Lynn Voedisch visits my Potpourri of Writing blog today to discuss her book, Excited Light. She has made the transition from journalist to novelist in this book that has been described as "a tale of magic and second chance."
In Excited Light, 10-year old Alex Griffin has plenty on his mind as he takes care of his alcoholic mom. He confides in his toy duck, Dudley, and mystical entities who visit him to solve the challenges in his mom's and his life. Let’s discuss with Lynn some aspects of her writing.
MEA: I'm frequently asked, "How did you come up with the idea for this story?" So I'll ask you the same since it seems to be one that interests readers.
LYNN: I had an angel experience, but it was so intensely personal that I couldn't imagine writing about it. Then I read Alice Hoffman's Practical Magic and I loved the magical-realism style, which is a lot like my own. I transferred the angel experience to my fictional character, Alex, who was based on my son and the conversations we had when he was 10. The rest just bloomed from there. I picked a single mom for Alex's mother, because I was a single mother for 11 years--ever since my son was a newborn. But I am nothing like the mother character in the book.
MEA: Each author develops their own way of writing. Some plan a book in detail with an outline. Others find their characters "take charge" and dictate how the story will progress. How would you describe your writing style?
LYNN: Very loose and free-form. I could never write from an outline. I worked for more than 20 years as a journalist, and we don't have time for outlines, so it seemed crazy to start doing it for a novel. I happen to have a steel-trap mind when it comes to mentally visualizing the chapters and flow of the book though. I think things out for a long time (and it doesn't look like I'm doing anything), then suddenly I jump up and hammer out a 2,000-word chapter. I blithely ignore the "write x-number of words a day" advice that most people give.
I wrote every day for 20 years. I know how to be disciplined. I have no problem in that regard. And I've never had writer's block. I also ignore the "write first thing in the morning" dictum. I can't do ANYthing first thing in the morning. My prime writing hours start in the afternoon and can go on to quite late at night.
I do have characters announce themselves out of the blue and declare that they want to get into the story. The first time this happened (in another novel) I thought I was going a little nuts. I let the character in, and I couldn't believe that he turned out to be the best character in the whole thing.
I'd describe my writing style as very clear and expository. I don't do stream-of-consciousness or anything super artsy, yet I'm not afraid to break a boundary or two. I do use sentence fragments, for instance. I would call my style magical realism (even though I'm not Hispanic) or maybe New Age. It's all in a modern setting but suffused with magic.
MEA: Do you work on one book at a time or turn from one writing project to another when you're at a loss for ideas?
LYNN: I can work on a non-fiction assignment while working on fiction, but I never could do two fiction projects at the same time. I tried, but it doesn't work. Once I create a fictional world it's hard to get my head out of it.
MEA: What would you like your readers to take away from this book...either to remember about your characters, your theme, or you?
LYNN: Oh, I definitely think there is a message in there to listen to your inner voice. If you don't believe in angels, it doesn't matter, because this is a story of hope. We all have the ability to heal if we heed what that little voice inside of us is saying. In a way, I felt directed to write this book to spread the message.
People say they like the characters so much they want a sequel, but I just can't see a sequel to this book.
About me? I want readers to like my writing enough that they will buy the next book, which I hope will come out via traditional press.
MEA: Is there anything else you'd like to share with visitors to Potpourri of Writing about the writing of this book? A unique story? Reader response?
LYNN: Only that the people who read it loved it and didn't want to say good-bye to the characters. If only I could get them to write testimonials to the editors at publishing houses!
Another note that I haven't told anyone else: this book was actually written 10 years ago. My first agent couldn't sell it because "the angel fad was over," according to publishers. So I just sort of forgot about it. Because I belong to the American Society of Journalists and Authors, which has a business partnership with iUniverse, I was eligible for a huge discount if I self published a book. I thought, "why not dust Excited Light off and release that?" So, I revised it and revised it again until I got to the point where I thought I couldn't do any more and sent it off it the publisher. I'm very glad I did, because the book seems to have lit up quite a few people's lives.
MEA: Thank you, Lynn, for taking time to visit my blog and answer my questions. It's always so interesting to discover the "story behind the story," or why and how an author wrote a specific book. Since I've been a journalist, I also can relate to much of what you say about your writing style and experiences. May you have much success with Excited Light.
(If you's like to see the trailer for Lynn's book, click here... You'll find Lynn's web site at: LynnVoedisch.com )