Friday, April 07, 2006

The author removes her mask to reveal . . .

Recently, one of the local newspapers, The Missoula Independent, did a feature article about my fledgling career as a romance author. This was an interesting experience for me. Like most authors, I'm used to working in quiet anonimity. My friends know that I write romance novels, but when I'm walking down the street, the average person has no idea what I do.

That changed a bit last week. The Independent is a weekly, so for an entire week--the headline Write 'em Cowgirl appeared all over town, on top of a hunky, bare-chested cowboy reading a book. It was exciting and a little (okay a lot) weird.

Doing the interview was also a new experience for me. I've done a lot of online interviews where they send me questions and I can take my time writing answers. This was different. I sat in the conference room with the reporter--who had done his research on the romance industry, had read my books and studied my website--while he tossed questions at me ranging from my interest in Girl Scouts to why the sex in my stories is so explicit.

Writing fiction is a very personal thing, so answering questions about writing means that you are revealing a lot about yourself. I tried to be honest and open. I also tried not to say anything that would be completely mortifying to my teenage daughters who also live in this town. Did I pull it off? I don't know. You can read the article and see for yourself.

It's funny in a way that this should seem so awkward to me because I reveal much more about myself every day when I write my fiction. Of course, I get to wear the mask of my various characters, but good fiction requires the author to put her emotions out there for the world to see. If you hold back, the story suffers. The mask, the props and the setting all work to keep the author hidden--like the Wizard of Oz shouting, "pay no attention to the man behind the curtain." I think the article reveals a very ordinary woman, leading a quiet life behind the curtain so that her characters can come to life on the stage.


Nancy Herkness said...

Teresa, congratulations! That's a heck of an article! Very factual and balanced, very complimentary to you, and not snarky at all. The reporter clearly did his/her homework and you sound very articulate and intelligent in it (something I know you are in real life as well).

The only thing that bothered me was quoting your sex scenes out of context. The same thing has happened to me and it's a shame. You can't just lift a few lines out of a love scene and expect it to make sense. However, many editors can't seem to resist doing that. Sigh.

However, all in all, I thought it was a super piece! Well done!

Sally MacKenzie said...

Great article, Teresa. And I love the image in your blog about the Wizard of Oz. I think writing does reveal the author--but it also reveals the reader. I was the guest at a book group meeting where one of the members was asking some very pointed questions. Ultimately I thought her questions said more about her than they did about my book.

And while on one level our books are very true, on another they are all lies. One of the things I've found I like about writing is being able to pretend to be people so different from who I am--a British peer, an old woman (okay, maybe that's not SO different from who I'm becoming...), a young child, a bisexual rapist. But no matter how we put all the lies and truth together, the finished product probably does reveal something about our vision of the world.