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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 14/10/2016 (1467 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
I kind of fell into the journalism game and instantly realized I loved it. What attracted you to writing?
I’ve always been a storyteller. If something can be told in 100 words instead of 10, I’m your woman! Sometimes people’s eyes glaze over, my husband being one of them.
I wrote poetry and short stories in high school and flirted with writing a novel, but that didn’t come to fruition until later. My work as a child therapist with abused kids meant writing reports that said the important things and dismissed the rest, so that honed my craft as well.
What is it about telling stories that appeals to you? I know some writers say they really have no choice in the matter — that they’re compelled to write. Are you one of those?
I am indeed compelled to write. I have two quite separate muses — unless they choose to acknowledge one another. I write a lot. Hours and hours and hours of the day and night. I read a great deal, some for personal enjoyment, some for research.
My mom once started to ask me — she hesitated, and I finished the question for her — if the great Canadian novel was inside me just waiting to be told. My answer was an emphatic ‘no.’ I love journalism because it’s fact-based. And I know I have an imagination. But fiction just isn’t in me. So I’ve always been fascinated by folks like you who create stories and characters out of thin air. Do you have a process? Are you inspired by real-life occurrences, or people you know or encounter, that you then weave into a tale? I’d really like to understand where the ideas, and the method of interconnecting them, come from.
My husband and I run a campground in Ninette and I’m surrounded by people who unwittingly offer me fodder for the human dynamic I try to cover in my books, but I would never disrespect them in that manner. The same applies to anyone I’ve known or worked with. I do, however, borrow some first names for my characters. Sometimes I smile when we’re chatting and I remember whose name they share.
A storyline enters my head, whether it be from a real life event or inspired by a compilation of many things, and I’m off and running. There are writers who plot, blocking out their work. Not me. I’m a total pantser, writing by the seat of my pants until it’s all down. Mostly, things flow, and I can’t type quickly enough. Then I go back and structure the work. And then I have dry spells and wonder if I’ll ever write again.
Dry spells, and the fear that they’re permanent, plague many writers, from what I understand. But obviously, you’ve no shortage of ideas or creativity, since you’ve written 45 books! What is the ‘human dynamic’ you try to cover?
As far as dry spells, I find the trick is not to push it, but to live life. And then, quite suddenly, the tap turns on again.
The human dynamic I strive to communicate is essentially the manner in which people relate and respond to one another in any given situation. Nothing superficial, but rather writing deep point of view so the reader is immersed in the work and affected in one way or another.
What was the first book you wrote? And what prompted you to write it?
The first book I wrote was "The Time," my self-published book. It’s a post-apocalyptic/dystopian work. I sat on it for a long time, at a loss as to where to submit it, hence the self-publishing. It’s totally different than any of my other books. Not a hint of romance but it does feature my usual strong, determined heroine. I was driven to write it by my muse(s).
I have to ask this question: Someone told me you once wrote porn! Is that true? What led to that? Are you uncomfortable having people know you wrote that type of story? I guess the answer must be ‘yes’ because you used a pseudonym, one you’re still not ready to reveal.
I wrote a dark erotica book later in my career — my second book — and I know now that it was my way of dealing with the tumultuous chaos and vicarious trauma that lurked in my brain. I feel like I’ve taken long looks into the darkness and being able to turn that around and write an HEA — a happily ever after, was cathartic.
Someone once asked me about the erotica — did I write like FSOG Fifty Shades of Grey? My response: better, and before. Not a surfeit of confidence or arrogance, but please … Having said that, I tip my hat to that author who shone the spotlight of exposure on that particular genre. It opened up the marketplace to people who didn’t even realize there were hot, sexy books out there — different than the Harlequin of my mother’s generation. And I’m not talking about porn.
Did you write more than one book of ‘dark erotica?’
Certainly. But as I worked through my angst, the darkness lessened, and I now create more balanced work.
Where did you get your inspiration for the erotica? You alluded to ‘chaos’ and ‘trauma’ that ‘lurked’ in your brain, but why was the outlet dark erotica? Was it healing somehow? Or just a very human trait that many of us try to suppress but you gave voice to?
I can’t speak for anyone else, Diane. We humans possess varying traits, but as a colleague pointed out, there is such a thing as vicarious trauma and I wasn’t immune. I had no idea, having lived with it and managed it, until I retired. Then I felt the impact. Writing dark erotica was extremely cathartic, in that regardless of the darkness in my writing, consent reigns supreme.
