Tales from the Cosmos
For centuries as humans, we have been listening to stories from storytellers around the world about life in the Cosmos. With a range of Gods created to explain unusual events, and to resolve issues and arguments, it is difficult for me to wrap my head around the concept that as an author, I am creating my own potentially eternal tales. Mine is not of either the caliber nor expected to have such an impact; but I am in my own small and humble way bringing forward new worlds, characters, and tales. And as I write down another tale, I often think back on the collected stories through the centuries and wonder how closely I have inadvertently replicated a storyteller before me. And I wonder how they lived their life. I only hope I am doing their story justice. Speaking of which, I again have had the chance to interview two more amazing authors. Let's see how they create their own tales from the Cosmos.
This month's authors:
Nhi the Poet
Nhi is a lover of life, family, and writing. She kindly offered some of her thoughts and inspiration in this interview.
How do you get inspiration from the world around you and how does this influence your writing?
I get a lot of my inspiration from friends, family, even strangers. A lot of the time, I’ll just be spending a day out at the mall or in a coffee shop and I’ll find an interesting subject. From there, ideas about their backstory and who they are pop into my mind and I quickly jot down blurbs in the notes section of my phone. I have a super sporadic relationship with my flow of inspiration. I also feel that I tend to hyper-observe people, taking even the slightest nuances in their interactions to delve deeper into who they are. I guess this goes directly into my writing style because I’m pretty obsessed with the details of a character. I love world-building and plot, but getting lost in the details of a person, especially the minute things that set them apart from anyone else, are what really get me.
What is your favorite concept or genre of writing and why?
I think my favorite thing about writing is the fact that as a storyteller, you get the opportunity to show commonplace things in a completely new light to your readers. It’s this element of magical realism or romanticism where you almost separate parts of people or parts of behaviors from the whole, in order to appreciate them more fully. Suddenly, a coffee cup isn’t a coffee cup anymore, but maybe it’s a crystal ball or a lens into the person holding the cup itself. This is what I love most about the power behind the writing.
Who is your key supporter in your art, and how do they support you?
Oh man, this is a tough one. My family and friends are all incredibly supportive of what I create whether that be through purchasing new books or beta-reading new stories. I’m very blessed in that sense, but if I had to pick a key supporter, it’d be a dead tie between my dad and my husband. Maybe rightfully so! After all, they are the most important men in my life. My dad has always believed in my skill as an artist. Growing up, I could only imagine how annoying I was, constantly showing my dad my stories and poems. Regardless, I don’t think I can remember a single instance where he wasn’t ecstatic to read my work and applaud me. That relentless enthusiasm really helped me develop confidence in my craft from a young age. These days, my dad doesn’t have as much feedback because I’ve somewhat surpassed him in terms of writing skills, but he’s still always just as eager to read my new material. As for my husband, well, he’s the main reason why I’m even doing this interview right now. I kid, but only partially because for a long time I couldn’t take myself as a writer and artist seriously. I worked so hard in college to create a stable career for myself and after I graduated, I went into corporate digital media marketing jobs. The daily grind started to wear me down and my writing quickly gathered dust. My husband, then-boyfriend, had always been supportive of my creative outlets whether it be photography, video editing, or writing even if he didn’t quite understand them. We were quite opposites with him being an applied mathematics major and myself a creative writing major back in college. I think there was just one point when he could tell I was losing myself in the daily grind. I just wasn’t happy doing office work anymore and when he confronted me, I responded truthfully that I had always wanted to just tell stories. To which he responded, “you mean to publish a book?” And that sparked that fire within me once more. I always thought to go the traditional route for success, but at the end of the day, it’s not really about success for me. It’s more or less the opportunity to tell a story, reach out to someone, and to let them know they are not alone. After that talk with my husband, I decided to quit my full-time job and pursue completing my books. I am always grateful to my husband for being my emotional and financial rock through all of the struggles in my publishing process.
What process do you go through when you start a new project?
It often just starts with a single idea. A line from a song. Perhaps even just the look of a stranger. I come from a background in film and cinema and so I approach writing the way I approach envisioning a scene. That’s usually how I can write scenes in settings so ordinary and yet make them feel so close that you could feel the corded fluffy rug on the floor of a San Franciscan hipster’s loft right between your fingers as you read the words. I quickly jot down my ideas and blurbs in the notes section of my phone. I have tons of unexplored ideas, but when I’m ready for a new story, I go through those blurbs and see which ones can be fleshed out more. I even ask myself, which of these people do I want to get to know myself? If I don’t care, how could I expect anyone else to? From there, I use a mix of plotting and 'pantsing' until a story is painstakingly finished. And trust me, it is a very painstaking process because I’m a notorious procrastinator with a heavy side of imposter syndrome so I’m constantly doubting if my ideas are even good enough to pursue in the first place.
Being a millennial, Nhi loves the use of social media. You can always find her on : Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/nhithepoet/
Or her Website: https://www.nhithepoet.com/
I hope you can take a moment to support (and distract) by contacting her, and I extend my thanks for being interviewed!
Jake is an American Obstetrician and Gynecologist, who writes books inspired during his work in practicing medicine. With strong female characters, I was keen to see how Jake creates his stories. Here are his replies:
In several of your stories you deal with females in the main role, do you feel that your working environment has helped provide your insight into the female psyche?
