All tagged being an author

I was surprised when the public librarian in a small town in Virginia rejected the idea of placing my novels in her library, saying, “They’re too regional—they’re all set in the Texas Panhandle. I don’t think my patrons here in Northern Virginia are interested in stories that take place out West. They want stories set in their part of the country.”

I can’t say that she was wrong about her patrons. Maybe they really are that limited in what they will read. But she certainly was wrong in saying that a story can be “too regional,” and for that reason would not be of interest to anyone who is not from wherever the story takes place.

Good stories are timeless and “place-less.”

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I have determined that one of my coming novels in the series, Once Upon a Time in the Texas Panhandle, will deal with the issue of whether to remove the Confederate statue from the central park of my fictitious city of Mackenzie, which is modeled after Amarillo. At present, there is an absolutely incredible number of such monuments, which are scattered throughout the former Confederate states. The central theme of my novel will be: Is it right to honor a soldier who served in the wrong army? That is, even if the soldiers of the Confederate States of America were heroes and valiant soldiers, were they mistaken in fighting for what became known as the “Lost Cause”?

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I’m different. I don’t want my memories to die with me. When someone I have known dies, part of my sorrow is that most of their memories have died with them. Most people don’t leave behind, when they leave this world, long diaries or extended memoirs or annotated albums of photographs or audio-videos or carefully-crafted CDs of their lives. And after a few years, even what memories they have left behind are stored in a box and stuck in a closet somewhere, and forgotten. Their memories died with them, in effect. I don’t want that to happen in my case.

So I write novels—historical novels, which are really my own history; romantic fantasies, which are the romances I lived or wish I had lived; tragedies, which entail the sad things that have happened to me or to my loved ones during my life.

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Writer’s block?” someone asked me. “Do you ever have writer’s block?” 

What’s that?” I answered.

If I were in my 20’s or 30’s, I’m sure I would have it. But in my 70’s? … I don’t have time. … There’s so little time and I have so many stories to tell! Furthermore, every time I meet a “character,” by which I mean a really interesting person, by which I mean a person who starts telling me his or her life story and it sounds like a novel, I immediately start imagining a new novel, based on that person’s life story.

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My novels are about pain—pain as an obstacle to love. But here is the paradox: While it is true that pain is an obstacle to love, love is the only true remedy for pain.

My stories include many kinds of pain: physical as well as emotional; grief from loss of loved ones as well as self-hatred for causing grief by killing the loved ones of others; depression from PTSD as well as despair from alcoholism; and more. All of these pains are obstacles to love—obstacles to finding love, to falling in love, to staying in love and to giving love. But in each case, the only true remedy to the obstacle is love, which is paradoxical.

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The first thing that happens when I begin to write is that one of the characters wakes up in the morning with something in mind to do. I know what that character plans to do, but life is not like that. We all make plans, but we never know what is going to happen—whether we will get to carry out our plans. And my characters—they set out to go somewhere, do something, see somebody. But they don’t really know what is going to happen. They hope it happens the way they have planned, but that’s not life.

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I’ve reached the age—my seventies—at which I hope I have something worth telling. I’ve seen a lot, done a lot, been a lot of places and met a lot of people. Hopefully, I have learned from all my experiences, and so I have something worth telling people. And my way of telling people is through my novels.

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