Saturday, November 8, 2008

Interview with Mary Castillo

Today I've got an interview with Mary Castillo, author of Switchcraft, In Between Men, and Hot Tamara. Thank you so much, Mary, for doing this interview!

1. Why did you start writing?
It was the only thing that I felt I was good at. I was in my second year at USC and about to flunk out. (I was a history/pre-med student, which was not a good fit for me at all!) During spring break I really had to think about what I wanted to do and I realized that it was writing. I loved it enough that I'd do it for free or if I had to live in my car. So when I went back to school, I finished that semester by the skin of my teeth and then following year, took my first screenwriting class. From that point on, I've never looked back or had to live in my car.

2. Who/what inspired your stories?
Each story is different. Hot Tamara was inspired by a conversation I overheard in a restaurant. In Between Men was inspired by all the single mothers I'd met at the places where I worked. Switchcraft was inspired by my pregnancy. I always have ideas for new books but I pick the one that screams the loudest and insists on being written.

3. Did you always want to be an author?
No, I wanted to be Wonder Woman. And then I thought about becoming a film director and then a doctor and until finally I realized I was meant to be a writer. Once I committed myself to writing, my career evolved. I've always made my living as a writer - writing advertising, PR and briefly, for newspapers. Books are not my sole source of income and so I freelance for magazines.

4. Could you see yourself doing anything else?
Sure, but even if I didn't sell another book I'd still write them.

5. Is it difficult to write stories about fields of which you know nothing?
This is where my history degree and my journalism skills have come handy. I'm also a naturally nosey person and love learning things that I know nothing about.

6. How time-consuming is it?
Writing is my job and my passion. I'm very lucky to do it full-time. But when I had a "real job", I wrote my books during my lunch hour and at night after work. Occasionally, I have to write at night after my son goes to bed. The thing is, we writers have to stay fresh and connected with the outside world. You never know when you'll overhear a conversation that ignites a story, or catch the rhthym of the way someone talks that inspires a character.

7. Do you feel it's rewarding?
Absolutely. But selling books, oddly, is not the most rewarding part of the job. (I know, you want to kick me for saying that!) The best part of what I do is when I come out of a scene knowing that I was completely swept away by the characters and the story. The second best part is finishing that first draft even though I'll go back and rewrite it three or four times before its ready to be read by my agent and editor. The third best part is hearing readers who connected with the story and the characters.

Wow, I totally agree with her answer for the last question. Thank you so much for doing this, Mary!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Interview with Lori Jakiela

Yo, yo (Yeah, I said it twice, got a problem with that? LOL!). Today I've got an interview with Lori Jakiela (and another one with Mary Castillo coming up). Lori is the author of Miss New York Has Everything. Doesn't it sound good? I just know I'm going to look for it ASAP! Anyway, thank you, Lori, for doing this interview!

1. Why did you start writing?
I started writing when I was very young. I was an only child, and maybe I was lonely, too, but mostly I think I liked to make sense of things. I would have loved to have been a painter or something like that, too, but the only things I can draw are stick guys in hats, one of those three-D boxes, and a pig made out of ovals.

2. Who/what inspired your stories?
I've always written a lot about my family and about Pittsburgh and about the little town outside of Pittsburgh where I grew up. Trafford, Pennsylvania is the birthplace of the chocolate-covered pickle, among other things. I think family and place are the two most important things to me, both as a writer and as a person.

3. Did you always want to be an author?
I always wanted to write. I'm not sure I ever thought about the word author. It still makes me feel funny to say it. But writing was one of the only things I was good at in school, and writing was one of the things that always made me happy.

4. Could you see yourself doing anything else?
I was a flight attendant for years. I still miss it. The traveling part, anyway. I liked the layovers -- nice hotels -- and I liked the people I worked with. But even when I was flying, I was writing, so I guess I could imagine doing a lot of things, but I could never imagine doing them without writing.

5. Is it difficult to write stories about fields of which you know nothing?
I was also a journalist for a while, and that experience taught me that it's important to be a generalist. To know a little bit about a lot of things, then fill in the blanks with research. It's great practice for all kinds of writing.

6. How time-consuming is it?
I'm such a slow writer. I have friends who can do a book a year, that sort of thing. But it takes me a long time. I revise a lot, am pretty compulsive about it. I'm always trying to be satisfied and am hardly ever satisfied. Actually, I'm never satisfied. The best I can usually do is come close.

7. Do you feel it's rewarding?
It's one of the most rewarding things in my life. It helps me make sense of things -- my world, my place in it, other people. When I'm writing, I'm happy and content just to be moving words around on a page and seeing what bubbles up. When I come across something that feels really true, that seems to open something new up for me, that's really something.

I agree completely with what she said about doing other things- I'm a writer and that's just who I am, but even when I'm doing something completely unrelated to writing, I'm still writing. Thank you, Lori, for a wonderful interview!