What kind of writing do you do?
I write fiction and have a terrible time writing anything nonfiction. I have two blogs, and it takes me a long time to write just a few words, which is why my posts are so short. One of the blogs is about the time I was living in Brooklyn, a fabulous place.
My first effort at fiction was a short-story that I wrote in a private writing class. It needed to be rewritten, and when the teacher told me that, I thought I had failed. I didn’t understand that this would be the routine of my writing life. I wrote a novel after that based on a (true) story of two people in the film industry trying to ruin each other’s careers. I added a lot of quirky characters, and I rewrote the novel five times, finally cutting it to a novella, which is the last story in my book How You Leave Texas.
I honestly try to write genre fiction, but it doesn’t ever turn out like that. When writing Saints in the Shadows, I started out to write kind of a paranormal Nancy Drew book that could become a series. I wanted a young female crime-solver/crime-stopper with special powers to “read” people. Instead, the book turned out to be about a young woman from New Orleans named Maud who is now drifting in New York, stuck in grief. She meets a psychic—a middle aged woman who does readings as Madame Budska—who is wise, deeply caring, and a bit of a charlatan. This is not a crime book. It’s a mystery about a trumpet. This is Maud’s mystery and her dad’s trumpet.
Paranormal things do happen in the book: Maud has prophetic and clairvoyant dreams, but Madame Budska believes in the powers of observation to unlock what seems to be paranormal in the mind and teaches Maud to understand how to harness her gift and solve the mystery. In other words, being psychic is simply mastery of certain mental skills. Anyone can learn to be extrasensory.
Although the book is written from Maud’s viewpoint, this is a Madame Budska series, and the second book, currently untitled, is being written from the viewpoint of another person Madame Busdka meets. I didn’t intend this, but it’s what’s happening.
Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
I grew up in a family that was creatively poor. We were encouraged to play sports, but we didn’t have books around. No storytelling or trips to the library. No paints, although I do recall coloring books. No dance lessons. My parents both grew up very poor, so they weren’t used to any sort of frivolous spending on soul-feeding activities. So, when I got to college, I took dance lessons, all sorts—from ballet to lindy hop—watercolor lessons, photography lessons, acting lessons, etc. Ultimately, one private writing class that I took after graduating college led me to decide that I would like to pursue that art form because I could do it anywhere without any equipment—no need for a camera, an easel, special shoes, or music.
How have you developed creatively since then?
I seem to have a developed a style. One reviewer told me she’d never read a book like mine before. Not the story, the style. I don’t see it, but I am aware from reading my earlier (unfinished) stories that my voice is decidedly different.
I’m never happy with my writing. I worry that it’s boring or gone off track or just too difficult to do.
Did you learn anything from writing your book, Saints in the Shadows?
Well, I was trying for a genre book, but I didn’t get there. I did learn more about my beliefs regarding the paranormal.
If you could change places for a day with any one of your characters, who would it be, and why?
I would like to be Maud for a day or more. I gave her such a loving family and stable life in New Orleans, growing up around music and love. I’d like to know what it feels like to be an adult and know all that, feel all that support, and caring and be as self-confident as she is.