Saturday, September 13, 2008
In Detail with Susan Wingate
We kick off Susan Wingate's virtual book tour with her visit In Detail with Nikki Leigh. Let's see what Susan wants to share with us...
Tell us the book title and your author name.
The title of my latest release is “Bobby’s Diner” and I’ve used my real name as the author name. I’ve used my real name because I’m not trying to identify myself with any one genre at this stage. If I, say, take off on a tangent and decide to write erotica, I may at that point use a pseudonym but until then, I’ll continue to write under my real name.
What inspired the book?
I dreamt the first sequence, the one where Georgette, the main character and narrator of the story, arrives in the fictional town of Sunnydale, Arizona. The actual dream sequence is the one of her hitching a ride with the skanky truck driver and then her walking the rest of the way into town.
What makes this book special to you?
This book is special to me for a number of reasons, most of which because the title character, Bobby, is designed (physically anyway) after my husband, Bob. Note the similarity in names? Ha! It’s a special book also because it’s my second novel. Sometimes I think the second novel can be a little more daunting than the first because you say to yourself, “Okay. Was that first one a fluke or can I write another one?” Plus, for me, I had help on my first. Close to the end of my first novel, “Of the Law,” Michael Collins began mentoring me. I give credit to him for helping me with the completion of my first novel. I don’t think I could’ve done it without him. He made me think of writing as a job, not a hobby.
What makes this a book that other people MUST read and WHY?
Well, this story is about tolerance and one woman’s yearning to find a place for herself in this world. I think both themes are universal, quite profound and astonishingly relevant in today’s world.
What people NEED to read this book and WHY?
You know, I wrote this book with a very intentional light voice because of its profound theme. Any person other than Georgette telling the story just wouldn’t have worked. She’s this sweet gentle soul who can talk to just about anyone – young or old, man or woman, rich or poor – she seems to be quite the chameleon and is why the story is successful. So, to answer your question, I think the story is intended for any person who wants to hear its message.
What sparks your creativity? Any tips to help others spark their own creativity?
I love answering questions about writing. My answer to this question in particular might be of interest to writers who sit in front of their computer or typewriter or pad of paper (whatever) and find it tough to start knocking out words. What I do is this, I like to bandy around with poetry in the morning to oil my writing muscles. Poetry gets to the nuts and bolts of writing, by its very nature. It doesn’t have time to screw around. So, before I get into my story du jour I write a few poems. But then sometimes if something comes to me whether in a dream or other creative state of consciousness – you know it’s like hearing a doorbell go off in your head – then I get it down to paper. It can happen anywhere too which can be very inconvenient like when you’re driving the car. That’s a real pain in the butt because you have three choices: to let the idea go, to stop driving or to scrawl it out on whatever you can find with one hand while you’re cruising down the road with the other – it’s a real pain indeed.
What has been the biggest stumbling block in your writing? Can you share some tips to help others get past similar problems?
Patience. That’s my biggest problem. Oh, sure, I could say I have an almost compulsive tendency to, oh, I don’t know, end sentences with dangling prepositions, say. But, honestly, anyone can learn to write – I believe that with all my heart. What we have to do is to get out of our own way. Patience is not one of my virtues, unfortunately. I want everything to happen right away and in this industry, well, that’s just never going to be. So, if I begin to feel impatient about some submission or something, I just start writing something new and try to forget about whatever I was being impatient about. Is that a run-on sentence… oops. Maybe another stumbling block – just kidding. But, patience or the lack thereof is my problem. I’d have to say I could use a bit of meditation for learning patience.
What do you think motivates people to become authors? What motivated you to get into this unusual industry?
