Author Interview – Karen Probert


karen probert

 

  1. Does writing energize or exhaust you?

Both. It exhausts me when I’m working on something long or complex but also energizes me when I have an idea I want to explore.

    2. What is your writing Kryptonite?

Sometimes I get bogged down and want to quit writing that story, or that part of the story, because nothing is going right. I just have to wait, because the characters will work it out by themselves in my head and then I can go back to it.

3. Did you ever consider writing under a pseudonym?

I had 1 poem published under a pseudonym to protect a person who might have been offended by it. The publisher knew my real name and why I chose to do it this way. In all other cases I’ve used my real name.

Fragments

4. What other authors are you friends with, and how do they help you become a better writer?

I have many writer friends both inside the Writers Foundation of Strathcona County and outside of it. They inspire me to carry on by understanding the pitfalls and frustrations, by helping me improve my stories and by continuing to listen and share their expertise.

5. Do you want each book to stand alone, or are you trying to build a body of work with connections between each book?

Each of my 3 books, ‘Fragments of Lives’, ‘Colouring Our Lives’ and ‘Bloodlines’ stands alone. Even my contributions to magazines, periodicals, compilation books and even a workbook I co-authored are separate from all the others.

6. What was the best money you ever spent as a writer?

Money well spent has gone for art work for covers, editing and publishing assistance. These are things I cannot do myself and finding the right person or people to do it for me was worth every penny.

Colouring Our Lives

7. What was an early experience where you learned that language had power?

As a child I was allowed to read whenever and wherever I was. And to read anything that took my fancy. The stories fed what my mother told me was my ‘overactive imagination’. I knew at a young age that words had power as the stories affected me.

8. As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot/avatar/spirit animal?

I have 2 spirit animals, neither of them specifically for me as a writer but both could be. The 2 diverse creatures are the she-wolf and the California Grey Whale. Both have tenacity, a lifelong affinity for protecting and caring for family and a gentleness within their peer group. When attacked or threatened they both can become aggressive in defending their family’s safety and their territorial boundaries. I have neither a mascot nor an avatar – both would be out of character for me.

9. How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?

I am not working, at the moment, on any one story or book. I have hundreds of as yet unpublished stories but most of them will remain that way as they would require a great deal of work to come to fruition. Rather than take part in NaNoWriMo I’ve challenged myself the either start or complete a story each day in November. So far this is happening.

10. What does literary success look like to you?

Literary success for me is to have my stories read and appreciated. I’d like to have more of my books in libraries and have an audience farther away from where I live.

Bloodlines

11. What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?

My latest book, ‘Bloodlines’ took a lot of research. I didn’t know that when I began it as I thought it was just going to be a short story. I started researching possible migration routes for the ancestors of the main female character, Hannah, and ran into a roadblock as I discovered that she could not be of gypsy origins as I had thought. That started a whole process of figuring out where her ancestors could have come from and led to several new characters needing to be introduced. By the time that story was ready to publish it was long enough to be a book on its own and I knew more about Chile, anthropology, bats, volcano cloud storms, old maps and other things than I ever intended to know. I did some of this research online and some using old maps. I enjoyed it but it took me thousands of hours during which I discarded most of what I learned as it was not applicable to this story.

12. How many hours a day/week do you write?

I have no set schedule but normally write early in the day while it is quiet and I am rested. I am easily distracted so need quiet and calmness to write.

13. How do you select the names of your characters?

The names of characters are really important. Quite often the first character’s name will just come into my head and I start with that. Names need to be evocative of the time period of the story, the age of the character, the geographical region they come from and somehow give the reader a sense of who they are as well as how they fit into the story. If a writer gets this wrong it upsets the balance of the story.

14. What was your hardest scene to write?

Endings are always hardest for me. It’s difficult to have set a tone of time, place and characters and then round it all up to complete what you’ve written about them. After reading my short stories people often ask “What happened next?” but I don’t know the answer as for me the story has ended.

15. Why did you choose to write in your particular field or genre?  If you write more than one, how do you balance them?

I only write about people who could be real but aren’t. The settings are close to what most of us experience and the people who inhabit the spaces could be neighbours. Real life is fascinating and I enjoy portraying it in a new way, often with twist which is how real life usually happens.

