Q. Is it true you left a career in Software to go back to University for a BA then a MFA?
A. Not only that I also sold my 4-bedroom house to finance that life-change. It was a move I needed to make. My goal was to be happy for the rest of my life. So I inventoried myself to see what that required – and the realization I came up with was a complete surrender to that happiness. No half measures. No short cuts, or waffling by offering up rationalization and why-I-cant’s. For a while there, I thought I could incorporate coaching & writing into being a counselor, specializing in Art Therapy – but even that had a wiff of equivocation so I nipped that in the bud, and switched majors: first from Special Ed to Psychology, and finally to English with an Emphasis in Creative Writing.
It made all the difference – committing like that. I got into a great Low-res MFA program out of Vancouver, but then I found out that distance programs like that one – out of the US – aren’t covered by school loans – so I had to rework my base-plan and find a new route toward the same target: the MFA. It worked out all right, in way, I’m behind, but, surprisingly, not blocked.
Q. How did you cope? Are you still on track with that?
A. The stars must have been aligned before I even knew it, because the reason I wanted the MFA was to have a way to write a publishable piece of work. And strangely enough, in the time frame it takes for getting though an MFA program, I did get my short story collection, Claiming One published by Inspired Quill, almost to the month of my would-have-been graduation date. And also during that time I worked to earn a graduate certificate in Online Teaching and Learning. And I designed a unique Interdisciplinary Masters Program for myself. I’m looking forward of spending the rest of my life writing fiction and coaching novices with an Online program I designed, and curriculum I’ve created myself. Writng, teaching and creating educational software and apps. Yeah. I coping rather well.
Q. I see a lot of ‘family dynamic’ stories in Claiming One, why that choice of focus?
A. I was joking once with a fellow-writer about how so many of her short stories had to do with screwing the wrong people. And she turned the tables on me and asked what mine were all about – So I had to think, till I came up with Denial. And Self- delusions. So really my creative subject area – those two themes, are where I work; I just happen to paint them using colours from a family pallet. We all have family. Know of families, Even on TV, every hero, the cop, the lawyer, the PI, we watch them because of the character’s life and complications – much less than for their weekly exploits alone. I’m a witness. Whether it’s coming from my own sense memories that I reshape into a more story-telling POV, or it comes from my daily observations of what’s around me. People, at base, are from families, so that’s the well I draw from.
Q. Some of your reviews hit on the ‘brought me to tears’ aspect of your work. Did you write these pieces with that intention?
A. Frankly, (laughs) I wish any reader from any country would review just once and report ‘These were good, well imagined stories, I liked X & Y best, and I wasn’t crying at all’. But I think what’s happening with that is the stronger of the stories are the ones they want to talk about in the reviews, so we hear more about the cry-inducing ones first. Maybe as time goes on, other readers will speak up about ones that made them feel something else on the reaction spectrum. I’m certainly not writing tear-jerker material on purpose. Six of the stories come from five of my eight novels (all still unpublished ATM), and in selecting from that pool of material; I may have chosen hard-hitting scenes. And if you’ve done that, then there isn’t the balance of the novel’s content to cushion those harder-hitting moments? Or maybe it’s just the first round of readers. And it will all balance out once we get more reviews. My only intention was to get the story I saw and heard in my head out of there and onto the page for others to experience what I was dreaming up.
Q. Your Publisher, UK’s Inspired Quill is a Social Enterprise endeavor. Why go with IQ? How do you find the experience?
A. Sara Jayne Slack’s Inspired Quill publishing house, offers literacy promotion to the community, skills development to authors and publishing to readers, among others services. It’s a gem. Sara’s baby is a Social Enterprise program and that interested me much more than the idea of publication alone, which is why I went with her. Would I have submitted if her house hadn’t been a Social Enterprise concern? I doubt it. With me being a un-agented artist, I wanted to publish for a more altruistic reason – to get folks to me who wanted to write themselves. Sara is all about art for others; those are her business’ intentions. I find that her business, like my own, Bridge to Story, is all about the hope of getting art into the hearts of those currently wanting or without art.
Shameless plug disguised as a wise ass question: Why do you love ManOfLaBook.com so much and often visit the website?
A: I keep an eye out for sites like yours because you aren’t the ‘heavy rotation’ list of books that everyone feels they must talk about. You go into rare areas I want to discover, not places where everyone else has been plodding around in all the time. The uniqueness drew me. And now how can I stay away? It’s like sitting down and getting lost in reading a dictionary or encyclopedia – for a true reader it’s a slice of heaven.
Thank you E.J. Runyon and good luck with your book and writing.
Zohar – Man of la Book