Jane Was Here | Grey Swan Press, Inc. | 6/14/2011 | Paranormal Mystery
An eerie story that not only kept me guessing but kept me up at night. A perfect choice for book clubs." - Brunonia Barry
Please describe your writing environment.
I just bought my parents' home following their deaths. It's in Martha's Vineyard and I can throw myself in the ocean after a hard day's work writing.
Please tell us your latest news!
I'm currently writing a film script for a 2012 production, and champing at the bit to start my next book.
Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
Faulkner has been my lifelong crush. His voice is utterly unique, fluid, and free: the reader simply gets in the boat and the river does the rest. Like Balzac, he depicts characters from every stratum of society and he doesn't beg sympathy for any of them: they just are who they are. In my novel JANE WAS HERE there are characters whom some call "unpleasant." I call them human. Faulkner never shied away from character flaws, and I don't either. I do think he had a dimmer view of human existence than I do.
Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
As a child I loved to write, but then again I loved to do a lot of things, even stuff I wasn't any good at. The idea of writing as a profession and life's purpose took hold when I was 14. My 19-year-old boyfriend dropped out of Princeton to write a novel, and I thought that was pretty cool. I was too tall to be an actress, anyway. So I started writing and never stopped. I finished my first novella when I was 16, already preferring long-form fiction to short stories.
Do you have any advice for other writers?
Because of my film background, I learned a lot from actors and how they approach character. A script usually contains very little outright information that would help an actor fully inhabit this new person. They have to patch it all together from clues in the dialogue and action. If there's not enough material they make up the rest, creating a back story, little habits and tics, idiosyncrasies, etc. They don't set foot in a character until a lot of questions have been answered. I try to take the same approach with each of my characters, even the minor ones. If you do this advance work, then when you're ready to write you just turn the characters loose, they already have life.
What main genre do you write in?
Paranormal / Urban Fantasy
What's been the most challenging part of writing for you?
Finding the time to write what I want. My day job has been screenwriting for the past 30 years. Very few of my scripts have been written just for myself: usually they're for a company or producer that pays for them and owns them. I put my career in some jeopardy when I turned down work in order to write JANE WAS HERE. It was just getting too hard to have to put it down constantly in order to chase a paycheck. I wrote the first 2/3 of the book in my spare time, and it took 3 years!
Do you like to mix genres?
Perhaps it's the rebel in me, but I don't like sticking to formula. I don't even think about genre when I write, so what results is a free-form hybrid which I then have to shoehorn into a genre category. My novel JANE WAS HERE, for example, is paranormal-mystery-suspense-thriller-horror-fantasy-literary fiction. Honest.
What inspires your writing?
I believe to my core that everything in life has meaning and form and spirit. I'm not in the Dead End club: life is random, meaningless, and then you die and there's nothing else. Writing expresses my belief, because as the author I create a world and confer upon it meaning, form, and spirit. Nothing happens without a reason and every word is germane.
Do you have any cool promo tricks you can share with other writers?
I'm very proud of the trailer I made for JANE WAS HERE (on YouTube and other places). My background is film, so I approached it like a movie trailer. I chose a scene from the book and used it as a teaser, and the rest was clever graphics and music. Too many book trailers are prim and static. This is a great opportunity to hook people and go viral, and it doesn't have to be any more expensive than a typical YouTube video: it all comes down to the script.
Signing Off: Sarah Kernochan