Tag Archives: Writer

Laura E Williams– Writer

What made you want to write for children?

As a child I was an avid reader.  I read everything from comic books to Nancy Drew to books like Charlotte’s Web and The Outsiders.  I’m still an avid reader, and I still love children’s literature.  In fact, I think some of the best writing being published is coming from children’s book authors!  I do think of writing books for adults, but my ideas always seem to come to me as books for kids.  Maybe it’s because I work with kids as a high school English teacher.  Maybe it’s because I remember being a kid and how hard it was.  Whatever the reason, I am proud to be a children’s book author!
What were your first steps ?  

The very first step to becoming a writer is being a reader.  Next, writing a first draft helps a lot!  It’s also one of the hardest steps.  In fact, I much prefer REwriting to writing that first draft.  I actually LOVE rewriting – adore it, it’s the best!  But that first draft is killer!  Then, after the first draft and multiple rewrites, it’s time to submit the story to publishers.  That’s when the rejections start rolling in.  Finally an acceptance comes along, and all that hard work is suddenly worth it!  There is nothing like getting published after all that writing and rewriting – well, maybe a big scoop of mint chocolate chip icecream on a sugar cone is close, but not quite!

What was the first book you ever published?

My first picture book was THE LONG SILK STRAND, which was published by Boyds Mills Press in 1995.  My first middle grade novel was BEHIND THE BEDROOM WALL, published by Milkweed Editions.   Imagine a girl during WWII who loves Hitler who finds out her parents are hiding a Jewish family behind her bedroom wall!  This novel is still selling strong – and the musical version of it just premiered this past spring.

What kind of stories do you think children relate to most?

Children relate to stories that don’t preach or talk down to them.  No one wants to be hit over the head with a lesson or a moral.  At least I didn’t when I was a kid.  I wanted entertainment and escape from everything.  Children look for a main character they can relate to, like a character who could be a friend.

How can we find out more about your work?

A good way to find out about me is to Google my name: “Laura E. Williams”  When you Google a name, be sure to put it in parenthesis as I just did above.  You could also check out my website at www.readlauraewilliams.com. Hopefully it’ll be up and running by this summer!

What inspired you to write BIBIM BAP FOR DINNER?

Bibim Bap is a Korean dish that I learned about when I went to Korea several years ago.  I was actually born in Seoul Korea and adopted when I was 1 1/2 years old.  I don’t remember anything from when I was an infant.  But when one of my former students was there teaching English, I jumped at the chance to visit her.  In my time there, I grew to love Korean cuisine.  When Bebop Books asked for proposals for books, I thought about having a kid making a traditional Korean dish.  Bibim Bap is easy to make and fun to eat.


Ben Rekhi– Director

Ben Rekhi, Waterborne’s twenty-something writer and director has been making bold statements on film for more than a decade. He graduated from the NYU School of Film and Television, where he directed, shot, and produced several award winning shorts, including The Waste Project, which won the Best Actor prize at the First Run Festival, and Dirty Laundry, for which he received a Post Production Grant from Warner Bros. Pictures. Upon graduating, Rekhi went on to direct music videos for Hindi pop star Sanjay Maroo that aired on Zee TV in India. Rekhi’s video for Interscope Record’s band Dredg (for the song ‘Of the Room’) was voted number one on the Fuse TV Network program Oven Fresh, with over thirty million viewers.

Ben got his first break in the film industry working on the set of the Coen Brothers’ cult classic O Brother, Where Art Thou? as a camera intern under world-renowned cinematographer Roger Deakins, ASC. He was subsequently hired by O Brother star George Clooney to shoot the behind-the-scenes documentary for Clooney’s directorial debut Confessions of a Dangerous Mind starring Julia Roberts, Drew Barrymore, and Sam Rockwell.

In Los Angeles, Rekhi has interned and worked in development, production, and management at New Line Cinema, Sony Pictures, and MGM before forming his own production company, Drops Entertainment, under which he produced his first feature film, Bomb the System. The independent 35mm feature, which stars Mark Webber (Storytelling, Jim Jarmusch’s Broken Flowers) and was cut by award-winning editor Jay Rabinowitz (8 Mile, Requiem for a Dream ), was nominated for the prestigious 2004 Independent Spirit Award for Best First Feature against Monster, House of Sand and Fog , and Thirteen. In addition to participating in nearly thirty film festivals around the world with Bomb, Rekhi also co-managed the sale and distribution of the picture in the U.S. to Palm Pictures for it’s 2005 theatrical release and to Japan and Australia as well. Rekhi recently signed with ICM and Mosaic Media Group, and is currently producing the independent 35mm comedy CarBabes , as well as developing the screenplay for Waste, an inside look at the harsh and often dangerous lives of NYC garbage men.

What was the journey like?

It’s hard to say because I feel like I am still on the journey. The creative journey has been tremendously satisfying. The process of having an idea, going out and shooting it, editing it into something that makes sense, and then showing it to an audience is the most gratifying experience I can think of. I went to film school at NYU, which was a thoroughly enlightening experience. We were given equipment and instruction of how to master the craft, but the ideas and inspiration still had to be born within ourselves. I made a lot of friends, many of which I still work with until this day. While in school, we were making music videos for local hip hop artists in New York, and a few summers I had the great fortune of working on a few feature films as an intern, namely “O Brother, Where Art Thou?” and Goerge Clooney’s “Confessions of a Dangerous Mind.” I learned more in working on these films than I did in four years of film school! Upon graduation from NYU, I moved to Los Angeles and started at the bottom of the totem pole, making copies and answering phones at various production companies, all to pay my dues and understand how the industry works. I can’t say I’ve figured everything out just yet, but after three feature films under my belt, I can say the journey thus far has been worth it!

Was the path from dream to realization difficult?

To be honest, the path has not been easy and at many times extremely treacherous. Anyone who has attempted working in the arts can tell you, it’s not an easy way of making a living. There is very little money in it, especially when you are starting out, and it is extremely competitive. For every one spot in Hollywood, there are literally thousands of people vying for it. You have to go above and beyond, work long hours, master your craft, and try not to hurt anyone along the way, all in hopes that your films may get seen above the clutter of all the media out there. To even begin the journey, you have to ask yourself, why I am doing this? For me, it’s even a question, it was a compulsion, I HAD to do this. Once I realized that, I knew that it was independent filmmaking or bust! but one of the toughest lessons that I have learned, and continue to learn, is how working relationships are different than friendships. Although it is many people’s dreams to work with friends to realize their dreams, I have learned to be very cautious in who to work with in pursuing these dreams. In many forms of art, the artist works alone (ie. writing, photography, painting, sculpting, etc). But the filmmaking process is different because it is collaborative and requires vast amounts of people, resources, and financing. When you are making a movie, as with any small business venture, you are going to be under tremendous amounts of stress with very little sleep or money. In these circumstances, people’s true colors shine through, which sometimes is not a good thing. It is important wo work with people that understand the value of teamwork and collaboration, because after all, no filmmaker is an island! You have to pick and choose your battles, and hope that everyone has the same goal in mind.

