Ok, first this is first are you a plotter or a pantser?
Hard to say. I try to plot the general outlines, but research and character development often require change. My current main WIP is a novel with a contracted deadline so that means I have to be tighter with what I do. When I am writing a short story I start with a general idea of things and make a lot of revisions as I go. When I write non-fiction I have to have a more structured approach.
What do we have to look forward to in the future?
Ans. With my writing, I hope to get my two YA novels out of draft and to an agent and into print. I love to write for children. Have won some contests and awards, but no book except for one non-fiction with Scholastic and a coloring book that is now out of print.
Poetry is another passion of mine. I write a lot of it, and send out the bit that is polished. Have had some success placing pieces
You definitely have a variety of tastes!
Which one of your characters do you most identify with? Why?
Actually there is a piece of me in every heroine–and my daughter..
I think this is true of all authors, we always leave a bit of us on each page!
You are a published author! What made you succeed where others fail?
Persistence. Market research. Paying attention to what readers and publishers want while sticking to my own ideals and not trying to write what is popular or imitate others
Great advice for any author.
What does your desk look like?
Uh oh, Did my husband put you up to this one? Right now my desk has so much junk on it I am writing in the living room. I am a “messy”.
Ha! No, he didn’t I swear!
What was the first novel/short story/poem you wrote? Did you ever publish it?
The first thing I wrote was scribbling on a piece of folded paper (to look like a book) even before I could print or write! I made my mother listen as I “read” it to her.
The first thing I ever published outside of school publications and county-wide student anthologies was a poem in The Horn Book. I was fourteen and they paid me!
Wow, amazing to be so young and still so talented.
Any spoilers you can give us about upcoming releases or projects?
Yes, this last book in the Legacy of Honor series is a risk for me–I am doing two time periods!!!! Civil War and Gulf war
Interesting, I find sometimes you just have to take that plunge!
Considering the mess that your desk apparently is where do you like to do your writing?
Wherever I can carve out a space for my laptop. Sometimes I use a fountain pen to draft or edit.
Do you have a writing style?
I am not really sure! I know I have two bad habits I have to clean up after the first draft–repeating myself (I do this when I talk, too!) and taking too long to get into the meat of the story. I like introductions. So, I usually write one and then cut it out.
Is there a message in your novel you want your readers to grasp?
Make that novels, plural. In the entire Legacy of Honor series I want to stress that you can honor country, family and self. My heroines are smart young women who think for themselves but respect the values they know to be right and true.
How much of the book is realistic?
Research is my middle name–ok, so it’s Gabrielle, but I love research. So, things like the names of restaurants, streets, foods, and all of that are real. Now and then an historical figure appears but my take on them is pure fiction. While some incidents in my life or in the lives of friends may make an appearance, the characters are all imaginary as are the events they, my characters act in.
What books have influenced your life most?
So many. I like OHenry and Shakespear, TS Elliot and TE Lawrence, Louise Penny mysteries, Greg Isles thrillers, and Adriana Trigiani romantic family sagas.
If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?
The writers in my critique group, Writers Block are encouraging, kind, and never let me get away with a boring opening!
Those writing groups can definitely be a blessing!
What book are you reading now?
I just finished Donna Leon’s the Golden Treasure
Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?
Kline of Orphan Train, and many others. I read widely and in many genres and history and biography as well as fiction. There is a YA book about a Vietnamese girl in the states that is written all in poetry that I love but I don’t own it and cannot recall the title right now. As a performer of folk tales, I read widely in that genre as well and perform tales I love.
Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.
School. Years later, I talked with my fifth grade teacher and she told me that she started a school newspaper simply so I would have an outlet for writing!
That’s amazing, it’s nice to see teachers take such an interest in students, how great!
Do you see writing as a career?
Oh yes! I have been a professional journalist for more than 30 years.
Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
Those pesky openings!
I think many would agree with you!
Do you have to travel much concerning your book(s)?
Unfortunately no. I love to travel
Your covers are gorgeous, who designed them?
For this series, Gwen Phifer, a genius!
What was the hardest part of writing your book?
That pesky beginning and transitions and the blurbs about the book!
Actually the much harder part of the work is marketing. I love to write, I find it hard to sell.
Certainly not easy to grab the attention of the reading audience!
How many people have you murdered over the course of your career?
So far just a dozen or so, my mystery writing is going slowly.
LOL – just a dozen, some might call that a good many!
Has your dog ever eaten your manuscript?
Don’t have a dog, but my computer has eaten a manuscript and in our last move I lost both the hard drive and hard copy of a YA I had finished.
Oh no! Talk about disappointing.
How much impact does your childhood have on your writing?
Lots! I love Pittsburgh and have a wonderful loving family full of terrific cousins. My aunts and uncles and mom and dad were wonderful.
What are books for?
Reading, inspiring, educating, entertaining,. cherishing
I know I cherish all of mine.
Why do you think what you do matters?
Only some of it matters. What matters is when I honor God with my output by encouraging and inspiring others in their lives.
What kind of pen do you use?
When I use a pen, I like a fountain pen. It’s a German Pelikano Junior and uses cartridge refills. I put them in my quart-sized bag when I travel
What are the most important elements of good writing?
A willingness to revise.
That sounds about right!
According to you, what tools are must-haves for writers?
Computer, sense of humor, perspective on oneself, desire to improve
Do you prefer e-books, paper backs or hard covers?
I find I prefer paper but I do find ebooks great for vacations or commuting
Do you buy a book by the cover? No, I like to read the blurbs
I’m such a sucker for a lovely cover!
Do you watch the movie and spoil the book or read the book and spoil the movie?
I like to read the book first. Reading the book, never spoils the movie it only informs the experience.
Thanks again Joan!
If you have any questions for Joan that you would like to ask, please leave a comment for her, or visit her at her own blog.
Author of the Legacy of Honor Series: Giulia Goes to War, Letters From Korea, and A Bowl of Rice from Desert Breeze Publishing
Cottonwood Grove published by Western Trail Blaze (April 1, 2014)
Tales Through Time: Women of the South: April Publishing
Massachusetts: Scholastic Press
A Complete Guide to the Shenandoah Valley in Virginia Berkshire
Encouraging words through pen and performance
Buy Link: http://www.amazon.com/Bowl-Ric