, as she is getting frail. In fact, she’s got frail. We’re in Bury, Lancashire, a place most people haven’t heard of; it’s on the north side of Manchester.

I’ve not been in the best of health these last 3-4 years – depression mainly – but I am sort of coming around. I’m fortunate in that I’ve been able to take early retirement from my main job, so theoretically I’m a full time author. In practice I write just a few hours a week, otherwise I’m watching the cricket, walking, reading or doing other odd bits, like cooking curries!
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Medieval Mystery Author

Friday, April 20th, 2007

flick.bmpWelcome once again to the Friday Author Interview. This week I am very pleased to give you an in-depth and thought-provoking interview with Australian medieval mystery author Felicity Pulman.

The Sydney resident has written many books which include the Janna Mystery books set in medieval England. Felicity Pulman gives insight to her writing, the relevance of writing medieval stories for teenagers today, and even lets us in on her guilty writing pleasures.

Enjoy.

Hello and welcome to Fiction Scribe. Tell us a little about yourself.

I live in Sydney with my husband; we’re lucky enough to live near a national park and a beach, because I love swimming, surfing, snorkeling and bush-walking. We also belong to a bush regeneration group which is very rewarding. I have two (married) children, a son and a daughter, and three grandchildren, so I consider myself very blessed indeed. As well as writing stories, I love reading and listening to music. I enjoy watching (some!) television, especially the English crime shows and drama series, and also going to concerts, plays and ballets, although I don’t do it very often.
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Author Interviews

Friday, April 13th, 2007

Since February 16th, I’ve been posting up author interviews every Friday. However, I didn’t think I’d get as many interviews as I have (and there are more to come soon), and it took me a while to put them in a category.

So, in case you’ve missed any interviews…

Feb. 16th - An interview with Jenifer Wills, Mistress of Poetry and Administrator of the LiteraryMary.com writer’s forum.

Feb. 23rd - An interview with Chris Miller (whose book The Inevitable Roundness of Everything I am currently reading), Science Fiction Guru and mentor at Writingforums.com.

March 2nd - An interview with Mr. Short Story, short story writer, poet, and soon-to-be Mr. Fiction Scribe on May 5th.

March 9th - My sister in all but blood and dear friend, T.D. Hawke, the Historical Fiction Buff.

March 16th - An interview with Crime Thriller writer Elsa Neal, creator of the Grammar Slam products as well as fiction editor at Bella Online.

March 23rd - One of my favorite interviews - Historical Mystery Maven Bobbi Chukran of Earthly Garden and Bobbi Chukran.com.

March 30th - An interview with freelance writer and journalist Elske.

April 6th - Part one and part two of my interview with Australian author Tansy Rayner Roberts, George Turner prize winner and editor/reviewer on several other publications.

Children’s Fantasy Author - Part 2

Monday, April 9th, 2007

Last Friday, I interviewed Tansy Rayner Roberts, and Anne-Marie from Teacher Smackdown made this comment:

“As a future children’s book writer (some day, some day) I’d love to know how she wrote with such a small child in the house. I find that I need total silence and large blocks of time to write fiction, and having small children at home makes that impossible.”

I contacted Tansy and she responded:

“In the case of this particular book, it was easy because I finished it before my baby was born! It took a couple of years between the writing, the selling and the publication.

I struggle to find writing time - made doubly hard by the fact that since Raeli was born, I’ve also been trying to finish my PhD thesis.

But I have finished another novel since my daughter was born. The secret is Daycare. :) When she was one, I put her in for a couple of mornings a week in an excellent local centre (that they built in my street!) and it made all the difference. As a matter of fact, the advance I got for this book almost entirely went on the next year’s daycare fees. It kind of helps that she adores the place, has made lots of friends, and gets to do all those messy art projects so I don’t have to!

I still find it next to impossible to write when my child is in the house, even when she’s napping. There’s a part of a mummy that just can’t relax even if the child is asleep. But I have been trying to teach myself to write in smaller bits and even with distractions around. Practice makes perfect! I have adapted a lot since Raeli was born - I used to have to have a whole day clear in order to write properly, and I could only write at certain times and in certain places, but now that’s just an insane proposition, so I have forced myself to be realistic and to rein in my expectations. Writing is important to me, and so I prioritize it as my main “me” activity.
Neglecting the housework is also a great way to find writing time, and is part of a long literary tradition.

I think it’s important to remember that *everything* is different once you have small kids, but you still need to hang into those things that make you feel like you. If you really can’t write fiction in that time, try writing something else to keep your hand in, and to keep your writing muscles strong. I find that blogging and book reviews are dead easy to do even with a horde of elephants in my living room. It keeps me sharp so that I can take the opportunity to work on my fiction in the rare quiet times.

But, of course, when you do get an hour or two to yourself, the biggest temptation is to catch up on your sleep… and I don’t have any answers for that one! I usually choose sleep.

Cheers,
Tansy”

Children’s Fantasy Author

Friday, April 6th, 2007

Fridays have definitely become interview days, but I’m enjoying it greatly, and I hope you are as well.

This Friday, I am pleased to bring you an interview with Australian author Tansy Rayner Roberts, George Turner prize winner and editor/reviewer on several other publications of the past and present.

Tell us a little about yourself.

I’m a 28 year old fantasy writer living in Tasmania, Australia with my partner & our two year old daughter. I run a small business selling historical costume dolls, over at Deepings Dolls. I’m also about two weeks away from putting the final nail in the coffin that is my PhD thesis. And my children’s novel, Seacastle: #1 of The Lost Shimmaron will be released in Australia on May 1st.
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Freelance Writing and Journalism

Friday, March 30th, 2007

Writing encompasses more than just fiction, as we all know. I just happen to know a lovely woman who is experienced in freelance writing as well as freelance journalism. It’s a huge pleasure for me to present you an interview with one of my best friends, Elske.

Hi there. Why don’t you tell us a little about yourself?

My name is Elske, and I’m 33 years old and have recently begun a freelance writing and editing career. The work is fairly sporadic, since I still need to establish a name for myself in the tight-knit community, so I also work part-time delivering organic groceries, which is good, because I get free groceries at the end of the week, which helps defer the costs I incur stress-eating while trying to figure out what to do next.
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Historical Mystery Maven

Friday, March 23rd, 2007

I always find it amusing where and how I find people who turn out to be writers. Published writers, even. Thus I was pleasantly surprised to find out Bobbi Chukran of Earthly Garden here at 451press is a published mystery author!

I’m pleased to bring you an interview with Bobbi A. Chukran, mystery author, garden blogger, writer.

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Crime Thriller

Friday, March 16th, 2007

You may recall a recent post about the Grammar Slam line of products including teddy bears, coffee mugs, and messenger bags.

Elsa Neal, the creator of the Grammar Slam products, owner of Hear Write Now, and fiction editor at Bella Online has agreed to do an interview for this site. I’m pleased to present you with an interview with a published crime thriller author.

Enjoy!
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About Fiction Scribe

Is your spelling less than stupendous? Has getting published gone from possibility to problem? Are you alienating your readers with alliteration? Here at Fiction Scribe you can find what you need for prompts, publishing opportunities and advice, fun wordplay, and more. Use Fiction Scribe for the encouragement you love, the information you want, and pointing out the mistakes writers make that you need. Fiction Scribe: Your source for everything writing.

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