Interview with Stephen Martino

How did you come up with the story for The New Reality?

One major theme throughout my novel is the potential consequences of interfering with human DNA. While in medical training I saw firsthand how "gene therapy" directly led to the untimely deaths of young patients. Just like in my book, scientists conducted human studies without fully understanding the consequences of their actions. Though the studies were small-scale, it involved a deadly virus and gene manipulation, just like that described in The New Reality.

I also incorporate in The New Reality my frustration with America's current economic and political situation. Over 17 trillion dollars in debt, the vast expansion of government, increased taxes, higher unemployment and an unprecedented assault on our civil liberties all boggle my mind. Though fictional, the novel attempts to highlight some of the pressing issues we face as a nation.


Were you inspired by someone or something to write this novel?

Every time I read the news or watch something on the History or Discovery channel I'm inspired. The world has a wealth of information and endless stories to tell. The difficulty I have as a writer is picking just a few of them to elaborate upon in my novels. As a result, my house is inundated with piles of eclectic books with topics ranging from genetics all the way to megalithic structures of primitive man. I feel as if there is so much out there to learn, yet so little time to do it.

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Interview with Elizabeth Hein

EHein-AuthorPhoto01In this interview, Elizabeth Hein converses about her upcoming novel How to Climb the Eiffel Tower.

Cancer is a subject people do not like to think about. Why write about it?

Cancer is a bully. When it pushes its way into your life, you cannot ignore it. Cancer has touched my life, as it has many people's lives. I was diagnosed with Hodgkin's Lymphoma in 2002. In the years I have been working on this book, gynecological cancers affected four members of my family, and a dozen or so more members of my extended family have been affected by cancer. It is a subject that people don't like to think about, but it is also a large part of so many people's lives.

Lara has cervical cancer. You are also a cancer survivor. Was Lara's experience based on your treatment experience?

Lara's experience is only tangentially based on my own. I was diagnosed with Hodgkin's Lymphoma, a blood-related cancer, in 2002 and lost much of that year to treatment. I was far more ill than Lara is, yet I had far more support. I was a 34-year-old mother of two young girls when I was sick, so family surrounded me the entire time. My parents and my husband's parents took excellent care of my girls and me. Lara was completely alone.

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Interview with Susan Örnbratt

SusanOrnbratt-webIn this interview, Susan Örnbratt converses about her novel The Particular Appeal of Gillian Pugsley.

You grew up in Canada but have been living abroad for most of your adult life.  How has this influenced your writing?

It has certainly impacted my storytelling directly since I find the more I travel and experience living in different countries, the more I begin to see life and people differently.  I currently live in Sweden and have been here for most of my married life so I know well that it takes time to understand and appreciate other cultures.  Becoming a local is the key.  As a result, my characters are affected.  I nearly always centre around journey and travel of some kind and the challenges that my characters face relating to someone from another culture - their attraction to someone who looks different, sounds different and behaves differently.  It is something that I easily relate to and enjoy in my life.

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Interview with Caitlin Hicks

CaitlinHicksIn this interview, Caitlin Hicks converses about her novel A Theory of Expanded Love.

Why the title?

A Theory of Expanded Love is really at the core of the book; it begins as the parents’ reassurance to their children that they are loved, in spite of the neglect that is a de facto result of that many people vying for attention from two human beings. It is a noble sentiment, which also justifies the parents’ decision to continue to bring babies into the world according to the wishes of the Catholic Church, but it falls short in reality. Annie sees this in so many ways, and the journey of the book is sort of a test of that ‘theory’. There is a lot of love in the family, but there is also a lot of neglect. And yet, as the reviews are coming in, I realize there is a lot of love in the story itself, in Annie.

What was your inspiration for the story?

When I was quite young, I realized that our family situation was like a circus act: special, odd, unusual. I remember overhearing a conversation and having the ‘aha’ that I could write about it. I finally got around to it! I had been putting together a series of non-fiction articles, trying to get at what I ultimately achieved for myself in the writing of this story, but the writing felt flat to me. Then I remembered a humorist-writer in my own community, Andreas Schroeder wrote a novel about his family called Renovating Heaven, which I quite enjoyed. In it, he created a completely false event in the narrative to show his family that what he was writing was fiction. And then he wrote what he wanted, using his real experiences in the authentic details. I don’t know how much was fiction and I didn’t care. The story was rich with experience. I wanted to do that.

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Interview with Carl Nordgren

CarlNordgren-web1. You lived and worked among family clans of Ojibway First Nations for 4 summers, during high school and college, and now you've spent much of the past 10 years writing stories of and about Ojibway. What's the fascination?

I guess there is a fascination with a live lived authentically. These stories also come from my high regard that their authentic lives were lived so deep into our modern times. And my writing has a sense of obligation, one I cherish. But mostly, I hope, I am writing The River of Lakes trilogy because of the grand adventure in the extraordinary stories from those frontier times. And it really began before the years I worked as a fishing guide in Ontario, the four summers you refer to. My mom gave me a gift, when I was a little boy, when she led me to believe that I was part Choctaw, the people of the Mississippi Delta once upon a time. I never thought to examine that understanding until I was nine or ten when I realized immediately it wasn't so. But her loving deceit defined the first two or three years I walked alone in the woods, exploring and discovering, when I was seven and eight and nine, I spent a whole lot of days in the woods as a Choctaw boy, or so I convinced myself. And even before that, when I was five and six and played the popular 1950's game, Cowboys and Indians, I always volunteered to be an Indian. So when I saw a chance to get a job working with off-the-reserve Ojibway, I made that my priority.

