Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Counselor / Diane Munier interview on Counselor's Corner Facebook Group

today 3/4/15

Question: Does the historical time period come first as an idea, or does the character appear full blown, & how hard is it to think & write in the mode of the particular era being written about?
This really made me think. I usually visit my location. It may not be exactly geographically where I place the story. I am more instinctual, an absorber. I'm looking to feel the place as much as see it. And I'll hear of an incident, or read of one maybe and I'm saying -when did this happen? To whom did it happen?  That incident will be the thing that gets me going. In Wounded Soldier, it's an old newspaper story from the Civil War. Two soldiers lying in the field in the aftermath of battle. As they look up a white dove flies over head. One says to the other, "That's a sign. Peace Will Come." The original title to that story is Peace Will Come and I plan to bring that back. Peace Will Come. That incident so moved me. Then my central character showed up. Tom Tanner he was called originally in one of my fifteen versions. Tom shows up and there we go. He's this hardened civil war vet who is basically dead inside and the story starts where he has to deliver a baby. Can I imagine what that is like for him? It's wonderful but painful. Coming back to life is so painful, and much as he wants that, he fights it.
For FF I rewrote that story and Tom became Edward in that he loved like that. The story became renewed and I never looked back at the original when I rewrote it. I hadn't seen the last version for five years. That story was so deep in me and Tom was (no pun). His wound somehow merged with mine (fundamental. I let them go to my own wounds. I don't write around my wounds, I write OUT of them. It's the only way to make your fiction real. It's not just a knowledge of history that makes them real. Oh no. It's being healed enough from your own pain, being unafraid enough of your own pain that you can use it. When that happens, when you are that courageous, you can write REAL and connect with people. Until then you'll just do what everyone else does. You may do it well, with perfect grammar even, but perfect grammar wonderful as it is, is no substitute for writing something so authentic, so full of your own blood where you've spared yourself nothing so others can connect, then your writing Blesses them. You can hire someone to polish your story, but you can never hire someone to put heart in your story. That's got to be you. Whatever you're protecting in yourself will sour your story) but I digressed there.

Back to this inspiring incident:  It won't be linear or organized. In other words, that incident may or may not show up in my story. But it will get the whole thing going. Often the persons involved in the incident show up as a voice. They just start talking. He or she is the one to lead me into the story. I may be writing with that incident in mind, but the character is going through this process. I'm developing the story by trying to stay true to the journey this character is on. I'm trying to stay true to how this character reacts to their environment on this journey.
Others show up. I decide how important they are through the eyes of the character. I am willing to cut anything/anyone precious. I have to protect the important part of the story--the central journey. I am constantly amazed at the important place my sub-characters can take.
One more thing on these inciting incidents:

For example, in DiTHoM I heard of an incident. And I thought of the person this might have happened to and it went on from there. Tonio was born. As I'm writing that story, I'm writing towards that incident. It hasn't happened yet. So all the story I've written is a lead-up to this incident. And I was very willing for the incident not to happen at all. It may have started a story it will not even show up in. But it was still key in leading me to the character and then the character leading me to the time period and the journey.

As for the voice or talking in the time period, I look up a lot of stuff, but the voice is very easy for me. Easier than many things others can do easily and I cannot, like math or speaking in front of crowds. Why I got that voice-gift thing I don't know. Writing makes it useful.

Question: Were the Twi characters the impetus to your writing career or did you write before that?
Answer:  I wrote way before that. It was very early in me. I had gone through a lot trying to get published. Won some literary awards, got close to publication, got my heart ripped out a few times. Quit. Finally finished college and got a Masters and went to work. But it wouldn't leave me alone. I found FF and what I always said to agents and publishers was 'If I could just get to the readers I know I have an audience out there!" So FF gave me that. And I found you all so point made!

Question: How did she choose her name she will publish under?
Answer: It's very significant, that name. It chose me. It really did. I knew I'd use it someday.

