Welcome back!! Each week, another author offers to answer roughly 10 questions of their choice out of a list of about 30. This week, I’m featuring Fran Pergamo and I must admit, many of her answers resemble what mine would be to the same questions.
‘The Healing’ is the novel that earned four awards for independently published books.
IDI – Fran, when was your Eureka moment?
FP – There was no Eureka moment. I’ve been writing stories since elementary school, almost by compulsion.
IDI – Something every writer is asked to the point of exhaustion – where do you get your ideas?
FP – Sometimes I pick a setting first. When I was in my twenties, and my children were very young. I used to pick a place I wanted to visit and a time period I wanted to study. It gave me a lifeline to the outside world. I figured if I never got published, at least I learned something along the way. After i pick a setting, I think of what I want the story to say. But, I always have to form a plot around a love story. For me, it’s what gives a story life.
IDI – Are your story’s plot or character driven?
FP – My stories are character driven. I always have to care about a character before I can care about the story, and that has been my literary taste since childhood. Now I write with the same motivation. The character shapes up, and they are at the helm. Sometimes, they take the story in unexpected directions just because they have become so real to me. But, if they’re not real to me, they won’t be real to the reader.
IDI – When people ask why I write, I tell them I’m either very creative or a pathological liar. I think (in part) that writing is almost like being schizophrenic, but without the personalities coming out verbally. I think we ‘become’ the people we write, at least for a time. We have to feel what they feel, think what they think, know what they know… so how can we not ‘be’ them? Agree? Disagree? What are your thoughts?
FP – I agree completely that we become our characters to some degree. I think when readers recognize aspects of our lives in our stories, they assume it’s autobiographical, and I tell them it’s not the case. I explain how the characters are composites and we create them. For me, there is always something I explore a little further when I create a character I love. I am a musician, and I have gone so far as to learn a new instrument after writing about it. Or I immerse myself in a particular culture or time period or style of music to ‘feel’ the characters. That is why I have such eclectic artistic tastes. I love Irish music, British sit-coms and all things Viennese because I put on different skin while writing over the years.
IDI – I’ve heard argument for each side, but when writing, do you outline or sketch the entire book before you feel comfortable enough to begin your draft or do you prefer to fly by the seat of your pants?
FP – I used to fly by the seat of my pants (Hanes, in my case) when I was younger, but after honing the craft of writing over the years, I definitely sketch the book first. Naturally, I miss the days when I was very passionate and adventurous about writing, but I know it’s never good to throw a reader into your own oblivion. Especially when you feel you have a worthy premise. You have to stick to it.
IDI – Pen and paper or computer and Word? The bustle of Barnes & Noble or the quiet of your study? Alone or with a writing group? Tell us, what is your most productive/inspiring setting?
FP – I am definitely a solitary writer. My only company is music (on occasion) to set a mood for a specific scene. Even that is sometimes too distracting and I turn it off. I can’t imagine having a writing group shape my story as I go, although I’m very amenable to making the edits once the creative process is done. I work on a computer in Word, but I started on an old-fashioned Smith-Corona typewriter when I was around eleven.
FP – I would love to write a story set in the Renaissance, but the research would be daunting. I’ve written novels that take place in the 1880’s, and the research was heavy enough. But when my sons were small, I loved studying different eras and places and creating stories in their setting. The only problem I see with genre crossing is that once an author is successful writing a certain style, whether contemporary or historical, it might be a whole new marketing challenge to appeal to another readership. If an author is popular enough to sell on their name alone, then it’s just creative exploration. More power to them!
IDI – What do you find the hardest aspect of writing?
FP – Novels take a lot of mental focus. Authors have to lose themselves in the time, place and characters they are creating. It’s like stepping into another world and coming back, over and over again. Sometimes it’s hard to make the commitment to cross into the created world because you know the real world suffers, but if you don’t cross over, the created world suffers and your story doesn’t ring true.
IDI – Have you ever experienced writer’s block and if so, how do you overcome it?
FP – I have had writer’s block caused by both seasonal biorhythm and chaos in real life. Since I haven’t had to worry about deadlines yet, I don’t push it too much. I find that if I try to force something, I end up re-writing it later anyway. As a matter of discipline, I’ll journal or do some editing on past work.
IDI – Define a great book.
FP – A great book is one that touches people on an intangible level. I believe that stories and characters can cross the lines of time, distance and culture if they embrace the universal nobilities we recognize in all humanity. There is common ground in caring for loved ones and the concept of self-sacrifice. That is why I wrote a book about everyday heroes and the importance of human connection.
IDI – In your opinion, what are the biggest misconceptions new authors have about the publishing industry?
FP – I hate to say it, but I don’t think a lot of authors are prepared for the self-marketing challenge. I know I wasn’t. I just want to go write another book. The fact that authors have to promote themselves through social media, blogging and constant soliciting is a new twist in the literary world. Even traditionally published authors face the same challenge. I have found it puts a definite cramp into the creative energy.
IDI – As a writer, what is the one thing you would like people to know about you?
FP – That I have a lot of good stories to tell about a lot of interesting people, and they all have some sort of universal message. That’s probably at the heart of every writer. I would question a writer’s motives if sharing their stories is not their raison d’etre.
IDI – Thank you so much, Fran for appearing on Ink Drop Interviews. I share in many of your outlooks and it’s always nice to hear the opinions of others. Readers wishing to contact Fran or purchase her book, please follow the links below.
Fran’s website: http://www.francespergamo.com
Buy ‘The Healing': http://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/Frances-pergamo?keyword=Frances pergamo&store=allproducts&view=list
Ink Drop Interviews are conducted by Kathy Reinhart, author of three novels, most recently “Missouri in a Suitcase’ and ‘Lily White Lies’, both available on Smashwords, Amazon for Kindle and all online retailers in paperback.
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Published authors (by any means) interested in appearing on Ink Drop Interviews can contact me at (ladybuggerly at hotmail dot com)
Please join me next week when I talk with Kenyan Smith.