As hard as it’s been, nothing compares to the feeling of finishing a film and sharing that experience with your team. When the lights go down in a theater, and the projector flickers on, there is an indescribable rush that you get, sharing your art with the world. Filmmaking is communicating, it is a two way street that requires an outlet, an audience. That feeling is what keeps me going.

Who were some of your role models?Favorite filmmakers?

I grew up on Spielberg and Lucas, but have since explored many groundbreaking filmmakers who work outside of the studio system. Michael Winterbottom, Steven Soderbergh, Alejandro Innaritu, Michael Haneke, the Coen Brothers, Wes Anderson, etc. I think if anyone is serious about getting into filmmaking, you have to look outside of mainstream cinema to see the real pioneers and innovators of the industry.

What advice would you give to a young aspiring filmmaker? 

Do it. Don’t make plans to study it, don’t think you have to go to film school, and don’t make excuses. With technology where it is, anyone can pick up a camera and with no money, can start making films. The more hands on practice you get, the more you will develop as a filmmaker. I can’t tell you how many times I hear people complaining that they have an idea but don’t have the money, or who have seen a film and think they can do it better. Build a body of work. Becuase believe me, you will make mistakes at first. Better to get those creative ones out of the way early, so when you do have an opportunity to make a film, you can make the most of it.

Where can we find out more about your work?

Bomb the System, my first film as producer, is out on DVD, as is Waterborne, my directorial debut. You can view the trailer for my third film CarBabes at www.carbabesthemovie.com. Also please check out www.dropsentertainment.com and www.thenextattack.com. Fortunately, there has been great exposure for our work, so if you are really bored, type “Ben Rekhi” into Google and a bunch of fun stuff comes up.

Copyright 2005-2011, Jolene Owen. All rights reserved. This interview is free to copy, publish and circulate. You may reprint or publish it without permission in any format. Please credit: Jolene Owen as interviewer. The views expressed herein are those of the interviewees and do not necessarily reflect the interviewer or the official position of the publishing company, its various departments and/or the Institute of Interactive Journalism. If you’d like to be interviewed, or would like to send our team an interview, or just send us lots of gifts and candy, contact us at: inspiring.interviews@gmail.com.  Please do not try to contact interviewees through the institute. We never release confidential information or fwd messages. No exceptions.

 


Melanie Zimmer– Puppeteer

Melanie Zimmer has worked as a storyteller for fourteen years and also performs puppetry as Dancing Bear Puppet Theater. She has worked across the country, performing in a variety of venues, live and for television audiences. She has performed with marionettes, rod puppets, hand puppets and shadow puppets and is the current president of PGUNY, the Puppetry Guild of Upstate New York, a local arm of the Puppeteers of America. As a storyteller, she has performed live and on television, performed symphony narration and spoken at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology for the League for the Advancement of New England Storytelling.

Melanie Zimmer has created puppets using a variety of techniques including carved wood, jigged wood, polymer clay, sheet foam, fabric, and paper mache. She also is an experienced mask maker and has created masks using a variety of media.

What made you want to become a storyteller?

When I was young, I was quite shy and embarrassed to speak in public so when I was in college at the University of Texas in Austin, I decided to overcome that, I would practice public speaking. I joined Toastmasters, a public speaking organization, and that did help me. Years later, I heard a group of storytellers perform and I thought that storytelling was an even better medium of expression because there was so much more that could be done with that using gesture, facial expression and character voices. I joined a storytelling guild in Clinton, NY called The Pearl in the Egg. The group was named after a medieval storyteller. Little is known of her other than the name she called herself, but the group was very helpful. I was able to listen to other, more advanced storytellers and to tell stories myself. In the guild, you could bring a completed work to present, or a fragment that you were working on. After you told, you could ask the group to critique you. Much of the advice was very useful and helped me develop as a storyteller. The other advantage the guild offered was that it would find you work. There were a certain amount of work that came into the guild, and it was distributed among the storytellers who wanted jobs. Being in front of an audience of strangers was essential to developing my skill as a storyteller. Sometimes I would go to the Salt City Storytellers in Syracuse, NY. The group was so-named because salt used to be mined in the Syracuse area. That group was quite different from the Pearl in the Egg. Salt City did not offer you jobs or critique you, but they did have open mic once a month where you could perform or listen to other tellers. They also, at that time offered inexpensive workshops on issues of importance to storytellers. Salty Sam (William Lape) gave a workshop on telling for radio. Another woman gave a fabulous talk on types of fairies and so on.  The Pearl in the Egg also offered workshops, but only occasionally. Their workshops were not given by members, but by well-known storytellers who were hired for the day and so I was exposed to the wisdom of a number of great tellers through that. As I became a better storyteller, and bolder, I took on more work. During this time I was still working full time elsewhere. Eventually, I decided to begin working on puppet theater as well with a partner. We were called A Room in the Woods since my last name – “Zimmer” means “room” in German. Julie’s last name “Waldas” meant “Woods.” We also performed masked interactive Greek theater. Though the partnership did not last, I remained both a storyteller and a puppeteer forming Dancing Bear Puppet Theater after my partner left.

Was the journey difficult? 

Iam not sure if the journey was difficult or not. Perhaps it was and is both. I was helped by many kind people and great advisors. I was helped by my reading and research, and I was helped to start economically in a strange way. When I decided to become a full time performer, I had been an independent contractor selling non-fiction books to libraries (public and school libraries) across New York and Vermont. When I began selling books from my supplier, they promised I would always be paid when the order was sent in. However, within months, they changed their plan and paid only when the libraries paid them which was sometimes a year after the order was taken depending on their budget cycle. That left me with a horrible financial gap in the beginning, but later when I decided to start the puppet theater, it enabled me to stop selling books to build the theater, and still have an income from sales made six month to a year earlier.

One of the biggest obstacles I have is time. As a performer, I have to generate my own publicity, book my own shows, build the shows in the case of the puppet theater, load, unload, drive to the destination which may be very far away even in a different state, and perform. Sometimes it is hard to do it all. If I get busy performing, sometimes the other areas are ignored and then later I will see less work because of it. It is a bit like doing two or three jobs.

