Tag Archives: Writers and Poets

Rahul Varma– Playwright

What made you want to become a writer?
I was born in India and came to Canada in 1976. In 1981, I co-founded a theatre company called Teesri Duniya Theatre (www.teesriduniya.com). My playwriting is linked to this company. There was complete absence of cultural diversity in Canadian theatre. With few exceptions, everything I saw on the stage or cinema screen was Euro-centric re-imposing the Anglo-French dominance without a serious scrutiny. First Nation communities, the original inhabitants of this land were completely ignored. Whenever ethno-cultural minorities were shown on the stage they were trivialized, exoticized and stereotyped.  I became playwright (a) in reaction to what was absent in theatre, (b) to give voice to ordinary people, reflect cultural diversity on the stage, and (c) to make literary contribution to the field by writing with political consciousness

Was the journey difficult?

It was and continues to be a challenging journey.  Writing about marginalized, under/misrepresented communities, writing about social justice with political consciousness, writing in a cultural milieu that is predominantly euro-centric, hierarchical as well as writing against the stream of plays that avoided critical themes and promoted otherness  – was an uphill journey. In addition, English is not my mother tongue – it is language of my adulthood. Writing in a language other than my mother tongue posed other challenges. But at the same time it has been a good journey because it has allowed me to offer an alternate viewpoint, give me a chance to dialogue with peers and colleagues, and challenge the status-quo.  It has been a difficult journey but also an enjoyable one. After all, we reach our destination only if the journey teaches you lessons of traveling the path.

What are themes and topics you like to tackle in your books?

Social justice and human condition has been the common theme that I’m dedicated to. Cultural complexities, racism, power-relationship, peace, human-rights, environment, women’s issues, gendered violence are some of the themes I have tackled in my plays.  While personal experience is essential condition in writing, I am not interested in writing about self-discovery and self-awareness.  To much of me, me, and me doesn’t interest me.

What inspired your play Bhopal?

The play Bhopal is about one of the world’s worst industrial disaster that occurred at the Union Carbide pesticide plant, located in the city of Bhopal, India. The play derives its title from the city’s name.

On the night of December 3, 1984, the American multinational Union Carbide exploded, engulfing entire city in a billow of deadly poisonous fumes. Small children fell like flies, men and women vainly scurried for safety like wounded animals, only to collapse, breathless and blinded by the gas. By morning, the death toll was over 500, by sunset, 2,500. By the following day, numbers didn’t matter — Bhopal had become the largest peace-time gas chamber in history. Over 25,000 people have died to date and counting.

Incongruously, I first learnt about this disastrous explosion on the TV screen in Montreal Canada which had become my home since 1976. The next day, newspapers brought images of mass destruction of lives in Bhopal. Land was littered with dead bodies and bodies gripped in pain. These horrifying images of destruction relayed directly into our drawing rooms by TV, on the one hand hugely disturbed me, and on the other hand raised the question “why did this had to happen”, and therefore “how do I respond?” The quest for response was precipitated by the image of a child named Zarina, which I saw in a hurriedly made documentary film called Bhopal: Beyond Genocide by Tapan Bose and Suhasini Mulay. The film traced 18 days short life of Zarina, who was one of thousands of babies born after the explosion. The film showed the heart-wrenching body of Zarina – her heaving ribcage and her collapsed heart that could be seen through the lesion on her melting skin.  Her autopsy report said, “Poisoned in her mother’s womb”.  I asked myself if Zarina had lived to tell, how will she describe her pain? Well, she didn’t live and at 18 days, she was too young to say anything. What could have been said, then, became my creative response culminating in the form a play Bhopal later translated into Hindi as Zahreeli Hawa by iconic Late Habib Tanvir.

Although the play is based on real incident, it is not a documentary play. The play fictionalizes the events and attempts to reach the truth behind such incidents.
For those of us who don’t live in India, what happened in Bhopal?
To understand Bhopal disaster, one needs to trace down the roots of Multinational Corporation called Union Carbide in India.