16. How long have you been writing?

Many, many years – I think I took my first creative writing class about 25 years ago although I had attempted writing prior to that. Then I joined a small writers group, albeit one not really suited to me, before finding a group which were helpful and encouraging.

17. What inspires you?  

There is inspiration in many things, a beautiful view of mountains or the ocean, an overheard piece of random conversation, a news story, someone’s outfit, a dream I’ve had, and any number of other things in normal life.

18. How do you find or make time to write?

For me there is little problem with time. I’m retired from a day job so can plan my time to allow me to do most of the things I want to do. I can write both on a computer or by hand if I’m on a plane or a passenger in a car or alone in my home. I’m never without pen and paper.

19. What projects are you working on at the present?

Just trying to get a few small stories prepared for a monthly newsletter I submit things to as well as one to read at a writers Christmas party. Having just published ‘Bloodlines’ I have no deadline looming.

20. What do your plans for future projects include?

I’m in that space where I haven’t planned the next phase of my writing. I’m hoping that one or more of the stories I’m writing in November will be worth pursuing and turns into something I can share with others in the new year.

21. Share a link to your author website.

I don’t have a personal website but am part of the website of the Writers Foundation of Strathcona County (WFSC).

 

Writing Prompt Wednesday


Today’s prompt is this beautiful image. Let the image speak to you.

It drew me in and I wrote what it inspired in a stream of consciousness.

umbrella

 

Curtains of rain fall. Thundering upon the pavement. Running in every direction. Splashes soak coat hems and legs alike. Rivulets steadily flow together.  Along gutters and crevices. Cars drive past creating waves. Flooding shoes and boots. All heads are hooded and facing downward. Speech impossible.  Eagerness to be home the driving force.

A glance sees a girl. Standing as if a statue. Tattered umbrella sheltering her head. Fanning raindrops in a circle around her.  Thigh length boots below a flimsy dress. An opened coat. Not affected by the cold dampness. Gazing at trickles becoming a stream. Her skin deathly white. Radiates a glow. No sway of body. Or blink of eye. Ramrod posture.

Unable to bear the torrent. Turn away. Homeward bound. Unanswered question.

Genres of Literature – Lost World


lost world

A sub-genre of the fantasy or science fiction genres, the lost world involves the discovery of an unknown world out of time, place, or both. It began as a sub-genre of late-Victorian adventure romance and gained  popularity into the 21st century.

Due to the remnants of lost civilizations being discovered around the world, such as the tombs of Egypt’s Valley of the Kings, the semi-mythical stronghold of Troy, the jungle-shrouded pyramids of the Maya, and the cities and palaces of the empire of Assyria the genre rose in popularity. Between 1871 and the First World War, the number of published lost world narratives, dramatically increased. The genre also has similar themes to “mythical kingdoms”, such as El Dorado.

For example, the now  famous Journey to the Center of the Earth by Jules Verne (1820), has long been hailed at the ultimate lost world novel, however, King Solomon’s Mines by H. Rider haggard (1885) was considered the first-world narrative. This book was followed by The Man Who Would be King by Rudyard Kipling (1888) and The Lost World by Arthur Conan Doyle (1912). The name Shangri-La was first introduced by James Hilton in his novel, Lost Horizon in 1933, this meme has become synonymous with lost world narratives as the idealization of a lost world.

Topics within these narratives ranged from winged people on an isolated island surrounded by high cliffs, the hollow earth, surviving pockets of prehistoric species, and humans living alongside living dinosaurs. Today with most of the planet explored the narratives are turning to space.

Do you write or read lost world fiction?

Which one is your favorite?

 

Author Interview – Carla Howatt


Author-Interview-Button

Carla.jpeg

  1. Does writing energize or exhaust you?

Writing both energizes and exhaust me, depending at what stage I am in the writing process. Coming up with cool plot lines and ideas, as well as character development is fun and energizing but about half way through the book, I bog down and get tired. A bit of writing ADHD?

  1. What is your writing Kryptonite?

Chocolate. Laundry. Anything I can use to procrastinate!

  1. Did you ever consider writing under a pseudonym?

Absolutely! Still haven’t ruled it out in fact.

  1. What other authors are you friends with, and how do they help you become a better writer?

I didn’t have any writer friends until I decided to go on a writers retreat. It was there I learned I could call myself a writer even if I didn’t have a bestseller.