The other major obstacle has been my voice. Because I do extreme character voices, often by the end of a telling session or after several consecutive sessions, I would become hoarse. I worked very hard to overcome this studying with a speech pathologist, an expert on the Alexander Technique, and taking a college course on speaking voice. This situation has improved tremendously. It is very dangerous to abuse your voice and if you have vocal discomfort, you should seek training so that you do not permanently damage your voice. After all, a storyteller without a voice isn’t much of a storyteller.

What were some of your favorite stories growing up? 

Quite honestly, I have no recollection of anyone reading folk tales or anything else to me when I was young. I must have heard them somewhere because I knew the common fairy tales, Mother Goose rhymes and the like, but I don’t recall hearing or reading them. My first memory of reading is lying in bed between the age of five and six reading a pictorial dictionary. Strangely, I still do read dictionaries sometimes. Words and language have always interested me. It doesn’t surprise me that no one would read to me before bed. As a small child, I had horrible vivid nightmares such as being eaten by a lion, and other grotesque dreams. My father had been the same as a boy. He shared a room with his brother, and once awoke in the middle of the night convinced they were trapped in the hold of a ship. It was so real to him, he was actually able to convince his brother of this, and the two of them knocked a hole in the bedroom wall trying to escape. By the time I was in second or third grade my nightmares had ceased, or at least I did not remember them any more. I do remember seeing a monster when I was maybe between eight or ten, though. I had gone to bed and was just laying there in the dark. The bedroom door was open and the light from the hall illuminated the doorway.  I looked over, and there was a short creature standing there with its hand on the door knob. It didn’t stand much taller than the door knob, and it had a long tail. It stood upright, but instead of flesh, its body seemed composed of flashing, moving energy like it was made of electricity or some such thing. The movement was in jagged fashion, almost the way lightning moves and was bluish in color. I was horrified and just stared at it for the longest time and it watched me, still standing in the doorway. Finally, I was so scared, I ducked my head under the covers and curled up tight. I stayed like that for some time. When I dared look again, the creature was gone. I never saw it again. I never told my parents. Years later, though, when I was an adult, my mother confided in me that she had often seen strange creatures around her bedroom and bathroom at the house when we were living there. At least I wasn’t the only one seeing things.

I do remember in Junior High School when I would stay with my grandmother she would read to me after lunch from library books. In High School and Junior high I liked to read mysteries, science fiction and biographies. I do know my grandmother was a storyteller when she was young. She would tell the neighborhood children ghost stories, and scare them half to death, but she never told me any. My grandfather on my father’s side was an amateur historian specializing in Maine local history and the American Civil War. He would make up the most ridiculous things to tell us girls. I think storytelling was present in members of our family even though I might not remember having been read to or reading stories when I was young.

 Is there a difference between writing a story and telling a story?

I think there is absolutely a difference between telling a story and writing a story. Perhaps the most important thing I do in learning a story to tell is to not write it, or if I do, to write it after I have completed creating it. I have found that if you simply memorize writing on a page, two things happen. First, if you forget one little thing, you are suddenly lost, struggling for the next word or line. Secondly, if you are thinking about words on the page, you are not as likely or able to interact with the audience, such as have good eye contact with them, etc. For that reason,  I recommend if you are creating a story to be read, write it. Then the words are all important. However, if you are creating a story to be told, tell it, then write it afterward or record it electronically as you tell it if you think you will forget it and need to refresh yourself later. Storytelling involves words, but also the face, the eyes, the voice, the body. None of that can be written easily on the page. Also, there are big difference in the way things will be said. If you have a written story, you will likely see things like “Sally said…” “He said…” In telling a story, you probably would not say that. You can tell by your body and voice who is speaking. To say “he said” or “she said” would just be boring.

Traditionally there was a world of difference between on oral story and a written one. Societies that had no written language or societies in which few people wrote, told stories in a completely different way. Things were repeated again and again with small variations throughout the story in ways which would lose an audience’s interest today. The whole structure was different. I think telling a good story today is a compromise between the old way and the written way.

What is the difference between a fable, a parable, and a fairy tale?

I think I would like to expand this question to include also, folk lore and folk tale because it can be confusing. First, let’s look at the words “folk lore.” “Folk” means people, and “lore” is any kind of wisdom or knowledge. Folklore, then can be any kind of wisdom of knowledge that was or is passed down among the people it can be stories, it could be some sort of craft or medicinal knowledge. “Folk tales” are specifically tales or stories that were told by the people. This is different from a modern story. Each piece of modern literature is written by a person or perhaps a couple people, in some cases. Folk tales are not. They were passed down orally – mouth to mouth. No one person invented a folk tale. Sometimes you will see books containing a folk tale and it will say “ by” and then an author’s name, but this is, in fact, inaccurate. In actuality, it should read “retold by” because the “author” has not made up that story, but simply told it in his or her own way. A folk tale has been passed down generation to generation, changing over time, often existing with many variations, and often existing in many countries. There is no author. Many folk tales were collected and written down during the 1800’s and so we think of them as being static, as being what we see on the page, but that is only the version that was recorded. A fairy tale is something different in a sense. A fairy tale is often a magical story that involves, if not fairies, magical creature or events, typically in an unspecified time and place, and often has a transformation included in the story.  It may or may not be a folk tale. Some folk tales are fairy tales, some are not. Hans Christian Anderson wrote (he made up) fairy tales, as have other authors. The Brothers Grimm collected fairy tales that were folk tales, and did not make them up. To make this even more confusing, at the time of the Grimms, (they were German) there was no distinction yet between folk and fairy tales as there is today. The word they used which meant both was marchen Now for parable and fable. I am actually going to get out my dictionary for this one. I infrequently tell fables. According to my old Websters Dictionary a parable is a species of fable. A parable is a “story or allegorical relation or representation of something real in life or nature from which a moral is drawn for instruction.” The same dictionary describes a fable as “A feigned story or tale , intended to instruct or amuse: a fictitious narrative intended to instruct some useful truth or precept.”  Hmmm…I believe I would like to leave this distinction to someone wiser than myself.  I’m not certain how much more I can add to that discussion beyond the hint if you always use the word “fable” for either of the two, you’ll not be wrong.

 If you could be one character in a story who would you be and why?

If I could be one character in a story, I might like to be Baba Yaga, from Russian lore. She is the witch-like character who lives in a house that stands and rotates on chicken legs and is surrounded by a fence of skulls and bones in the woods. She rides in a mortar rowing with a pestle and sweeps away her tracks behind her with a broom. Yes, she is strange, but what I like about her is this. All the heros and heroines are always lacking something, and so venture forth on a journey to find that thing, be it wife, a husband, a kingdom, riches, a key to unlock a spell, whatever it may be. They go on a journey, at last obtain what they need, and it is over. They live happily ever after. Baba Yaga, however is just there. She is unchanging, and unconcerned with those things. She has an eternal quality about her and is surrounded by symbols of life (seeds) and death (bones and skulls.) She is powerful and deeply connected with nature. Recall her three riders, the red one – her dawn, the white one-her day, and the black one- her night. She is full of mystery and appears as some sort of primeval natural force. I like her for that.

