Yes! Thanks to Steve, my computer solve-every-problem-guy, I’m back up and running. He even managed to retrieve my missing messages. And just in time, too. Because today I am featuring the first…
Glowing Author Interview.
Today on center stage is Joyce Magnin, author of a wonderfully innovative fiction book, The Prayers of Agnes Sparrow. Published this past fall, this books was part of Abingdon Press’ premier fiction line-up. So, Heeeeere’s Joyce!
Joyce, tell us a bit about your writing journey. Was this something you always wanted to do?
Yes, I always wanted to write, since third grade. And I did manage to publish some stuff along the way. I was a stringer for my local newspaper in high school, published some really bad poetry in scholastic magazines, edited the college newspaper. But then things went a bit awry and I didn’t really write for a long time, not until after my kids came along. But God is faithful and he expects us to be faithful to the gifts he gives and the bug came back—big time. And now I’m doing okay with it.
Is there a part of the writing process that comes more easily to you?
Characters. OMGoodness have I got people in my head. Sheesh. I always figured if I was living during the Middle Ages I’d be thrown in a snake pit mental hospital. I love names and giving my characters odd stuff to deal with.
That shows in your wonderful characters… and in their interesting names! But now I must ask: What is the most difficult part about writing?
The plotting. Although now that I have deadlines to meet I’m getting better at it. I’m devising ways to make the process a little less painful. Two words: Index Cards.
The Prayers of Agnes Sparrow has garnered lots of interest and praise. How did you come up with the idea for the book?
Thank you for saying that. Yes, it’s really doing well. I really can’t tell you where the idea came from. Agnes Sparrow lumbered into my brain one day and said, “Have I got a story to tell you.”
Did the plot or characters take any twists or turns during the writing that surprised you?
Oh, my yes. All the time. That’s what can make writing so much fun. For me it’s a lot of following my characters around and writing down what they do. Hezekiah surprised me. I had different plans for him. But his true colors came out. I think he needed to tell me his stuff.
I’ll bet there are a bunch of new writers out there saying, “I want to be like Joyce!” Any suggestions for them about submitting their work?
Finish the book first. Truly. Have a completed and polished novel before you query an agent or an editor. And then get comfy waiting. Publishing is a slow process. And I think writers should write the story that’s in them, not what he/she thinks is salable.
That is great advice! Do you see anything to which writers tend to pay too much or too little attention?
Well, I can only answer this from my experience and from what I’ve seen with my students. I think beginning writers are very concerned with getting published and not writing a great story and building great characters. The story must come first.
So, so true! I’ll bet you have authors who have impacted you. Can you tell us who and why?
Uhm the easy answer is Emily Dickinson. She opened me to “possibilities” as she called it. Maya Angelou taught me that being a girl, a smart girl was okay. Eudora Welty taught me not to take it all so seriously, that humor is an acceptable way of dealing with the crud life tosses. And of course the Little Engine that Could taught me perseverance.
I know you are a great blogger. Tell us about your blogging life.
I don’t know about great but I blog, therefore I am. Truthfully, I blog to help build my fan base, to keep people remembering my name, to hopefully make some folks laugh or think about life in my sideways sort of way. I try, repeat, try to write something everyday but I can’t always do it. The advantage is knowing that people think about me for at least a few moments. The disadvantage is that once you opened the blogging floodgate you better keep tending to it or you will lose customers real quick. Oh, and it gets me writing something different that my current novel.
What’s one thing that would surprise us about you?
Uhm, that I own my own XBOX 360 and play RPG video games nearly everyday and that I do needlework–embroidery. Oh, and I hate mayonnaise.
Sounds like your house is a fun place to be! (Except, no deviled eggs!) What book is on your nightstand right now?
Oh boy, Home is Where the Heart is by Billie Letts. Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott, my Bible, Nancy Rue’s newest, Healing Sands and the strategy guide to Fable II.
That’s one crowded nightstand! So… what’s next for you in the writing arena?
The next Bright’s Pond book, Charlotte Figg Takes Over Paradise will release next Fall. Then there are two more Bright’s Pond books in the pipeline. Pretty exciting stuff. And I have this idea for another novel about a woman and canaries. I know, weird.
Thanks so much, Joyce, for being our debut author interview.
Thank you Kay for inviting me into your bloggy living room. It was fun.
Contact Joyce Magnin at:
Facebook is always good too.
“Write the best story only you can write. Read poetry everyday. Begin building your fan base now, before the contract, and eat your veggies and drink your milk.”
Author Joyce Magnin
advice to new writers