Question: Does she read many fanfic stories?
Answer:  At first. Then even the best ones became a distraction from writing. Much as I loved some of those stories, it was the writers I was interested in. FF has some extraordinary writers. If I start to name I will leave some out--what the heck:  Pattyrose, Rochelle Allison. There are many, many more. I used to try and look up every writer who reviewed. I would get a sense of her writing. Some writers who haven't broken out yet in FF, small writers are tremendous. I would think--my gosh you're good! So keep going on FF. And some of you are so ready to branch out from SM's studio.
 Question: What are her all-time favorite fanfic stories and does she have any current favorites? Answer: Volition was one of my first. Rochelle Allison.Loved the classics - Wide Awake, Clipped Wings. But haven't been able to read much for a couple of years. Because of writing.

Question: Does she have any favorite fanfic authors.
Answer: Sexy Lexi Cullen's mob stuff is great. The ladies I mentioned above. Sheviking. There are many. So many. I honestly believe some of the finest writing going is happening here. That's nothing but appreciation for SM's work. Her success made a place where writers could develop. She didn't just shake up readers, she inspired writers with her generosity. To define what has happened in TwiFF in a closed way is to demean it, I think. It's to put a tight lid on a box of endless possibilities. This has been an open-ended writing workshop for many of us. There is nothing unfair to SM in that. It elevates and continues to elevate her work.

Question: While reading some sections of "Deep in the Heart of Me", I was struck with marvel again at how you are able to express such sacredness for the earth, the soil, the river as sources of nourishment for both body and soul. Very much in flavor with Jim Harrison, Hemingway and Steinbeck. Who are your favorite fiction authors (non fan fiction)?
Answer:  Hemingway's The Old Man and the Sea was a life-changer in fifth grade. Also the movie, Spencer Tracy my goodness.  To Kill a Mockingbird of course. Profound. Book and movie. Jem and Gregory Peck. Gregory was my first Edward.
I was always completely moved by some really great heroes. Steinbeck's Grapes of Wrath--I'm a sixth grader just dying over these characters and trying to write them. I'm wondering from that age 11 or so - how do you put such people on paper? If I only had words like that!
Thanks for even putting me in the same sentence with these greats. You're very kind to bless me like that.

Question: How did you choose which of your stories you would publish first? Was it a bit like picking among your children?
Answer: I thought I'd start middle of the road. Now I will tell you this little gem--I have not shared my FF writing life with my fam. I was in writing hiatus, just coming off a degree and all that work when I found FF. I jump back into the fiction writing I'd abandoned for the past five years. I was done with the torture of academic writing (a whole other beast).
But when I pulled HH and MaMFiLWE, it was emotional. I was dismantling my collection there amongst readers I love. That's what kept me there. You guys. And I'm not good at ending things. Not that I'm ending things, but I didn't want to rock that boat. So I went middle of the road and removed those two stories because they were favored, but not thee favorites.
I would have preferred to start with HH which I'm retitling Running With Monkeys, I think. But I shipped it off to the traditional publishing world and I have to get it back. So I wanted to get started and that left MaM, etc. It was like that. Now the next one I publish, that's impossible. Darnay Road probably. Yeah it's like what you said. They are all clamoring.

Question: I'm also curious about what the process was like for moving it from fanfiction to fiction. Did you have someone else edit it or was it still a one-woman endeavor? What parts were the most difficult for you? What advice would you give to others about self publishing?
Answer: My poor daughter. I've got a story here:  She's my last kid, my youngest. Flashback: I'm hotly pursuing writing (of course) when I find out I'm pregnant. Again. Are you kidding me? The kid before her (my youngest daughter) is eight so I'm feeling some freedom and I'm writing like crazy. So I'm pregnant. I cry.
What I didn't know--that last minute pregnancy that came out of (ahem) nowhere? She would be the one to publish me. I would have to wait for her to get born, grow up, go through college. An internship. Get married. Have a baby. And then, one day, I would say, I am writing fanfiction. Twilight. I...have a following of wonderful readers and...I am tired of waiting on New York. I am going to self-publish. Can you...figure it out?
What I'm saying is--just stay open to your life. Embrace your life. God is blessing you, but sometimes, like me, you may be fighting it. You're figuring it out, you're planning, but he's blessing you all the while in ways you can't imagine. Don't go blind to that. Open up.

