Featured Authors Series: Inside the Writer’s Head


UltraVioletLove’s Inside the Writer’s Head


The interviewer who penned these questions shamelessly admits to having been influenced by Robert Lipton’s captivating television show, Inside the Actor’s Studio. Only a writer’s studio is inside her head—the stage and backstage, the props and backdrops, the actors, writers, directors, and stage hands. All of the characters who play these roles, and many more, live between the ears of the author, Inside the Writer’s Head. We are grateful to each and every one of the authors who have allowed us a glimpse inside their creative lives and thought processes.

Featured Guest: Kieran York


Author of a short story collection called Sugar With Spice, a mystery series: Timber City Masks and Crystal Mountain Veils, love stories, and a variety of other works, including lesbian love poetry, which is being published in April 2012, Wet Violets: Sappho's Corner Poetry Series, Volume 2, published by UltraVioletLove Publishing. Her most recent book, Appointment with a Smile, has just been released by Blue Feather Books and is available immediately at their website, www.bluefeatherbooks.com.

Interview Q&A

UVL: How and when did you get started writing?

Kieran: It seems I have always written. When I was a child there was a little nursery rhyme patterned border around the walls of my bedroom. From four years old on I would make up stories about the characters. As I grew older, my stories gravitated toward print. My first job was at the local daily newspaper. I worked there through high school and college. Later, along side of a career in journalism, I wrote books. First poetry, then a short story collection called Sugar With Spice, a mystery series - Timber City Masks and Crystal Mountain Veils, love stories, and a variety of other works.  

UVL: How long did it take you to get published? Lots of rejection slips or only a few?

Kieran: Not too long getting published. I think I wore some of the publishers down because early on I did get lots of rejection slips. Some probably buckled under because they were exhausted from sending me rejection slips. Just like Snoopy’s “Dear Contributor” letters, mine came like clockwork when I was in my late teens.

UVL: What do you wear while you’re writing?

Kieran: Shirts, t-shirts, sweat shirts, denims, slacks - just regular street clothing. 

UVL: Are you a daily, disciplined, word-count sort of writer or an inspiration-driven writer?

Kieran: It depends on the project. I find it easier to be a daily prose writer, or scriptwriter. Poetry is nearly always inspiration-driven. A flash, a song, or maybe a memory, and I’m working on a poem. And that won’t go away until it has been written. But the overriding answer is that I am always, continually, writing something. Sometimes I work a couple of hours, others times I write for days. The term ‘compulsion’ comes to mind.

UVL: Do you stop to eat and drink when you’re writing, or do you do them simultaneously so you can keep working?

Kieran: When I’m on a roll, I rarely stop unless everything on the page is hopeless. Usually, I munch and write. If I do cook a meal and go to the dining table, I nearly always have a pen and paper as an accompaniment. Fork, plate, napkin, knife, spoon….memo pad and pen.  
   
UVL: Would you say your books are character driven or plot driven?

Kieran: With the Royce Madison mystery series, it began with plot, then the characters took over and moved the plot around. Appointment with a Smile was completely character driven. The plot unfolded after the first chapter. The characters led me along with them. Danielle was constantly pointing a direction for me to take. I was aware only that I would write about love. I wanted to explore an unending love of a person, and an unceasing love of creating. In the face of adversity, and abject defeat, I wanted to show how love remained an eternal event. 

UVL: Now that you know that being an author isn’t necessarily the fast track to making millions, why do you keep writing?

Kieran: I never have been monetarily motivated - so thankfully, wealth was never my objective, and hence, wasn’t my expectation. My mother was a registered nurse, and stressed health. And happiness is a way to be healthy. I am usually happy when I write. Naturally, there are times when it is excruciatingly painful to write - but it is necessary. Then everything is all better.

UVL: Which of your books is your favo(u)rite? Favo(u)rite character?

Kieran: My favorite book is always the most recently published - Appointment with a Smile. As for favorite characters, I appreciate Royce Madison’s courage. Danielle O’Hara, Appointment with a Smile, is empathetic, and personable. My absolute favorite is a character from a manuscript that hasn’t yet been published - Kelly Benjamin. She is pure hilarity.

UVL: If you could sit down and have lunch with any person, living or dead, who would it be?

Kieran: My short list would be Mary Wollstonecraft for her smarts; Frida Kahlo for her ‘kick it’ attitude; Gertrude Stein for her huskiness; and Sappho to keep Mary, Frida and Gert under control. What a fun question!

UVL: What would you hope to gain from this encounter?

