- Guest Author -
Welcome to an interview I conducted with an author from the Greater New York City area - Micki Peluso.
Micki began writing after a personal tragedy, as a cartharsis for her grief. This lead to a first time out publication in Victimology: An International Magazine and a 25 year career in Journalism.
Welcome, Micki ...
TELL US A LITTLE ABOUT YOURSELF AND YOUR WRITING JOURNEY.
Due to extenuating circumstances in my life, like a wacky mom and messy divorce, I eloped at the age of seventeen, with my high school sweetheart, replacing all my dreams with different ones. We raised six kids and had wonderfully comical lives. Butch was the regimental "Sound of Music' dad, whistling for his kids, while I was the nurturer. We crossed the country twice, lived in a real haunted house and were living a wonderful life, if not wealthy monetarily, rich in love. A tragic accident happened, changing our lives forever. I could not speak of it, so I wrote and wrote, a long labour of love, until a book was born . . . AND THE WHIPPOORWILL SANG, written as a catharsis for my grief and salvation for my sanity, as we learned to weep . . . to laugh . . . to grieve . . . to dance.
WHEN AND HOW DID YOU BECOME A WRITER?
I began writing after a personal tragedy, as a catharsis for my grief. This lead to a first time out publication in Victimology: An International Magazine and a 25 year career in Journalism. I've free-lanced and been staff writer for one major newspaper and written for two more. I have published short fiction and non-fiction, as well as slice of life stories in colleges and other magazines and in e-zine editions. My first book was published in 2008; a funny family memoir of love, loss and survival, called, . . . AND THE WHIPPOORWILL SANG which won the Nesta CBC silver award for writing that makes a change in the world. Two of my short horror stories have been published in an anthology called "Speed of Dark." I am presently working on a collection of short fiction, slice of life stories and essays, in a book called, Heartbeats . . . slices of life.
WHAT DO YOU ENJOY MOST ABOUT BEING A WRITER?
I love the impact my writing has upon other people, and the feedback I get from them. If a journalistic essay causes them to think and send me letters, then I feel my job is done. If I can write humorous slice of life stories and make people laugh, it makes my day. I feel that when I write in first person, my writing becomes more powerful and I’m able to capture the attention of my readers and make them think about my words.
WHAT IS THE HARDEST THING ABOUT BEING A WRITER?
The hardest thing is coming up with ideas in the fiction I write. I often write from prompts. Tell me to write a story about . . . and I’m off and running, but to come up with my own ideas is hard. This is mostly because I write primarily non-fiction, which comes naturally. I taught myself to write in all genres, except screenwriting to overcome this and sold those short stories. Stretching them to novels is my next goal.
WHAT WERE YOU IN A PAST LIFE, BEFORE YOU BECAME A WRITER?
I think I must have been a hooker or a spy because astrologists say I have five houses in one planet—whatever that means, and I carry a lot of bad karma and baggage from past lives. I’m not certain I buy into this, but then, who knows?
WHAT IS YOUR GREATEST WRITING ACHIEVEMENT?
My great writing achievement is the book I wrote as a deathbed promise to my dying child. I vowed I’d let the world know who she was and how the sun dimmed a bit when she was brutally killed. This book is written in first person making it a raw, emotional story; however it is also a funny, happy book—a celebration of her life rather than a eulogy of her death.
WHAT ARE YOU WORKING ON AT THE MOMENT?
I’m into entirely too many things at once. I review books as a professional book reviewer for The New York Journal of Books and Readetoreader, and freelance reviews for other writers. I work with a large group of colleagues in promoting our works together so our efforts are widely expanded. I sell and place my political/social essays on various blogs; I guest on Radio Blog Shows, do interviews and interact with people all over the Internet. I have been on my local TV cable network speaking out against drunk driving, speaking at PTA meetings and community fundraisers and organizations—such as The Red Hat ladies—which is another book in itself. J
WHAT INSPIRES YOU?
People inspire me with all their flaws, beauty, wisdom, faults and personality. I’m inspired by the atrocities of this world where good and evil tip back and forth in an awkward balance. The beauty of the earth and a child’s smile counteract the horrors of man’s inhumanity to man. All this and more inspire me.
WHAT GENRE DO YOU WRITE?
I’m a multi-genre writer, but I prefer to write literary pieces like the great writers of the past. I feel confined by the formula writing of genres. Stephen King and Dean Koontz wrote ‘out of the box’ as I prefer to do. As a book reviewer I see so many genre books which tell the same story with different names and places.
DO YOU HAVE ANY TIPS FOR NEW WRITERS?
New writers need to learn as they go, be easy on themselves and walk away when it’s no longer fun. Don’t force writing, because your readers will know. Use the well-worn adage—write what you know, learn the rules before you break them. And most of all learn patience.
DO YOU SUFFER FROM WRITER’S BLOCK?
I’m not sure there is something called writer’s block. I’m not a prolific writer—I write when I have something to say. When the writing is not going well, it means your creative juices are hungering for a rest, a break; so walk away, do something else and when you go back, your creative bent will be restored.
DO YOU HAVE A PREFERRED WRITING SCHEDULE?
I’m a night owl and am only creative in the wee small hours of the night. I hand write everything with a large yellow legal pad and an eraser mate pen. I need the touch of my hands to the pen and paper to be creative, and then I edit and make improvements on the computer.
DO YOU HAVE A FAVOURITE WRITING PLACE?
I do all my writing propped up on a pile of pillows next to a softly snoring husband and huge calico tomcat at my feet. I write best in the sounds of silence where only my inner voice can be heard. I write/read/review until 3or 4 AM, then sleep until noon.
WHAT IS YOUR GREATEST JOY IN WRITING?
