To read or not to read, that is the question
In the last couple of months, I have been getting up early and going for a walk with a friend of mine. The fresh morning air helps clear the spirit and prepare the body, and having a walking buddy motivates me out of my bed each day. But I have to admit, that if given the chance to walk alone, I have been getting in a sneaky audiobook along the way. I never used to be a big fan of audiobooks, until my world got busier, and reading from the page became a treat rather than a daily occurrence. I've already found some new favorite authors in my listening world (as well as some favorite voice-over speakers!) and it got me thinking. What happens if our world reverts back to the oral telling of stories like our forefathers? Will stories get lost along the way? Will the re-telling of the stories become altered, or adapted to better fit a future society? So I began contemplating the book in its current format and decided to get a paperback copy of all my favorites going forward. After all, a good book is always worth a second read.
This month's authors:
Courtney is a Romance Writers of America® Golden Heart® Finalist and CRW Stiletto Contest Finalist in Contemporary Romance. As a lover of Japanese culture and the macabre, she brings an interesting mix to her writing. I was keen to find out how she did it.
How does your love of Japanese culture and music influence your writing?
Japanese culture has always been fascinating to me. Most assume I must have been into anime as a kid (I had a phase, don't get me wrong), but my real introduction was through music. Music led to language which naturally leads to culture. You can learn so much about people by how they talk to each other and Japanese social structure is incredibly complex and sometimes baffling, especially to a westerner, but once you dig into the history, it all starts to come together. Customs that began in feudal courts are now used in business, remnants of Shinto and Buddhism can be seen in everything from table manners to housekeeping. After spending time there myself, I only fell more in love with it and just had to set a story there. Maybe it's my way of returning without the expense of a plane ticket.
Who is the favorite character you have created and why? This is such a hard question. I have a big soft spot for Asagi, the MC of BLOODLACED. They've been through so much and suffered losses that would bring any other person to their knees, but they always find a way to keep going. I really admire that strength. I also really love Sean Delaney, one of the secondary characters in my contemporary romance, Drive. He's probably the most patient, understanding, and loving person you will ever meet but also sharp-witted and funny in a dark, self-deprecating way. He makes me smile every time he enters a scene.
What lessons have you learned along the way from writing that stays with you daily?
Patience and bravery. Writing and publishing is a long game and it can be discouraging when you spend months or years working on something to see it go seemingly nowhere. All you can do is keep going, keep writing, keep working on the next thing instead of focusing on what's not working and you have to be brave enough to face the possibility--even the certainty--that someone will hate it. You can't please everyone, nor should you try, and these are principles that can be applied to pretty much any endeavor, not just writing. When do you like to write and what does your writing space look like? I write whenever I can squeeze it in. I take advantage of breaks and slow stretches at work. The pandemic lockdown has whittled my social life down to nothing so finding writing time has been relatively easy lately, even if inspiration is lacking. My writing space is usually wherever I can set up my laptop and usually includes coffee, food, and an attention-starved cat.
Readers can find Courtney in the usual places, though she is most active on Twitter. Readers can also email her at CourtneyMaguireWrites@gmail.com
I hope you can take a moment to offer support for her by checking out her books, and I extend my thanks for being interviewed!
Steven Paul Leiva
Steven comes from a background of writing under the bright lights of Tinseltown. As a convert from one style to another, I was keen to chat to him about how he transferred that knowledge into his new writing.
Harking from the world of film, do you think this has helped or hindered your novel writing?
It hindered my novel writing because I never really wanted to work in Hollywood. All I wanted to do was write prose fiction and maybe some plays. By a route it would take too long to detail here, I wound up working in film, first as a journalist, then a film festival programmer, and onto being a publicist, executive, producer, and screenwriter. Nonetheless, during my off hours, I still wrote novels and one stage play. I used to tell colleagues in the film industry that, “Hollywood is my day job!”
But being involved in film, indeed, in loving film, did benefit my novel writing. Off and on, I worked with Chuck Jones, one of the great Warner Bros LooneyTunes directors of Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck animated shorts. Not to mention the Coyote and the Roadrunner, which Chuck created. From hanging around him—and watching more cartoons than was possibly healthy—I believed I developed a good sense of comedy timing. A sense of comedy timing is essential to prose fiction if you are writing satiric and comedic works as I attempt to do. My experiences working in Hollywood certainly provided material for my two satiric Hollywood thrillers, Blood is Pretty, and Hollywood is an All-Volunteer Army. That was undoubtedly a benefit.
And twenty-some years in Hollywood—the ultimate collaborative art form—taught me that I don’t really enjoy collaborating. I prefer the lonely existence of writing prose fiction where I can tell a story, perform the characters, design the locales and landscapes, and even light them for mood and atmosphere, all through the artful manipulation of words. It’s pure joy for me.
What inspires you in a story?
Well, if you mean what inspires me to tell a particular story, it’s usually some idea, even often an intellectual one. My task then is to present it in a compelling narrative with living characters and emotions to be felt. Not to mention finding the humor in it all when appropriate.
If you mean what inspires me in stories that I read, then I would say it would be ideas presented, characters who become real, prose that strives to say what it needs to say in surprising, metaphorical, and even poetic ways. I hate mundane prose, what I call “just getting from point A to point B prose.”
Who do you think your writing is most similar to and why?
With luck, nobody. Why would you want your writing to be similar to anyone? Now, if you ask what writers first inspired me to write, I would answer, The great American writer Ray Bradbury, who later became a colleague and friend; Ian Fleming, author of the James Bond novels, and the wonderful W. Somerset Maugham. All of these writers were able to transport the reader. Bradbury through poetic prose, Fleming through descriptive prose, and Maughan through prose that engaged your attention like a good storyteller can, putting you both in the landscape of the story, and the heads of the characters. None of these writers wrote particularly humorous works but taught me the power of written language. And I learned much from them. Many other writers, both novelists, and playwrights have inspired me since, but these three set me on the path. But the most important ingredient a writer brings to his work -- if that writer is honest -- is his or herself. That’s what will, hopefully, give their work an individual identity.
What genre is your favorite and why?
I have no favorites among the genres I read, including literary fiction, 18th & 19th-century fiction, mysteries & thrillers, science fiction, and mainstream and comedic fiction. I am an eclectic reader and, I hope, an eclectic writer.
Steven likes to connect to his readers mainly on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/steven.p.leiva. He also has aTwitter account @StevenPaulLeiva
I hope you can take a moment to offer support for him by checking it out or purchasing her latest book, and I extend my thanks for being interviewed!
I wish to thank you for taking the time to read and engage with me! Happy reading everyone! VK Tritschler
What happens when your dream job turns out to be a hot mess?
Emily earned a spot in a top Adelaide advertising agency and was excited to be starting her professional career. But on her very first day, she gets coffee spilled on her by Meg, her new and complicated co-worker; runs into Jimmy, her wildly inappropriate boss; and gets stuck in an elevator with Harry, who is the hottest guy in the industry and her company’s biggest competitor.
When Jimmy enlists Emily to spy on Harry and his company, things become more complicated.
But Emily finds that her life isn’t as perfect as she’d dreamed. Now, she has to choose between handsome Harry, who may not be all he seems, and bawdy Jimmy, who is exactly what she fears. Secrets and hidden agendas rip apart Emily’s dreams. Will she pick the devil she knows or the one she doesn't?