What makes this particular genre you are involved in so special?
I intended my novel, FINDING ROSE ROCKS, to be a women’s fiction because that’s a genre that I personally love. However, my main characters had other plans. They are ages 45 and 50, and the story emerged into a seasoned romance. What makes writing novels about love between older people special is that there simply aren’t enough of them out there. There are lots of romances about 20 year olds, but people in their 40’s, 50’s, 60’s and beyond still love, laugh, and live.
What works best for you: Typewriters, fountain pen, dictate, computer or longhand?
Computer and longhand. My system is such that I type out a chapter or two on the keyboard and then print it. I then leave my desk and take the printed pages into another room where I can relax. I read what I’ve typed and make lots of changes, cross out lines, add words, and basically scribble all over the pages. I then go back to the keyboard and make the corrections. I do this over and over with the same chapter until I’m satisfied with it. For another perspective I sometimes stand up and read it aloud.
When did it dawn upon you that you wanted to be a writer?
Not until later in life, like in my late 40’s or early 50’s. Writing always came easily to me and I enjoyed it, but to write an entire novel? Nope, it never occurred to me. That said, I think back on certain instances in my life that may have unconsciously moved me in a writerly direction. At my twenty-fifth high school reunion someone I barely knew came up to me and recited verbatim a short poem I’d written for the school paper all those years ago. In college, I majored in English and had to write lots of papers. I didn’t find it an easy task but thrust myself wholeheartedly into each project and was rewarded time and again with grades of A and A+. After college, I always had a novel that I was reading. After so many, I thought I’d give short stories a try. Even when one of my short stories grew into a novella, I still didn’t have the confidence to imagine I could turn it into a full novel. I just kept plugging away, and eventually I succeeded.
What inspires you to write?
I’m inspired by day-to-day life. I’m a realist. Romance novels wherein a young, gorgeous billionaire bachelor sweeps into a shop girl’s life seem too far-fetched for me. I realize many readers do so to escape the daily doldrums, but I prefer stories that seem like they could actually happen in real life.
How hard was it to sit down and actually start writing something?
Beginning the writing process can be quite hard. Harder still is to keep doing so, to go back to that piece of writing and flesh it out, polish it, and keep improving it. I tell myself I’ll sit down and write as soon as I do the laundry, make those phone calls, go to the gym, you name it. It’s a great way to get undesirable chores done, but it’s also plain old procrastination. When asked how one begins to write, I love the advice Butt in Chair.
Writers are often associated with loner tendencies; is there any truth to that?
I think so. Writing is a solitary venture. You have to be the kind of person who is happy in your own company. Some people go to public places like cafes to write, but I function best in a quiet house with no interruptions. The silence allows me to get into my “writing zone”. That said, my daily trips to the gym for yoga, swimming, and machines is a healthy dose of social interaction and a break from sitting in front of a keyboard.
Do you set a plot or prefer going wherever an idea takes you?
In writing they call it being a “plotter” or a “panster”. Plotters plan everything out ahead of time. They get everything down on paper, like how many chapters there will be and the length of each one. It’s almost mathematical in format. I admire plotters but I could never be like that. For one thing, I don’t math. Pansters are the opposite. They go with whichever way the wind blows even if it means they take lots of wrong turns and end up wasting time and effort. I can’t say I’m a panster, either. In writing FINDING ROSE ROCKS, I envisioned the whole story in my mind. I knew how it would begin, what would transpire, and how it would end. What I didn’t imagine was all the twists and turns the story would take, and those were an absolute delight.
What, according to you, is the hardest thing about writing?
By far, the marketing of my book has been the hardest part. The actual writing isn’t easy, of course. Getting an idea across just so, transforming an emotion from my imagination onto paper is a real challenge. Yet it is a challenge I love. Marketing, not so. I am technology-challenged but trying like hell to overcome it. And marketing is all about being computer savvy ~sigh~
Do you proofread and edit your work on your own or pay someone to do it for you?
In writing FINDING ROSE ROCKS I proofread and edited my own work. I am far from being a punctuation expert, but know what thought I’m trying to convey and how to structure a sentence so that my idea come across. When I’m finished with a story, I try to have a grammar guru look it over.
What is the most important thing about a book in your opinion?
That it entertain, give enjoyment. I love it when a book expands my mind, introduces me to new words and unknown places. My favorite books have contained prose so beautiful that I wanted to hug the pages, books like White Oleander, The Mermaids Chair, and The Language of Flowers. For me, those books sang. Their pages were so chock full of beautiful descriptions that they came alive for me. In FINDING ROSE ROCKS, I attempted the kind of masterful manipulation of language that others have done so skillfully. For example: She rolled up her pant legs and strolled toward the wet sand where once-powerful swells diminished and bowed in final flourishes, ending with quiet grace, gliding arches encircling the feet of their native daughter. Over and over the foamy tide whispered her name.
Do you believe a book cover plays an important role in the selling process?
Yes, I believe that a book cover is very important. When we browse through the aisles of a bookstore or online, it’s the cover that first draws us in.
Do your novels carry a message?
Certainly no preaching or moral dictates, but beyond entertaining, I like to think my characters are intelligent and make decisions that are sound and not intentionally hurtful to themselves or others. I want my writing to be a celebration of the written word.
How much of yourself do you put into your books?
Quite a bit. I think most authors do. So often I read a book that takes place in close proximity to where the author resides. Even if it’s a science fiction story, an author’s beliefs, her way of looking at things, shines through on the pages.
How realistic are your books?
People read for different reasons. Some like to escape the everyday and therefore enjoy wild fantasy. I write what I enjoy reading, and my tastes run toward realistic. Give me an imperfect down-home rancher who falls for a middle-aged divorcee and I’m all in.
Is there anything you are currently working on that may intrigue the interest of your readers?
I have a growing interest in the magical realism genre and am writing a short story about a personal experience with the phenomena. I also have a work in progress, a coming of age story about a girl with a hopelessly dysfunctional home life in sharp contrast to the picturesque valley town where the story takes place.
It is often believed that almost all writers have had their hearts broken at some point in time, does that remain true for you as well?
I mean, who’s lived and hasn’t had her heart broken? One of the nice things about being an older writer is that I’ve had so many life experiences, good and bad, and live to tell about them if only indirectly through the lens of my characters.
Who is the most supportive of your writing in your family?
I don’t have many extended family members but as I mentioned earlier, my husband and son are my most supportive audience each in their own way. My husband was intrinsically involved in the writing process. My son’s reaction came as a big surprise to me later, once FINDING ROSE ROCKS was published. He really became animated. He told all his friends and their mothers. He asked me for a copy, then another, and another. There was always just one more person he needed to give a copy to. He was so proud of me!
Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
Other than the marketing aspect which, let’s face it, is a pain in the ass, I often find it a challenge to reach my desired word count. I read and write with a tendency toward sparseness. Why use ten words when four will do? I’ve had to teach myself to go into deeper detail and spend more time in a scene.
Writers are often believed to have a Muse, your thoughts on that?
I can’t speak for other writers, but mine are other writers whose work I love. I mentioned my all-time favorite books earlier in the interview. Authors Janet Fitch, Sue Monk Kidd, and Vanessa Diffenbaugh are remarkable writers. Dare I dream of producing something nearly as intelligent, imitative, descriptive, or unique? A book that moves me to the point that it seems my life has changed because of it is rare. That is what I aspire to.
What is your motivation for writing more?
I feel like I simply can’t not write. It’s not so much that I love the process of writing, though I do, but it’s more that writing is a built-in part of who I am. I still have ideas I want to explore through writing.