Sunday, February 24, 2008
Interview with Jane St. Clair, author of Walk Me to Midnight
Why did you become a writer? Was it a dream of yours since you were younger or did the desire to write happen later in your life?
I think people are born as writers. You get black hair, you get blue eyes, and you get writing. I cannot remember when I was not a writer.
What do you love about being an author? Is there anything you dislike?
I like going into the writing trance and conjuring up characters, letting them speak through me, and seeing the world as they see it. Norman Mailer called writing the “spooky art.”
The hard part of writing is taking rejections.
How do you balance your personal and writing time?
It’s not a job to me, it’s an art. So you just do your art, you have to.
How do you write? Do your characters come to you first or the plot or the world of the story?
One writer said that a story can fall on your lap like an apple falling from a tree – there it is, perfect and whole. Sometimes it comes that way. Sometimes it comes the way Madeleine L’Engle said, you just start writing and the writing itself provides inspiration, takes you over and sends you on your way.
What genre(s) do you write? Why do you write the stories that you write?
I go on kicks. I went on a crime kick and wrote Walk Me to Midnight and several CSI and Law and Order scripts. I was also on a daring hero kick and wrote screenplays about a lion tamer and another about the Red Baron. At that time I was into answering why some people have physical courage. Lately, I have been writing a philosophical novel about women and babies.
I’m not sure why I write, I just do. It’s all mystical, mysterious and magical to me.
What is the biggest misconception about being an author?
That once you are published, the whole writing thing gets easy.
Do you tend to base your characters on real people or are they totally from your imagination?
Both. Mostly they are composites of people I met either in life or in literature. When Walk Me to Midnight got published, a friend recognized herself and that was embarrassing.
Out of all the characters that you've written, who is your favorite and why?
I loved writing Billy Carolina in Walk Me to Midnight, who is a little like Truman Capote, a little like my next-door neighbor when I lived in Greenwich Village, and a little like my Aunt Sylvia. He is terribly funny and warm, yet brave and creative too. He is very hard to write because he is so witty. I mean, it’s hard to be witty and it took me a long time to think up his repartee.
If you were writing a script for the big screen, who would you want to act in your movie?
I would like to write more great roles for women. There are actors who “never get to play their instruments” because there are no great parts written for them. I think about actors like Susan Sarandon, Kathie Bates, Sally Fields, Annette Bening – there are so very many and so few good roles for them.
What would you want readers to take away from your books?
What we do as writers is tell stories. It’s an ancient art – we would be the ones talking when humanity was still sitting in caves around a campfire. Yet story telling is about putting events in an order and finding meaning. When you read a storybook – i.e., a novel-- you should be looking at human events and finding patterns and realizing it’s not all random and life and events have meaning.
Do you have any advice for beginning writers in regards to writing a book?
Willa Cather asked Sarah Orne Jewett the same question. The older writer told Cather, “Writing is a solitary art. No friend can do it for you. To work in silence and with all one’s heart, that is the writer’s lot; he is the only artist who must be solitary, and yet needs the widest outlook on the world. Cultivate detachment and write from the standpoint of a looker. Write for the world and not for your friends. Work in silence and with all your heart.”
Who are your favorite authors?
Leo Tolstoy, Anton Chekhov, William Shakespeare, Jane Austen, Charles Dickens, Emily Dickinson.
What are you reading right now?
The Lion in the White House (about Theodore Roosevelt), The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio and How to See Yourself as You Really Are by His Holiness the Dalai Lama
Jane St. Clair grew up in Chicago, Illinois, and worked her way through Northwestern University with a variety of odd jobs such as factory welder, beauty shop attendant, commercial sign maker, cocktail waitress and more. After earning a degree in journalism, she was a welfare caseworker in the Chicago ghettoes as a welfare worker. Later she was a production staff member of the television program, “Sesame Street” and at Channel 11/PBS-TV in Chicago. She has also been a newspaper reporter/photographer for the Louisville-Courier Journal and weekly papers in rural Indiana and Appalachian Kentucky.
Jane has published over fifty children’s short stories, and adult fiction in literary magazines and anthologies. She is the 2007 winner of the True Life Story contest, 2006 first place winner of The Writers Network contest, American Accolades, Hollywood’s Next Success, and 2005 winner in television writing for Scriptapalooza.
As a free-lance writer, Jane authored two non-fiction books and hundreds of web articles. Her series on financial literacy for children won a national award and has had over a million hits. Walk Me to Midnight is her first novel.
Publisher: Capstone Fiction
Release Date: November 26, 2007
Genre: Medical Thriller
$15.95 from Amazon.com
Purchase Walk Me to Midnight by Jane St. Clair HERE!