Union Carbide came to India in 1905 while the country was still under British rule. The company was best known for the manufacture of the Eveready battery. By the mid-60s the company had moved into agrochemicals, and by the mid-70s it had become one of India’s largest manufacturers of chemical fertilizers and pesticides.

Production of fertilizers, herbicides, and pesticides, were part of a massive effort during the 1970s and ’80s known as the Green Revolution. This term described a movement that aimed to increase food yields through the use of new strains of food crops, irrigation, fertilizers, pesticides, and mechanization. The Green Revolution promised to harness the power of science, technology and industrial development to tackle hunger in the developing or Majority World. Unfortunately, the promises of the Green Revolution were never realized.

For example, even though the Green Revolution increased wheat and rice yields, nearly 5,000 children die each day of malnutrition. One-third of India’s 1 billion people are poverty-stricken, and can’t afford to buy the “surplus” food the Green Revolution promised. Green Revolution made even those farmers who could afford the growth, dependent on foreign technology, chemical products, and machinery.

Worse still, the technology that was used at the Indian plant was inferior to the one used in the western countries. And the chemicals that were manufactured in India were banned in North America and Europe because of their hazardous nature.  This was well known to the Union Carbide and the company covered up the ill-effects of its poisonous gases and deadly discharges that were leaking into the community. Nearby residents were experiencing diseases unknown to medical science, and animals near the company drainage pipe were dying. When animals were found dead near the pipe, the company responded with cash. It paid compensation to the animal owners in order to buy their silence. While the company succeeded in silencing the villagers, poisonous chemicals continued to make its way into the bloodstreams of the neighboring people, with tragic effects. Women gave birth to deformed babies and infant mortality rose to alarming levels.
Not only the plant was sub-standard, it was unsafely managed, which culminated in the form of the explosion resulting in 25,000 dead to date and leaving thousands more disabled or injured.
Has there been any justice as far as you know?
In the aftermath of the explosion, the Union Carbide site has never been properly cleaned up. Chemical wastes continue to poison people living near the abandoned factory. Testing conducted by Greenpeace found cancer, brain-damage- and birth-defect-causing chemicals in the soil and groundwater in and around the factory site, at levels up to 50 times higher than US Environmental Protection Agency safety limits. Mercury levels were 20,000 to 6 million times higher than levels accepted by the World Health Organization. A 2002 study by the Fact-Finding Mission on Bhopal found traces of lead and mercury in the breast milk of nursing women.

Survivors have not been properly compensated and culprits have not been brought to justice.  Warren Anderson, the CEO of now defunct Union Carbide lives as a free man in the US and has not been tried.
The only justice done is that in their death, the victims of Bhopal have given us a sense of awareness.

What are obstacles to achieving justice in India?
Pressure from multinational corporations, corruption in the government, bureaucracy and the judiciary are some of the reasons why justice has not been delivered.  I have talked to survivors who must bribe judges and bureaucrats to receive compensation.  The government doesn’t want to discourage foreign investment; hence it doesn’t impose safety regulation and does not punish polluting corporations.  Profit dictates the process of production.
Are you working on any new plays?

After Bhopal, I wrote a play called Truth and Treason that examines the so called war on terror. Truth and Treason tells the story of an American soldier of conscience, an Iraqi mother, her jailed husband and their 11 year old daughter killed in the war of aggression. As the play unfolds, audiences are drawn to  question not only what comprises ‘war’ and ‘terror’, but how, where and by whom the real ‘war on terror’ is fought… Truth and Treason premiered in 2009 in Montreal to an enthusiastic reception by the public

At present I am working on a new play called Unusual Battleground, which is a play about hidden identity. It is about woman survivors of genocide and rape who must hide their true identities in order to live. The play extrapolates Armenian genocide of 1915 Turkey, which is still contested by many — with genocide and rapes from Rwanda in 1994-95. The play links these two human catastrophes through memories of the Diaspora from these countries now living in Canada.
Are there common themes in your plays?

I have written over 12 full length plays both in Hindi and in English. Themes differ from play to play but they all have one thing in common – they are about human condition drawing attention to social justice with political consciousness. My attempt is not to write plays about reality but about discovering the truth behind the reality.
What is one theme or topic you would like to tackle but haven’t already?