If you could have coffee with one famous storyteller who would it be and why?

I might like to have tea (I’ve never been one for coffee) with either Jacob or Wilhelm Grimm. I am fascinated by their collection process – scouring old libraries for manuscripts and interviewing peasants for their folk tales. However, I am also interested in the other work of the Grimms. Jacob, the older of the two, did a great deal of work regarding the classification of languages, discovering the roots and origins of the languages that spread across Europe and beyond. Inside an unabridged dictionary, you might well find a language tree showing the relationship of all the Indo-European languages. We owe this tree to Jacob Grimm. He and Wilhelm also created a German dictionary that was so great in scope, and took so long to compile, that it was not finished until almost a century after they began its work, in 1960 though the project was begun in the 1852. That would certainly be something to discuss over tea! (Though rumor has it the brothers passed on sometime during the entries for the letter “F” so I’m not sure if they’d have the full picture on the project.) Jacob and his younger brother Wilhelm, the sickly, and more social of the brothers translated the Elder and Younger Eddas. The brothers  taught themselves to read a dozen languages, and much of the knowledge we have today of the old Norse myths stems from their translation work of the Eddas.  Again, that would make for very interesting conversation. Another option might be to speak with a now unknown Celtic storyteller as I would be curious about how stories were studied, learned and told, and since the Celts had no written language, much of that process remains mysterious today.

What inspires you as a storyteller?

This has changed over time. Initially I was interested in the actual physical telling of the story – the sound of the characters, what they might be like. Now I am more interested in noticing the transition between the oral tradition and the written tradition, and also the world wide similarities among folk tales.

What advice would you give a storyteller faced with writer’s block?

Sometimes the best way to make progress is to step away from the work. My greatest inspirations come at times when I am not just sitting at a table with a pen in hand, but rather when driving, walking my dalmatian, Cuchulain, in the woods, lying in bed, or even soaking in the bathtub. ( I heard Agatha Christie, the mystery writer, used to write in the tub. I think she was really on to something.) The key is to be in a relaxed state where you can access your imagination. I also helps to have a great deal of knowledge about a variety of subjects so that you may draw on that, combine things in new ways and be original.

What stories are you working on presently?

I am working on a puppet show and it involves a leprechaun that comes to the New World, but I won’t tell you any more. It’s a secret! (Leprechauns are known to be secretive, you know.) Actually, the idea comes from a talk on leprechauns I gave years ago. When I was researching them, I was astounded at the number of people I personally met who claimed to have seen Leprechauns in the U.S. so I thought I would do a show on that premise. Apparently we have a large indigenous population of Leprechauns here, or maybe they emigrated at the time of the potato famine. Whatever the case, they certainly weren’t registering at Ellis Island. Interestingly, the people who testified to seeing Leprechauns here weren’t necessarily Irish or Irish descendants but were from a broad variety of backgrounds including Native American so keep your eyes peeled!

Finally, what advice would you give to someone wishing to pursue a career in storytelling?

First and foremost, tell stories. You will improve as you perform, and as you age too as your understanding of the stories will deepen. There may seem a great deal to learn at first, but really, it an illusion. When dealing with folk tales, eventually you will find that there is a tremendous repetition of plots among them. These storylines exist regardless of the location world wide with only slight variations and so like me, you will find a story from Norway will be almost identical to one told in China. (This is true of folk tales, not modern literary tales.) According to one classification system of folk tales, there may be as few as a hundred of these story possibilities, even when the plot seems relatively complex. Sometimes the elements are mixed and matched. Sometimes the story is almost the same entirely. And the story lines can skip from folk tale to myth, and remain relatively unchanged. What this means for you, is that learning a great body of material is entirely possible. Often when I am telling stories, kids will ask me how many stories I know, and I really don’t know how to answer as there are a limited number out there, with many variations. Once you get to a certain point, you find the stories are repeating, and so they become very easy to learn, since you already know the story. Someday, when someone asks you how many folk tales you know, perhaps you will be able to  quite honestly answer “all of them.”

Though I know this article is about storytelling, and storytelling is an interesting profession, I would like to encourage young people to go into puppetry. The truth is, there are few itinerate puppeteers left. Almost no young people are entering the profession and old puppeteers are dying off or retiring. If this continues, once the middle age puppeteers reach retirement, live puppet shows will become rare indeed, and many young people may never experience the excitement and wonder of that kind of live performance. In one sense, puppetry is a form of visual storytelling and the two profession share many techniques. Both puppetry and storytelling tell a story. Both require voice work. Puppetry is more labor intensive, but creates a worthwhile and unique experience that I believe is worth the extra effort, and it allows the artist to create mobile visual art as well as using the artist’s vocal expression. For those intending to go into puppetry, you may search out Puppeteers of America online for information and resources. (There are also Canadian members, in fact, the Great Lakes Regional Conference was held in Canada this year.) For those interested in storytelling who wish to join an organization there is LANES or the League for the Advancement of New England Storytelling, and also NSA or the National Storytelling Association that has a yearly conference in Jonesborough,TN each October for those wanting to surround themselves with great storytelling.

 

Where can we find out more about your work?

My website is www.thepuppets.com.

 

Copyright 2005-2011, Jolene Owen. All rights reserved. This interview is free to copy, publish and circulate. You may reprint or publish it without permission in any format. Please credit: Jolene Owen as interviewer. The views expressed herein are those of the interviewees and do not necessarily reflect the interviewer or the official position of the publishing company, its various departments and/or the Institute of Interactive Journalism. If you’d like to be interviewed, or would like to send our team an interview, or just send us lots of gifts and candy, contact us at: inspiring.interviews@gmail.com.  Please do not try to contact interviewees through the institute. We never release confidential information or fwd messages. No exceptions.


Mark W. Dooley– Writer

Mark W. Dooley is a husband, father, and grandfather. He describes himself as a student of life and a wanderer growing roots. He is a drummer, a writer, storyteller, and a friend to many. He likes to divide his time between the western mountains of North Carolina and the eastern mountains of West Virginia, where he is currently involved heavily in the study of nature spirits and at work on at least two books, The Second Coming of Mother Earth and Song of ‘O Henry.

What made you want to become a writer?

I have always loved words; they are my favorite toys. I often take them out in the forest or to the top of some mountain and let them dance on the end of my tongue. I have echoed them across valleys and caused them to bubble up from my favorite swimming hole; but I could never get them to hold still or get them where I could look at them for long.

