Thanks for meeting today. How did you decide on a young woman as your protagonist? Were you uncertain of being able to write for her?
I don’t feel I had a choice for the protagonist. I have great respect for women, and I consider them superior to men, like an advanced form of our species. As the idea developed, she was the lead. There was no conscious decision. The beta-readers of the various drafts included women and they thought the protagonist was totally believable.
Your reputation is that of a shy person. How does that square with an adventurous way of life?
I love people and am quite social, yet I tend to be reserved.
The idea of shyness may be more a comment on my nature as an observer, watching, and listening. In those moments when I say something, usually asking a question, it’s directly on the topic, and those around me can suddenly become shy. Among those I know, close friends get hugs.
What is it about your life that has been adventurous?
I just do what I do, yet other people sometimes don’t seem to understand or perhaps agree with my actions. I guess we see risk quite differently.
The times that I traveled to far places or backpacked alone for days up mountains or into woods were moments that I needed and enjoyed. At times I recognized I pushed a limit, such as running out of water in the Grand Canyon when certain streams that should have been flowing were not. Or wearing flip flops on a mountain trail that transitioned into a ledge. Or walking into dense brush and hearing a rattlesnake warning, stepping back, and hearing another.
When I walked alone at night through the back streets of Istanbul or Cairo, major cities in Europe or South America, or a village in Saudi Arabia, I needed to do those things. There were sights and sounds and people I could see nowhere else.
Going down a shaft into a pharaoh’s tomb or hiking up Mount Sinai are travels through history and nature and philosophy all in one. Going to a milonga in Buenos Aires with a beautiful, young woman and dancing the Argentine Tango – Irresistible!
Of course, day-to-day adventures can be found in driving a little too fast, looking people in the eye, and asking meaningful questions that others don’t ask. To me, it’s all simply living with the hunger to experience and learn about life.
What is your goal in writing?
I try to express an idea wrapped in a feeling that creates a question. That’s true for prose or poetry. It becomes portrayed as people doing things and saying things. What’s fun for me is that I’m often surprised by what they do, where they go, and what they say!
Every writer has a different approach. Some are purely intellectual, some are sensual, and some are objective designers of plot, while others create fascinating characters or settings or explain history. Of course, some have worked their way into an endless cash register and just need to keep it going.
For me, I need some ambiance in the prose for development of a character’s feelings. It’s probably a romantic notion, but I’m an old-world romantic who needs to sense the fragrances, feel the textures, and see the cheek blush.
What is your writing process?
I wish I knew! Around 3:30 or 4, and despite exhaustion from being up late, I’m summoned to near consciousness by a thought or an image.
I grab my phone and dictate an email message to myself or put it into the Notes app. When I’m more conscious, I review it to see if there’s merit to flesh out the idea.
When I write a novel, a question comes up and characters reveal themselves. I watch the characters do things, go places, and speak, and along the way I write it all down. Along the way there’s the research to nail down details, and there are the editing and revision processes that seem endless. But the initial draft is an exhilarating roller coaster ride. Putting it into final form is just determination.
Is writing poetry much different than prose?
Poetry is my real love. With poetry, the images are behind a delicate veil. They taunt you to understand them and describe their meaning. So, you fumble with words to fit your awareness and place them in the tempo or structure befitting what you experience.
I regret we’re out of time. There’s much more I’d like to know.
Thanks! Let’s focus on the reader and not the authors. The readers are priority number one. Be safe and well as you discover the wonders of life and love.