Sunday, August 5, 2007

Writers in their own words-GCC

Today, I'm offering another installment from The Girlfriend Cyber Circuit--today's guest is Ellen Meister author of Secret Confessions of the Applewood PTA.

The paperback version will be in the stores this Tuesday and it's the perfect almost-back-to-school-but-not-just-yet summer read. Meet Ellen through my interview below:

1.) How did you come up with the idea for this book? Are you more driven by plot or by character?

The idea for the book came to me at a PTA meeting. I had only recently decided to stop procrastinating and pursue my dream of writing a novel, and as I smiled at all the other moms, it occurred to me that no one had any idea I had this great dream. In fact, no one in the room knew I had an inner life at all. Then it occurred to me that everyone there could be feeling something pretty similar. As soon as I had that thought, I knew I wanted to write about these types of women--to explore the pain, passion, heartache and joy hidden beneath facade of the perfect suburban housewife--and do it with humor and compassion.

From there I set out to construct a plot around an event that could affect the community as a whole and the women as individuals. Eventually, I got the idea to bring a Hollywood movie studio to their town, and select their schoolyard as a possible location for the filming of a George Clooney movie.

As far as your second question, I do think my writing is more character-driven, despite the fact that the book is plot heavy.

2.) Who's your favorite character in this book and why?

Well, I have three protags and choosing a fave would feel like singling out one of my children. I will tell you that the one who surprised me the most was Ruth. She's the brash, wealthy character I created to show that even the women who seem to have to all--designer house, designer clothes, designer car, etc.--can be hiding unimaginable pain. In some ways, she represented the type of woman who had always intimidated me. But as I got to know her, I found that she had this giant heart, and I really came to love her. Talk about cathartic!

3.) What's your writing process/writing environment like?

I admire writers who can bang out a messy first draft and then go back later and edit. There has to be a certain freedom in that. My process is a bit more ... let's say, "retentive."

I always compose on the computer, and try to get each paragraph as perfect as I can. Once I have the draft complete, I print it out and edit it again in hard copy.

4.) What's your favorite part of writing?

Those two words: THE END. Talk about satisfying!

5.) What's the best piece of advice you've ever gotten about writing?

Write the story you most want to read. That's a paraphrase from J.D. Salinger, and of course it wasn't directed to ME, but it felt like it was.

So, there you go . . . another great pick for your reading fun!


Lisa said...

This book sounds like a terrific read and I love Ellen's description of her process and JD Salinger's advice. I'm glad to know I'm not the only -- retentive -- person and that it seems to have worked well for Ellen. Thanks for sharing this!

Ellen said...

Thanks for the kind words, Lisa. Good luck with your writing!

Judy, thanks so much for this terrific blog entry!!

Maryanne Stahl said...

hello, Judy.
I'm following Ellen on her cybertour (did anyone ask about procrastination techniques?) to say her book is great and so is she.

but I must say I am SHOCKED to learn she is a "retentive" writer, like me. She must be a very disciplined retentive writer, because she accomplishes more than almost anyone I know. and she's still nice!

Judy Merrill Larsen said...

Lisa-I love Salinger's advice too.

Ellen--Happy to host you!

Maryanne--Glad you stopped by. Visiting blogs is one of my most cherished procrastination techniques.

Myfanwy Collins said...

Ellen is not only a great writer but she's an entertaining interviewee! Thanks for this.

mcewen said...

Thank you, as always, interesting and encouraging.

liz fenwick said...

Great interview. Thanks.

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