Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Blog Tour Author Interview: Sarah MacManus


It's my pleasure to bring to you guys an interview I did with Sarah MacManus, author of Dreamwalk. If you haven't read my review of her book, please do so by clicking here. It's an awesome book!

What are five words that describe who you are as a writer?
Slow. Impatient. Layered. Self-conscious, Private.

Did anyone inspire you to become a writer, or was it just something that came naturally?
Writing was something that just came naturally when I was a teenager. I’m not going to say that I was one of those kids spinning tales from kindergarten, because I wasn’t. Most of my over-active imagination was kept in my own head where I could keep an eye on it. I did start writing a few things out in school when I was required to in Junior High. The feedback from family and teachers was pretty positive and I wrote any number of short stories, poems and scripts when I was in high school and college. I even had an agent. As my reading tastes became more sophisticated, however, some of the really great writers left me intimidated and insecure, rather than inspired. So, I spent most of my adult life doing technical writing, which is much safer and less subjective. Finally, life eventually gave me enough time and space to give it another try and I guess I became mature enough to enjoy the process without worrying so much about the results. I had to spend some time convincing myself that it was okay to let some of those stories outside of my head, if only for a little while.

How do the ideas for your stories come about?
Mostly from my real life, which has been bizarre enough to give me an idea or two, but I do struggle with ideas and I don’t find they come easy. The bits and bobs and scenes come easy enough, and dialogue is the easiest for me. I’ve written scripts for stage and radio and it’s always a blast. It’s not even something that I’m all that shy about. But I do need to work at building a premise, layer by layer. Unfortunately, having had a bit of a strange life has made me feel like all my ideas have been done before. I’m super self-conscious about repeating a theme or a plot arc that’s been done better by someone else and sometimes I walk in to a story idea that I can’t complete because of a feeling of futility. But, I’m working on that.

Could you tell us a little about Dreamwalk?
Dreamwalk is a magical realism love story about two young adults who have been dealt some unlucky blows in life. They find that their love for each other gives them the motivation to rise above their circumstances and their own character flaws. And they find that they need to care enough about themselves in order to care for others. Pretty basic boy-meets-girl stuff, but with kangaroo gods.

What made you dabble in mythology?
I love mythology and always have. And I’m not fussy about who it belongs to. It started in 4th grade English class, which was only tolerable to me because we were studying Greek and Roman mythology. I had one of those awful teachers that likes to be insulting and mean to students in order to be funny. But I got to read excerpts from the Iliad, so I behaved myself. My love of mythology then extended into Celtic myth and the Arthurian tales, East European myths about vampires, Native American myths about the Great Spirit and Coyote. I even love modern mythology: urban legends, rural folklore, sweeping stories about people who changed the world, from Abraham Lincoln to Amelia Earhardt to John Lennon. I adore rock and roll mythology in particular, because I’ve gotten to live through some of it, the stories of the great rock bands that changed the way we look at life. Mythology is the means for understanding a culture, because people put the best and worst of themselves in their mythology. I like to see the glitter of the divine reflecting off the perfectly mundane, because it makes me feel a bit more sane when it’s not just me seeing that sparkle.

What can we expect next from you?
I haven’t really decided at this point. I published a novella called “Lord of the Trash” a short while ago that got some nice response, and I’m considering expanding it to a full-length work based on some of that feedback. It’s contemporary literary fiction about a brother and sister living in the Midwest, trying to deal with the damage that their dysfunctional family has left on their ability to make relationships work. I also have a story based on Irish mythology, really old, pre-Roman mythology, which I have been working on for quite a while. It’s also magical realism, a blend of the contemporary world and the unseen world.


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