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Monday, December 3, 2012

My Next Big Thing - Blog Chain - Michele Brenton Interviewer




My Next Big Thing


I was recently invited to participate in a blog chain known as My Next Big Thing.  This blog chain is NOT a chain letter … oooh … ugh … but rather,  a way for writers to connect their work and themselves to one another.  Formerly limited to writers of novels, my invitee, interviewer, Michele Poet aka Michele Brenton, has broadened the circle by including poets as well.  I joyfully accepted this invitation and hope you will enjoy reading the interview questioning as much as I enjoyed responding.

First of all, I want to thank Michele for this opportunity and tell you a little about our much more than virtual relationship. I met Michele Poet years and years ago – as contributor of wonderful, usually humorous poems at an online poetry site.  Later, I came to know Michele as a fabulously accomplished poet, and short story and fiction writer, who has met a series of deeply challenging life experiences with the fluidity, irony and humor and ease of a slip on a banana peel.  It is no wonder to me now, that this remarkably talented woman was known to me originally as Banana-the-poet.  Among a great body of published work, Michele has a recent brilliant satire of which was a top best-seller at Kindle.   I am extremely honoured to be interviewed by a woman who is the essence of the poetic/creative spirit.  Please give yourself a huge gift and visit Michele at: 


What is the working title of your book or project?

Missing Kaitlin –

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What sparked the project/book/work off?

A character, along with her grisly demise, that appeared to me in response to a poetry prompt for an inverted pyramid poem.  The type of writing that is often employed in prose form in newspaper writing (so that the most important details are up front in case editing for space is needed.  The poem was about a four-year-old raped and murdered little girl named Kaitlin, and a series of such poems followed.

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How would you describe your project/book/piece of work?

The novel evolved from a straight-forward “child-gone-missing thriller” into an exploration of the lines that blur reality and imagination, sanity and delusion.

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How long did it take you to find your own style and voice?

In terms of poetry, I believe I arrived hard-wired with a style and voice. Poetry, has always seemed a to offer a clearer way of communicating in a multi-faceted manner, more suited to describing experience than the linear language of conversation and/or prose writing.  In terms of poetry writing, but for the personal poems written for someone – I have had this voice and/or style since I could physically write – frankly I make no claims for my poetry as it simply seems as I am a ‘transcriber’ rather than a writer – I have no idea where poetry originates except in some preconscious part of my being or – perhaps someone else’s being – mhmmm I simply accept such without much speculation as I believe such thinking would lead me in far flung directions that I am not quite ready to explore.  Now, in terms of non-fiction the sense of being able to synthesize various ideas and to generate a new ‘spin’ if you will, from latent facts has also been with me since my earliest years, and comes fairly easily and probably has a great deal to do with my many, many, many years of schooling.  I was the grad student who would hand in, I kid you not, a 70 page paper when asked for a 7 page paper.  When asked for a clarification or correction of my dissertation I simply rewrote the entire dissertation.  It took many years, a wonderful mentor/professor who received one of these overblown papers who asked me “hasn’t anyone ever stopped you?” and about 800 hours of analysis to realize that there was something less than thrilling (to others) about this type of manic writing.  So, yes, hurrah for me.  But we now come to the desert, the void, the chasm, the silence of ease never mind hurrahs.  The elusive novel, that I have waited patiently for since I was nine years old and felt certain that I could write. I’ve had three non-fiction books published, a dissertation, numerous papers written in decades of schooling, poetry published online and in print, some micro fiction - however – I am still waiting and now as life moves quickly on I find that I am actively searching for the naturalism that I has been such an comfortable part of me and which continues to elude me and in my novel writing. I am grateful for all other writing, but I will not consider myself (in my own eyes) a real writer until I can complete a novel that I would want to read.

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In what ways do you think 'writer you' differs from or has similarities to the everyday you?

