Monday, May 31, 2010

Which Character is Who?

It's becoming apparent that lots of great questions get fired at authors, most of them pretty much the same ones. I like it when people ask these questions; it shows interest in my work. It's fun to answer them because each time is a little different, and I see the work in a different light. Besides, I'm a teacher; I love to answer questions. I do it all day long.

However there are three questions that catch me short every time, and they are related to each other.
1. Am I in your book?
2. Is that character __________? (insert name of a friend or acquaintance)
3. Will you put me in your next book?

Sorry to say, at least for this just doesn't work that way. Nobody in my last book, or in the book I'm currently writing, is specifically someone I know. I couldn't do that. If I did, my character would have to behave against my wishes and plans for him/her.

I love building a character, her/his biography, foibles, desires, physical appearance, idiosyncrasies, etc. I'm sure I draw all this information from those around me, but it's fairly unconscious and non-specific.

Granted, I will ask my wise girlfriend to explain my why a particular character would respond a particular way. My partner is an experienced psychotherapist who studies human motivation all the time. She will sometimes give me a childhood sketch for someone who could turn out like I want one of my characters to turn out. That helps to create a coherent biography and make a character's behavior logical.

But I never use specifically anyone I know to create a complete character. And probably, if writers did such things, there would be lots of nasty lawsuits to contend with. I remember when Rita Mae Brown wrote that tennis novel ostensibly as an indictment against Martina Navratilova and the world of pro tennis. As I remember, there was kind of a flap about that. Who needs it?

So, folks, you don't know my characters and they don't know you. Hopefully, that's not too disappointing. But really, it should be freeing. Now you can read my book without wondering where you are in there. Just enjoy the read.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

How could I forget? Easy

One time Paul McCartney was making an "unplugged" solo version of "We Can Work It Out." He got several bars into the song and then stopped. He couldn't remember the words. One of the greatest pop composers of all time, and he couldn't remember the words of his own song. The first time I heard that gaff, I was aghast. But now, a few decades from my dotage, I unfortunately understand.

That forgetfulness has been cropping up around Wind and Bones. People mention lines they enjoyed, and I respond, "Did I say that?" I'm really thrilled when people have something memorable to quote from the pleases me to no end...but sometimes, I don't remember writing it....much less editing it a dozen times.

So why is this happening...this geriatric-like forgetfulness? Because all I can think about these days is my current project.

I'm so steeped in 78 KEYS that Wind and Bones has taken a back seat. My new project pushes all else out of my mind. I'm thinking about Tarot cards again, after so many years of the cards languishing in the drawer. I'm thinking about settings in the Pacific Northwest that would be interesting as well as thrilling. My main character is Jewish, so I have to get her right. AND most of all, I have to write the damn thing. It's coming along; it's coming along, but not as quickly as I had hoped. Rad hopes to have it out a year from now, so I've got to write...and write....and write.

Paul McCartney, I forgive you for forgetting the words to a song I love. I know you were thinking about your next project.

Now let's all hum a few bars of "We Can Work It Out."

Monday, May 10, 2010

Backroom Blues

A thousand years ago, I worked at K-Mart in Missoula, Montana. One of our managers (he always said good morning in German) clucked at me when I was slow to unpack certain merchandise and get it onto the showroom shelves. "Kristin, you can't sell what's in the backroom," he said. One of those little nuggets of wisdom that has followed me through my life...and I can't even remember the guy's name.

So now my book is out. No longer anticipated but really out there for sale. Besides my publisher, who does what she can, I am responsible to get the book out of the backroom. So folks ask me why I'm not reading in a bookstore? Where are the bookstore debuts?

Well, guess what, folks, there are no bookstores.

Yeah, there are B&N and other large Seattle bookstores. But why invite a first-time novelist of lesbian romances when they can get Sarah Waters, Alice Walker, or anyone else who'll draw a crowd? I've tried contacting a few of those bookstores and don't even get the old F.O. from them. The last gay friendly bookstore closed last year. Oh, not that those big bookstores are gay unfriendly...quite the opposite...but Sarah Waters, Alice Walker and the other big names need to visit bookstores too. So they get to have the readings and signings.

The rest of us have to use the networks we've built over the years, web-based or otherwise. And, frankly, I'm so grateful we at least have this medium for book promotion. I'm hoping to use it to the max but am not sure what else I can do besides this and Facebook.

Therefore, if anyone has any suggestions for more web-based promotional activities, feel free to let me know. I want to keep my book out of the backroom and get it on a front shelf.

Another topic I want to briefly mention: Star-Crossed Productions, an online lesbian book dealer, has, sadly, gone out of business. I want to thank all those people at SCP who sent me books over the years. They were professional, prompt and hassle-free. I mourn their closing and the loss of those delicious packages full of books arriving at my door. Adieu, Star-Crossed Productions

Thursday, May 6, 2010


Mom taught me how to read when I was four, and I never stopped. She had me reading classic literature before most girls get addicted to Nancy Drew. My mother always wanted me to be a writer.
She never really saw that part of me realized...or did she?
Yesterday, 12 days earlier than expected, both my sisters received my book from wherever they ordered it. Yesterday was also the 4th anniversary of my mom's death.
Thanks, Mom