Geri Bressler has heard me cry over boyfriends, done my hair for my wedding, commiserated over childrearing and children with special needs, critiqued and beta-read my words, and sent me her own novels and stories to be critiqued. Her first novel, Legacy, is available from Smashwords now.
1. Your professional career arc has been…eclectic. What are some of the most unusual jobs you’ve had?
I was a sign language interpreter for the University of Wyoming. The student I interpreted for was majoring in range management…which meant we had to make up signs for all the different kinds of grass. Turns out there are a LOT of different kinds of grass! Organic chemistry was also a challenge – lots of different alcohols, lots of “original” signs!
2. What is the most misunderstood thing about parents of kids with special needs?
Being the parent of a special-needs kid makes you a cross between Wonder Woman and Mother Theresa. I’ve talked to parents (and normal people, too), who think we never lose our patience, our temper, or our sense of humor, and we are capable of managing all the intricacies of life with therapy appointments and meetings with schools, doctors, and specialists without ever dropping a ball. I can promise that this isn’t true. I have put myself on timeout in the bathroom. I have had to apologize for losing my temper. I have missed enough appointments that the penalty fee is part of my budget. One particularly tough year, I skipped so many parent/teacher conferences that one teacher complimented my husband on his single-parenting skills.
3. Do you think you’ll ever take your parental experiences and re-interpret them as fiction?
Only after the statue of limitations has expired! Kidding! I think as my kids grow into their adult lives, I’ll be more likely to see our lives as literary fodder. I’m too close to it right now, so I see it as my life instead of as something other people might enjoy reading about.
4. What exactly is the “manic chipmunk” and when does it come out?
Oh, the manic chipmunk! The manic chipmunk is the name given to the expression I get on my face in certain situations. It’s a very tight, very wide, and (I’m told) VERY creepy smile that does not include my eyes…which are usually open pretty wide and (I’ve also been told), ice cold. The manic chipmunk shows up when someone does something that seriously ticks me off, but I’m trying really hard to be nice about it.
5. Have you always considered yourself to be a writer, or was there a time in your life when you decided that is what you were?
I’ve always had stories in my head. As a child I had horrible insomnia and an excellent imagination, so I’d lay in bed at night and tell myself stories. Since I only slept a couple of hours a night, my stories were pretty involved! I didn’t realize anyone else would like my stories until eighth grade, when a teacher asked us to write a story. She asked me to stop and speak with her the day after we turned them in. I assumed I was in trouble (trust me, it was a natural assumption), but instead she told me that my story was the best thing she’d read in a long time. When I left that classroom, my feet were about two feet off the ground!
6. What changes have you made in your writing life in the last year?
I’ve been a lot more intentional about my writing. Instead of waiting to see if something comes to me, I’ve tried to spend some time writing every day. Not all of it is good—in fact, quite a lot is very bad, but it’s made me work at improving what I write and how I write it.
7. What is it about the characters in Legacy that they are so meaningful to you?
I love the relationship that Betsy, the main character, has with her grandmother and her best friend, Moira. Moira is the kind of fun, endlessly loyal best friend that I think a lot of us either have and treasure, or wish we had. And of course, Ryan is a sweet and sexy guy who knows how to appreciate someone as sweet and loving as Betsy.
8. Would you classify Legacy as a Romance novel?
That’s a hard one! It has romance in it, but that relationship isn’t the main focus. The story really centers around Betsy’s struggle to live her own life, and create some healthy boundaries with her family, which is something I think a lot of us can relate to.
9. During the editing process, were any changes suggested that you were reluctant to make?
One of the first suggestions I received (one that was repeated by several people), was that Betsy’s mother was just a litte TOO unsympathetic. And of course, I was thinking…well of COURSE she is! But after letting it sit for a few weeks and coming back to it, I realized she really did come across as just plain evil–like, kitten kicking evil! I needed her to be self-absorbed and manipulative, but I didn’t want her to be a caricature either. I went back and added more background to help explain her a little better, and I definitely liked the result.
10. Why did you decide to self-publish instead of taking the traditional route?
Mostly because of that question about ROMANCE. I knew I wouldn’t fit neatly into the romance category (no sex), and it didn’t fit particularly well into the “chick lit” category either. The more I thought about it the more I started to think that finding an agent (nevermind a publisher), when I didn’t even have a clearly defined category was going to be very hard. When I received an e-reader for my birthday, I discovered a whole world of books (some good, some…well, not so good), that had been published by the authors without the guidance of an agent or a publisher. I started looking at self-publishing, and realized that it’s no longer the domain of weird little rough paper publications with a noticable lack of proofreading or formatting. With the advent of e-readers, and the availability of sites like Smashwords, self-publishing has become a reasonable alternative to traditional hardcopy publishing.
11. How scary was it to hit “publish” that first time?
Almost as terrifying as bringing home our son for the first time! That’s my work; I spent a year agonizing over every single word, comma, and period. What if no one likes it? What if no one READS it?
12. What changes will you make in your writing life now that you’re published?
It’s pushing me to write more! Now that it’s done I want to do it again, which means even more writing. I’m looking forward to getting some feedback on Legacy now that it’s available on e-readers to help me with the next novel.
13. What’s next on the writing front?
Nanowrimo is coming up in just a few weeks. 30 days to write 50,000 words! The novel I’m planning to write is Mary Poppins as a zombie killer. I’m really looking forward to writing the zombie chimney sweep scene!
14. What is your favorite electronic or digital writing tool?
Scrivener, hands down. I love the flexibility when I’m planning, and I’m pretty sure it saved my sanity more than once when I was working on Legacy.
15. What is your favorite non-electronic writing tool?
I prefer a nice smooth ball-point pen. When I use a pencil, I end up erasing holes in my paper!
16. What is the most persistent distraction from writing?
The internet! It sucks me in. I can venture onto the information superhighway looking for info on a story I’m working on, and before I know it I’m watching Lady Gaga’s new video. It’s insidious!
17. Do you have any of the proverbial “Books in the back of the drawer that will never see the light of day?”
I came up with a concept I started to write a while back – a big city cop who relocates to a small Wyoming town. It started out great! Unfortunately, that start was the best part, and it wasn’t long before I started toying with shooting my main character. I kind of figured that if I was ready to shoot my main character, a reader would probably be ready to shoot me. I tell myself I’ll get back to it someday and fix whatever went wrong, but I probably won’t!
18. What was that quote you put on my facebook wall… something about if I called in the middle of the night and asked you to meet me with… something weird…
Oh no! I remember that conversation…but I’m drawing a blank on what I said! LOL
19. Do I have to go dig up old pics of us from the 90’s, or are you going to let me share something more recent?
I may have a more recent picture…although a pic from the 90’s might be interesting!
20. Who shot first, Han or Greedo?
Han shot first, because letting a loser like Greedo get the drop on him would have been embarrassing!
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