The winner from last week’s Author Spotlight with Margaret McSweeney is Kaye Whitney! Please email my assistant Christen with your mailing address. (firstname.lastname@example.org)
This week Sibella Giorello is in the spotlight! To win a copy of her new book The Stars Shine Bright, leave a comment on this post!
Share a little bit about yourself. Married with kids? Empty nester? Do you work full-time and write when you can squeeze it in?
I live with my husband and two sons on a mountain in Washington state. We also homeschool, which means writing novels is like running a pretzel factory — it’s productive but twisted. I write inside my car parked at sports practices more often than seems good for my back. But it’s also great solitude because no phone or fridge can distract me.
And share something about your writing. What’s your genre(s), your areas of interest…
I write mysteries because it’s my favorite form of storytelling. The hunt peppered with colorful characters in an interesting setting, all duking it out for good and evil.
How did you get started writing? Did you have a dream of being a published author?
Mostly I dreamed of an adult life filled with words — books, big ideas, stories, discussions. I might just as easily wound up teaching or working for a publisher except I come from a long line of people who are basically unemployable. We work for ourselves. And writing allows you that freedom, plus imaginary friends.
After you started writing seriously–how long was it before you were published?
For about fifteen years, I wrote for newspapers and magazines. Then I decided to stay home because we had truly adorable kids that seemed like a perfect gift from God. It was wonderful but if your mind is wired for story, it’s almost inevitable that a novel will seek you out and beg you to write it. At least, that’s how it felt to me. My first book arrived — I wasn’t really looking for it. But suddenly there was this kickin’ cool forensic geologist with a truly messed up and delightful family. From there, the whole Raleigh Harmon series began unfolding like origami.
Aside from a cup of good, strong coffee, what helps you get all of your “brain cylinders” firing so you can write well? Do you have any favorite places and routines when you write? How many hours a day do you spend writing?
CS Lewis said he could never find a book long enough or a cup of tea big enough to satisfy him. Every morning, as I brew my Irish Breakfast Tea, I offer Lewis a toast. I also add wild honey and cream. Not the stuff reconstituted from corn. Real cream, the kind that’s supposed to clog arteries. My favorite place to write is our den, surrounded by books inherited from my dad and grandmother. Also, preferably, nobody else is awake yet. After working in news rooms, I don’t necessarily need silence but I prefer it as a mom of boys. If the boys are up, half my brain is wondering, “Could they die, doing what they’re currently doing?” As for time spent, I try to measure productivity by words. Time can fool you. Word count rarely does. I aim for one thousand words a day.
What has been the biggest help to you in the journey to publication? Writers’ conferences? Writing groups? Your mom as your first draft reader?
The biggest help was . . . writing. That sounds like circular logic, I know. But to write you have to write. And then write some more. Journalism definitely helped with that accumulation.
Is the “writer’s life” what you thought it would be? (Explain your answer)
The writer’s life is fun, difficult, ridiculous and sometimes lonely but never boring. It suits my temperament perfectly. I feel blessed.
What are your biggest distractions?
I hate sitting still. Absolutely dread it.
What was one of the best moments in your career and what was one of the worst?
The best moments have all involved finishing a book. No feeling on earth matches the sensation of knowing you worked hard, and by the grace of God, made it to the finish line. The worst moments come more frequently — when the story refuses to obey, or worse goes into hiding.
What do you least like about being a writer? Most like?
It might sound odd but I dislike precisely what makes the good parts possible. That deep digging, where you’re forced to examine yourself and life and motives — scouring down to the elemental parts of existence that are true for everyone. The process is painful but the results are life-altering.
What advice would you give to new writers?
Stick close to the fire. Whatever made you want to write a certain story, don’t walk away from it. Ignore all that stuff about “what’s hot” and who’s getting rich and being famous writing a certain kind of book. Just write your book — with passion and joy.
What’s on the book horizon for you?
I’m writing the next Raleigh Harmon novel, which picks up where “The Stars Shine Bright” ends. And I’m working on a prequel, because so many readers have asked about her life before her father’s murder.
Last question, how can readers find you and your books?
Come visit me at www.sibellagiorello.com or stop by my Facebook page.
Thank you for sharing your writing life with my bleaders! (blog + readers = bleaders)