Author Q&A Part 1

Several years ago, I did a Q&A with the wonderful website Women and Words (sadly “on hiatus”). A lot of the answers are still good, and I’ve updated some others. But it’s long, so I’m going to break it up. Here’s Elaine! Part 1

Introduce yourself to the rest of the class. Who are you and what makes you tick?

Hi. I’m Elaine, and I’m a writer.

For the most part, I’m a middle-aged, white, middle-class lesbian, living in Massachusetts. Boring. I always say I’m still trying to figure out what I want to be when I grow up. I’ve worked in retail (so not my thing), been a secretary (back when executives still had them), a marketing writer, a grant writer (dismal failure), a photographer, an editor. In my current job I manage to put most of those to use, which makes me very lucky—though I’d rather be retired and writing full time.

UPDATE: I am retired and writing full time! Yay!

What makes me tick? Four things:

Nature. Without the natural world, I’d be lost. I like sitting in the woods, preferably out around the Quabbin Reservoir, so quietly that animals move around me like I’m not there, because, frankly, the planet would be a whole lot better off if humans weren’t here.

Music. Driving along Route 2 in the Berkshires at peak fall colors with my favorite music blasting is a kind of heaven.

Laughter. It has kept me sane. I love laughing so hard that I cry, can’t breathe, and fall over. At one of my lowest points, coming out, Kate Clinton made me laugh and I realized I didn’t have to lose that. Trust me, the 1980s were not a laugh-a-lot time overall.

Love. I have the good fortune to have found my soul mate, better half, whatever works for you, in my wife. I don’t know whether it’s age or circumstance, but I never take her for granted. There are moments when we are together, maybe doing nothing more than reading on the couch or talking about something we read or heard on the radio, and I’m suddenly filled with a happiness I get from nothing else (even that drive through the Berkshires).

What does it mean to you to be an author? What makes a writer a writer?

I’m often struck by the sheer accomplishment of having written a book, or even a short story. I worked a long time on my book, and to see it finished, in print, here for the ages, is very satisfying.

What makes a writer a writer is writing. What that means varies.

For me, writing is a way to make sense of the world. Whenever something bugs me or thrills me, I want to write about it. I keep a journal, so it’s where I process my life. At one point I thought I might become an essayist. Then something happened that I couldn’t write about as nonfiction, so I turned to fiction.

Fiction is a strange beast. You have to make it all up. Not that it doesn’t come from my own life, my own experiences or wonderings, but the nitty details. It can be overwhelming. The day could be cloudy or sunny—you have to choose. Ugh.

Of course, you also get to make it all up. You get to change how things turn out. That’s nice.

Are you promoting a specific book? Tell us about it. Include the book blurb if you’d like.

UPDATE: My second novel, Endurance, came out in June. This is the first of what will be a trilogy (shhh, don’t tell anyone). Endurance is about what happens when the unexpected happens. The impossible. I mean, really, technically, physically impossible—being thrown four light years away from Earth, from home, in the slow blink of an eye. My main character is the captain, Lyn Randall, and she has a history. So it’s all pretty complex, how she got there, why she’s with a hundred tourists who thought they were on a three-month space cruise. I love the cast, which kept growing. I mean a hundred passengers!

Between Endurance and Wishbone, Bedazzled published a collection of my short stories, A Perfect Life and Other Stories. That won a Rainbow Award. I’m super proud of those stories.

ORIGINAL ANSWER, UPDATED:

My first novel, Wishbone, came out in 2015, published by Bedazzled Ink. It’s about an animal control officer, Meg Myers, who doesn’t get along with people all that well. She grew up in foster care, bounced between foster homes and her alcoholic mother. Meg’s got some pretty complicated issues. Now in her thirties, she’s finally able to start dealing with them, hence the story.

One thing I particularly like about my cast of characters is that she’s got a couple of really good friends. Sometimes what makes the difference in a person’s life, whether they make it or fail utterly, comes down to one or two key people. Meg’s friend Chaz is a sort of older sister she never had. The good kind, where you’ve skipped over the sibling rivalries growing up and can be supportive and best friends as adults. I don’t have a sister, so exploring that dynamic was fun. I’m not an only child, either, like Meg is, so that was another aspect I found intriguing.

The cover is by the wonderful Ann McMan and the book received a Golden Crown Literary Award for General Fiction and a Rainbow Award Honorable Mention.

To be continued…

For more about my books, click their dedicated pages on the menu at top. And thanks!

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