Friday, April 10, 2009

My First Interview as a Writer

As long as we are on the subject of interconnectedness, I am starting to get emails and requests from individuals I might not have ever encountered if I did not have this blog. Such is the age of technology.

For instance, last week I got an invitation from a site called WhoHub for an interview. I decided not to belabor wondering how many others got the same invitation. The site looked pretty interesting and sophisticated so but I made that little leap of cyberspace faith and decided to play and do the interview. After all this is good practice for me standing in that space of being a Writer.

You can read the interview below or link through to Who Hub.

Joanne Tombrakos [onewomanseye]

What did you first read? How did you begin to write? Who were the first to read what you wrote?
I attribute my love of reading to my mother. Before my brother was born, we moved to New Jersey for awhile. She did not have any friends nearby and there were no kids in the neighborhood. We only had each other for company until my father came home from work. So every day, around 3 in the afternoon she would read to me from this giant book of poems and fairy tales. I was mesmerized with the written word from that time on. That was how I learned to read. I still have the book, worn as it is, the binding held on with masking tape. I always loved to write, my first story published in our public school yearbook when I was in the first grade. But I was never serious about it, very fearful of sharing until about seven years ago when I found this amazing writing group. They were really the first people I shared my stories with.

What is your favorite genre? Can you provide a link to a site where we can read some of your work or learn something about it?
I am not sure there is one favorite genre, except to say I am most drawn to stories centering around women and that involve generations of families. That certainly plays out in my first novel, Forty Days.
I have a blog that tells more.

What is your creative process like? What happens before sitting down to write?
When I was still working my day job in Corporate America my process was erratic. I used to say I was a binge writer, which most will tell you is not the way to go about writing, that consistency and daily practice is critical. But at that time it was the only way I could fit it in. And it worked.

Now that I am writing full time I try and sit down every day to get something out, no matter how good or bad. But I do find as I work on my second novel, that there is still something of that binge writing still going on. I might think for days about where I want to go next, sit down and get nothing much down and then suddenly it comes to me. I tend to write in my head first and then on paper.

What type of reading inspires you to write?
Almost anything, from a fictional novel to an article in the paper. While it is not reading, sometimes watching a good movie or TV drama or even a not so good one will inspire me to get my story out.

What do you think are the basic ingredients of a story?
For me it starts with a good character. If you can create a character that is interesting and complex and that you really like being with, the rest of the story will flow.

What voice do you find most to your liking: first person or third person?
I prefer third person. If I try to write in first person, it is usually too hard for me to fictionalize. Although I am experimenting with the idea.

What is required for a character to be believable? How do you create yours?
The character has to have flaws, real flaws, the kind we can all recognize in ourselves and in each other. Sonia Pilcer, who is the one that got me committed to my writing, does this exercise in her classes, where you first write a monologue of a character. Then you start with little stories, having that character do different things, have an argument, lose something. It really helps to get to know who you are writing about. It was through that series of exercises that I created the character of Elena Poulous in my first novel.

Deep down inside, who do you write for?
Deep down ? Really? I write for me.

Is writing a form of personal therapy? Are internal conflicts a creative force?
I was always able to express myself better writing than verbally, so I suppose yes, in that sense it is therapeutic. I think most writers would tell you that no matter what they are writing, however fictional it might be, they are bringing some of their own personal experience into it.

Does reader feed-back help you?
Absolutely ! I think sometimes we look at our own stories so much, we don't see something obvious. That could be something that is not working or something someone got that you had not even intended.

Do you share rough drafts of your writings with someone whose opinion you trust?
My amazing writing group I spoke of before sees it all. And my agent.

Do you believe you have already found "your voice" or is that something one is always searching for?
I think we have different voices. My blog which is me speaking on reinventing life after Corporate America is one voice. That voice is much different than the one in Forty Days. And different still, than the voice in the one I am writing now, Seduced by Corporate America. I think what is important is that once you find the voice for a particular work, you stick with it, that it is clear and consistent and strong.

What discipline do you impose on yourself regarding schedules, goals, etc.?
I am working on discipline.

What do you surround yourself with in your work area in order to help your concentrate?
I like quiet, with the exception of my little fountain. I like the sound of the water. And a good chair.

Do you write on a computer? Do you print frequently? Do you correct on paper? What is your process?
I used to only be able to write by hand and then transcribe into the computer. Somewhere along the line something changed and I can now write directly into the computer. I do keep a notebook to jot down thoughts and ideas. The problem there is my handwriting has gotten so bad, sometimes I can't even understand it. I will print out to edit.

What are you working on now?
The title of this is Seduced by Corporate America. It is a fictional tale of a woman who set out to change the world and found herself seduced into the corporate world in the Reagan eighties. The story will take her into the present as she discovers the only thing she had really changed was herself.

What do you recommend I do with all those things I wrote years ago but have never been able to bring myself to show anyone?
Take a look at them! There is probably more than one good idea in there that just needs some polishing!

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