Monday, 18 May 2009

Tangled Roots: Sue's Interview and Geet Mint Competition

Morning kids,

As promised this week I am hosting the muchos talented Sue Guiney.

Sue is a writer, poet, playwright and, occasionally, a teacher of her From Words to Notes workshop. So, obviously, is quite busy and it is this, as well as her wonderful writing which makes this week such a pleasure.

So, without anymore adoing (I know you all love an ado but DK and me spent geet ages putting our questions together and so I want them read. Cos they are mint. Obviously. As are Sue's answers of course)

Me and DK do the Wossy:

1. At what point, or do you at all for that matter, begin thinking about yourself as 'a writer.'?
I wanted to be a writer from the time I was 8 years old, but I didn’t dare start calling myself a writer until I was about 50! I still have trouble saying it out loud as if it’s a title I don’t quite deserve. For me the change came with the publication and production of my poetry play, but I wish that wasn’t the case. I do believe that if you choose to spend your time writing, and if you see the world through those sorts of eyes, then you are a writer. It doesn’t matter how much you’ve published or if you’ve published at all. It’s a testimony to my own hang-ups that I couldn’t apply that to myself.
2. If you're anything like me then completing that (hopefully) final draft was truly glorious. The process immediately after that, so often littered with rejections and hopelessness was not so fun. Can you talk us through how the process went for you?

It was a very long and arduous process but I’ll try to be brief. “Tangled Roots” was actually 2 novels woven together, so I had a first round of “good” rejections (ie publishers who loved it but couldn’t market it for whatever reasons). When I realized that the “sequel” I had been writing was actually part of that same first novel, I pulled the first one and waited until the combo novel was ready to go. We then shopped that around to the “big boys” in New York (my agent — unfortunately now retired — was American) but had the same results. I was getting more disillusioned (not to mention older) by the day, so I eventually gave it to bluechrome to consider. And although he urged me to first show it to larger UK houses, I was fed up and agreed to let him publish it. So it was a real roller coaster of a process spanning several years, with incredible lows of hopelessness, as you mentioned, followed by one or two big highs. But I must admit that now that I’m finishing up my second novel, I’m not expecting the process to be any less arduous this time. But that’s the game, isn’t it?
3. Your book is (as I read it anyway) concerned with what makes us who we are, the quirks of fate and genetics that make up our personalities. Is this a common theme for you? And (a two parter here I'm afraid) what came first? The theme or the story?

It seems that my first impulse for any piece of writing is character rather than theme. I imagine characters and find myself needing to place them into fictional surroundings. The themes follow after, but soon after. There are many themes that run through “Tangled Roots” I think. Many of them appeared during the course of the writing. The theme of identity, though, was indeed the first one that I felt the need to write about. The experience I am having with the novel I am completing now is different, though. When I began to write this one, I understood I would be devoting several years to the project so I knew the theme had to be something important to me, something I felt compelled to address in my own life. So this time, the main character, setting and primary theme all came together at the same time. Once again, the theme of identity is involved, but it takes a back seat to ideas of guilt and responsibility.
And now for the important questions:

1. Fzzzzt?
As often as I can but only in the mornings.
2.Fzzzt fzzzzzzzzt fzt wheeeeeeeeeeze?
Usually not, or at least not that I will admit to.
3. Fzt gurglrgurglrgurgle click?
By hand and surrounded by as much quiet as possible.

Me, personally I'm almost finished Tangled Roots and have been enjoying every page - I'll be treating you to my review toward the end of the week - I know you're all very excited.

But, if you remember from waaaaaaaaay back at the top of the page we've got a competition for you too.

And it's a bit of an odd one.

It will require your writing pencils to be sharpened and your typing fingers to be flexed. It will, I'm sure, also require your big red editing pen to be fully charged and ready to go...

So, here we go:

The Tangled Roots Writing Competition

Right. Sue has, very kindly, offered us descriptions of a number of excerpt from Tangled Roots. She has carefully selected some of her favourite sections and is now putting one of them up for grabs.

What you need to do is to select the excerpt you want to see made downloadable and include it with your entry. The winning entry gets to choose the download.

Simple as.


Cos, you know, I like putting a maximum word count on things. It makes you all work harder.


In no more than 50 words:

Write about an event that sparked a memory or shaped an identity.

How tough is that?

I mean really? That's harsh no?

Entries to please and please include your choice of excerpt from the list below.

1. pp 66-70 John goes to a baseball game with his best friend, Marty, and Marty’s 2 kids. Sitting next to Marty’s 8-year-old son, John finds himself remembering the painful summer of his adolescence when he did nothing but play baseball as a way to avoid the troubles between his parents. 2. pp. 155-160 Grace remembers a special birthday dinner she had alone with her husband in London. Years later she can still recall each dish, each taste, and the important role that meal had in the realization of the shift in her relationship with her husband. 3. pp 233-235 John attends a High Holiday service in Moscow’s old synagogue. Sitting next to his friends and hearing them tell about their ancestors and the generations of their family that had attended that very synagogue, John finds himself reconnected to his own past, a past he had hardly known about. 4. pp 263-267 Grace goes back to her parents old home, her childhood home, to clean it out after her mother’s death. While there she remembers a card game she used to play with her parents and sister, a moment in her childhood that helps her understand who she is as an adult.


SueG said...

Woo hoo, here we go! Thanks again for hosting me, Nik. Can't wait to see where the competition leads us.

DJ Kirkby said...

Like all the questions (esp DK's)and Sue's answers!