Bearing

  1. Do you want each book to stand alone, or are you trying to build a body of work with connections between each book?

Both. Some will be connected, some absolutely not.

  1. What was the best money you ever spent as a writer?

Time away; retreats, get-aways, whatever I need to do to focus.

  1. What was an early experience where you learned that language had power?

I remember coming home from grade one, waving my reader. I was so excited, and so amazed at the world that was opened up to me through the words. I have never forgotten that feeling of awe and amazement.

  1. What’s your favorite under-appreciated novel?

I’m not sure it is under-appreciated but I loved The Red Tent by Anita Diamant. I was hooked beginning with the first paragraph; such lyrical words and such a beautiful picture she painted.

  1. As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot/avatar/spirit animal?

Gosh, I really don’t know. Maybe the A&W Root Bear?

  1. How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?

Two.

  1. What does literary success look like to you?

People like what they read and my writings make a difference in this world.

  1. What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?

I don’t do much research, as the type of books I have written don’t really require it. I may research the odd thing as I go along, just to make sure I have a name right or something. Most of my writing is based in some way on real life.

  1. How many hours a day/week do you write?

Very sporadic and not disciplined. It can be from 20 hours to zero, sometimes one week after the other.

  1. How do you select the names of your characters?

I try them on with their character to see if there is a fit or not. Pure gut instinct.

  1. What was your hardest scene to write?

Sex scenes

  1. Why did you choose to write in your particular field or genre?  If you write more than one, how do you balance them?

My first book just happened. I call it my accidental book. It is a collection of FB posts from the time I announced my son had taken his life until about a year later. The second was a children’s book. Coming up I have a novel that walks the line between romance and smut (lol!). I also have a collection of stories that all involved the same women going through different things in their lives.

There is no real balancing as I go with what I am in the mood for and tend to work on that one until I am finished.

  1. How long have you been writing?

Since I learned to read. I don’t really remember not writing.

  1. What inspires you?  

If I can find a place of solitude and peace with little distractions, lots of sleep and nature, I find that is when my creativity flourishes.

  1. How do you find or make time to write?

Honestly, I don’t find enough time. I fit it in for the most part.

  1. What projects are you working on at the present?

Finishing a novel is my primary focus right now.

  1. What do your plans for future projects include?

I have a few non-fiction ideas that I would like to work on when I have the time to do the necessary research and interviews. There just are not enough hours in the day!

  1. Share a link to your author website.

Right now the only website I have is for my first book Bearing Witness – www.Carlahowatt.com

Bio:

Carla Howatt lives in Alberta, Canada where she helped raise four children, two husbands and a pug. She is a recovering politician and business owner. A communicator at heart, Carla is also a proud introvert, port inhaler, and dark chocolate hunter.

Writing Prompt Wednesday


I used this prompt at my writers sharing meeting. It was such fun. The name conjured up an image of the character for all the participants and then we wrote a short story with our character as POV.

steampunk name

It was a great exercise and was followed by a discussion on finding character names to suit not only their personality but era, geographical location and status.

Why don’t you try? Then share in the comments.

This is my story:

“My Lady, your guests are in the library. Shall I bring tea?”

“Thank you, Holmes. Yes, tea would be nice. Use the floral tea set and a few fancies as well.”

Henrietta watched the butler walk away in his usual stately manner. She remembered her younger days, when she glided along these corridors, slender and nimble and full of energy. Alas no more, age had made her portly and she knew the whispering of the under maids. She overheard two of them jesting and calling her ‘widdle waddle’. If she were vindictive she might have dismissed them but she felt the nickname described her well – mores the pity.

As she opened the library door, a cacophony of chatter washed over her. The village fete committee of ten robust middle aged women greeted her and a couple even curtsied. Henrietta stifled a chuckle and sat at the oak desk. One woman stood.

“Lady Waddle, we are so very appreciative of your most kind offer of your grounds for this year’s village fete.”

“It is my absolute pleasure and please call me Henrietta, if we are going to work together, I would rather we were all comfortable.”

A sigh of relief circled the room and smiles greeted her announcement.

Henrietta smiled too , she may be the Lady of the Manor but she wanted to have fun as well as any other.