Glynis, thanks so much for having me on your blog.
What is your genre? Why did you choose it?
Tough question, as I spread myself across multiple genres. I started writing historical romance novels after telling myself over and over, “I can do better than this!” to whatever I was reading. From there I branched out to fantasy, action/adventure, spiritual, satire, contemporary romance, western, biography and paranormal. Let’s see, have I missed anything? I generally say that I’ve got something for everyone.
As for choosing a genre, I think it’s more that the genres choose me. I never know when I finish one book what the next one will be. I seem to “lie fallow” for a bit, maybe days, weeks or months, and then the next story will hit me upside the head and drag me off to my computer. It’s always a surprise what story wins out.
Do you work on more than one manuscript at a time?
Sometimes. More often I have two or three going at a time and bounce back and forth between them. I’ve found that if I get stuck on one, I can go to another and work on that for a while, then bounce back to the first with a fresh mind. Once I’ve gotten past the half-way point with one, I tend to stick to that until the end.
Do you work with a writing/critique group?
I do not. I’m constantly reading that it’s a must-do for any writer, but I’ve never been inclined and don’t really see the need. I fully understand that we writers live in our heads, isolated and alone, and it would be helpful to have other writers look at our work and make sure we’re not going off the rails a bit, but I’ve always been very self-sufficient and don’t actually have any plans to change that anytime soon. I do, however, have a cadre of writer friends who are kind enough to beta-read and offer suggestions, and I very much appreciate their willingness to help.
Can you remember your first reading book?
No. I started reading before I started school, since my mother was a teacher, but I don’t recall those early books. I know I read Curious George, Dr. Suess, Ruth Stiles Gannett’s dragon books, things like that. The first story I wrote was about bunny rabbits. At the time, my parents thought it was cute, but of course back then, Watership Down was still a long ways off. I was just way ahead of my time!
Do you nibble on snacks while writing? If so, what is your chosen treat?
What have you got? No, really, I don’t have a particular favorite. I munch on pretzels, grape tomatoes, jaw breakers. I have to be very careful and just give myself a certain amount because when I’m writing, I pay absolutely no attention to how many times I reach for a snack and if I had five pounds of pretzels on my desk, I’d most likely eat them all. Writing blocks out awareness of everything around me—time, people calling my name, whether or not my stomach is full.
It is a danger area I have to watch, the reaching out and munching!
Tidy desk or a bombsite? Describe your writing area with us.
Hm, is there an in-between? I’m a piler; I have multiple piles of papers on different sections of my desk. It looks more chaotic than it is. I can actually find something pretty quickly just by knowing what pile it’s in, but for a neat-freak, it probably looks pretty ugly. People tell me I’m organized, so obviously it works for me.
My first two books were published by a NY house back in the 1980s. The next three books were published by small presses during the time that large houses were getting more cautious about taking on little-known writers and the small prints were picking up some of the slack. When my first two books went out of print, I wanted to find a way to keep them viable and published them through iUniverse, one of the only such options at the time. When I finally discovered true self-publishing through CreateSpace, Amazon’s self-pub subsidy, I was a happy camper. I’ve now published 10 of my 11 books myself, and the rights of my last traditionally published book have just reverted back to me, so I’ll be putting a new version of that one out, as well. This is an amazing time to be a writer because suddenly all the chains and blinkers have come off, the gatekeepers have lost their hold and we have a zillion options instead of just a handful. Pretty exciting stuff.
Who would you say have been the three most influential authors in your reading/writing life?
Tough question, getting it down to just three. In school, I always loved Poe and H. G. Wells. I remember getting dinged on book reports because I always read fiction; wouldn’t read non-fiction unless I absolutely had to. Now, of course, I read quite a bit of non-fiction, but the flights of fancy will always be my first choice. My favourite author of all time is John Irving, particularly A Prayer for Owen Meany. I believe this to be the absolute best book on the planet, and I re-read it regularly both for enjoyment and for inspiration. I find that when I read a good book, it inspires me to write better, so it’s always a toss-up to keep reading a great story or go sit at the computer and write my own.
