Another Q from Deborah: Back in ’89, you wrote a picture book, The Canary Who Sailed with Columbus. How did that book come about? Have you considered writing more children’s books?
SW: I wrote it for my daughter, who was five at the time. I’d been researching a historical novel about the first Columbus voyage, and we made a family trip to Spain, so it was a way to give her a glimpse of the process. I didn’t really expect to publish the children’s book, but the illustrator and I put something together and we sold it to a small Texas publisher. I loved it, because I got to do school and library visits and meet adorable young readers. It would be fun to do another one day, but there’s nothing on the horizon at this time. Children’s book publishing is tough–a bunny-eat-bunny world out there!
How about you? What writing project have you tackled just for fun, or for your kid?
The RWA Awards! Publishing industry awards from an industry giant. I’m excited because I know all these people and they are SO deserving. Sherry Lewis served as president of the largest genre writers’ organization in the Universe, and the award is named after a late, great friend o’ mine. Karen Fox is a writer I’ve known and admired since we were pups. Tracy Farrell just needs to come and see me. One of her oldest and dearest friends, Mary Clare, lives here on Mellow Island and it’s time. Deborah Schneider and I just had dinner two weeks ago at Literary Lions! She wore the coolest dress. Jennifer Greene is wonderful and we have the same literary agent. And Jen Louden! Yet another author and friend from right here on Mellow Island. I am so pleased for everyone. Here’s a list of recipients:
The Board selected the following recipients for RWA Awards:
DB: In October, there was an incident involving a pair of hiking shoes. Writers know that everything that happens to them is fodder for the written page some day. Please relate the story and do you see it showing up in a book later down the road? Do you suggest writers keep a notebook/journal to record incidents like this? Why?
I won’t relate the story because it’s routine (I am routinely klutzy). It’s “dog bites man” rather than “man bites dog.” Digest version–slippery shoes+wet grass+dog tugging at lead=dislocated elbow. Now, the part that might be of use are the details a writer absorbs from incidents like this–the expression on a stranger’s face when he saw the grotesque angle of the arm. Pain so intense I thought the top of my head would come off. The stranger’s kindness and swiftness as he dialed 911, crated the dog, secured the house, found my purse and mobile phone…all the time keeping his eyes averted from the arm. My feeling of dismay as the EMT cut off my brand new, expensive Patagonia hoodie. The interesting apparatus filled with styrofoam beads, which they used to immobilize the arm. A busload of school kids on the ferry (had to take the ferry to the ER in Seattle), lining up to peer into the ambulance to see if there was any blood and guts. Little details, like the meth addict screaming obscenities. Oh, wait, that was me! The doc’s name: Milkman. A nurse rushing in, saying, “I have your diagnosis! #1, you have a severely dislocated elbow. #2, you’re famous, I love your books!”
A writer should pay attention when strange things happen. I wasn’t taking notes because it was my left arm and I’m left handed. Generally, if they’re dramatic enough, you remember the important bits. Some things, you don’t need a journal for.
Thanks to all who took part in the Fireside audio giveaway! Here’s how the winners were chosen–with the super-duper Random Integer Generator. This will satisfy anyone’s inner geek. Interested geeks can go here http://www.random.org/integers/ and see how to randomize entries. You just put in the number of entries from 1 to whatever, and tell it to generate the number of columns = to the number of prizes on hand. Et voila! So congrats to Vecia, Molly, Beth, Judy, Pam, and Sandi. I’ve e-mailed you all for your mailing addresses, and you will soon be in Avalon, listening to the latest installment of the Lakeshore Chronicles. This was fun–I’ll do more in the future, so check in now and then. Thanks for the fun, everyone!
I’m a sucker for books, films and TV shows about writers, and when it’s a Cinderella story to boot, well, that’s just a bonus. David Copperfieldis set to re-air starting today (in most areas of the US). This version has one of the best casts ever. Although I still have the best Barkis.
Oh, snap: “In America only the successful writer is important, in France all writers are important, in England no writer is important, and in Australia you have to explain what a writer is.” –Geoffrey Cottrell
DB: When you speak at conferences, workshops, etc., what one question can you always count on being asked? How do you respond to it?
SW: Q: “How old are you and how much money do you make?”
A: “Very, and a lot.”
Also, many questions relate to pretty much all the stuff in this interview, not that I’m complaining. I’m also asked: “Where do you get your ideas?” And “How long does it take to write a book?”
A: “Ideas come from an emotional place inside me. When I have a powerful reaction to something, I start looking for a story to hang it on. Writing a story helps me sort things out. I take anywhere from six months to a year to write a book. The first draft comes out fast–in a matter of a few months–and then the Great Revision Slog takes the rest of the time.”
Writers are remarkably consistent in what they’re dying to know about each other. And the longtime published authors are no different. Put us together at a cocktail party, and you’ll hear us asking the same things–How long does it take you to write a book? Do you do a lot of revisions? How did you find your publisher/agent/publicist/husband….?
How about you? What do people ask you about your writing? What do you wish they’d ask? What would you like to ask other writers?