My greatest joy in writing is seeing the pleasure it gives others. I don’t have a lot of self-confidence, so when family and friends are moved by or love what I write, that gives me joy and satisfaction.
WHO IS YOUR FAVOURITE AUTHOR AND WHY?
I am an avid reader and could never pick one favourite. I love the feel of print books and can’t even throw away books I didn’t like. We have talented writers today, but none like the ones of past years, like Hemmingway, Cavell, Atwood, Michener, Jean Auel, Tolkien and too many to name. Of course, God inspired the best book of all-the bible.
WHAT’S THE GREATEST COMPLIMENT YOU EVER RECEIVED FROM A READER?
The best thing that so many readers tell me, particularly about my Memoir, is that I drew them into the book and made them feel like they were part of my life and living it with me; and that my story will stay with them forever.
WHAT WAS THE WORST COMMENT FROM A READER?
I only got one in 25 years of writing. I had taken a college course in psychology and wrote a funny spoof on it, called, “The Freudian Slip”. My professor, who took the brunt of most of it, thought it was funny, and it was published in my daily newspaper. An irate person wrote to the paper saying I was maligning a wonderful occupation. He ranted on so much I think he may have been seeing a psychologist himself. But pans and bad reviews give as much publicity to your works as raves at times.
WRITERS ARE SOMETIMES INFLUENCED BY THINGS THAT HAPPEN IN THEIR OWN LIVES. ARE YOU?
Everything that happens in my life ends up in either a slice of life story, short fiction and of course, my book. Each of my characters has some facet of my persona in them, from the good ones to the bad. I think this is true of most writers, although many deny it. I believe the ‘muse’ or subconscious does most of the creative writing.
OTHER THAN WRITING, WHAT ELSE DO YOU LOVE?
I love my Creator, life, people, especially my children and grandchildren, good friends, and learning new things each day.
DID YOU HAVE YOUR BOOK / BOOKS PROFESSIONALLY EDITED BEFORE PUBLICATION?
Yes, but there were still so many errors, I had to have it reissued as a second edition. Publishers no longer hire professional editors and the big houses no longer accept poorly edited submissions.
DESCRIBE YOUR PERFECT DAY.
A perfect day is one in which I awaken, and realize I’ve been given another day to live.
IF YOU WERE STUCK ON A DESERT ISLAND WITH ONE PERSON, WHO WOULD IT BE? WHY?
It might as well be my husband, who’s put up with me since we eloped at seventeen. At least there would be no surprises.
WHAT WOULD YOU SAY IF YOU HAD THE CHANCE TO SPEAK TO WORLD LEADERS?
I would say to lead, rather than talk about it, to seek peace at all costs, feed the world’s poor, sick and homeless, take better care of the planet; and above all, have integrity, which is an oxymoron in describing most leaders and politicians.
WHAT ARE YOUR PLANS FOR THE FUTURE?
I take one day at a time, but I will continue to keep my promise to my daughter, Noelle, and promote her book to the world until I drop. That is my priority over all other writing and publications.
WHAT FIVE BOOKS WOULD YOU TAKE TO HEAVEN?
God and I would have to have a talk about that as five books would not last through eternity. I see heaven as a huge library of everything ever written.
DOES THE PUBLISHING INDUSTRY FRUSTRATE YOU?
Yes, in this economy, they have pulled back on helping their authors promote and sell books. I see self-published writers selling more, making more and learning excellent marketing skills.
DID YOU EVER THINK OF QUITTING?
No, the nice thing about writing is that you never have to retire. I’ll continue to write as long as I have something to say.
WHAT WAS YOUR FAVOURITE MANUSCRIPT TO WRITE? WHY?
My book . . . And the Whippoorwill Sang is my favourite for several reasons. I had hope that in writing it I would have closure for myself and my family. It was painful and joyful to bring my daughter back to life through the book. But when I typed “the end”, I lost her all over again. Yet the best thing in the world is that when memories fade over the years and I can’t remember her and what she was like, all I have to do is open my book.
HOW WOULD YOU DEFINE ‘SUCCESS’ AS A WRITER.
To me, success is reading something I wrote and saying to myself, “Wow, that’s damn good.” Much of it isn’t good, but it is always saved for a day when I can make it better. A time comes in most writers’ lives when they begin to measure success by their publications and sales. I’m at that stage now.
WHAT SHOULD READERS WALK AWAY FROM YOUR BOOKS KNOWING? HOW SHOULD THEY FEEL?
I thought that this book would appeal to mothers who’d lost children—my target audience. Instead, it’s being read by women and men of all ages and walks in life, as well as teenagers and young adults. I never saw that coming. When they tell me they will never again drink even two drinks and drive, or when young adults and teens grow up with my teens in the book, and take responsibility for their actions regarding drinking and driving, I know my job was well done.
HOW MUCH THOUGHT GOES INTO DESIGNING A BOOK COVER?
I wanted the cover of my book to reflect the story. There was a whippoorwill that played a small part in the story, and a bigger part afterwards with paranormal events that happened in the book and after it was written. Since this book has the antics of “Cheaper by the Dozen“, and the heart of “To Kill a Mockingbird,” I thought the title and cover were perfect. Still, some readers assume it’s a book about a bird.
WHAT’S YOUR ULTIMATE DREAM?
To fulfill my promise to Noelle by having the book made into a film so that the visuals will have an even larger impact upon viewers.
ANYTHING YOU’D LIKE TO ADD?
Whew, if I do it will become a short story. I would like to thank you, Clancy, for inviting me here for this interview so that I can continue in my promise to my daughter and help others who read it.
Clancy's comment: Wow, thanks, Micki. What a life. You have me hooked. Must read your book.