Happy Day All!
A dear friend has recently launched her first book.
She has been kind enough to share with us
her thoughts and feelings about the process.
Introducing T.A. Munroe
Career wise, I have experience mostly in retail and education, including libraries. I worked in a great library in Lititz, PA as a circulation clerk and a program coordinator for infants and also spent numerous years a librarian for my church. I’ve also held three jobs that command no respect but demand nerves of steel and a very thick skin: school lunch lady, 6th grade teacher and substitute teacher.
I’ve been married for 29 years. My husband doesn’t share my creative bent, but rolls his eyes and supports me anyway. My daughter writes poetry, and my son songs. They both received my creative genes along with their father’s work ethic. Watching them become the people they are has been one of my life’s most exciting and rewarding pleasures. I enjoy sewing, knitting and sometimes little crafty activities, and I’ve be known to paint pictures. I need to always have something creative going, or I perish. But writing makes much less of a mess. I’m trying to learn graphic programs on the computer as well as how to use social networking for fun and profit. I’m not working right now, but I am never bored. I’ve been seen cooking and cleaning, but I try not to let that get around.
Do you have any writers or stories that influence your work? I’ve never ever said I want to write like so-and-so, but of course there have been books I have particularly enjoyed. One is White Oleander by Janet Fitch. There are some passages in there that I read over and over, they are so well written and speak to my heart. Sometimes I pull the book off the shelf and simply read the three or four sections I marked. I’ve also read Jane Eyre several times and really enjoyed Madeline L’Engle, Ursula K. Leguin, Patrick O’Brian, the entire Harry Potter series, The Hobbit (can’t wait for the first movie in December) and The Lord of the Rings.
What genre or genres do you write?
Right now, I’m writing contemporary women’s fiction heavy on the romance. I want my characters to grow through the situations I torture them with but also want them to feel it was worth it in the end. I cringed when romance showed up as a big part of my writing, thinking I was “above” that. Guess I’m not, because I love writing it.
Faith shows up, too. My characters look to renew old relationships with God that they gave up on for some reason. God told me I should do this and I said, “Uh, okay. You’re God and all that. But I hope you don’t mind if they mess up big time.” A gentle but booming voice said, “That’s fine. Write what you know.”
What is your writing process?
Writing process? What’s that? I don’t do much outlining. Sometimes ideas come as I write, other times, they’ve been in my head for a long time and they find a place to fit in the story. I’ve written the skeletons of several stories during November for NaNoWriMo. Then they hang around on computer for a while, and when I need or want to work on something new, I pick one and expand, rewrite, revise, etc. So far, I’ve passed or am passing much of my work to my writer’s group for critique, but as I gain more experience and perhaps become more prolific, that may be reserved for only certain pieces.
Taking time to write every day is important to me, even if I only read over what I wrote the day before. When I feel like I am stuck at a part of the story, I find writing some place different helps, such as the library or my local indie coffee shop. I don’t expect every day I’ll produce great stuff, but I can’t rewrite and revise what hasn’t been written.
Let’s talk about Another Place on the Planet, your first novel that you recently released. Where did this story come from? How did the characters come to be? Did you start out wanting to write about the film industry, movie stars and directors?
My first finished novel, A Box of Rain, (BoR) is about Lily Mayfield, the main character of Another Place on the Planet (APP). BoR is the backstory of her first marriage and the spousal abuse that brought about its end. In it, she falls in love with a coworker and they end up together. It’s a decent story, but Lily is a teacher and ends up with one. I was a disenchanted teacher at the time and didn’t want to doom someone I came to care about to a life time of homework and staff meetings. I came up with another ending that was a little better, but, dang it. I wanted ESCAPE! Something different, for me anyway. What? Who? An actor-nah. A movie director. Named… Charlie…last name…um, ah…Winston? That’s the one. I had no idea how involved Lily would get in filmmaking and I knew little about it. I enjoyed the research. By that point, I had a lot of Lily figured out, but as Charlie revealed himself, there was a lot there to challenge Lily and himself.
I was never really one to pay much attention to filmmaking and actors, only watching movies casually and not going to theaters much. But that changed. Besides creating the characters, learning about cinema had been a very rewarding consequence of writing APP.
As Lily heals and with Charlie's encouragement, she falls back in love with the arts she used to live for and regains a life of her own. At first I thought Charlie's behavior was cliché, but as an addiction it adds a deep element to his character and the plot, plus a challenge for Lily that can span three books of the series titled Lilyland.
What was your favorite part of writing Another Place on the Planet?
I liked getting to know the characters as they told me who they are. Also, writing about Lily and Charlie's blooming romance as well as their fights was fun. Most of the secondary characters showed themselves well to me, too. These fake people burrowed into my mind and refuse to leave.
Is Another Place on the Planet at all autobiographical?
No. Nothing that happens in the book has happened to me. Probably the closest would be my intense involvement in theater when I was in college. I took courses, had work-study jobs and in some way or the other participated in every aspect of a show from running the box office to directing to important roles on stage. Like Lily regrets not pursuing her music, I sometimes wish I would have stayed involved in theater or gone to art school.
Are you working on anything else?
You bet! I’m working on the first draft of Places Dark and Bright, the second book of Lilyland. Also, I’m on the second draft of What Doesn’t Kill You, another story with a foot in Hollywood, but it’s not related to APP. I figured I did all that research, why not use it. Plus, it involves costume design and dressmaking, two areas I have experience in. I hope one of the books is ready for release later this year. I’m also diddling with a screenplay with the working title It All Works Out.
Do have any advice for someone who wants to write?
I do. Start now, don’t wait. I wish I wouldn’t have listened to some voice in me that said, “You can’t write because you hate planning and making outlines.” That was how fear disguised itself to me. There are millions of resources online and lots of authors eager to help new writers learn the craft. Whether you want to publish or write to entertain yourself or record your family’s history, there’s a place for you. Get started!
Blurb -- Another Place on the Planet
When Lily takes the first step into a life she has yet to remake for herself, Charlie is there. A man with his own grief, is he right for her future?
Their relationship blossoms into romance. Based on her unenviable past as a victim of spousal abuse, Charlie invites her to work as technical consultant on the film he is directing. Although she thrives on the film set, her relationship with Charlie doesn’t because of the addiction he is finally recognizing. When he makes a devastating choice, Lily is presented with her own choices and challenges. With the support of new friends and dedication to the film project, she flourishes beyond her expectations and proves to herself she can be successful on her own. All she needs to find out is if Charlie wants a place in her life.