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Interview with Deborah Hining

sinner in paradiseGeneva is hardly a typical romantic heroine, but we can't help but like her. Did you intend for the reader to love or hate her?

I hoped that readers would identify with her, laugh at her, then eventually love her. She is one of those girls that other girls love to hate-you know, really pretty and full of herself, but we have the advantage of seeing her vulnerability so soon that it's hard to hate her. Her pretentiousness is so ridiculous, and she pays so dearly for it, I hope people find her funny rather than hateful. I mean, really, how can you take someone seriously who insists her parents are pronouncing their family name wrong?

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Interview with Summer Kinard

summer kinardIs Summer your real name, or a pen name?

I write under my real name. It keeps me honest. I was born in April, which is rather like summer in Texas. My mother just thought the name was pretty, so I lucked into it. She might have named me Clover Rose or Dominique, which have very different feels. The other names on the list were not bad, but on the whole, I'm glad my mom chose Summer.

Where are you from, and where do you call home?

I was born in Houston, TX, and I grew up mostly in the Houston area, with a couple of glorious years in Leon County, Texas. My husband and I moved to Durham, NC in 1999 for graduate school, and we fell in love with the area. There has never been a question of us staying here. The openness, vibrancy, and creativity here are amazing, and we have a great local food and drink scene, to boot.

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Can't Buy Me Love Discussion

Discussion Questions

Fructus is made up of strong women friends. Do you have such a group? What makes a good group of friends?

The shrine becomes an important marker of Vanessa's hope and healing. Do you have a sacred space in your home?

Vanessa's abusive alcoholic mom gives her sound advice about God. Have you ever heard wisdom from an unexpected source?

What do you think Vanessa's mom would have been like had she made different life choices? How might Vanessa be different?

With which character do you identify most? Why?

The fastest growing religious affiliation in the US is "none." Many of the people who do not espouse formal religions call themselves "spiritual but not religious." Do you think Vanessa fit that category well? Why or why not? What about the other members of Fructus?

Javier tells Vanessa that a priest told him no one should be in ministry without first tending bar. Do you have a bar or coffee place or restaurant you frequent? How might bartending prepare one to be a priest?

Vanessa grieves the loss of her Granny. How did she lose God when Granny died? Did she get Granny back when she reconnected with her spirituality?

Perla says God goes home in the bodies of women, but women are often treated as less than sacred. Do Perla's words change how you see yourself? The Divine? The world?

What would be different if everyone felt the same way as Perla?

Vanessa assumes the role of Banjopera to win Javier back. What are other grand gestures in the book? How did the luchadora match bring together special themes in Javier and Vanessa's lives?

Vanessa survived some serious childhood abuse and neglect. She dealt with her trauma by disconnecting with her body and physical space. Do you identify with Vanessa in her struggle or her recovery of herself?

Objects in this novel are often more than they seem. From the photo that inspires the love story to glow in the dark Jesus, to the Raphael medal, tangible things act as portals into a better reality. What are some objects in your life that connect you with deeper meaning?

What did you think about Little Mani's two-father family?

Making a shrine helps Vanessa make peace with her past and with her new direction in life. What do you think about her inclusion of the horoscopes into her shrine? Would you have forgiven Vanessa's mother?

Bright colors and fabrics seem to go hand-in-hand with Vanessa's healing and new life. How does nurturing her home life in turn nurture her? Can you relate to her need for beauty?

Do you make things with your hands? Do your friends know about your hobby, or do you keep it to yourself? Why?

What does Vanessa's hope chest reveal about her? Do you think she was right to keep it secret from Bradley?

What would you put in a shrine in your home? For a shrine-making guide visit Summer's website at writinglikeamother.com.

 

Interview with Irina Lopatina-Author of White Raven: The Sword of Northern Ancestors

IrinaLopatinaIrina Lopatina is the author of the forthcoming book, White Raven: The Sword of Northern Ancestors, set for release July 2012 by Light Messages Publishing. She also recently published Tales From The Frog Forest, a collection of children's stories about three unlikely playmates who learn to get along through hopping, flying, and running.

Irina lives in Siberia, Russia, near the ancient Altai mountains, a setting she says provides perfect inspiration for fantasy stories. We recently interviewed her about her writing and the source of her deeply creative stories. Join us as she discusses why she writes, how she finds her characters, and offers some advice for young authors.

Please note: Irina speaks and writes only in Russian. Her answers here were translated by Dmitry Lopatin, the translator of White Raven: The Sword of Northern Ancestors and Tales From The Frog Forest.

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Interview with Copy Editor Joanne Asala from Compass Rose Horizons

JoProfileJoanne Asala is an expert copy editor whose worked on numerous book projects. In this interview, she shares her experiences as an editor and offers some advice for authors.

Joanne, tell us a little bit about what you do at Compass Rose Horizons.

I am the founder and senior editor of Compass Rose Horizons, where I provide pre-publication services for publishers and independent authors, including proofreading, editing, book design, and e-book conversion.

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