Friday, August 10, 2012

In the spirit of Olympic Unity, welcome Liza Perrat!

I can't begin to say how thankful I am to all of you who made donations in the past couple of days in support of NaNoWriMo. I am pleased to be a part of something that supports writers of all ages and levels of exposure. All who donated, please email me so I can make arrangements for some special thanks for you. I will expound more on this on Monday. Also, I just discovered that the top fundraiser will be awarded a NEO 2 laptop word processor. This is YOUR prize and if I win, I will draw a donor's name at random and award it to that person as my thanks. So...I believe the pot has been sweetened sufficiently. Free books, a laptop word processor...and you support writers of all ages and experience.

Hard to believe that the Olympics are almost over. As a sports junkie, this has been a mixed blessing. Starting my newest novel with a 3,000 word per day goal while the games are on almost 24/7 has been tricky. Some great moments and memories have come...the women's gymnastics team, Phelps, Missy Franklin, Oscar Pistorius, a double amputee running in the 400m semis and the class shown by Grenada's Kirani James (the eventual gold medal winner who also won the first ever medal for his country)... WOW! But I must keep my nose to the grindstone, so, by way of Australia, let me introduce an author who resides in France...Liza Perrat.

What led you to writing?

After a childhood spent with my nose in books, I became interested in playing with words at about eleven years old. I still recall a red-faced primary school teacher trying to explain to me why one does not write, “He ejaculated with joy,” in an essay about a happy man. But, as is the case with most people, “real life” got in the way and I started writing seriously twelve years ago, after taking a creative writing course.

Tell us about being a “medical translator”. It sounds tricky.

Well, not too tricky, as I trained as a general nurse and then a midwife, so I’m familiar with medical terminology. The company I work for manufactures medical devices, and I translate all the documents from French to English. It’s not stressful or difficult work, which leaves my brain “free” to write.

What is the difference between being an author and a writer?

I think of an author as a writer who creates something, whereas a writer who is not an author presents facts, in one way or another.

Dispel some misconceptions about France.

Ha! It’s true, France does boast fabulous baguettes, wine, cheese, historical monuments and cultural heritage. Some of the French are very rude, whilst others are very lovely. Growing up in Australia, I do find France a more difficult country to live in: more stress, more rules, more people.

The writing community can be its own worst enemy at times. What are some of the issues you see cropping up in the Indie world? Solutions?

One that sticks out is not being taken seriously be reviewers – closed doors upfront. But while this is frustrating, I don’t find it surprising as I encounter, over and over, poorly-published indie books ridden with grammar, punctuation and layout glitches. Not to mention the technical problems with the actual story. There are certainly some excellent indie-published books but sadly so many of them are quite rubbishy. I believe self-published authors need to strive to make their work indistinguishable from those traditionally published. I’ve seen this mammoth task made easier through my recent experience with the authors’ collective, Triskele Books., with which I published my historical fiction novel: Spirit of Lost Angels. A group of writers dedicated to producing high-quality novels, we critique, edit and proofread each other’s work. We hire professionals for typesetting and cover design. We also contribute equal sums of money to cover promotion and extra costs. If you want a quality product, and thus help break down the barriers between traditional and indie-published books, you have to be prepared to put in the time and effort, and the financial commitment.

The social media is…

… a kind of necessary evil, for me at least. I’m a terrible technophobe, so it’s difficult, and time-consuming, for me to get to grips with everything. But I’m learning that writers can not only interact through social media, gaining and giving encouragement, support and networking, but also learn and exchange valuable information about the writing/publishing world. And of course, I’m more than happy to keep up with my Aussie buddies via Facebook!

Share some information about your work with us:

I first got the idea for a historical novel series when out walking one day around my village. On the banks of the Garon River, I came across a small stone cross – croix à gros ventre (cross with the big belly). From the very helpful people at the local historical society, I learned this cross commemorates two young children drowned in the river in 1717. I felt the urge to write about them: to give them an identity, a family, a village. The fictitious village of Lucie-sur-Vionne was thus born, and the family farm, the Inn of Angels. I wanted to explore how the different generations lived through historical upheavals such as the plague, the French revolution and WWII.

What is one question you are sick of being asked—not in interviews, but by individuals who know you write?

With a job, family and household, how do you find the time to write? Well, I’ve learned not to find the time, but to steal it; to make writing a priority. Consequently, I don’t go out much or clean the house, and I don’t even remember if I own an iron. I rarely go shopping, and friends can’t understand why months (or years) go by between dinner invitations. And my husband grumbles a bit.

How will you deal with negative reviews?

I’m quite open to negative reviews if I feel they offer concrete advice on how I could improve my work. I always ask readers to tell me what’s wrong with it, rather than give praise. As for slanderous, outright nasty reviews, they will be hard for morale, but I’ll simply try and ignore them, not waste any tears or time, and get on with the writing.

How much reading do you get in, and can a writer excel at his or her craft if they do not read?
I read every night, for about an hour if possible. Otherwise in spits and spurts: doctor’s waiting rooms, trains, long car trips, etc. I’d love to have time to read for whole days! I don’t see how anybody can write if they don’t read. After all, reading is the basic training ground.

What is the greatest lesson you have learned in your career that you wish you could go back in time and tell a younger you?

Learn the technicalities of the craft, and get that first draft down without pausing for breath. And only get feedback at that point, then go back and edit.

What projects are you currently working on?

I’ve just sent the completed manuscript of my second novel in the L’Auberge des Anges series – Wolfsangel – to my agent. So I hope she’s trying to sell it! I’m now researching the third in the series, set again in rural France, during the plague years.

What is one thing about you that would surprise the readers who do not know you personally?

Er… I hate all sugar except chocolate? Is that really surprising though? I can’t think of anything else; I’m a fairly run-of-the-mill person.

If you could “redo” one of your works, which one would it be and why?

My second novel – Hosing Venetian Blinds – a nostalgic trip down memory lane of 1970s Australia, through which I got my agent. She said, “I like your writing, but the plot’s all wrong. It needs a total rewrite.” She was right, the plot is awful, but I’d spent so long on that thing, and never managed to get it right, and now I can’t seem to muster the courage to go back to it. One day…

Is there anyone you’d like to give a mention?

Enid Blyton.

What is in your “to be read” pile right now?

How much space have I got here, Todd? The bedside table is sagging with a pile of plague-related novels, for research. I keep adding to the long list in my diary. I’d like to read all the books of the authors I love such as Anne Tyler, Ann Patchett, Emma Donoghue, Maggie O’Farrell, Kate Grenville, Karen Maitland … the list just goes on. I’ll have to live to 300 years old to get through it.


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 Next week...more updates and some face time with Armand Rosamilia and Janet Morris. I'm already giddy with exciement! Now...I must get back to work. Have a great weekend!

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