(the official) NORTHWEST BLOG TOUR
in which writers answer four questions and then post those answers to their blog
- What am I working on?
So many things! Last week I finished a young adult novel, The 5 ½ Senses of Sophie LaVelle, based on the Tarot cards, a family curse and the 19th century secret society, The Golden Dawn. I did not write this because YA is a hot market, I beg your pardon. I did it because I imagined writing such a book would be a fun break. It was not a fun break. It was hard.
I’m currently putting final edits on another manuscript, Like a Little God. It’s a novel about betrayal and revenge. It’s about identity and family. And class, because I always end up writing about class. A short story pulled from that novel, The Man at Table Five, was published in The Sun last March.
I earned my Master’s Degree last spring (yes, I should be retiring by now, for crying out loud, but instead I went back to college), and for my thesis, I adapted my second novel, Twenty Questions, into a screenplay. This was harder than it might sound. I had to turn the story inside out. I’m an interior writer. I write thoughts, impressions, feelings; I write the interior landscape. A screenplay is all about the exterior: images, pictures, sound — the physical. I liked being forced to work within the tight parameters of the genre. My style of writing is already sparse, but this forced me to strip it down even further. I’m not completely happy with the ending of the screenplay and am working on it again. Or at least I’m thinking about it, which is the beginning of work.
Those are my big projects. I’ve also been writing short pieces, both fiction and essays. Not long ago, an agent told me not to say that I’m working in so many different forms. It looks bad, she said. But you get restless. You want to try new things. Maybe it’s not good for the career, but I think it’s good for the craft.
- How do I differ from others in my genre?
Regardless of genre, I tend to be sparse, to write in a stripped down way. I probably rely on voice more than most writers.
- Why do I write what I do?
Like most authors, I write about things that dog me. I wrote my first published novel about a town where my family moved when I was fifteen. We moved from Charleston, South Carolina to a little town on the Illinois River. It was a mean, racist, other-hating place, and I was a hippie kid. It was also a place of subtle beauty and unexpected kindness, I realized later, but then, at fifteen, it was hellish. The story idea for my second published novel came from a young woman who was murdered when she accepted a ride from a man after I had turned him down. My most recent manuscript, Like a Little God, is based on a foster child who rode my school bus. I write to grapple with things. When the mind won’t leave something alone, that’s the place to start writing.
- How does my writing process work?
I write in the morning. I write alone, in silence. People think the “ writer’s life” is romantic, but really it’s just someone sitting alone for long periods of time.
Also on the Tour: Karelia Stez-Waters
Karelia Stetz-Waters is an English professor by day and writer by night (and early morning). She has a BA from Smith College in Comparative Literature and an MA in English from the University of Oregon. Other formative experiences include a childhood spent roaming the Oregon woods and several years spent exploring Portland as a broke 20-something, which is the only way to experience Oregon’s coolest, weirdest city. She now lives with her wife, Fay, her pug dog, Lord Byron, and her cat, Cyrus the Disemboweler. She teaches at a rural community college which provides ample inspiration for writing, as the college attracts all walks of life, from Sudanese refugees to fresh-out-of-the-closet drag queens. Her interests include large snakes, conjoined twins, corn mazes, lesbians, popular science books on neurology, and any roadside attraction that purports to have the world’s largest ball of twine. She publishes with Sapphire Books, Ooligan Press at Portland State University, and Grand Central Publishing part of the Hachette Book Group.