My plays from the recent past have been on international and human rights themes.  After completing my work-in-progress Unusual Battleground, I want to turn my attention to a set of family plays that will examine gender issues among new Canadians. In this set of plays, I will also examine cross-cultural relations across communities.

 

Where can we find out more about what happened in Bhopal?
Some very good information is available on the web
http://www.bhopal.org,
http://www.bhopal.net,
http://www.studentsforbhopal.org/
I also encourage people to visit the website for Sambhavna Clinic Trust  headed by Mr. Satinath Sarngi based in Bhopal, India.

Where can we find out more about your work and your productions?
Those who are interested in my work, I encourage them to visit the website of the Teesri Duniya Theatre http://www.teesriduniya.com or email me rahul.varma.rahul@gmail.com
The book is available at the Playwrights Canada Press http://www.playwrightscanada.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.


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.


Tina Karle– Writer

What made you want to publish hiking books?

I wanted to share the beauty of waterfalls that the state of Ohio has to offer, for everyone to enjoy!

Any lessons learned on your writer’s journey?

There are many lessons I’ve learned along my journey of writing. For one the way sentences are worded plays a key part in sentence structure, along with learning the rules of punctuation all over again! Also, that not everyone, takes kindly to certain phrases that have been listed in my books.

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

For the current hiking book, I am working on, I am up to my fourth revision and corrections for said book. I will keep working on it, and letting people peruse the book, to gain their insight, before it is published.

When is the best time to go hiking?

Pretty much anytime is fine to go hiking. It just depends on what you are going to see and if you wish to tolerate the current weather condition. For my book, I list the best seasons to go and visit the falls. Also spring is usually the best time to go as the weather is more comfortable and water flow for the falls are at their best!

How many pictures will you take on one hike?

When I go out on a phot shoot, I take anywhere from 50 to 400 pictures depending on what my agenda is for the day. If I am out on an all day hike I can take anywhere of over 1000 shots. Those have to be sorted through and only 3 or 4 of those pictures will make it into the book. For my current hiking book that I am working on, I have over 703 photographs listed for the book.

What is one saying or proverb you live by?

One of my favorite sayings is “I walk by faith and not by sight, and I trust in the Lord Jesus for everything.”

Where can our readers find out more about your work?

My work can be found by internet search(using my name, or waterfalls), Lulu.com, Amazon.com, or Barnes and Nobles book stores.


Siri Mitchell– Writer

Siri Mitchell is the author of four novels including the critically acclaimed Chateau of Echoes and Kissing Adrien. A military spouse and mother, Siri is a writer with international sensibilities. She’s spent a third of her life living in such varied places as Tokyo and Paris. She is fluent in French and currently mastering the skill of sushi making. Siri writes books for her friends about people they might know or people they might like to be. And she writes books for herself—the kind of books she’d be willing to spend all weekend reading or stay up late finishing. She has a special interest in addressing tough topics and cultural faith issues and loves the synergy that develops at the place where doubt begins to ask questions of faith.

 

What made you want to become a writer?

I just always thought that writing a book was something I should do, something I had to try. It felt like a responsibility. A burden.

 

Was the journey difficult? Any help? Any obstacles?

The journey was long! It took ten years from the time I first started writing until I sold my first book. I wrote four books in that time span and received 153 rejections from publishers and agents. The fifth book I wrote was the first one to be published. Book four was bought next and then book two. Throughout that ten year period, I tried my hardest to stop writing, but new ideas and new characters would present themselves and I had no choice but to start writing again. My husband was my greatest encouragement. He would listen to me while I ranted, hug me when I cried, and pretend to believe me when I told him I was giving it all up.

 

Any lessons learned on your writer’s journey? Be persistent. Don’t take rejection personally. Find readers who will tell you the hard truths about your writing. My first readers are always people I trust to tell me where my stories aren’t working.

 

Where does that inner drive to write come from?