Until I discovered writing. With writing, I could sneak up on them, capture them, and hold them until I could get them delivered to the eyes of a reader, where they could then be rescued and released into the mind and imagination of others.  Writing gave me the ability to share my toys and gave me a way to express my dreams and share my ideas,  hopes, and laughter.

Was the journey difficult?

Perhaps the most difficult part of all was allowing myself to write. It was tough getting permission to do so …….. from ME. I soon discovered that I couldn’t always get the words to come out on the paper nearly as pretty as I’d imagined them in my head nor could I always get them to look like they had sounded when I was speaking them alone in the forest.

My biggest help came when I realized that if I waited until I could write as perfectly as I thought I should to start writing I was never going to get any writing done. But as I allowed myself to write anyway the words came out, I could always fix them better later, in fact, the more I wrote the more they begin to sound like I thought they should.

What were some of your favorite stories growing up? What made those stories so special?

Faerie tales of all kinds, westerns, and animal and wilderness adventures. They always took me to the places in the stories and I became actively involved in the story. I could visit anywhere in the world that I wanted and always be back in time when mom called out that dinner was ready.

 What inspires you as a writer?

Nature, wind and rain, people on the street and in shops and cafes, and watching and listening to my own family.

 What inspired you to write ‘Song of the Forbidden Mountain?

Song of the Forbidden Mountain is the story that I made from my own personal journey of discovery of who I am and how the things around me work. Writing it allowed me to “see” and be reminded of all the wonderful discoveries I’d made along that journey.

What was the process like?

The process of writing Song of the Forbidden Mountain was very long for me. Much more so than most stories that I write. It took me through nearly twenty years of personal life changes, caused me to travel across the United States and into the Carribean area. It caused me to keep countless notes and journals and constantly changed my patterns and preferences for living my daily life. Writing Song of the Forbidden Mountain took me away from a life of dull and ordinary existence and carried me to a life that is full of constant wonder and amazement and has made me glad to be alive and able to share stories with others.

What lessons did you learn in writing ‘Song of the Forbidden Mountain’?

I learned to take time to live. I learned to take time to laugh and sing, and to notice all the magical wonders around me. It taught me to enjoy my family and friends and caused me to want to share life with everyone. I learned to be present in the moment and to enjoy each one of those even as I’d always enjoyed words. And it taught me to listen …. to myself and others, and to discover yet many more words that I did not know existed.

What advice would you give a writer with writer’s block?

First of all, allow yourself to have it … admit that it exists. Then write a five thousand word essay why you have writers block. By then, perhaps it will be gone. If not, realize that to everything there is a season, corn is not always eaten from the ear, there is a large amount of time that must grow and there is even a time that it lies dormant as a seed. Allow yourself the same courtesy. Be easy with yourself and in the proper season, you will find the words again bursting forth from the pen.

What are you working on presently?

Two books in particular, The Second Coming of Mother Earth and the Song of O Henry. In addition I’m doing extensive research and notetaking on nature spirits and the energies that make up our lives. I’ve written a series of essays on these subjects and await the season to see exactly what they will become.

What advice would you give kids who wish to pursue a career in writing?

Write something everyday. Allow yourself to write however you can at the moment and make the time to do so. Write for yourself first of all and allow yourself plenty time to see what type of writing you most love and are comfortable with. Reasearch and study and experiment with the many fields of writing, but most importantly, follow your dreams …. allow your imagination to run wild in the fields of your mind, and only listen to reason to the degree that it agrees to be unreasonable.

Where can we find out more about your work?

Song of the Forbidden Mountain

http://www.amazon.com/gp/offer-listing/1411698215/ref=dp_olp_2/002-5515095-8224011?ie=UTF8

Dare We Dance the Faerie Dream

http://www.lulu.com/author/item.php?fSubmitContentView=1&fCID=359551

Copyright 2005-2011, Jolene Owen. All rights reserved. This interview is free to copy, publish and circulate. You may reprint or publish it without permission in any format. Please credit: Jolene Owen as interviewer. The views expressed herein are those of the interviewees and do not necessarily reflect the interviewer or the official position of the publishing company, its various departments and/or the Institute of Interactive Journalism. If you’d like to be interviewed, or would like to send our team an interview, or just send us lots of gifts and candy, contact us at: inspiring.interviews@gmail.com.  Please do not try to contact interviewees through the institute. We never release confidential information or fwd messages. No exceptions.


Ajmer Singh Randhawa– Writer

What made you want to become a writer?

Injustice in India.

For those of us in the dark, can you tell us more about the Sikhs and what happened to them in 1984?

Sikhism is a sovereign religion (world’s fifth largest) which was founded by Guru Nanak – the first master in 15th century. He was born in 1469 at Nankana Sahib (Now in Pakistan). There have been 10 masters of the religion. The 10th Master gave a final stamp to this religion and introduced some mandatory signs to be worn by Sikhs. These are called Five Kakaars. In India we Sikhs sacrificed 93% to get India freedom but the power was transferred to majority Hindus in 1947 by British. To keep Sikhs in India the leaders of ruling congress made some promises with Sikhs which were never fulfilled. Thus the differences started ended in Operation Bue Star when Indian army attacked the highest temporal seat of Sikhs in Amritsar known as Akal Takhat in the complex of Golden temple. Indira Gandhi was the shrewed politician and Prime Minister of India who invaded Golden temple. In this attack Indian army suffered a heavy loss of casualities, in frustration at killed the innocent pilgrims in Gurdwara complex who were there to celebrate the martyrdom day of their fifth Guru on that day. The army didn’t allow them to walk out of Gurdwara but killed the thousands in indiscriminate firng. On 31st October, Indira was killed by two Sikhs. His son Rajiv Gandhi was announced as next Prime Minister. He was sworn in on the same day at 6.30 in the evening. He took revenge by misusing police force and the massacre of Sikhs was started next day on 1st November. This pogrom continued for 72 hrs and the army was not deployed by ruling party. Nearly 20000 Sikhs or more than that were killed aftermath the assassination of Indira Gandhi in India.

You’ve clearly taken a special interest in this actor called Amitabh Bacchan. I believe he’s the actual actor they used in ‘Slumdog Millionaire’ in that unforgettable scene when the boy drops into the sewage just to meet him. What was Amitabh Bacchan’s involvement in the 1984 Sikh genocide?

Amitabh bacchan was a famous cine actor of India and a close friend of Rajiv Gandhi. He too came to Delhi and then he was provided the TV Crew to incite Hindus by raising hatred slogans to demand blood of Sikhs. This was shot in Teen Moorti Bhawan, Delhi where the dead body of late PM Inidira was laid to pay last tributes. To encash the emotional sentiments on assassination of Indira, the emotions of majority Hindus were converted into hate with Sikhs.

