GRAB THE LAPELS: Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
LORI A. MAY: I fell in love with paper and writing—not just storytelling—at a young age. There must have been something about that tactile experience that appealed to me so early on. Of course that led to actual writing and falling in love with the page in a different way, the way it opens us up to worlds both real and imagined. Everyone knew I was a kid who was going to grow up to write but it was in my twenties when I began to take it more seriously, to consider what I could do with words. I read nonstop, wrote about anything and everything, and probably found my groove when I hit my thirties.
GTL: How have you developed creatively since then?
LAM: It’s important to always push the creative mind and to enjoy the playfulness of writing. I like to remember that writing is fun—and that reminder comes in handy on those days when deadlines are looming or something out of my control just isn’t working out. It was an important lesson in my MFA program—I went to Wilkes University—to cultivate a lifestyle that supports the creative process, be that in exploring advanced craft issues or simply keeping up a walking routine to make sure the body has movement throughout the day. Writing can be all-compassing and I like to exercise the body and mind to ensure I give my brain the space it needs to create freely.
GTL: What would you like readers to know about your new book, The Write Crowd: Literary Citizenship & the Writing Life?
LAM: We certainly can’t do it all and be involved in everything, but it’s so beneficial to find one’s tribe and to feel a genuine part of the community. The Write Crowd shares inspiration and ideas for connecting with others, creating opportunities in our communities big and small, and cultivating a sustainable and enjoyable literary lifestyle. Whether working with nonprofits and small presses, mentoring other writers, or setting up chairs at an event, everything we put into the community benefits the bigger picture. Dozens of writers and readers are interviewed in The Write Crowd to share their experiences, and I hope readers will find tips to apply to their own literary lives.
GTL: Many times writers find a creative niche and community. What do you think is yours?
LAM: I’m very community-oriented, as evidenced by my interest in literary citizenship, but that means I enjoy working with others and talking to writers groups. I’m a bit of a ham when I speak to a crowd and I love inspiring others, sharing experiences, and encouraging developing writers to do what they love. There’s so much discouragement elsewhere in the world and writing isn’t always easy. I love helping others see that it’s possible to follow their dreams and pursue writing as a vocation.
GTL: What inspired you to write your first book, The Profiler? (*you can read a sample at this link!)
LAM: Fiction is one of my callings and my first book is a criminal suspense novel. It came about from one of those magical moments we hear about—I woke up remembering a vivid dream that basically outlined the story that became a book. Waking up with an idea is one thing, but I felt drawn not only to the story but to the process of writing a novel. For me, it takes a bit of a special space in my creative mind to commit to a novel-length project and it’s a different process than nonfiction or poetry, I find. But it’s an enjoyable challenge and one I look forward to revising soon.
GTL: What are your current projects?
LAM: It’s already been a busy year with a new poetry book, Square Feet, published by Accents this past January, and now The Write Crowd out with Bloomsbury, but I am indeed looking ahead. In May 2015, my book, Creative Composition, which is a collection of essays about writing that I co-edited with Danita Bergwas, was published by MLM. I’m also tweaking and revising a narrative nonfiction manuscript that I hope to send out soon. In between those and my frequent travels, I write poetry and articles and tinker with another project that’s waiting in the wings. I’ll be on the road a bit in the coming year, too, and readers can track me down via my social media links. You never know when I pay a visit to a town near you!