Writing for the President?
Several years ago Nancy Sartor and I met up in Nashville, Tennessee. She had invited me to participate in a panel for new authors at Killer Nashville and of course I jumped at the chance. But the reward turned out to be getting to know this interesting lady who didn’t give up on writing. I want you to meet her.
Welcome Nancy! We meet again. This is something we never discussed at Killer Nashville so tell me, why do you write?
I write because I can’t stop. My mother said when I learned a new word as a toddler, I would crawl into my playpen (imagine a kid who would crawl into a playpen!) and practice the word until I got it right. I was fifteen when I won a chance to compete in a Belmont College writing contest. Didn’t win, but I did learn how to balance a teacup on my knee. When I first began writing, a seasoned author said, “If you can quit, do. This business will wear you out and break your heart.” I quit. For two years, I didn’t write a thing that wasn’t business. But I wasn’t happy. I wasn’t me. I went back to writing. The seasoned writer said, “Well, hell. I’m afraid you’re a writer.”
Yes, you are certainly a writer. So tease me a little about this new book of yours.
BLESSED CURSE Six children with psychic connections. A mountain on the edge of the rational world. Two women who stretch across time and space to save an unwanted innocent. http://amzn.to/2qA53Nr
Interesting. I’m curious. Do you have any heroes in your life?
I have many. My husband who has battered his way into the classical music field as a composer and conductor. If you think our business is tough, you should try his. My daughter, who despite rheumatoid arthritis raised three children, and runs her life with the efficiency of an electronic clock. My mother, who lived in a time when women could not be what they wanted and still managed to open doors for herself.
If you could have dinner with anyone in the past who would it be and why?
God. I have about four million questions to ask him. It would be a long dinner.
What are some of your favorite things?
Soft summer evenings bobbing in the pool, sipping wine and solving the world’s problems with my husband. Seashores anywhere. Mountain mornings. Enriching conversations with interesting people. People, because they’re all interesting if you’re a writer. The sweet weight of a baby in my arms.
That sounded pretty romantic. Do you have a writing tip or advice for us?
Write the first draft. Just write it. Don’t edit. Don’t second guess. Don’t go back and back and back and back. Write it from the first paragraph to the end. Then go back and edit, edit, edit, second guess, work it over, make it sing. But first, write the first draft. It will suck, and that’s how a first draft should be. Trust yourself. I spent years in critique groups accepting advice from all sorts of well-meaning folks. I tore up and rewrote chapters that were better before I began than when I ended. Not dissing critique groups. They are invaluable, but you must be able to separate the good advice from the bad. You must trust yourself enough to make the novel your own.
What person influenced you the most?
My husband. When I would have quit, he was still in his study composing. When I was certain I’d never achieve publication, he gained publication through networking and perseverance. When I was frustrated, he praised my work and exhorted me to keep trying.
Who is your favorite superhero and why?
I don’t have a favorite. They’re all delightful cardboard people who do amazing things that stand the light of day only because we all want to accept them.
If you suddenly found yourself on the run what message would you leave behind for loved ones?
Wait to hear from me.
Besides being a writer what would be your dream job?
A speech writer for the President of the United States.
Speech writer for the president! Wow. So now I’m curious as to the further stories you’re going to weave. But for now tell us a little something about what led you to this new story?
Many years ago, Dave and I visited Rugby, Tennessee, a tiny town on the edge of the Big South Fork Recreational area that was established amid great fanfare in the late 1800s. I was fascinated at the incredibly sophisticated houses and buildings the English settlers left behind when they fled back to England in the early 1900s. Because I had been involved in saving one of the buildings, I was also fascinated by the dogged determination of those working preserve the town and its history. Rugby has its own ghosts, more than one, but that was not the story that crept into my mind on long drive home. Jorie came first with a name I don’t think I had ever heard before. Took a while before she explained that it was short for Marjorie and her middle name was Morningstar because her mother had an odd sense of humor. Morningstar didn’t make it into the final version because it didn’t fit the tone, but I got a good laugh from it. Logan came next, but he arrived as a Rodney. Rodneys don’t elicit the same image of hunkdom that Logans do, so Rodney had to go and make room for Logan. Bit by bit, the story wove itself together as stories do.