Amitabh gave the hatred call as ‘ KHOON KA BADLA KHOON” – BLOOD FOR BLOOD. He was celebrity. His call was intermittently telecast for 72 hours on national TV Door Darshan-India’s only TV Channel.

Due to his provocative appeal on LIVE TV, the violence against Sikhs erupted almost in every part of India, The property of Sikhs was looted, their homes and business establishments were set on fire, their females molested and at some places raped too, Their mobile assets like cars, trucks, buses etc, were damaged or set on fire.Many innocent Sikhs (About 4000) unofficially reports 20.000, throughout India were killed due to his provocation. He is never booked on any charges neither of spreading hate, conspiracy, provocation and massacre of innocent citizens due to provocation.Thus he was able to achieve his goal successfully by his desired ill-will.

So Amitabh, being a close family friend of Rajiv Gandhi, took part in massacre of Sikhs by provocation, to incite the majority Hindus to spill blood of Sikhs and to spread violence throughout India which couldn’t be spread if he hadn’t not given a LIVE call on powerful media—The TV Channel. And sent his message in every home in every corner of India.

Any thoughts on why Amitabh Bacchan has not been arrested? If he incited hate and mass murder, why has he not been put in jail?

He certainly incited and the evidence is there but he was never booked because of his relations with powerful, highly influential political family of Gandhi’s in India. I tried my best but Public Interest Litigation appeal was turned down by a judge Man Mohan of Delhi High Court. Had I appealed on false evidences, the Court would have taken note of it and punished me for wasting its time but they were not interested in opening any legal case against him. So no action was taken against me which is proof in itself that he is guilty. Had the Court taken any action against me, I could easily open the case and link it with Amitabh’s involvement, if action I had been taken and arrest warrant on Amitabh had been issued, he could reveal some facts behind it like who provided him the opportunity to appear on TV and the script to incite Hindus. Means direct involvement of Gandhi family so no action as ever taken against him. He is provided the ‘Z’ security cover of trained Natinal Security Guards equal to PM of India.

When no action was taken by Delhi High Court, I came on net and published each and every word truthfully to aware general public and new generation of Sikhs about this monster. I have written several times on Amitabh’s blog also to keep him aware and to remind him the darkest black pages of his real life to him also.

Do you think Amitabh Bacchan will ever be made to account for his involvement in the 1984 Sikh genocide?

I do not think he will ever be booked by any Court in India because of his links with high ups in corridors of North Block in Delhi. So far as Gandhi family is ruling India—no possibility.

I read that renowned filmmaker Deepa Metha was making a film on the Kamagata Maru and that she was considering Amitabh Bacchan for the main role as a Sikh. How does it make you feel that she would use an actor who was instrumental in 1984 Sikh genocide to play as a Sikh?

When I came to know about plans of Deepa Mehta from Canada to make a film on Kamagata Maru ship and the lead role of Baba Gurditta Singh ji to be played by this monster, I immediately sent protest note to Deepa Mehta and iformed the Sikhs in Canada and thousands of mails flooded into Deepa mehta’s mail box condemning her decision. Since then I never herad about her plan if she still desires but I am sure she will not make any such historical film in which the lead Sikh character is ever played by this monster Amitabh. If you are sure, I shall make an appeal again and see the result yourself.

Is there justice for minorities in India?

There are two type of law in India, one for majority Hindus and the other for minorities though the Indian constitution guarantees equality but it’s not in practice. For example Sikhs were massacred in 1984 in India, no perpetrator is ever punished. The highest intelligence agency of India CBI couldn’t collect any evidence against these perpetrators. The innocent Sikhs who opposed this barbaric law were arrested and are behind bars without trials and being tortured. Recently Human rights activist from France Pal singh was arrested without any fault of him and not released. It’s a long list of Sikhs suffering in India on hands of this ruling party.

The Muslims were butchered in Guzrat in 2002 but no punishment to any influential whereas everyone knows the person Narendra Modi was the mastermind behind this holocaust. He is the Chief Minister of Guzrat and no action has ever been taken against him. The Christians were murdered in Orissa, same thing was repeated there. No action is ever taken against the killers because they were from majority Hindus.

What is one saying or proverb you live by?

Truthfully speaking I depend on my children. They take care of me. In India it’s a custom the elders are looked by their children and thank God-they do.

What advice would you give aspiring writers?

I would suggest them to write truthfully without any fear, but if they are story writer, the things can be different and imaginary but the writing skill must be there. Plan in mind before writing and then write, if needed make correction but the thread must not be broken. The reader should find himself in the world where you are taking him. That will be your success.

Where can we read more about your work?

I generally write on blogs because it needs to find a publisher and spend from pocket which I can’t afford so I do not try to get my books published. Though my book on revelation on death mystery of Subhash Chandra Bose was distributed free of cost but due to financial problems, I couldn’t edit a second edition. It’s also posted on blog in two parts in the Hindi language; both parts are interlinked on net. The title of the book is ’ANTIM SATYA’ .Please see:

http://antimsatyasubhashbose.blogspot.com/  &  http://antimsatyaasubhashbose.blogspot.com/

There are nearly 50 blogs written and managed by me on net. So you can search on google or contact me directly.

Copyright 2005-2011, Jolene Owen. All rights reserved. This interview is free to copy, publish and circulate. You may reprint or publish it without permission in any format. Please credit: Jolene Owen as interviewer. The views expressed herein are those of the interviewees and do not necessarily reflect the interviewer or the official position of the publishing company, its various departments and/or the Institute of Interactive Journalism. If you’d like to be interviewed, or would like to send our team an interview, or just send us lots of gifts and candy, contact us at: inspiring.interviews@gmail.com.  Please do not try to contact interviewees through the institute. We never release confidential information or fwd messages. No exceptions.


Lynn Flewelling– Writer

Lynn Flewelling was born in 1958 and grew up in Presque Isle, a small town in northern Maine, not far from the New Brunswick border, and often crossed over to visit relatives in southern Canada, and to vacation there. (She’s a quarter Canadian, on her dad’s side.) An “Anne of Green Gables” fan, she has very fond memories of Prince Edward Island. She also watched a lot of Canadian TV and knows Mr. Dressup, the Beachcombers, Junior Forest Rangers, and the Friendly Giant as well as she does US childhood icons.

