Who were the people or person that inspired you to write?
I could name many people who inspired me—excellent teachers of English literature from grade school through college, my parents, teachers of the many writing classes I’ve taken as an adult. But clearly the biggest inspiration has come from the authors of all the books I’ve lost myself in over the course of my life. The ability to build an entire world through written words still feels miraculous to me. Every time I read a good book I am inspired to try again.
How many different drafts of a manuscript do you go through before you publish?
Infinite! At least that is the word that jumps into my mind. The first draft is so weak it’s really just a sketch of where I’m trying to go. From there it’s a matter of battling my own disappointment about what I’ve put onto the page—kneading it, cutting it, shaping it until it begins to come close to what I want to say. I build a book in layers, many of which I don’t begin to understand until the third or fourth draft. My current book is labeled ‘Eight draft,” and it isn’t done.
I've heard authors say that sometimes the characters take over...Sounds like you've kept control! LOL What has been your favorite story/subject that you have written about and why?
Well, that’s pretty easy since I only have one finished novel, OXYGEN. It’s about my work as an anesthesiologist. I loved writing about something that is so important to me, and so difficult to explain clearly. Our job in the operating room is often misunderstood. Science has always fascinated me, and I love the challenge of translating it to non-scientists, helping people appreciate how universal it is—a truth that exists in every language and culture, facts we’ve discovered and mysteries we haven’t yet explained. I honestly believe science has the power to solve so many of the problems we are facing today. The novel also centered around family and our relationships—another topic close to my heart!
I know that I was surprised when it was the anesthesiologist that was the physician that was "at fault" in your book. Normally we all think of the surgeon! Reading novels such as OXYGEN gives each of us an opportunity to learn important info through a fun way; that's what makes fiction so enjoyable for me at this time in my life!
What kind of environment do you prefer when you’re writing?
I like my quiet little office looking out over the water. I can edit in a café or on my ferry-boat commute, but to get the first words onto a blank page I really like solitude and lots of natural light.
That's probably pretty hard for you to do with the family right outside your door! I'm glad they are an understanding supportive group!
So, what tips do you have for aspiring writers?
Don’t give up!! Decide if you can be happy reading other people’s books and stories, or if you need to create your own. You’ll know—if you can envision going peacefully to your grave without writing, maybe you can give it up and spend your days happily reading. More power to you! Writing is hard work. But if you know you will be clawing to get at a pen when they are carrying you away, then you must write. Don’t succumb to the myths that it should come easily if you have talent, or that you’ll always feel inspired. How many pianists can play without hours of difficult practice? But the pleasure that comes from rereading a paragraph once you finally have it right can make it all worthwhile.
Chat With Carol on October 30th from 11 to 1:00 on Facebook...