A desire to create, the challenge of making the story I read on the printed page match the story I can see in my head. My goal is to make each book better than the last and I always try something new, stretch a little further, in each story I write.

 

How do you keep readers turning pages?

One of the fiction’s golden rules is ‘Never take readers where they want to go.’ When I write my books, I get to the happy ending eventually, but I take the reader on a bumpy journey first. The promise of gratification is what keeps the pages turning, in my opinion.

 

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

I write a first draft in about four months. If I can, I’ll put it aside for a month and ask several other people to read it for me. At the end of that month, I’ll pick it back up and read it through again, incorporating their suggestions and my own to complete the second draft. If I have time before my deadline, I’ll read it through a third time before I submit it. After my editor receives the manuscript, it’s read with an eye for the big picture. From that reading, I’ll receive direction on substantive or developmental edits concerning things like character development, pacing, or plot. After I fix those problems, I’ll return the manuscript and the editor will read it for a line edit. The goal of this read is to fix typos, consistency problems, and other details. These are corrections I make during my final read-through when I receive the galleys of the manuscript. At the galley stage, the pages look exactly as they will in the book, only they’re printed on normal-sized paper. I’m only allowed to change up to 10% of the manuscript at this stage and I make those changes in red pen in the margins. The next time I see the book, it’s in print!

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

 I’m not a plot-driven writer, I’m character-driven. In other words, the first glimmering I have that a story is ‘on the way’ is when a character begins talking to me. I can actually hear the voice inside my head. At this early stage, I may not have any idea what will happen in the story, but I know that if I listen long enough, the character will tell me. Most often I’m inspired when I travel. New surroundings seem to bring new characters to life for me.

What are some practical solutions for writer’s block?

I don’t wait for the muse. I don’t have enough time to write as it is, so I can’t afford to waste any of it. If a particular scene isn’t coming, I’ll write a different one. If a particular character isn’t speaking to me, I’ll keep badgering her, asking her questions, probing her motivations, and, if all else fails, I’ll stop asking questions and start listening to what she’s trying to tell me.

Do you have a favorite book?

 I lived, as a child, for several years in New Brunswick and Ontario, so I devoured the entire Anne of Green Gables series. In fact, if truth be known, I still read through it every couple of years. Several years ago I also read Crow Lake. I thought it was beautifully and unselfconsciously written. Possession is an all-time favorite. A.S. Byatt is a writer’s writer. She does so many different kinds of writing so beautifully and they’re all showcased in this book.

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

I write best in the mornings. In fact, due to family schedules, it’s usually the only time of day I’m able to write.

What is one saying or proverb you live by?

A quote by Stephen King: “If God gives you something you can do, why in God’s name wouldn’t you do it?” It reminds me to take my writing seriously and to put the best of myself into it.

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

 (1) Read everything you can get your hands on, both in genres you’re familiar with and those you aren’t. Every writer was first a reader. (2) Listen to everything around you; everything and everyone who speaks has a unique voice. You have to learn how to identify the voices before you can begin to imitate them. (3) Observe everything and everyone in your world – become a student of human nature. Your characters will never truly live until you understand what makes people real.

 

http://www.sirimitchell.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.

 


Michele Lang–Writer

 

Michele Lang writes paranormal tales set in contemporary, urban settings:  the stories of witches, lawyers, goddesses, bankers, demons, and other magical creatures hidden in plain sight.  In addition to writing fiction, she has practiced the unholy craft of litigation in both Connecticut and New York.

As a lawyer, Michele founded and directed Project Dandelion, a program dedicated to helping women to escape poverty and achieve self-sufficiency.  Project Dandelion, created in 1992, helps women and their families by offering workshops, one on one consultations, written materials, and legal advocacy.

Michele lives with her family in the village of Sea Cliff, NY.  Ms. Pendragon is her first novel.

What made you want to become a writer?

Books.  I’ve been a fanatic reader since I was two years old, and even when I’m not reading, stories tell themselves in my head.  Books are the most magical objects I know…think of it!  Someone who’s been dead for hundreds of years can speak directly to you through his or her words, and you can complete their story simply by reading it.  Writing fiction is the greatest job in the world.