She grew up playing in the woods, hunting, fishing, camping and daydreaming. Many scenes and people in her books are based on these early experiences. Later she went to university and earn a degree in English literature and teaching, studied veterinary medicine and did all sorts of different jobs, including house painter, teacher, and journalist, but what she really wanted was to be a writer.  But in her part of the world being a writer wasn’t considered a “realistic” goal and so she tried to be a teacher instead. But some dreams just don’t let go, so she wrote anyway and at last became a newspaper writer, and then a novelist.

Her first novel, Luck in the Shadows, was published in the US in 1995. Stalking Darkness and Traitor’s Moon soon followed in what has become the ongoing Nightrunner Series.  More recently she has completed the Tamir Triad: The Bone Doll’s Twin, Hidden Warrior, and The Oracle’s Queen.  In her books she likes to pose questions about identity, and what it means to be male and female, strong and weak, good and bad. The answers aren’t always easy, or happy.

Her books have found an audience worldwide and are currently in print in thirteen languages, including Russian and Japanese. She recently moved to southern California and is now working on two new Nightrunner books. She enjoys talking to young writers and all creative people.

 

What made you want to become a writer?

I was always a reader, but when I was in sixth grade a friend gave me Ray Bradbury’s book, The Illustrated Man, and I was blown away by his rich, evocative style. Something clicked in my mind and I suddenly thought “I want to do that!”  I was a kid who loved to play “let’s pretend” too. I guess writing is a way of doing that all the time.

 

Was the journey difficult? 

Writing wasn’t considered a realistic goal where I grew up. Writing was something other people in other places did. I should think in terms of a “real job”. And in the early ’70’s in northern man, a girl who was really good a writing was encouraged to be a teacher. I didn’t know any better so I tried that, but by the time I was done student teaching in college, I knew it wasn’t for me. I was already writing short stories by then.  I didn’t have much direction though, and still thought writing wasn’t a realistic way to make a living, so I tried other things, like ad copy-writing and veterinary school, but writing kept getting in the way and distracting me. After a while I just gave in and started doing it seriously, but still with no expectation of ever getting published. I had been working on the manuscript that would eventually become Luck in the Shadows and Stalking Darkness when by chance I took a writing workshop with a writer I really admired, Cathy Pelletier. She’s from northern Maine, too, and is simply amazing. I  was rather shy, since I write fantasy, which many literary writers look down their nose at, and she wrote more “serious” books. But she loved my work! It really changed my perspective and gave me the confidence to pursue publishing. I owe her a lot, and the only thing she ever asked of me in return was to pass on that kind of support to other young writers. I’ve always tried to do that.

When I finally finished what I thought was my first book (after about ten years of writing and rewriting) I had to learn how to sell a book, a whole separate skill in itself. That was a learning experience, and one I have since written articles about. Ultimately, I got good advice along the way, connected with a very good literary agent, and the rest, as they say, is history. I’ve been a full time writer since 1995.

Any lessons learned on your writer’s journey?

Many, many lessons! You have to be confident in yourself, but you also have to be open to learning from those who know more than you do. You have to be willing to do the hard work it takes to become good at your craft, and you have to be able to weather criticism without being destroyed by it.

 

Where does that inner drive to write come from?

I  honestly don’t know. It’s just always been there and I’m lucky that I learned how to harness it and work with it. I have a natural drive to create, but unfortunately cannot draw or paint very well, and I’m too self conscious to be an actress

. Instead, I have to do it with words on a page.

 

How do you keep readers turning pages?

The short answer is, I tell a good story. You have to first create characters that readers care about. They don’t necessarily have to be nice people, but they have to be interesting, and they have to change and grow as the story goes on. There have to be events that challenge them. There has to be some sort of journey, literally or figuratively, for them to lead the reader along. By the end of the book, both reader and characters must be changed in some way.  There are just so many different ways of doing this! I use mystery, dramatic tension, humor, horror–lots of different devices, but all of them must serve to move the story forward and aide in the tale to be told. You can’t just throw things in for shock value. That’s a cheat and the reader will catch on and not like it.

 

How often will you revise and re-write your work?

Many, many, many, many times. That first draft is just that: a first draft. A place to begin. I hate first drafts myself. It’s hard, getting the plot hammered out. But once I’ve gotten the main structure of the story in place, the bones, it’s fun to go back and add on details, changes, foreshadowings, all the fun, fiddley bits that really make it come alive.

 

What are some creative ways you’ve learned to generate ideas?

I daydream. And when I get the first inspiration for a new project, I buy a pretty new notebook, a really nice one that “feels” right for the project, and write down every new idea that comes to me. Inspiration comes from living life. Everything that’s every happened to me, everything I’ve ever read or seen on TV or in a movie or out a train window– it all goes into the great subconscious brain we writer’s draw from. When I show up at the page to work, very often scenes come shooting out my fingertips that I never anticipated or planned. It just happens as you work and trust.

 

What are some practical solutions for writer’s block?

That’s a tough question. Some writers never get writers block. I do, and sometimes it can get pretty bad. There are so many reasons, and so many degrees that it would be impossible to give a short answer to that. But here are a few suggestions. Sometimes you’re trying to push the story in the wrong direction. Step back in ask yourself if the reason the scene won’t come is because it’s just wrong.   Sometimes the brain is tired and needs a rest. Go do something else. Take a walk. Go shopping. Watch a movie. Make something. Use a different part of the brain, one that doesn’t have to generate words. I find photography very refreshing.  The worst case, is when you’re fearful of doing it wrong. That takes work and understanding.   If possible, set small, attainable work goals. Show up at the page. Write a little bit, anything, and give yourself permission for it to be complete and utter crap, just so long as you show up to work.

 

Do you have a favorite book?

Oh, I  have lots, but the Sherlock Holmes stories are high on the list. I have read them many times, so the mysteries are not an element anymore, but I love the characters. There’s quite a bit of Sherlock Holmes in my hero, Seregil.

 

Do you have a favorite time of day when you like to write?

My brain often works best between 2 and 6 p.m.. I have no idea why.

 

What is one saying or proverb you live by?

“Respect the dignity of every human being.”

 

What advice would you give kids who wish to pursue a career in writing?

1. Read, read, read, and read some more! Novels, short stories, plays, especially the sort of literature you want to write. And as you do, ask yourself things like  “How is this writer capturing my interest?” or “Why don’t I like this story?”  Reading does many things. It shows you how writing works. I learned a lot about creating characters from people like Conan Doyle, Tolkien, Anne Rice, Robertson Davies, John Steinbeck, and Dostoyevsky. I learned about dramatic tension from Stephen King, Henry James, Joyce Carol Oates and Shirley Jackson. I learned about atmosphere from writers like Bram Stoker, Ray Bradbury, and William Faulkner. Those are just a few examples, but it gives you an idea of  how diverse my reading tastes are. That’s important.  You shouldn’t read just one kind of literature, any more than you should eat only one kind of food. Fish may be very  healthy, but you won’t live long eating only fish! Variety is the spice of life, and creative people thrive on variety and diversity and change. Life is our scrapbook and the more we experience, the more we have to draw on for our work.