Boy, you’re right there, it IS an unusual industry, isn’t it? Okay, I’ll talk to the first part of this question – what motivates others to write? Well, statistically, “they” say that approximately 85% of people, um, everywhere want to write a story or have a book inside them. I don’t know how “they” come up with that statistic. I can’t imagine “they” are interviewing every living being on the planet so all I can do is answer this question based on what I’ve observed. When I teach writing classes, my students seem to want to tell either wildly imaginative stories that are derived from their creative well or they want to tell a story that actually happened to them. So, I believe from a long time ago, I’m talking caveman times, people have been telling stories “around the proverbial campfire” in one form or another. It’s what we do. Think about it, even in the Old Testament, we had to have a rule instructing us not to lie, for goodness sake. I think it’s borne in us to tell stories.
Now, another aspect to this question is my observation of others who are not writing students and who know I’m a writer or find out that I am upon meeting me. Inevitably, most people tell me they have a “great idea for a novel”. Sometimes they even go so far as to say, “You can use it if you want.” Isn’t that generous? People just love stories - to tell stories and to hear stories and to read stories.
Tell me about the most unusual things you have done to promote any books?
I’m not sure if this quite fits but it’s really the only unusual thing I’ve done to promote myself as a writer. I wanted to teach writing at a workshop and part of the process was to make available your current titles. Well, at the time, I had not a one! So, to get the application to them in time, I made something up and then created a book after the fact with my short stories, essays and poems. That book actually sells quite well and is called “Ravings of a Mad Gentlewoman.” You can find it on Amazon.com. I got it printed and marketed before the due date on books for that particular conference. Isn’t that naughty of me? Oh well, you do what you must in this crazy industry. Self-promotion is a HUGE part of it. I believe it was James Patterson who was a marketing man before he became the world-renown author he is today. He had the promotional smarts working for him well before he made his move into writing.
FICTION - If there is a setting, tell us how you decided on that setting and what you did to create a complete and vivid setting for your readers?
Of course there’s the diner where most of the action occurs and making a vivid setting there was accomplished by adding the sights, sounds, smells, tastes and textures found within a diner. But, the desert - its desolation and heat, its unique flora and fauna - is most prevalent in the opening scene making it more vivid by contrasting it between cooler climates.
FICTION - What inspires you about the hero or heroine in your book? What makes them memorable for the reader? What motivates the hero and/or heroine? You can include information about both if you want.
Georgette is human. She’s afraid and damaged goods. She’s honest with others but then lies to herself. She’s good with a touch of bad. She’s just a fully-rounded person who is trying to make a go of her life, trying to keep her head above it all under some extreme circumstances. I think she’s a great person.
FICTION - Is there a villain or something that causes friction in your story? Tell us about what or who it is and how that contributes to the story. Any details about conflict and friction is good information to know.
It’s always easiest to write when there’s a clear-cut villain but there is no one clear-cut villain in “Bobby’s Diner.” Georgette is pitted against Bobby’s ex-wife, Vanessa, and their daughter, Roberta, but I can’t talk about them as if they were bad or acted badly in order to hurt Georgette. They, too, are just trying to live in a small town with the widow of Bobby. They’re all acting accordingly feeling embarrassed and hurt, humiliated and jealous – the way anyone else in the same situation would act. It’s a method of pitting good against good. I think pitting good against evil makes it easy for the reader to figure out what will happen. In this story, we’re usually taken off-course and diverted to some other part of the characters’ lives. Or, at least, I hope that’s what happens for the reader. Another more express point about conflict and friction is that it’s the scenes and situations that create the conflict as well as the characters in them. The inherent conflict in “Bobby’s Diner” is both women, Georgette and Vanessa, are left with half the interest in Bobby’s Diner to run together. Now, if ever a story built immediate conflict into it, I believe this is one does.
Thank you, Nikki, for hosting this interview. What a wonderful blog and fabulous list of books and writers you have. Kudos! –Susan Wingate.
For more information -
Website Address: http://www.susanwingate.com
Primary Blog Address: www.susanwingate.blogspot.com
E-book can be ordered at: www.ebooksonthe.net/catalog/eBooks_Catalog_NewBooks2.html
For more information about Susan Wingate’s virtual book tour and her full schedule at http://virtualblogtour.blogspot.com/2008/08/bobbys-diner-by-susan-wingate.html