But it goes deeper than that.  I believe with all my heart that we are here for a reason.  Part of why I am alive is to help other people to rev their own creative engines and get them excited about their own missions in life.  As a lawyer, I helped women to find their way through the legal system and out of dangerous situations.  As a writer, my work is designed to amuse, inspire, and liberate people from the more deadening aspects of daily life. My books celebrate the power of dreams to change the world.

Was the journey difficult? Any help? Any obstacles?

My primary obstacle was fear.  And my greatest fear was that I wasn’t good enough to write the stories down as I heard and saw them in my mind.  I also feared that I didn’t have the right to tell my own stories at all.  I had to learn to believe in myself, trust my talent.  Once I accepted the fact that my job was to tell the stories, not judge how good or bad they are, I could get out of my own way and write them.

My sixth grade teacher, Mr. Brady, helped me a lot.  He called my parents into school to tell them I was the best writer he’d ever taught.  His encouragement gave me permission to become a writer.  Writers don’t need someone else to tell them they can write.  But Mr. Brady’s belief in me meant so much.

 Any lessons learned on your writer’s journey?

It’s never too late to have a happy childhood. If you love something and it makes you wildly happy to do it, believe you are meant to do that very thing, and give yourself the time and permission to do it right.  You deserve it!  And for all you know, someone out there needs you to do it, too.

Where does that inner drive to write come from?

Sometimes it’s a whisper, sometimes a roar, but that inner voice keeps on telling the stories.  If I don’t write them down, I start to go a little crazy.

How do you keep readers turning pages?

Most people learn and grow as a result of surviving their worst nightmares.  When a reader cares about a character and their troubles, they will keep reading to find out how they make it through the train wrecks and disasters. I love all my characters, especially my villains.  But I’m terribly hard on them.

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

It depends on the needs of the story.  My first draft comes at a white heat, and I’m careful not to go back and edit what I write as I’m getting that first draft down on paper.  After I let the rough manuscript sit for awhile, I go back and do a hard edit.  Sometimes I edit so hard that I end up rewriting huge chunks of the story.  But once I do that hard edit, the toughest part is over.  I do a light polish to make sure the manuscript shines before I send it off to my editor.  After my editor takes a look, I sometimes do another hard edit…but it’s never as extensive as the first one.

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

I love transmuting the affairs of the world into fiction.  What in society infuriates you?  Drives you to despair?  Makes you laugh for joy?  Take those passions, those struggles, and put them in a fictional place, give these problems to fictional characters to grapple with.   For example, like many people I find myself obsessed with the threat of terrorism.  I take my desolation and my hopes and churn them into my stories.

I also mine ancient legends, like those of Robin Hood, King Arthur, or the Greek gods.  What would those characters do in a different setting?  With different enemies?  I’ll interview characters and legendary figures to get answers to these questions, and before I know it, they’re telling me their story.

What are some practical solutions for writer’s block?

Deadlines.  Get some – if you can’t get a publishing contract that forces you to write, find a writer’s group that can give you an outside deadline to meet.  I find that writing fast shuts down the inner censor because I don’t have time to listen to it.

Also, try to write something every day, even if only a sentence.  It keeps you in contact with that inner voice, the stream of stories that keeps flowing under the surface.

 Do you have a favorite book?

I love so many books — I can’t pick a favorite.  I will say that I loved reading Watership Down by Richard Adams. I first read it when I was twelve, and I read it over and over again. I loved the quest in that book, the loyalties of the characters, the deep struggles they all fought to survive.

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

The early morning.  I’m all alone, the outside world is quiet, and afterwards, I can enjoy the rest of my day knowing that I got to write first.

 What is one saying or proverb you live by?

Never give up on your dreams.  Eleanor Roosevelt once said, “The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams,” and I think she was right.

Advice?

