We thought for our launch weeks, we would mix things up a little and do a
interrogation Q&A with the author. Each day, a Deb will ask the launching author s a question about her process/craft/whatever as it pertains to her book.
Here’s my question to Erika:
“One of the things that amazed the writer in me about this book is the many layers the story had and how each chapter seemed to peel back one layer at a time. Honestly, this was so artfully done that I am in total awe of your skill at weaving this story. How were you able to keep this all straight in your head as you were writing – how much to reveal, what you already had revealed? Did you use some sort of system or storyboarding? I have trouble with complex plotting and would love to know your secret.”
Joanne, you’re a sweetheart, that’s the first answer. Second answer, I wish I could say there was a great deal of well-organized plotting but the truth is I was often flying by the seat of my pants. This is really when drafts are crucial for me. Since I am no good at outlines and storyboards, I did a lot of the “peeling” (I love that, by the way) through drafts. It was tricky to be sure. Several drafts in I decided to make two files–one for the present story and one for the past story–and that helped a great deal. As a writer, I have ALWAYS struggled with plotting. I’ll never forget the first agent who showed interest in my work sixteen years ago–the wonderful Ruth Kagle who was at The Jane Rotrosen Agency at the time–invited me to her office and said she loved my writing but I needed a great deal of work with plotting, and she was right! Some things, I think, come more naturally to me as a writer–characterizations, dialog–but not plotting. (What can I say? I watched too much episodic TV in the 70s and sometimes it shows!) Trust me when I say LITTLE GALE GUMBO was many, many drafts before it saw submission.
Thank you so much for this, Erika! And now I’m even more in awe of both your skill and willingness to work and work to get it perfect – because you absolutely did. It’s also kind of comforting to know that this is something that can be worked at and maybe there is hope for me and plots yet, because sometimes I plotz about plots (groan, I know).
But I also want to say that this book is so much more than just its plot. It is made up of charismatic, flawed characters who, despite some of their flaws and sometimes questionable choices in life, injected themselves into my heart and made me love them and want to know more and more about them and their intertwining stories. From the strong, stoic Camille, to the defiant and troubled Dahlia, to the sweet, but heartbroken Josie, these women became like family to me because they were so real and beautifully written. I can’t say enough about LITTLE GALE GUMBO, but I will stop now because I want to leave plenty for those of you who haven’t yet read it to discover and I know Molly, Rachel and Linda have plenty to say this week as well.
Raising a glass to you, Erika, on a job very well done!