Being of the male gender I’m not certain that I can assuredly say that I could ever have total insight into the female psyche! In my last story, A Secret Lies Deep, I even intimate that point during one of Eryn’s (the protagonist) visits with her psychologist. We love ‘em and we hate ‘em. We cannot live without ‘em. Remember the movie, What Women Want? It certainly ain’t easy knowing how they tick. Mel had to be shocked by a hairdryer in his bathtub to gain the ability to know. But let me get back to really answering the question you posed. I must assume…no, more than assume…the answer must be a YES. Let’s see, I started in about 1980 with my training in obstetrics and gynecology. That was after I spent a good part of one year of training in Internal Medicine. I didn’t feel I fit in I.M., and after some thought of where I thought I would be happy and productive (no intended pun here), I switched my training to OB/GYN. One of the reasons I did so was that I was a hands-on type, so in the OB/GYN field of medicine, I could do surgery, deliver babies, as well as use my brain with listening, diagnosing, and prescribing. I think, and I have thought this for a very long time, the other reason for my choosing OB/GYN as a field is that I always found it easy, in fact, just as easy if not easier for me to converse with women. So, in completely answering your question, I think that my field of work in addition to my inherent ease of conversing with women…Oh, and of course, let’s not forget, I was privy to a lot of personal information that many individuals would never have the privilege of knowing, physical as well as psychological…has at least given me a view of many a woman’s heart.
Do you find it difficult to write about such complex psychological issues?
The only difficulty is becoming the character in one’s head – actually feeling what she feels or must feel, and then by my learned experiences, attempting to have the characters react as I have witnessed. If you meant by your question, is it tough to tackle the issues I write about, the answer is, no. In my first book, The Unintended: R u sure??, the difficult decisions both the protagonists make has to do with abortion. The conundrum has been around for ages, and as you well know, is an issue that still divides, as well as can be seen by the stories of Elsa and Ginny and their families and significant others. Also, as I would guess most people are aware, actions most always end up with consequences, often unintended, thus the title, The Unintended… I wrote the story of The Unintended… factually. What I mean by that is all the medical information is factual, at least the modern-day medical information. I had to use some poetic license for the 19th-century medical information since I could not gather any direct first-hand information, although the social, political, and religious contexts hold close to what was occurring at the time. In writing A Secret Lies Deep, the psychological issues are different, although when multiple people are involved, and the issues are complex and unusual, and even controversial, psychological stress can’t help but seep out with the conflict. As I believe you know, A Secret… involves the exploration of a secret stressor for Eryn (the protagonist), and also involves her evolution and the psychological stressors accompanying her ability to find comfort with who she is individually as well as with her coworkers and finally with her sexuality.
What is your writing process, do you like to plot or do you write as you go?
You might say it is a bit of both. I have the big picture in my mind from the beginning. It is the details that make the work, and that includes pieces of the plot, the characters, the setting, the dialogue, and the sundry other twists and turns that fit like a jigsaw puzzle into the final tapestry. To paint this clearer – I know where I’m starting and where I want to finish. So, as in my stories, I knew I was going to have female-gendered protagonists. I also knew what main points I wanted to present. Then it takes collecting a cast of supporting characters to get that done while having an interesting storyline to tell. Here is when the twists come in since although I have in my mind the ultimate direction I want to go, the supporting cast must become intertwined in a way to make the story interesting, adding, if not conflicts, at least different viewpoints to the main character. There were many times when I went down a story path only to be stopped with brambles, too many sticking points that gummed-up my computer keyboard, too many dead ends that would have caused the story to stall, too many rabbit-holes that would have led me away from writing a coherent plausible story. It was when I ran into these obstacles that I would often resort to my most trusted means of resolution – I would either pour myself a bourbon and Coke and go out to the porch to think or I would take a long hot shower. Yes, those two options usually did the trick! They relaxed me, letting in new ideas that would be more workable than the ones that failed.
Having now written several books, what did you wish you knew when you wrote your first book that you now know?
Not sure I want to answer with my first thought because that would mean I may not have ventured my efforts at all. To explain – If I’d known how difficult it would be to market my books, in terms of effort, money, and time, I may not have begun. And therefore, I’m glad I didn’t know how difficult those things would be because I sorely wanted to get my stories out. I don’t think anybody believes me when I tell them I felt inspired to write what I have, but it’s true. Besides that, the whole process was a great learning experience. Yes, it took tons of hours, a lot of trial and error on my computer, a lot of aggravation for family members that had to deal with my constant asking to listen to passages I wrote, etc., but most difficult processes are worth the experience in the end. Besides, there was so much history that I was unaware of. I knew this fact before, but the knowledge I gained in the process of writing made it even more clear – when you are awed by someone speaking about a topic, great; but you may know more than that awe-inspiring speaker on some other topic. Don’t ever sell yourself short, but when you speak make sure you know your topic and don’t try to pull the wool over someone else’s eyes, for you end up the fool; of course, you could tell them what you were saying was all fictional, but that would probably just add to your agony.
You can reach Jake through his website, jakehatmacher.wordpress.com, or you can friend him on Goodreads through JAKe Hatmacher. You're welcome to ask me questions through his author page on Goodreads at https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/10813298.JAKe_Hatmacher. I hope you can take a moment to support him by contacting him, and I extend my thanks for being interviewed!
This month's book challenge - To win yourself a $10 Amazon gift card, this month I would like you to send in a review of a book you have read recently that you enjoyed. Each month our winner will have their review published in my next month's blog and get the gift card information emailed to them. So send me your review - any book, any genre, let's see what you love to read! I wish to thank you for taking the time to read and engage with me! Happy reading everyone! VK Tritschler