What advice would you like to share with other writers/authors with regard to preparing a manuscript?
Strive for perfection. Yeah, I know, it’s rarely achieved, but I’ve seen too many manuscripts and published books that were sloppy and not well edited. It’s not just a matter of editing and polishing the story, but simple copy-editing: spelling mistakes, punctuation errors and incorrect word usage or sentence structure. When I run into that in a book, I generally assume the author was either lazy, unaware, or in too much of a hurry to publish and didn’t take the time to catch everything. This translates to disrespect for the reader, because in the end, we’re the ones having to go back and re-read and try to figure out what the author was really trying to say. When I write, I want my words to carry the reader along with no effort whatsoever; I want my words to be almost transparent to the reader as they imagine the story unfolding in their minds. If they keep tripping over errors and unclear writing, they’re not engrossed in the story anymore, and if it happens too often, they may just toss the book aside as requiring too much work to read. And I wouldn’t blame them a bit.
If the movie rights to your novels are purchased, who would you like to play your main characters?
That’s really tough, since I have so many books and so many characters! There are a few, though, that fit my idea of what my characters look like: Olivia Wilde for Elly in Remember Me, Robert Blake (in his prime) for Ross Garvey in The Appaloosa Connection, Natalie Portman for the ghost Janie Dobbs in my latest novel, Stone’s Ghost. I know one thing: it would be great fun to have a book made into a movie and see the characters come to life.
I was on my way to the supermarket, when … Do you have a tale to tell relating to an everyday, boring event?
Here in Arizona, we have 5 seasons: fall, winter, spring and 2 summers—the dry and the wet. We have a monsoon season that ushers in high humidity and almost daily thunderstorms, which can be quite spectacular. One ordinary summer afternoon I was sitting in the living room reading quietly. The sky was mostly clear with a few clouds over the near mountains, but basically just sunny and hot. I almost jumped out of my skin when a horrendous crash of thunder reverberated through the house at the same time as a blinding flash of light. After dropping my book on the floor, I got up very cautiously and went to look out the back door, fully expecting to see a huge smoking crater in my back yard. I was stunned to see no evidence of the bomb I was sure had gone off. Everything looked completely normal. After looking all around, I finally calmed down enough to get back to my reading, but very shortly heard fire trucks screaming my way. They stopped in front of the house right across the street from me. I went outside to talk to some of the neighbors gathered there and found out the lightning bolt had struck the house, travelling through the electrical system and eventually starting a fire in the dryer in the garage. I was feeling particularly lucky that the bolt had not struck my house as I initially thought, but that sense of luck only lasted a short while. Through the course of the evening, I discovered that the strike had fried my phone, my answering machine, my TV and my computer. Luckily my computer could be fixed and recovered, but everything else had to be replaced. I guess I can truthfully say I have experienced a bolt from the blue!
Gracious, a lucky escape and day for you, Melissa!
Melissa Bowersock is an eclectic, award-winning author who writes in a variety of fiction and non-fiction genres: biography, contemporary, western, action, romance, fantasy and spiritual. She lives in a small desert community in southeastern Arizona with her husband and an Airedale terrier. She also writes under the pen name Amber Flame.
Amazon Author page
Stone’s Ghost : PURCHASE
Matthew Stone doesn’t believe in ghosts … until he meets one. He owns a successful business in Lake Havasu, Arizona, home to the famed London Bridge that was brought over stone by stone and rebuilt over the Colorado River. He has a gorgeous girlfriend, a doting mother, and more money than he needs, but no time for stories about the ghosts who were transplanted from England with the famed bridge. When a chance encounter with a female ghost leads to unexpected friendship, Matt and the ghost are forced to rely on each other as they confront the pasts that haunt them.
Thanks for sharing, Melissa.