Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Q/A's that made me think

© Marta Stephens 2008 all rights reserved

I just finished answering the questions to the third interview this month. I enjoy giving interviews and yes, even though the goal is to get some added exposure for my books, what I like most about them is that sometimes the questions force me to think about a process or to put a feeling or belief that I hadn't vocalized into words.

One such question was asked a few months after my first book, SILENCED CRY, was released. How much of me is in my book?

I can safely say that I’ve never dealt in drugs, never killed anyone, I was never arrested, and I’ve never worked in law enforcement. Still, I can’t imagine a writer not bleeding a little bit into their books with what I’d call human experiences; grief, anger, joy, fear, resentment, worry, suspicion—everyone can relate to those feelings. I dug deep into my own emotions in order to understand how and why my characters acted and reacted the way they did in SILENCED CRY. At times, it took some doing to step into the antagonists’ skin and to look at the world from their perspective. I think there’s something to be said about the writer’s belief system too and how it affects the plot and the characters’ behaviors. As much as I tried to step back away from my own viewpoint, I think a part of me snuck in between the lines.

Another question had to do with starting a writing career in my 50's. Turning 50 was one of the most liberating experiences of my life. Let's face it, ladies, we all know what our 20's were about -- hair, make-up, cloth, dating, and friends. But under that happy go lucky dispositon the pressure was always on. Possibly some leftover anxiety from our teens--the need to be accepted. Wedding bells rang at 25 and before I knew it, life had slipped me into the blurred years--my 30's. A time for raising children, home improvements, PTA meetings, science projects, and house breaking pets. My 40's weren't much different. Our children's outings and toys got a lot more expensive and somewhere in there I nursed a career and got a degree. So the best way I can explain how I felt when I hit the big 5-0 is to imagine holding your breath under water until your lungs feel as if they could burst then rushing up for that first gulp of air. It was finally time for me which of course led to my writing.

So what would I say to other baby boomers interested in pursuing a dream? Go for it! No matter how small, large, or unattainable the dream may seem, it’s always within reach if you want it badly enough. People can find a million and one excuses for why they haven’t accomplish a goal—age shouldn’t be one of them.

Go on, crawl out of that comfort zone, feel the edge of an uncharted path beneath you feet, and move forward. Life is a series of stepping stones, each leading to a new challenge and the next level of development. The jagged edge that trips some people is the fear of the unknown. “Should I stop while I’m ahead, or move on?” Regardless of the decision, twelve months from now you’ll be a year older. The question is, will you be a year older and adding to your list of excuses or will you be on your way to living a dream?

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Marta Stephens writes crime mystery/suspense. SILENCED CRY is available online at familiar shops such as all the Amazons, Barnes & Noble, Borders, Books-a-Million, and Powells. Other locations include, but are not limited to those listed on her website.

Honorable Mention, 2008 New York Book Festival
Top Ten, 2007 Preditors and Editors Reader Poll (mystery)

Look for THE DEVIL CAN WAIT in the fall, 2008.


s.w. vaughn said...

Excellent post, Marta - and how inspiring! The best part is, this can apply to anyone, at any age... whether you're 20 or 80!

Kim Smith said...

Writing is timeless, Marta. And so many older writers have more of a wealth of experience to draw from!

Thanks for posting this... *kim is sneaking away to write*

Marta Stephens said...

My friends and co-workers thought I was nuts when I told them I couldn't wait to turn 50. Now to have my "wealth of experience" and to be 20 again! LOL Always a dreamer.

Unknown said...

Very well said. I think the hardest thing for a writer to do is to think and sound like someone completely different than themselves. The best way I know to learn those 'voices' is to read a lot of different type of writing and pay attention to how other writers write different voices.

Great post!

Marta Stephens said...

Hey,Chad! Learning a character's voice takes time and so do his or her mannerisms.

I found that whenever I couldn't quite "see" a character in action (thinking, confused, angry, scared, anxious, eye & hand movements, etc.) I considered which actor the character reminded me of and then I watched one of his or her movies and studied their mannerisms.

Once I have a picture in my head, it's easier to put into words. Thanks for stopping by!

Aaron Paul Lazar said...

I just realized I didn't actually type my response here, just thought it. LOL. Great piece! I loved turning 50, am now 55, and find it the most amazing and satisfying time of life. Just have to keep moving to keep the body flexible and healthy. Helps the brain, too. ;o)

Your idea about collecting beats through watching movies (or people) is wonderful. I've been keeping a list now, whenever I come in contact with anyone or watch a movie. There are many more things to do than "nod" and "smile." LOL. They were my favorite defaults before I met you!