I’m not sure it does, which can make getting a container of milk the subject of existential musing.  My father once said that I “speak the way other people write.”  I think now he might have had a point, but the problem is that I find, when it comes to my novels I have things turned around.  I may “speak the way other people write” (oh my what a bore I must be!) but I know that I too often “write the way other people speak” and lose the vivid detail and description that have many in my life listening to me tell a story whisper, eye-roll or mutter “get to the point.”  My novels too quickly arrive at the point with nowhere to go.  Mhmmm.

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Who or What makes you pick up that pen or start typing at the keyboard?

The need to write is an impetus that has, as previously described been with me from a very early age, perhaps as young as seven.  I’m not at all certain who the “who” or “what” is that drives this compulsion – I suspect the question and the uncertainty of the answer might be similar as to who or what drove that first explosion that led to creation on a far grander scale.  I know that if I do not write, I feel disorganized in my thinking and that writing at any time provides a sense of serenity, order, release and accomplishment.  Sooo “who?” or “what?” unclear but I am grateful for the ability. 

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Imagine someone waved a magic wand and you were only able to write one book in your lifetime and you knew it would be perfect and say exactly what you intended and be understood and appreciated by everyone; what would you write about?

Haha.  This is a wonderfully trick question.  If I were to know the answer to this question I would be delighted to have now completed this interview to set my fingers free and flying about the keyboard writing as quickly as possible.  You see, I have been convinced since I was in the third grade that if I were to know “the book” that I wanted to write – I would be able to write it as easily I can write a simple rhyming verse. What “would I write about?”  Ah, something grandly simple that captured the human sense of fragility and strength, that captivated the reader and transported them to another place where they’d fall into the story, linger about the final pages, unwilling to let it go and leave in the wake of their reading a trail of laughter and tears as an ever ribboning tribute of rose petals over an endless horizon.  If I were able to write “the one perfect book” I would achieve what so many of us secretly long for – immortality – or at least a simple indelible chicken scratch on this spinning cerulean marble we all share. 

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Thank you Michele for the opportunity to bore some more folks.  I have the greatest admiration for you, your writing and your creative spirit.

To continue the chain, I've put the same questions to several wonderful writers:


Barbara Ehrentreu  @ http://barbaraehrentreu.blogspot.com/

Ina Roy-Faderman   @ http://inourbooks.com/ (with Andrea Heiberg)

Laura Hegfield            @ http://www.shinethedivine.com/

Sharon Ingraham     @ http://www.networkedblogs.com/blog/poet-treehouse

Meena Rose                  @ http://2voices1song.com/

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On December 11, at their respective blogs, Barbara, Ina, Laura, Sharon and Meena will tell you about their next big things

18 comments:

  1. Boring??? Oh no, fascinating to me. The essential poet shines through all your words — 'an ever ribboning tribute of rose petals over an endless horizon', 'this spinning cerulean marble we all share', and so on.

    I have found the Kaitlin excerpts powerful, moving and intriguing and I look forward to the book's successful completion so that I can read it as a whole.

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    1. Aw Rosemary thank you - your words mean a great deal to me as does your opinion about Kaitlin.

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  2. Pearl, this is so interesting. There were so many things that stand out to me about your answers, but the main one is about your work in progress - you are so brave to write about something that is so hard and scary. The death of a child is - well, it takes such courage to stay in that place in the imagination and write from it. I've long suspected that you are a very courageous woman and now I know for sure. I feel honored to know you as a writer and to be able to call you a friend.

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    1. Awww Ina - to be called "courageous" by YOU is a great honor. Kaitlin, as a character came to me during a PAD challenge - I have a series of poems about her on my blog. Your comments touched me in all the right places :) Thank you.

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  3. I am with Rosemary ... did I pass the pseudo-boring bug to you? It's not a real thing you know (you straightened me out on that sweetie). I too can't wait to read your book,so how about writing it?