Kieran: A terrific play about the above quartet. Or at least a movie script.

UVL: Who is your favo(u)rite author? 

Kieran: I don’t have any one favorite author. I read authors at different times in my life - and they become my favorite for that time. It is when they’re needed. Their book jumps out at me and requires it become my favorite. 

UVL: Which authors have inspired you most?

Kieran: As a Sapphic writer, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention Ann Bannon for blazing a trail. The authors of today are absolutely terrific. So I’m being inspired daily by them.

UVL: Who is your favo(u)rite character of all time?

Kieran: There are so many. Characters that are memorable for me include: Ann Childs from Jane Rule’s Desert of the Heart; Stephen Gordon from Radclyffe Hall’s The Well of Loneliness; Ann Bannon’s Beebo Brinker; and Molly Bolt from Rita Mae Brown’s Rubyfruit Jungle. 

UVI: What is your favo(u)rite book of all times?

Kieran: My favorite book is actually a trilogy. It is Vera Brittain’s Testament trilogy: Testament of Youth, Testament of Friendship, and Testament of Experience. There is no explanation for this selection, I just found it remarkably moving.    

UVL: Do you allow pets to hang out with you while you’re writing?

Kieran: This is the best writer’s question ever! Yes, always. It compulsory that  my schnauzer, Clover, be at my side for each swipe at the computer. My dogs have always been my cheering section. I would love to have a cat or two, but I have asthma.  

UVL: Do you allow humans to hang out with you while you’re writing?

Kieran: Never. They don’t understand the commands: sit, stay, please don’t bark. 

UVL: How do you set the stage for a writing session? 

Kieran: Since my entire world is one giant jotting session, I just go into my writing room and begin drafting, construction, rewriting, editing, proofing - etcetera.

UVL: Do you read a lot of other authors’ books in your genre?

Kieran: I don’t get as much time as I’d like for reading, so when I read it is a great luxury. I do attempt to stay current with other writers. There is a group of contemporary lesbian writers who are creating some extraordinary fiction and poetry. It could very well be that this is a golden era of Sapphic literature. Perhaps, we are part of Lesbos revisited. 

UVL: Are there any of your books you’d like the chance to rewrite?

Kieran: Not really. Although they might be improved with a rewrite. 

UVL: What makes your heart sing?

Kieran: Music and poetry. Music, both listening and playing it. And poetry, both reading and writing it.   

********************************************************************


Featured Guest: Lesley Davis




Author of Playing Passion’s Game, Truth Behind the Mask, Keeper of the Piece, Constellations of the Heart, Woven in Life’s Tapestry, Cast a Wide Circle, and A Touch of Alchemy.

The interviewer of UltraVioletLove had the privilege of working with Lesley Davis as her editor on her first five novels, so I have enjoyed a lively association with Lesley for over a decade. She is both a joy to know and to read. I would gladly recommend anything written by Lesley Davis, even if she does spell funny. Seriously though, she’s one of the main reasons, I can, if pressed, read, write, and edit British English.

Forthcoming title(s): Dark Wings Descending, coming May 2012
Web site URL: http://www.lesleydavisauthor.co.uk
Lesley Davis at Bold Strokes Books

Interview Questions:

UVL: How and when did you get started writing?

Lesley: I started writing and illustrating children's books when I left school but got nowhere with that endeavour. I'd been amusing myself writing stories using characters I knew from other books (fanfiction I guess before it became big!) but the serious writing of lesbian fiction started when I was asked to write a story for someone special and that was the one I subsequently sent in to a publisher. That was roughly eighteen years ago.

UVL: How long did it take you to get published? Lots of rejection slips or only a few?

Lesley: That first story took about three years to get published once the story finally found a home. No rejection slips thankfully!

UVL: What do you wear while you're writing?

Lesley: Sweatpants and a t-shirt, the same uniform I wear when gaming! If I'm in the house, that is my clothing of choice.

UVL: Are you a daily, disciplined, word-count sort of writer or an inspiration-driven writer?

Lesley: I have to be very disciplined to write daily. I can do it. I just don't do it often! I do not keep count of how many words I write. I don't really see the point. You can write a thousand words then edit it and end up with twenty! I'd have to say I am driven by inspiration....and the lack of a game to be played instead.

UVL: Do you stop to eat and drink when you're writing, or do you do them simultaneously so you can keep working?

Lesley: I try to have a meal break but do keep my decaf diet Coke close at hand. I can't eat and type. The keyboard would be littered with salad!

UVL: Are your books character driven or plot driven?

