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Saturday, 21 August 2010

Sharon Dwyer, Author Interview

Sharon Dwyer describes herself as your average person filling up her own personal space in today’s exciting world. She’s immersed herself in books from a very young age. Traveled to exotic locales and fought for the good side in the land of words written by those who crafted a story that enthralled and entertained.
She earned a degree in nursing but soon discovered a restlessness and moved on. After receiving a degree in engineering, she worked in energy analysis, battling that male oriented world. Next came an assault on the auto industry in the retail sector as a finance director. Several different jobs in-between she says are not worth mentioning.
Eventually, she found her calling writing fiction. There, she takes rambling thoughts and reassembles them into a story she hopes readers will enjoy. She finds it truly exciting to cruise along with her central character and discover new areas of the book coming not from her own conceptions, but riding the story that evolves through her characters.
SA: Tell us about For Benny in a few sentences.
SD: For Benny is about a mothers perseverance in a promise she made to her son. One that helps her hold on to her sanity.
SA: What qualities do you need to be a successful writer?
SD:  Insanity? No, really I think to be a successful writer you need to keep writing. You need to enjoy being alone and working without the benefits of having others there with you. You are your own boss. No one is going to be standing over your shoulder pushing you to finish something. And you must have persistence to keep going after rejections, suggestions, and frustrations.
SA: What is your working method?
SD: I get an idea and start typing. Both of my books , If Truth Be Known and For Benny, were written like that. But the one I am currently editing, I wrote each chapter on an index card, start to finish, and worked from that. I keep notes on the cards of things I want to add as I am working on the book. I never go back and edit previous chapters, or even pages before I type “The End”. The story comes so fast, I don’t like to take time and go back over what I have already written. It takes up too much of my time – holds me back from completing the story. Then comes the editing and revisions. I’ve been known to take out as much as 100+ pages on my rewrites.
SA: What is the single biggest mistake made by beginners to writing?
SD: They forget that the reader doesn’t know what was in the writers head while they wrote, so, consequently  the writer leaves out a lot of information and the reader misses so much of the story. For instance, we as writers know that a trip down the side of a mountain, in  a rain storm, in a horse drawn wagon, is full of danger and thrills. But unless the writer lets the reader know what all those dangers and thrills are, it will always just be a trip from one point to the other. The devil is in the details – so they say, and are correct. We have to set the stage for the scene and give the reader everything we as writers see in our mind while we write the story.
SA: How did you come to write this particular book?
SD: For Benny is about road rage. I got so tired about hearing all these stories in the media where they only talked about the person who committed the act and never about the families of the victims. I wrote this as I envisioned what I think I would have (and many other) liked to do in this particular case. It became a passion to get it out into the public’s hands. We need awareness on a grander scale to beat this scourge in today’s society.
SA: If you have a favourite character in your novel, why that particular one?
SD: I love Deke, and so do a lot of my readers. He is someone who we all would like to know – man or woman.
SA: How can people buy your book(s)?
SD: For Benny is available right now through http://www.publishamerica.net/product92348.html - available in hardback, paperback and soft-cover. It came out last month.
If Truth Be Known is available at www.amazon.com  and www.amazon.com.uk in soft-cover and kindle.
SA: To what extent are grammar and spelling important to a writer?
SD: In the first draft –not at all. In the final version almost more important that the story. If there is bad spelling and poor grammar you will never get it read past the first couple of pages. If the spelling and grammar is excellent, then the reader will keep reading in spite of the story line.
SA: How much revision of your MS do you do before you send it off?
SD: Hours and hours. I want it to be a good as I can make it. Like I said - in my first book – If Truth Be Known – I cut out over 100 pages, rewrote several new chapters, and threw away the prolog.
SA: Where and when is your novel set and why did you make these specific choices?
SD: It takes place  today in Connecticut. I was born and raised for my first eight years there and love New England.  As for the “when” it was because of all the cases of road rage going on, which shows what type of society we live in.
SA: To what extent do you think genre is useful in the publishing world?