2. Know your tools.   Grammar, spelling, parts of speech, vocabulary? Boring! Yeah, I know. But those are the tools of a writer’s trade and you have to know them so well that you can use them without even thinking about them. It’s just like playing a musical instrument or driving a car. It takes a lot of practice but after a while it becomes instinctive.

3. Write. Write without expectation, too. Your early work will most likely be terrible. Everyone’s is! But you don’t get better by waiting to be good. You have to write and write and write, practice, practice, practice, to improve. Don’t worry about publishing. Just worry about become a good writer and the rest will come in time.

4. Write what you love. Writing is hard work, especially for those of us who do it for a living, on deadline. If you don’t like what you’re doing, it’s misery. Explore what you love and do that. It might be short fiction, or essays, or ad copy, or science fiction, comics, or gritty political satire. Doesn’t matter. If you love it, do it!  Follow your bliss. I can’t promise you riches, but you’re more likely to find personal satisfaction.

Where can parents and kids find out more about your work?

www.sff.net/people/Lynn.Flewelling
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lynn_Flewelling

 

 

Copyright 2005-2011, Jolene Owen. All rights reserved. This interview is free to copy, publish and circulate. You may reprint or publish it without permission in any format. Please credit: Jolene Owen as interviewer. The views expressed herein are those of the interviewees and do not necessarily reflect the interviewer or the official position of the publishing company, its various departments and/or the Institute of Interactive Journalism. If you’d like to be interviewed, or would like to send our team an interview, or just send us lots of gifts and candy, contact us at: inspiring.interviews@gmail.com.  Please do not try to contact interviewees through the institute. We never release confidential information or fwd messages. No exceptions.


Louise Ure– Writer

Louise Ure spent a quarter of a century in advertising and marketing in the United States, Singapore and Australia before finding her true love: writing crime fiction. Her debut novel, Forcing Amaryllis, won the Shamus Award for Best First Novel of 2005. Ure currently lives in San Francisco.

What made you want to become a writer?
I’ve always been a voracious reader. Not just a bookworm, I was more of a booksnake. I devoured books like chocolate. And while I always swore that I would someday write a book, I didn’t take that challenge until just after the tragedies of 9/11, when I was discussing with a friend all the things we’d really like to do if we knew our time was short. And I came to realize that time is short for all of us, terrorist threat or not. I didn’t want to look back at my life and say “I wish I had.”

Was the journey difficult?
I had it easier than most, I think. I met a wonderful mentor who worked with me in a writers’ group, wrote my first novel in less than a year, and sold it almost immediately.

But the people I admire most are those who toil through six or eight unsold manuscripts, who learn and perfect their craft, and who don’t give up. I don’t know that I have the self-confidence to do that.

Lesson learned–
Too many to count. But the best advice I can give is to write from the heart.

Ernest Hemingway, in A Moveable Feast, wrote: “All you have to do is write one true sentence. Write the truest sentence you know.” Your head will take it from there.

Where does that inner drive to write come from?
The French writer, Colette, said it best: “We write to live life twice.” I agree.

To rewrite something that actually happened and make it better. To provide the perfect dialogue you didn’t have when the argument took place. To change the ending, so that everyone lives happily ever after.

How do you keep readers turning pages?
Some authors do it with fast-paced plots — twists and turns that keep the readers wanting to know what happens next.

I think it’s equally important to do it with your characters. I can’t care about what’s going to happen unless I care about the person it’s happening to. And creating multilayered, emotionally-impactful characters is one of the best parts of writing.

How often will you revise your work?
It’s never ending.

I start my writing day by re-editing the pages I wrote the day before, and I usually do five to eight complete revisions of my work before it’s ready to send to an editor. But I also find that I want to continue revising the work long after it’s published! Someone once said that a writer is a person who would like to edit the words on his tombstone.

What are some creative ways you’ve learned to generate ideas?
Ideas come from everywhere … from newspaper articles and song titles and stories told by friends. But my two best sources are “what if” and my mother’s magic kitchen drawer.

“What if” is the question I ask when I’m stuck on a plot point or a scene. What if the only witness to the crime was a blind woman? What if she’s a natural born liar and no one believes her now? What if she’s the only one left to fly the plane? Sooner or later, you’ll stumble across an image or an idea that is intriguing, interesting, and begging to be written.

And my mother’s magic kitchen drawer. For over fifty years, she’s tossed all the odd papers into this unassuming wooden drawer. Interesting news clippings, recipes, notes from friends, unusual photos. And every now and again, she’ll put something out and sent it on to me. It might be an article about the desert Southwest bandit who put the shoes on his horse backward, so the posse wouldn’t know what direction he was going. Or it might be a reminder that on the Feast Day of San Juan Batista, it’s considered lucky to get your hair cut, as it will then be guaranteed to grow back full and lush and long. Whatever the clipping is, it’s exactly the right thing to add to my manuscript that day.

What are some practical solutions for writer’s block?
There is no such thing as writer’s block. But there are four great excuses for not writing:

Interruptions
Timidity
Bad Temper
Loss of Nerve

Elizabeth Hay wrote about those four things in A Student of Weather, citing them as reasons for her protagonist’s inability to paint. They’re equally true for writing.

So every day, I figure out which one is bothering me the most. “Bad Temper? You again?” And I start writing.

Do you have a favorite book?

I think I fall in love with a new book every day, but some of my favorite writers are John Updike, Barbara Kingsolver, Margaret Atwood, James Lee Burke and Cormac McCarthy. They are, at heart, storytellers, but they have a magical command of language in telling those stories.

Do you have a favorite time of day when you like to write?
Mornings. The earlier the better. Before my mind gets cluttered with news and errands and real life.

What is one saying you live by?
“Rock is dead. Long live Paper and Scissors!”

TO FIND OUT MORE ABOUT MY WORK:

Please visit Louise Ure’s website at: www.louiseure.com
Copyright 2005-2011, Jolene Owen. All rights reserved. This interview is free to copy, publish and circulate. You may reprint or publish it without permission in any format. Please credit: Jolene Owen as interviewer. The views expressed herein are those of the interviewees and do not necessarily reflect the interviewer or the official position of the publishing company, its various departments and/or the Institute of Interactive Journalism. If you’d like to be interviewed, or would like to send our team an interview, or just send us lots of gifts and candy, contact us at: inspiring.interviews@gmail.com.  Please do not try to contact interviewees through the institute. We never release confidential information or fwd messages. No exceptions.