Read everything you can get your hands on.  And write.  For so long I aspired to write. I dreamed of writing, read voraciously, wrote long journal entries about writing.  It was all good, but at some point, you need to stop analyzing and dreaming, and commit.  Embrace the inevitable dreck of your early efforts, and despite the dreck, believe.  Have faith in your ability to improve and have the humility to admit how much you have to learn.  Your love for words will take you everywhere you need to go.  Please don’t wait any longer to get started.

Don’t be afraid of the day job.  I could never have become a writer if I hadn’t practiced as a lawyer first – I learned about human nature, and how to finish what I start.  Find a job that stretches you and brings you in contact with a lot of people, if your temperament suits you to that kind of job.  Give yourself time to get good at that job, and to make friends with people who aren’t writers.  The more deeply you live your life and love the people in your life, the more material you will have to write about.

If you write in genre fiction, do yourself a huge favor and join a local or national writers’ group like Romance Writers of America.  I’ve learned about the business of writing from generous writers who’ve shared so much knowledge with me.  If you can’t afford to join, haunt the blogs of your favorite authors and learn from them.  But please don’t stop yourself from writing while you learn, because the best way to learn is to set yourself free and write.

 

Where can we find out more about your work?

 

For excerpts, contests and more, please visit my website:  www.michelelang.com

 

I also give talks at libraries, reading groups, and schools.  Please contact me at Michele@michelelang.com regarding interviews or speaking engagements.

 

Finally, my first novel, Ms. Pendragon, comes out this month in paperback.  You can find it at your local book store or on Amazon.com

 

 

 


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

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Rajan S Thackeray– Writer and Activist

Swami Thackeray (Rajan S Thackeray) is a positive role model and leader in the Hindu community. He has just begun a program called Hindu Watch USA to make sure the media doesn’t slander or misrepresent Hindutva in any way. His forthcoming book ‘India Beware’ takes a look at hard-line Christian Conversionists who have begun a campaign of manipulation and violence to denationalize Indians and destroy Indian culture.  He fears that these Conversionists will continue their persecution of Indians unless the Indian government doesn’t take hard action against them like the communists.

What made you want to become a writer?

My religion did. It’s one of the most peaceful religions in the world and I wanted to bring the teachings of Hindutva to America and to Americans who need a more peaceful outlook on life.

What inspired you to write ‘India Beware’?

Lies created by Christian fundamentalist in America who are trying to slander one of the most peaceful countries in the world. How can these Christians say and write all these lies about India and Orissa. The Christian fundamentalists in America are very aggressive and use violent means to trick poor Indians into conversion. They say Hindus are hurting Christians, but it is very much the other way around. We need to stop Hindu persecution from the Christian Conversionists before it’s too late. The conversionists are a threat to a very peaceful country and I suppose I wanted to expose this threat to the American people. Americans need to know the truth about what is happening to India because of these violent conversionists.

What is happening in India?

What is happening is conversionists are actually denationalizing Indians and that is upsetting many Indian people who are usually so peaceful. Even an elephant can get angry so why upset the elephant? The government of India has given its people good laws—anti-conversion laws to protect the Indian people under attack—but still conversionists continue to denationalize our people. These conversionists also say we love Hitler. But that is not true. We respect Hitler for being patriotic and loving his country but we do not love Hitler. Respect is not love. Americans must also understand that India had nothing to do with Hitler or the wars so most Indians know little about what he did. They just know he was a good leader. India is the only country in the world that achieved total freedom by total peace by one Hindu man.  As a peaceful people we cannot deny even Hitler’s humanity even if that upsets people in the Western world. The new movie Dear Friend Hitler is all about Gandhi embracing Hitler’s humanity and viewing Hitler as a friend. We must embrace Hitler’s humanity and look at his good qualities like leadership instead of focusing on violence or negativity like people in this country do.

Was the journey difficult?

I’m having a hard time with American publishers, but some publishers in India have helped me set up a publishing company here to publish and distribute my books. So I am grateful and I believe ‘India Beware’ will be ready very soon. It needs to be because the problem with the conversionists is getting bad and a peaceful elephant is getting really upset.

Where can we find out more about your work?

Face-book. Please also look for my Hindutva group page and sign my petition against the conversionists hurting the most peaceful elephant in the world called India.