SD: I would think it would help in marketing, but I believe it puts too much burden on writers to pigeon hole their work. Certain agents only represent a small group of genres. Some publishers only publish certain genres. It has made it difficult for a lot of writers.
SA: What are your writing habits?
SD: My writing habits vary as to what is going on in my life at the moment. Best case is I get up, grab a cup of coffee and still pajama clad,  park myself in front of the computer and not get up until I don’t have anything else to write that day, whether it is five pages or fifty.  Most recently, I grab a few hours in the afternoon and make the best of it. I read the last chapter and start typing where I left off – no revisions or editing.
SA: How do you know where to begin any given story?
SD: Where the action starts!!!!!  So many writers want you to know the persons entire history before getting to the story. It is boring – most are not any different than our own lives, that is until something happens to change all that and then we get into the real story and what happens, which I hope is not the same as most people’s lives. All this other information may be useful and interesting to the author but usually not the reader. There may be instances where it would be crucial to the story line in some works, such as vampires and such, but not in most stories.
SA: What sort of displacement activities keep you from actually writing?
SD: Family commitments. I take care of my elderly father and his needs come first right now.
SA: Do you have support, either from family and friends or a writing group?
SD: For sure a writing group, they can be brutally honest.  My family and friends are supportive to a point since they have no idea of what it takes to write a story start to finish and be good enough for strangers to want to read it.
SA: Is presentation of the MS as important as most agents and publishers suggest?
SD: Absolutely. As with any other profession there are standards and rules we all adhere to for conformity.  The manuscript is representing YOU. Neatness, using standard guidelines, attention to details, they all say something about the writer when we can not be there ourselves. 
SA: How long does it normally take you to write a novel?
SD: It really depends on the story and my own personal circumstances at the time. Truth took no time to write but FOREVER to edit and revise since it was my first and I was learning as I went. For Benny took only a couple of months including editing. My current book, Dirt, has taken almost two years because of family commitments.
SA: What are your inspirations?
SD: The entire world. Whatever I see or hear brings a story to mind. I just have to decide if it’s a story someone else wants to read.
SA: If there’s a single aspect to writing that really frustrates you, what is it?
SD: Getting an agent to read my work.
SA: Do you think writing is a natural gift or an acquired skill?
SD: Both. A writer has to have a natural gift of story telling, a wonder of the world and all that goes on in it – or as in sci-fi, beyond it. But even if we have this storytelling, we still need to learn the skill of putting the story together correctly. I know there are some famous writers that break all the rules and are still hailed as true artists, the rest of us have to make it the hard way.
SA: What are you writing now?
SD: My current work is titled “Dirt”. It takes place during the early 1930’s in the panhandle of Oklahoma during the great dust bowl. Dirt tells the story of a young boy and his sister who try to make it on their own during this horrendous time in our history. I love this story because of how it came about. I had moved in with my father to take care of him and we spent hours talking about him growing up during the Great Depression. The more we talked, the more a story began forming. By incorporating some of my fathers history in the book, I was able to keep so many memories alive.
SA: Is there any aspect of writing that you really enjoy?
SD: I love coming up with a story and knowing it start to finish before I write anything.
SA: Do you have a website or a blog that readers can visit?
SD: Yes. I am new to blogging so I have only recently joined a blog group .blogbooks.com. My website is www.sldwyer.com. I tried using blogspot.com but couldn’t figure out what people really want to read about in a blog. I suppose if I was an internationally known bestseller I would have more to say.
SA: Given unlimited resources, what would be your ideal writing environment?
SD: In a cabin in the mountains of New England with a brook outside my window.
SA: Where do you actually write?
SD: At a desk in my office at home in central Florida with a bush outside my window. That’s probably why I get so much done – nothing to distract my attention.
Word of the Day is divorced from the post that precedes it and produced in response to a request from a follower to provide just such a service.
Word of the Day; ka – the spiritual part of a human being that survives death, also thought to be able to inhabit a statue in the early Egyptian culture. ‘So, Cynthia, is the promiscuous old devil dead at last? Yes, but his ka clearly resides in next door’s cat since it will insist on having every jill in the district.’
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