13 January 2010
Laura Resau Interview with Kirthi
1.If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?
Hmm. If I HAD to choose, I'd be in trouble! Instead of having one mentor, I've had a whole bunch of people who've guided and motivated me. Fabulous books written by authors like Sharon Creech and Louise Fitzhugh and Barbara Kingsolver gave me something to strive for. My writers' group kept me on track and focused on my novels. Leaders of writing workshops and classes I've gone to over the years have taught me a lot and given my encouragement. Other authors in my community, like Lauren Myracle, gave me the inside scoop on publishing and finding an agent. So really, my "mentor" would be a mosaic of bits and pieces of talented, generous people pasted together.
2.Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
Ever since I was a little kid, I've loved stories— hearing, reading, or telling them. I've always had a vivid imagination (which unfortunately includes a talent for imagining disastrous tragedies, too!) As my husband can tell you, I tend to stare into space a lot, dreaming up new stories. (He does a funny impression of me biting my bottom lip and tilting my head and completely spacing out.) My time living abroad in France and Mexico sparked lots of story ideas, and motivated me to (eventually) write novels set in these places. I began devoting hours every day writing stories and journaling while in France. Later, in Mexico, I began to envision publishing my stories, and one day books…
3.Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
Every book I write teaches me new things, mostly about the craft of writing—like how to create plot tension, construct well-rounded characters, develop tender relationships, weave in themes, etc. I also learn things about myself, the world, and the process of story-telling. Many ideas in my books come not from my conscious mind, but my creative unconscious—or maybe somewhere even deeper and bigger. By writing stories, I feel that I'm tapping into this source, bringing these ideas to light, and sharing them with readers. I've learned to have deep respect for this mysterious element of writing.
4.Is there a message in Red Glass that you want readers to grasp?
I'd love it if Red Glass made readers look past the surface of people, to what's really inside… and if they dared to connect with people who might appear, on the surface, very different from themselves. I'd also love it if the book made readers reflect on their own personal journeys through life-- to look at what their own obstacles are and how they can overcome them. Most of all, I want readers to feel swept away by the story and enjoy the time they spend immersed in the world of the book.
5.What was your inspiration for the characters in Red Glass?
When I meet interesting people, I often write about them in my notebook. Sometimes years later, some piece of them might emerge in a character I'm creating. Most of the characters in Red Glass were inspired by friends of mine—immigrant friends and students, friends from Oaxaca whose villages I've spent time in, kind strangers I've met on buses in Central America, etc. By the time my character has evolved, usually only a seed of the person who inspired him or her remains… but I like to think that the real-life person gave the character that special spark that makes her or him feel alive to the reader.
6.Who is your most favorite character in Red Glass?
I really love them all! I especially loved writing Dika's character (a middle-aged Bosnian refugee), since she's so multi-layered and eccentric. She's funny and bawdy on the outside, but there's real hard-won wisdom and tenderness underneath.
7.Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
Like Sophie (narrator of Red Glass), I've had to deal with anxiety issues my entire life. Overall, writing brings me lots more joy than anxiety, but I do feel like a regular part of my writing process is dealing with doubts and fears. It's as though they're pesky little monsters, creeping in and trying to interfere with the joyful part of writing. When I'm writing a novel, it's so easy to psyche myself out, and feel overwhelmed or dejected for one reason or another. It's daily work to remind myself why I LOVE the story I'm writing, to remember that there are readers out there who will love it too… and that it's my job to shoo away the monsters and make sure these readers get to enjoy the story.
8.When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
I've always loved writing, but one moment stands out in my mind as making a commitment to being a writer. I'd done well in a Masters program in cultural anthropology and was expected (by my teachers, family, and friends) to continue on to my PhD. But I realized that I felt most passionate about writing stories. I realized that writing is what makes me feel truly alive. I wanted to spend my life doing what I love. So I stopped at my Masters degree and patched together some part-time jobs so that I would have time to finish my first novel, What the Moon Saw. Of course, for years before that, I'd been writing and dreaming of being a writer, but it was at that moment that I felt like I really took the leap.
9. Do you have anything you would like to say to your readers?
Just THANK YOU for reading my books. I'm honored! I hope they touch you and change you in some way. (If you haven't read my books yet, and would like to find out more about them, come visit me at http://www.lauraresau.com !)
Thanks for a fantastic interview, Kirthi!