Tuesday, September 15, 2009
Meet Connie Chastain.....
I "met" Connie in one of my writer's groups. It's exciting for me to see her published as I was able to read a lot of Southern Man before it was published and I'm here to say she's an amazing writer & you will fall in love with Troy ~ I sure did!
Where are you from? -- Originally from Dalton, Georgia but we moved away from there when I was in the second grade. I grew up mostly in central Alabama, a rolling prairie of grasses and forest. Cheaha Mountain, near a little berg where I lived, is the last outcropping before the coastal plain begins its gradual slant to the Gulf of Mexico. http://earth.unh.edu/thompson/al_cheaha_talladega.jpg http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2024/2346054297_db7bcd7445.jpg?v=0
When and why did you begin writing? -- I began to write fiction in the 1980s. I had not considered writing until my brother-in-law indirectly suggested it. He was stationed in Okinawa with the U.S. Navy for several years, and my sister and nephews lived outside the base in Naha City. I used to write them long, chatty letters, and he noted that I "turned a good phrase," and ought to try my hand at writing.
How many stories have you written? -- Back in the 80s, I started quite a few, hardly finished any -- a sci-fi adventure set in the Star Trek universe; the story of a young female solo-sailer, inspired mostly by Robin Lee Graham's Dove, a behemoth psychological romance titled Coquina, perhaps others I no longer remember. More recently, I've begun or planned about eighteen stories. They're all romances at heat with social issues embedded in the plot.
Have any of them been published? -- Southern Man was published in June 2009 by a small company my husband and I founded, Brasstown Books.
Are the characters in your stories based on someone you know, or events in your own life? -- They all reflect my values and worldview, but the characters, settings and situations are largely imaginary. Now and then they may do or say something I remember someone from my past doing or saying, but it would be a real stretch to say the character is thus based on that person.
What/who inspires you to write? -- Basically, I write to honor good, decent men because I don't like how men are vilified in the feminist age.
What books have most influenced your life? -- Fiction: To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee; Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell; A Wrinkle In Time by Madeline L'Engle; Alice In Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass by Louis Carroll; the Nero Wolfe series by Rex Stout; Steamboat Gothic by Frances Parkinson Keyes; Star Trek novels by a variety of authors. Nonfiction: the Holy Bible; Dove by Robin Lee Graham; Bride of Fortune and Gone Are the Days by Harnett Kane; and The Devil's Triangle by Richard Winer (something about the way he turned a phrase made me want to write!); How To Write, Speak and Think More Effectively by Rudolph Flesch.
Who is your favorite author? -- Rex Stout.
What book are you reading now? Several things I've read lately have turned out to be big disappointmens, so I'm not reading anything at the moment. I am beginning to accumulate a to-be-read list, though, that includes some nonfiction, some romance, sci-fi, and general fiction -- so long as it doesn't have vampires or Michael Jackson in it.
What are your current projects? -- Storm Surge, which is an orthodox category romance and Catlin, which is a romance with an embedded social issue (domestic violence).
If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest story? -- Nothing major regarding characterization or plot. I might tighten the prose a little, use a different word here or there.
Can you share a little of your current work with us? Storm Surge is about a woman who infiltrates a small company to find evidence of wrongdoing by its founder and president. She comes to believe in his innocence and integrity and they begin to fall in love. But neither of them realize they're both in danger from an ex-con bent on vengeance.
Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing? -- Yes. Writing is hard for me. I'm a made writer, not a born one. My writing is not a talent I'm nourishing; it's a craft I'm trying to hone. I'm The secret to getting started for me is to focus on the hero--to know all about him, to know how he was raised, what he believes, what delights him, what hurts him, what motivates him. Until I know that, the story just drifts even if I have a clear idea where I want it to go.
What was the hardest part of writing your book? With Southern Man, it was the men, particularly the hero, Troy Stevenson, realistic (I have a female brain, after all). Also, making the kids realistic, as I've never had kids and haven't been around them much. And, finally, intertwining the various subplots into a smooth whole.
Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it? -- Persevere. Keep working on the knotty problems, and eventually you'll get them straightened out. More than once I had to rearrange not only the timeline of story events, but the order in which they were told, before it straightened out. But the most important thing I learned was to be true to my voice and my story. I tried writing as writing articles advise; I tried putting action/conflict on the first page--in the first paragraph-- but you can't do that when you're telling a story that unfolds rather than explodes. If I ever write an exploding story, I'll make sure the action/conflict begins in the first sentence; but not in stories meant to open like a flower.
Do you have any advice for other writers? -- Do what works for you. Don't pay too much attention to rules and orthodoxy. Southern Man was nearly killed a couple of times when I tried to turn it into a romance, and "show" rather than "tell." Writing is a very personal process. Some writers are pantsers, some plotters. Some paint with broad brush strokes, some fascinate you with detail. If you're a detail person, you may do a few occasional broad strokes well but don't abandon detail completely; and the reverse is also true.
Is there anything you want to say to your readers? Just that I hope you like my stories, and I'd enjoy hearing from you.
Where can we find your book? It's available on Amazon.com: http://www.amazon.com/Southern-Man-Connie-Chastain/dp/061529801X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1245882533&sr=1-1 ----or---- http://tinyurl.com/melhk8
Where can we find you on the web? My website is http://conniechastain.com and my blog is http://conniechastain.blogspot.com
What do you like to do when you're not writing? This probably sounds crazy, but I love the Internet, and I can become absorbed with it for hours. It's instant knowledge; you can find out things that could take hours/days or weeks/months before the Internet. I also like reading, on and off net. I enjoy auto travel with my husband, watching football (Go 'Bama and Saints!), Southern history and culture, and my cats.
Where to find Connie....
Southern Man at Amazon.com
Southern Man Trailers