Oct 13, 2009

Guest author: Nadine Laman

My guest blogger today is Nadine Laman, a wonderful author and a very dear friend of mine. Our friendship started some three months ago, when I discovered FiledBy, a social network for authors and readers to meet.  Nadine is a writing mentor and a personal cheerleader, often a shoulder to cry on. I am glad to have met her and to have read and reviewed her books, Kathryn's Beach, High Tide and Storm Surge. Today, Nadine is answering some of my questions on the trilogy and the writing process.

Q: Tell us how Kathryn's Beach was born!
A: Kathryn's Beach began as a short story banged out and emailed to a friend who had "cabin fever" during an ice storm. The friend wanted more, and the novel was born. In 21 days, I emailed a chapter or two to her each night until the draft of the story was finished.
Once my friend pushed for more story, I got serious about Kathryn's story and used the skills I had learned in writing classes to transform it into a novel.

Q: At that time, did anyone know you were writing?
A: Until that time, no one except my husband knew I wrote. I'm not sure he read any of my works, but he knew I wrote a short story a night after our boys were in bed and the house was quiet. 

Q: Did you encounter any difficulties in writing Kathryn's story? Were there any obstacles in getting the books published? 
A: The difficulty was that I had type cast Kathryn as a wounded person in search of redemption from the responsibility she felt for the death of one of her young clients. It was a balancing act to push her to move forward for answers and keep her wounded an appropriate amount of time. The dilemma became writing a weak character without making the writing weak. To complicate matters, I had set it as literary fiction - one of the least popular genre.That was almost a sure way to make certain that the book would never be published. Not to mention that writing in first person, present tense is a terrible idea. It has no commercial appeal. The books have been turned down because they were written in first person, sight unseen. 
Q: How did Kathryn's Beach grow into a trilogy?

A: My friend asked for more, for a second book. At that point I knew there had to be a third book to finish the story; a beginning, middle, and end - the first rule of writing.The question was then, how to make each book complete, unique, and lead to the end of the third book that not only was satisfactory as an end to the book, but to the trilogy as a whole. 
Q: You mentioned Kathryn's Beach was originally a short story.
Was it difficult to expand it into a full-size novel--a trilogy, to be exact?
A: What saved me in transitioning from a short story writer to a trilogy of novels, was the writing classes I had taken at university. I suppose it can happen that a writer has an innate sense of writing, but most of the time, the tools of the craft set the foundation for becoming a novelist.

Q: You are very supportive towards novice writers. What is the best advice you can give to us who are just starting out? 
A:I believe anyone can write, but to write well a person has to learn the skills of the craft: character development, dialogue, pacing, story line with arcs, literary devices. These are not hard skills to learn and it only takes a bit of discipline to apply them and the guts to write so that it can withstand the reader's test.

Thank you for being my guest today, Nadine, and for doing this interview!
Nadine blogs at First Draft, and more info on her books can be found at NadineLamanBooks.
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