Dark Yet Perky: Elizabeth’s Blog Book Tour by Elizabeth Searle
Welcome to my ‘Blog Book Tour’; happy to discuss my works-in-progress here and to introduce three scribes on the rise. THANKS, first, to PAULA TREICK DeBOARD, who asked me to take part in this ‘blog book tour.’ Paula is a stellar novelist and a Stoneocast MFA alum. I knew the minute I read Paula’s workshop work that she is a born storyteller who won’t let you go once you start her compelling tales.
Check out Paula’s blog and Blog Book Tour answers: Live from the Bean (Go, Paula!)
Paula kindly ‘passed the torch’ and a Book Tour question-list to me. In the Blog Book Tour, writers answer the questions below on their blogs and tap other writers to do the same. So I’m happy to answer these questions below, then to introduce three terrific authors whose answers I will be eager to read: Suzanne Strempek Shea, Matthew Phillion and Eugenio Volpe. All have new books out!
First: my own answers to the Blog Tour’s four questions:
1. WHAT AM I WORKING ON?
This will be my longest answer because I am always juggling many balls:
*A NOVEL set on the night of the Boston Marathon bombing man-hunt, centering on one messily ‘blended family,’ a Birth Night gone wrong and a stepson on the run. The novel alternates between a husband and wife– two characters I’ve written about for almost as many years as I’ve been married myself. I have always wanted to take a Birth Night and the ‘stages of labor’ and concoct a novel around that. I didn’t know this novel would also wind up involving the horrifying and riveting Boston bomber man-hunt. But I’ve felt compelled to set my tale on that unforgettable night, since I live in a suburb of Boston that was ‘locked down.’ I take the title of this novel-to-be from a ‘Tweet’ sent out by Mayor Tom Menino after the capture of the bombing suspect: “We Got Him”.
*THREE PERSONAL ESSAYS which will come out in THREE FORTHCOMING ANTHOLOGIES in 2015: Paper Camera from New Rivers Press; an anthology edited by Elizabeth Benedict from Algonquin Press and an anthology edited by Nina Gaby from She Writes Press titled Dumped: Women Unfriending Women, about female friendships run aground. Also we have a reading coming up in October from my most recent anthology, Knitting Yarns, edited by Ann Hood with a super group of fellow contributors.
*Several THEATER WORKS including the latest revisions on my ongoing theatrical adventure, TONYA & NANCY: THE ROCK OPERA (see our Website). I have written the libretto for a new classical opera, SEVEN RABBITS ON A POLE, based on the play by John Picardi. Stay tuned.
*SHORT STORIES; I have two that I hope to finish to ‘finish’ a new collection…
2. HOW DOES MY WORK DIFFER FROM OTHERS OF ITS GENRE?
As you can see above, I work in multiple genres. In fiction and scriptwriting both, I aim for high intensity. I crave a certain mix of tones that I call ‘Dark Yet Perky.’
That’s my writing recipe. As a reader, I like distinctive works that combine intense drama and dark comedy. In my own varied works, I like to draw on my longtime love of Pop Culture, Politics, Musical Comedy, Opera and Soap Opera.
3. WHY DO I WRITE WHAT I DO?
I can’t not.
I work from obsessions and I always delve into material that fascinates me. This can lead to some dark places. But I always write out of fascination and- no matter how ‘unsympathetic’ they may seem at first– out of love for all my characters. I also love experimenting in new forms which I think keeps me, as a writer, young at heart.
4. HOW DOES MY WRITING PROCESS WORK?
In fits and starts. I like to have many projects so I can write in different ways depending on my schedule. I’m a wife and mom and teacher– and car-pool driver. So I am on the move a lot. With theater and scriptwriting, I can jot down ideas and lines as my day rolls forward. With fiction, especially novels, I need more what Virginia Woolf called ‘an unbroken trance,’ and that’s hard to come by.
But I like to get up early at 5AM or so before ‘my boys’ are stirring. As Toni Morrison has said, that’s the non-secular sacred time of day. That’s the best time for my mind to spin its strange stories.
5. AND THE OTHER PART OF THIS QUESTION, HOW DOES MY WRITING PROCESS NOT WORK?
In fits and starts, too. Like most writers, I swing from states of manic activity to states of blank-staring/brooding, day by day. What helps me through the blank spaces is that I just have so many projects in so many different states that if one isn’t ‘working’ I turn to rewriting or tweaking another; there’s always something to do. I am not one for “writers’ block”; my problem is more writing too much and not knowing how to organize it all. My process breaks down when I get overloaded. But sometimes the breakdown is what I need to regroup and then push on. I savor a lot of stimuli even if it sometimes shorts out my circuits. For me, only too much is enough!
~~PASSING THE TORCH is the most fun part of the Blog Book Tour- Happy to introduce you to three wonderful rising-star authors and friends.
SUZANNE STREMPEK SHEA is my literary soul sister and fellow fiction faculty at Stonecoast MFA. Suzanne is a dynamic author of both novels and nonfiction– her newest book, her 10th, tells the unforgettable story of Mags Riordan and the clinic she founded in Africa in honor of her son Billy. Check out: THIS IS PARADISE: An Irish Mother’s Grief, an African Village’s Plight and the Medical Clinic that Brought Fresh Hope to Both from PFP Press, a rising-star indie publisher.
MATTHEW PHILLION makes his fiction debut with his cutting-edge novel THE INDESTRUCTIBLES, new from PFP Press. Along with fiction, the multi-talented Matt writes journalism and screenplays, and he’s appeared in feature films as an actor. I was happy to meet Matt recently and I’m impressed by his energy and imagination.
EUGENIO VOLPE, like Paula, is another Stonecoast student of mine who I knew from the start would be a star. I just posted an Amazon review of his debut novella, and I will close the torch-passing ceremony with lines from that:
“Like Philip Roth in his breakthrough debut novella GOODBYE, COLUMBUS, Eugenio Volpe in THE MESSAGE captures not only the angst of his main character– caught up in a twisted obsession with a celeb. basketball star– but the plugged-in tuned-out angst of a Generation. Get THE MESSAGE and pass it on!”
(photos courtesy of the author, me)