However, that’s my private pen name, at least until I can distance myself from my former career a little more.
Peri Elizabeth Scott is my lighter side, a muse who decided contemporary, historical and sci-fi romance felt pretty good to write, with lots of angst and that HEA, of course.
Why do you use pen names instead of your real name? If I had a published book, I’d be thrilled to bits and want my name all over it.
All the author and writing groups I belong to suggest using a pen name. I certainly sought privacy with my first pen name, but it wasn’t so much about that when I chose Peri Elizabeth Scott. Instead, it was a result of being in those groups. I don’t know anyone there who uses their own name, and come to think of it, a large number of authors have a pen name.
So what’s next for you?
I’ve got two more books under contract and a request for the second in a series, and each time I’m as surprised as the first, that a publisher wanted to take a chance on me. And that my books actually sell.I never read reviews, because I’ve discovered anonymity brings out the assholery in people. And readers can be scathing or take the opportunity to grind an axe. The shenanigans behind reviews would shock you.
I’m not arrogant enough to think that I can’t benefit from input or suggestions, but someone famous said that no two people ever read the same book, and mostly it’s an emotional reaction I receive — good or bad. Each to his own and you’ll never please all the people all the time. I’m looking for a response to the craft. Did it flow, were there unfinished plot threads, were there spelling or grammatical errors?
An author is really nothing without a good editor and for the most part, I’ve lucked out, especially recently. A professional relationship can also be a friendship, something that surprises me after everything I was taught.
Being in demand — I mean, 45 books with requests for more indicates you are — must feel great. And this is none of my business, but is it lucrative?
Authors, unless you’re one of the big guys, will never be wealthy, so don’t see publishing a book whether it be with a publisher or self-publishing — as the road to a quick buck. Not only is the competition fierce, with anyone who can apply to Amazon’s publishing platform, for example, assured of being a published author, but so many authors are now working for peanuts. Like 99 cents a book online. A 12-author or 24-author book for the same. Great for readers, right now. When people quit writing because they can’t cover the costs of putting a book out there, where will readers be then? I’ll put away my rant now.
For me, it’s more about weaving a story that some others enjoy, and both slaying the demons in my head and releasing my imagination. And not about the painful and confusing issue of marketing.
I’m on Facebook, two pages worth to manage, and I’ve actually tweeted a few times. And that’s enough. Book signings involve travel, which I hate, and being terrified no one will even stop by your table, but I overcame that a few times and enjoyed meeting my readers a lot. I love to get emails and posts from them, too. Far more honest and open than many reviews.
The biggest benefit from becoming a published author is the people I’ve met along the way, many of them not physically. The few I met face-to-face are wonderful human beings and I connect with them constantly. One of them is like a daughter to me, and a terrific author. I co-authored a book with one and am in the process of writing a series with another. The rest are supportive and have proven trustworthy, something that’s precious in this field. I met a woman at a conference who likes my work, and she recently offered to beta read for me. I took the leap of faith. Someone who has therapy dogs can’t be wrong. Good beta readers are precious.
Tell me a bit about your first novel.
"The Time," my self-published book, was the crossover between my two muses, and something I worked on intermittently. Not a hint of romance but a strong, determined heroine — what I appreciate in mature women.
Essentially, "The Time" takes place after events that cause a meltdown in the Middle East and a worldwide oil shortage, and all the things that transpire after technology comes to a screeching halt. Survival of the fittest comes to mind.
My heroine is definitely surviving, although why, she isn’t sure, other than she has one family member left alive — that she knows of — to live for. She reconnects with her son and in turn brings down terrible danger on the group of people he leads because of an event that transpired earlier.
"The Time" is told from one point of view, the heroine’s, which is more difficult than one would think, and follows her as she reunites with her son, relives some terrible times in her history, and finds a way to keep him and his people safe.
A considerable number of words are dedicated to her surroundings and what the world has become, as well as a description of the people, who never change, despite the situation. There will always be the violent, the greedy, the kind and caring, the brilliant, those not, the hard workers, the innate leaders and the politicos — the latter two not necessarily being the same.
I’ve been asked a number of times if the book could become a movie, like for television, but writing a screenplay defeats me, at least at this point. Formatting is a really big deal, and tech savvy I am definitely not.
So you retired from your career in social work, only to become, it seems, a full-time author. Do you think you’ll ever give that up?
I suppose I’ll write until my muses tire out or don’t return from the vacations they hare off on. I don’t get as freaked out about that as I did. If there’s a story to be told, then it will write itself in time.
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