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  4. Dear Sharon - Haha on the pseudo-boring bug - maybe we are now both vaccinated! As far as writing the Kaitlin book - I wrote the book two years ago during the NaNo challenge. I did some editing on it and through a contact I still have at Berkley/Penguin it was read (and passed though with some nice comments) .... The negative parts were that the characters needed more meat....(which was encouraging since usually all I have are characters and the comments are that the plot is thin.... Last year I finished the NaNo challenge and basically wound up with a second version of the Kaitlin book with characters that were much more alive. So, basically now, I have to work on integrating the two versions - or start all over again? Mhmmm - I so desperately need an editor - it is not funny at all. What is the ultimate in hubris is that I actually WAS READ by a panel of readers at Berkley/Penguin on this and a prior novel and never went back and edited or resubmitted elsewhere. This long-winded comment is a blow-harded way of saying THANK YOU for the push. (Maybe I need a mid-wife). Truly thank you Sharon, you are a sweetie through and through and you know how much I respect your work.

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  5. This is such a cool idea! The questions are great, and the responses boring? Not on your life!

    Pearl, I wish you all the best with your Kaitlin book. Hers is a story that has haunted you greatly (and us who read your poetry). As you know, for a while I had to quit reading your Kaitlyn poems, as they were just too powerfully sad. It's so hard to give thought to a child abused/neglected in any way, let alone something this horrific. However, I'll want an autographed copy of your book when the time comes, please.

    Great interview, ladies!
    Marie Elena

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  6. Dear Marie - Yes I do remember when you had to quit the Kaitlin poems for a bit - honestly I would have done the same - to this very day I have no idea where the idea came from -which is a bit eerie in itself. I wonder if I have trouble editing because I have put my own voice on the story and it is not the story that "Kaitlin" wants told. Mhmmmm. Eerie and a little unsettling. Never thought of this, in quite this way. You are always so supportive, tonight I thank you for that support and also for getting me thinking. Maybe I need to let "Kaitlin" write her story rather than me! I may very well be getting in the way...of something that I find unsettling. Thanks again Marie.

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    1. YES, THIS BLOG CHAIN IS A VERY COOL IDEA - THANKS AGAIN TO MICHELE FOR PASSING IT ON TO ME!!

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    2. That's an interesting thought, Pearl. It's also something you can't really know for sure, I suppose. So it's probably best to trust your instincts.

      Knowing how important it is to you to get her story out, I know you'll make the right decision, Pearl.

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  7. As usual I accidentally posted a comment to the PA site first instead of to the blog! Anyway, I enjoy this interview very much. It helps to know that writers all face a certain amount of like-challenges, even though they feel (to me when I write) so unique and personal. Your thoughts on getting to the point too early in a novel really hit me, as that has been a real challenge for me as well. Thank you for this.

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    1. Thank you so much for stopping by and double commenting! Yep that getting to the point and then repeating myself for another 2 or 3 hundred pages has been a real hair-puller. Haha. Nice to be in such fabulous company as yours :)

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  8. How wonderful! Sorry I missed this when it first posted. Pearl, I always, always enjoy your work. I now want to read Missing Kaitlin. Michele, your questions are delightful! Fun interview, ladies!

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    1. Oh no sorries required! Wonderful to hear from you WHENEVER. Thanks for the double always - De it really means a great deal to me. Was great fun to be part of this chain - will be looking forward to yours!

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  9. Wow - loads of comments :) I only got one on mine I think LOL Glad to see people enjoying the chain.

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    1. Haha - I begged for them :) and I am still grateful for the delicious alms and arms :)
      A wonderful interview Michele and I think it had the ancillary benefit of moving me along with Kaitlin.

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  10. Hi, Pearl! How great that you are writing a story from the foundation of your poetry! Yes, we sometimes do get in the way of our characters. They want to tell the story THEIR way and we want it ours. But...it is their story, right?!

    I know the book will be wonderful...I have read enough of your poems to know that!

    Blessings!

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    1. Awwww Linda - Just read this comment - thanks so much for the support - I really do appreciate it! :)

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