What inspired you to write your first book? My first novel (under the bed somewhere) is a thriller inspired by a newspaper photograph of a runaway girl. I wanted to tell her story. I spent 4 years telling it. I couldn’t get her sad face out of my mind. But also – someone at my 5-year high school reunion said, “Oh, I’ll bet before we see her again, she’ll write a book.” I felt challenged by that – and before the 10th reunion, I had.
Have you ever had writer’s block? If so, what do you do about it? I went to a writer’s conference as a young poet, feeling nervous and insecure, and an established poet was condescending and insulting to me. Instead of realizing he was a sexist jerk, I took his words to heart and believed that I was wasting my time. I didn’t write for about three years after that. He broke my heart. But I believed him instead of believing in myself. That’s really the key. You have to put on your writing self as you put on a cloak – it is all yours, and no one can take it off of you without your permission. I slowly learned to wear my cloak again. And it’s all mine. I will wear this til death!
What is your favorite quote, by whom, and why? Ernest Hemingway says in A Moveable Feast to write one true thing every day. He doesn’t mean in your journal. He means to write one beautifully, emotionally true thing. If that is describing the color of the sunrise under a birds wings, or what your morning coffee tastes like, that’s as true as writing anything else. Your Facebook status can be your one true thing – if it’s honest and heartfelt.
Did you learn anything from writing this book and what was it? I really learned about structuring a novel, about creating resonance, about revision. I was in my graduate fiction workshops at the time and they were a tough crowd, believe me. Sharpened knives. I also took it to writing conferences, and there were sharp knives there, too. I learned to have a tougher skin from those sessions, but also how to kill my darlings. I killed off three beloved characters for the final draft. That’s about half the volume. That was hard – but necessary. You see only palimpsests of these characters in the final story.
Why did you choose to write this particular book? I originally began it as a way to tell my then-husband’s priest story – it was called “A Priest’s Tale.” But reality was very different from where the story wanted to go. I went with the story instead of the documentary-style tell-all. One of my poetry professors told me, “Don’t let the truth get in the way of a good poem,” and the same is true of a story. I had to leave “the real story” behind very early on in order to make beloved characters and believable plot and action. So it’s based, somewhat, in truth, but it is by no means a true story.
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Genre - Contemporary Romance
Rating – PG13