Lesley: What an intriguing question! I'd say character driven, I love writing characters that capture people's attention. Playing Passion's Game really got people emailing me to say how much they either identified with the main character of Trent or how much they'd love her as a friend. But saying that, the plot is equally as important, the characters need to have a reason for why they are thrown together.

UVL: Now that you know that being an author isn't necessarily the fast track to making millions, why do you keep writing?

Lesley: Because I have a fan base that now demands it! And they know where I live! LOL! Is this where I'm supposed to say that the fun of creating worlds and characters that I can share with others is a nice payoff in itself? It is. It's a blessing, though I wouldn't turn away from the millions if they were offered! I need to share these characters that inhabit my head. They have interesting stories to tell. A writer needs to write. It's like breathing. It's a necessary thing.

UVL: Which of your books is your favo(u)rite? Favo(u)rite character?

Lesley: At the moment I'd say Playing Passion's Game. I was very pleased with the story and the characters were so much fun to write. They were the first that I found I really didn't want their story to end. So they'll make a return in a spin-off soon. My favourite character has to be Trent Williams from that book, my gamer. It was fun to write about something that I am passionate about and have readers see that gamers can be sexy!

UVL: If you could sit down and have lunch with any person, living or dead, who would it be?

Lesley: My dad. He died nine years ago and only got to see my second book in its raw state. I'd have loved to have shared with him my moving to Bold Strokes and all that has happened from that shift. He was my biggest supporter, I miss him dreadfully.

But if it has to be someone other than a lost relative, then I'd want to sit down with Kate Bush. That woman, for me, writes classics and paints masterpieces with her lyrics and music. She is a true inspiration and holds me in awe with every song she records.

UVL: What would you hope to gain from this encounter?

Lesley: To see my dad and hold the hand that guided me through life, (that I miss so much now), that would make for a fantastic lunch.

As for Kate....just to get the opportunity to thank her for sharing her work and for the pleasure it has given me. She's the only singer I have listened to constantly for thirty plus years. She IS music to me.

UVL: Who is your favo(u)rite author?

Lesley: I really admire the work of Radclyffe. She's the one author whose books I can re-read with pleasure. I don't really read many books now that capture my attention and keep it. I prefer to be entertained by screenwriters.  I love what comes from the minds of the Wachowski Brothers, Zach Snyder, and George Lucas (before he started his dire sequels!)

UVL: Which authors have inspired you the most?

Lesley: Chris Anne Wolfe (Shadows of Aggar) who showed me that you can write fantasy and have a lesbian as the heroine. And Radclyffe, because her characters live and breathe on the page. She's all I aspire to.

UVL: Who is your favo(u)rite character of all time?

Lesley: Han Solo. I ate, slept and breathed Star Wars and he was by far my favourite character. He got the best clothes, the coolest space ship, all the witty lines to say and he got the fiesty Princess. I so wanted to be him!

UVL: What is your favo(u)rite book of all time?

Lesley: I'd have to say the one that really influenced me in what path my life would follow was The Empire Strikes Back by Donald F. Glut. I hadn't seen Star Wars but was captivated by the cover of this book. I read it so much the pages changed colour and I had to buy another to keep in pristine condition for my collection! I've been fantasy minded every since.

UVL: Do you allow pets to hang out with you while you're writing?

Lesley: I have no pets so that's an easy question to answer. I'm allergic to critters. I have a few stuffed Pikachu's that hang out with me to help with spelling though!

UVL: Do you allow humans to hang out with you while you're writing?

Lesley: No, I'm easily distracted, it's hard enough writing in the same room as my games consoles! But I can leave the TV on quietly as background noise if I don't have soundtracks playing.

UVL: How do you set the stage for a writing session?

Lesley: I gather up all my scribbled notes, settle before the computer and start transferring longhand to Word. No big production to get started. I sit. I type!

UVL: Do you read a lot of other authors' books in your genre?

Lesley: No, I don't buy a lot of books. I'd rather the money go to games instead.

UVL: Are there any of your books you'd like the chance to rewrite?

Lesley: Yes, I'd like to revisit my earlier works to change mistakes that weren't corrected and maybe rework one of them. But otherwise I'm happy to let the stories be. What's written is done, time to move on.

UVL: What makes your heart sing?

Lesley: The sight of Super Mario capturing a coin, Kate Bush hitting her unique high notes, the Millenium Falcon flying through the asteroid field, Neo fighting the multiple Smiths, and someone telling me that a character I wrote made them wish they were a real person to spend time with in reality.


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