Rosemary Clement-Moore: I love all my children the same! No, really. There are pieces of me in all of my characters. Maggie Quinn was one of the most effortless because she’s very open about her emotions, her goals, her doubts, her conflicts. She’s very self-aware and not afraid to lay it out there. It’s refreshing to write a character who just says what she thinks.
RCM: I grew up in Texas (which is not technically The South, except geographically) and I’ve always been a little in love with how the culture and history of a place can become like another character in the story. Gothic literature is like that--whether its the wild moors of Wuthering Heights or the wave-battered Cornish shores of Rebecca, setting becomes an inseparable part of the book.
RCM: I recently saw The Avengers, and the reason that’s such a great movie is that the director doesn’t hold anything back for the sequel. Whedon doesn’t say “Oh, we can’t go that big, or how will we top it in the next movie?”
One of the things I struggle with as a writer is holding back from big ideas, big emotions, big risks. I’m worried it will seem cheesy or over the top, or my characters will seem melodramatic. But holding back cheats me out of my best work, and my readers out of the best story--especially where emotional stakes are concerned.
As for how that relates to the market, I’m not sure. It’s a very fluid time, with e-books and small/big/self publishing opportunities. But this will always be true: You have to write the book that you want to write. Art should, first and foremost, tell the story you want to tell. Because you can’t control all the variables of the business end of things. All you can really control is the words on the page, so they should make you proud, whether they’re read by a hundred people, or a hundred-thousand.
It’s extremely important to me that my girl protagonists solve their own problems--even if it means recruiting help from a guy or a mad scientist sister or evil genius BFF. Sometimes life isn’t about being the best at one thing--strongest, smartest, most superpowered. It has to do with being able to adapt to the needs of the situation. Plus, I think the most interesting stories are about what a character does when they can’t have what they want.
Family is a big theme in my books, which I think comes from reading Little Women sixteen times when I was a kid. You’ll also see a lot of old things in my books--history and legend and actual artifacts that intertwine with the present-day story. That’s just because I love history. (Archeologist was on my short list of career choices, but I don’t like to camp.)
RCM: I almost always write the first paragraph first, which stays virtually unaltered throughout revisions. The opening image is pretty solid in my mind when I put fingers to keyboard. I generally do a lot of thinking about a book before hand. It’s like filming a movie in my head. (Sometimes my working looks a lot like staring into space.) When I get enough key scenes visualized, I can start to put them into words. But I always start with the beginning and movie forward.
RCM: When I was in high school I was up late reading a spooky novel, when I heard footsteps on the gravel outside my window. I froze, trying not to even breath, then heard a tap on the glass, and someone whisper my name. Of course I screamed bloody murder. And of course it was just my brother sneaking in late, having forgotten his key. He was so busted, and so mad at me.
2. In previous interviews, you mention being involved in theater. Are you still actively involved? Would you consider turning a book of yours into a play? Which one do you think lends itself to that treatment the best?
RCM: I’m not involved in theater any more, but I have to say that I use all my acting chops in my writing--characterization and motivation and internalization and “method” acting. Only it’s more fun because I can play any character and I don’t have to stay on a diet.
I do miss performing, though. It’s a thrill. But it’s also really stressful and time consuming, and I have books to write!
My books would have way too high special effects budgets for the stage, but I’ll bet any of them would make a great movie. I always envisioned the Maggie Quinn series as a monster of the week TV series (can you imagine the cross-over potential if Maggie and Lisa met Sam and Dean Winchester from Supernatural?) but I think Texas Gothic would make the best movie. (I can dream, right?)
RCM: Yes, hair model. Basically it means you have to let them cut or style your hair however they want to and take lots of pictures. It was really fun to do, but the problem with those edgy styles they do for hair shows is that they take way too much effort and styling product for my daily life. I’m all for a great haircut, but my requirement is Low Maintenance.
RCM: Probably Ruddigore, which isn’t as well known. But it’s a gothic story with ghosts and a cursed baronet and a heroine named Rose Maybud... Sort of irresistible, really. HMS Pinafore is also a favorite and, of course, the Pirates of Penzance. Because I love Penzance and I love pirates.
You know what’s weird? No one ever asks me if D&D Lisa has a last name.
The answer is, “yes.”
Thanks for interviewing me! It’s great to get to talk writing with people who love reading!
Yesterday Tanita was interviewed at the Happy Nappy Bookseller, and Doret makes her look intelligent! Go, read! And for today's other SBBT interviews, see:
- Cynthia Levinson - The Happy Nappy Bookseller
- Amy Reed @ Stacked, talking Crazy. No, the book, we mean.