Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Preparation for my return to prison leaves little time for other things.

As many of you know, I am heading back in to prison on Thursday...the great thing is that I will be leaving on the same day! I am going in to speak to some of the inmates about making preparations for transition BEFORE they exit. Hopefully I will be able to instill a bit of hope for a few. Because of that engagement, I have been very busy preparing. That means Short Attention Span Theater will be back next week. I have two new titles already picked, so if you want to jump in, they are Odium by Claire Riley and one other that I am still deciding on. So, let me leave you in the capable hands of fellow Booked Anthology author, Amanda Hugandkiss...I mean...Amanda Gowin.

But First...something freaking hilarious...

"What are some of the best and worst things about being an author?"

Writing stories is phenomenal, just you know, taking your brain to all of these strange and wonderful places then describing it and the people that live there, putting it on paper. That's magical and good. 

At some point you hit a weird spot though, where people in your Real Life sort of know,and you have at least become comfortable with saying 'writing' out loud in the list of things you like to do. And then temper your expectations as to the level of interest by other people. In your head, it's on par with building universes and controlling worlds that exist within realms that only you can access, and having said it out loud or uncomfortably 'confessed', you can't want to just punch every one in the face for classifying it as the same importance as interest in, say, air hockey. Unless you're making a million dollars, writing stories doesn't sound all that interesting in conversation (to other people who do not write stories). Probably the level of interest you'd have if someone told you they were very interested in air hockey, but hadn't made a million dollars playing air hockey.

So - best thing: writing. Worst thing: vulnerability after admitting you write.

"What can you share about your writing process with new or up and coming writers?"

If you're new to showing people your work, find a good workshop for a year or two, to learn to take criticism and become aware of your obvious flaws and repetitions and weak spots, and to learn the art of revision, then GET OUT. Leave before too many of the lessons and rules start to stomp out your voice and make you doubt yourself. Always keep a few people close (writers AND readers), a network of peers if you can, whose opinions you trust and you know won't lie to you, but in the end do exactly what you want anyway. 

I don't really have a process. Make time, and don't feel guilty about taking time away to write, that's the hardest part of the process. We all struggle with that, off and on, I think. But your characters are people, too, and they deserve attention just like everyone else in your life! So, you know, fight the clock-guilt. Keep fighting it. 

"If you were to change genres, what would be your next choice?"

I don't have a genre. I think all genres are fantastic, if they do indeed exist. Not positive they do....

"What could traditional publishing learn from the Indies? And how about the other way around?"

Well, it's like making films, yes? Indies take the risks and Traditional takes the safe bets, sequels, and remakes. Risks are always worth taking. But Indies have to step carefully when pigeonholing quality, just the same, or run the risk of sounding like everyone in the 90s that used the word "corporate." Prejudice about quality runs both ways, sadly. The Beatles were PHENOMENALLY popular and commercially viable, it doesn't mean they sucked. But it also doesn't mean their popularity made them automatically better than The Kinks. Wait, didn't I start with a film metaphor? I got a bit lost.

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

There are a lot more people calling themselves writers and talking about writing and ideas and theories and other writers and schools of thought and schedules and methods and on and on than there are actual words of fiction being written. But it solves itself, doesn't it? People have to eventually show their wares or disappear quietly, don't they? 

"The social media is…"

Like photoshop for life. Say, everything everyone knows about you is just what random people happened to have caught on disposables cameras, and they pass these pictures around (gossip, conversations, etc.). But social media is the chance to go in and repair and upgrade those photos, to essentially say 'No, that was from a bad angle, I look fat and kind of sweaty and like I'm saying something mean. But as you can see from THIS angle, I'm actually quite thin, and smiling. You know what, though, let me just trim my tummy a BIT more, widen my smile - erase that zit, crop out the pile of laundry in the background, clean the food off my kid's face...' And on and on. It's the illusion of image control, that's why people are so obsessed.

"Share some information about your work with us:"

Pretty much everything I've written can be matched with a specific song. Either as part of the nexus of the idea, or the shaping of the thing as I wrote it.

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

Hahaha! This doesn't happen in real life, does it??

"How much reading do you get in, and can a writer excel at his or her craft if they do not read?"

Always too much or not enough. Three or four books at a stretch being totally consumed and not writing at all, or writing and not reading anything. I can sort of hit a balance sometimes, if I read short stories I can still write. You have to read, though, don't you? It helps stoke the fire, whether with awe, jealousy or pure appreciation.

"When does self-promotion cross the line and become a nuisance?"

Self-promotion is a horribly loathsome thing, but I don't know where the line is. I share links. It feels a lot like elementary school, selling cookies or candy or magazine subscriptions for fundraisers and prizes - no one really wanted to do it, and no one really wanted to help you do it, but there wasn't a lot of getting around it. 

"What projects are you currently working on?" 

I'm trying to write this novel, FINISH this novel - and you know, not hate it when I finish, like I do with everything else longer than five or six pages that I've written. It's called 'Boxing Day.' It's sort of about characters that are painfully aware of the stereotypes they've somehow played into in the course of their lives, and the effort to break free and move forward - it may also be about a stripper who falls in love with a priest and her best friend (a pool hustler) simultaneously, and there might be a couple of's about all those things at the same time. Also, of course, it ends the day after Christmas. It's set right here in Appalachia, but I took a few liberties with the area - mainly re-opening The American Restaurant in Portsmouth, OH so my characters could hang out in it. 

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

I think most of the things I've published are sort of moody, dark, maybe even a touch melancholic and quiet - so maybe it would be surprising that I'm compelled, maybe to an unhealthy level, to put people at ease and make them laugh and feel comfortable in social situations. I will say or do almost anything to break the ice and diffuse tension, take the shoulders down and smooth out eyebrows, you know? It's physically painful for me when people are ill at ease. Also, I rarely say anything of any significance out loud.

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

This is a trick, isn't it? There's no way to NOT leave people out. In the past year, Craig Wallwork, Richard Thomas and Mike Gonzalez are the people I've been most directly involved with as far as projects recently, and I love them dearly. But of course there's that whole 'network' I mentioned earlier, and all the love - I'm going to take the safe route and say 'You know who you are' because in this case I actually think they do...I don't think I have to point out Robb, Liv and Pela directly, as they're obviously the reason I'm doing an interview.

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

Dr. Sleep, Junkie Love, Red Holler: Contemporary Appalachian Fiction (to name a few!)

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