Friday, September 6, 2013

I Did Everything Wrong at First--An Interview with Award-Winning Novelist Lynne Spreen

After a lifetime as a corporate suit, putting all her creativity into keeping employees from fighting with each other, Lynne Spreen, author of the debut novel, Dakota Blues, was finally able to cut back to part-time and write. Unfortunately Lynne discovered that, for all her brilliance in composing corporate memos, she knew almost nothing about constructing a novel.  

She says, "Dakota Blues was my first novel and I did everything wrong at first, which necessitated having to go back and rethink everything a million times. Or at least it seemed like a million. Maybe only a thousand.  I spent years learning--attending classes, conferences, and reading books and articles." 

Dakota Blues went on to receive the 2013 Next Generation Indie Book Finalist Award for Women's Issues.

Lynne shares her experience as a new writer who battled the learning curve of a first novel--and came out successfully. 

What grabbed you most about the story, as the writer? What was the hardest to write? 

I love it when people go one way their entire lives, and then are faced with some kind of life-changing circumstance, a fork in the road.  One way leads to a continuation of the same thing, even though now they're more aware of what's going on; the other leads to a scary new way of doing things.  

That's what I enjoy writing about, and that's why I wrote Dakota Blues.  
The hardest to write were the sex scenes. The problem is, my mother is still alive, alert and reading. And also I have grown kids.

Tell us about your main character, Karen Grace.  What steps did you go through, as a writer, to get to know her and put her convincingly on the page? 

Here's what I would tell newer writers about characters:  I now psychoanalyze my characters before I start writing them into the story.  

For the main character, it goes something like this:
* What is the big mistake my character is making? How does that mess up her life?
*  Why does she do that? Why doesn't she see how it's hurting or limiting her?
*  What might happen to open her eyes? who might come along to help her?
*  What are her choices, and how will she resist them?
*  What foolish mistakes might she make on the way to enlightenment?
What's your writing routine at home?   
I wish I could say I have one. Instead, I have an interesting life. An out-of-control life, wherein I sometimes lie in bed in the wee hours thinking I will never get control of my productivity, but the joy of a good husband, grandbabies, and a mother who is still a lot of fun and only lives four blocks away, compensates.
Also, the writing life is more than repairing to one's ivory tower each morning to write. Much time is spent reading and reviewing books, keeping up with the craft, and doing speeches and book events.  
Plus every writer these days, whether traditionally or self-published, has the same need:   to spend a certain amount of time every day engaging with the larger world online.  It takes time, but it's all very enjoyable and stimulating.  
I'd compare it to a morning when you're all coffeed up and the morning news is compelling. You're having a blast! But is anybody doing the laundry or grocery shopping? No.
Anything else you'd like to share about your writing?   
Only that I couldn't live without it. Even if nobody ever read it--although that would be sad, because I enjoy the feeling of community that results--I would still write. I think you have to have that kind of passion to be able to create something that resonates with your readers.

Be sure to check out Dakota Blues, as well as Lynne's blog, Any Shiny Thing, and her Amazon author page.

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