There's my sermon.
And I was writing Peace Will Come (wounded soldier) when I got pregnant with her.
Back to your question:  So my daughter has done what I could NEVER have done. She's been so careful, editing my manuscript. So here's what happened. Like it or don't like it this is the truth. Knowing she was going to read it, I took out most of the sex. She had never read me before, so I did a final read over the book and took out all the sex--like a last minute panic thing.
So it would have gone up that way but the cover didn't come through so we got delayed. And the night before it went up I sat up until two in the morning and put the sex back in. That's how the original got published with one "Billy" left in. That was me.
So the next morning I told her what I'd done. I told her the dilemma. See my family and friends do not know what I write. I keep it all secret. No one knows. But now she knows. My youngest.
She's read the sex scenes and says the book was missing something without them. It seemed cut off like I was holding back. She said don't ever do that for me.
I said I wouldn't.
I messed up her edit, but a big thing got settled. I came out to my daughter. Thank God for the cover delay.
Advice for others. Save up around five hundred dollars. You are starting a small business. If you don't already have a tech savvy daughter, or person who will do the technical stuff, local colleges with a design department might be able to help. There could be a student who is looking for some side-work.
For me, the time it would take me to learn is time I can't create. You can do both, and some writer's are doing that so splendidly, but I would rather be writing. I oversee and approve and boss. But like Fran Walsh told me--it is A Lot of work. And we're still learning. We have so much to learn. It's a very big endeavor. But it is full of possibilities. A small business. It is exactly that. Would you rather sell vacuums or your voice? I'd rather have a voice.

Question: Will you be coming out with actual books, not just e-books? 
Answer: That is the goal. One way or another I hope to.

Question: What made her decide to publish?
Answer: I was always trying to reach readers and that takes publication. When I connected with readers on FF I got in my comfort zone but some of you kept at me and you were holding a goal in front of me and I thank you for that. I want to reach readers before I'm done on this earth. I've got something to say.

Question:  I'm interested in hearing how she first came to the fandom, and how she feels about Twilight/SM.    Did she read the books first, or see one of the movies first?  What about Twilight made her start writing fanfic?   Who's her favorite canon character
Answer: Came through youngest daughter. My publisher. She saw the movie, thought I would like it, we went, like ten times or more. then she loaned me the books. From there I went into my covert Twilight life and she went back to school.
My favorite canon character is Edward. With all of my daddy issues, I've always been drawn to the male hero. I've resonated with him, whoever he is.
I found the fandom through a blog somewhere, just a remark someone made. I went there and wow! I asked my daughter and a few other young people, did you ever hear of FF and they all said, "I read some when I was in Jr. High." Or something like that. See how it has evolved?
With Twilight I went right into the fictive dream. People want to tear up the writing, but let's see them accomplish what she did. SM lit a fire. It swept the world of women. Many women would say, "Not me!" But who grabs every person? SM grabbed the lion's share of them with the hope of being completely, sacrificially, loved by someone god-like. That is a fundamental spiritual need in every human being, even the nay-sayers. It supersedes our daddy issues and goes right to our god-issues.
Hats off to SM. She is complete enough in herself to give a dimension to Edward that rattled the hungry cage inside of womenkind. We have spirits. Why else do we give Edward a pass for his many flaws when judged by human standards? Because he loves to the point of sacrifice. We hunger for that kind of love because we were made to be loved like that. Fundamental.

Question: What are your concerns about making the leap from ff to publishing?  What scares you about it?  What excites you? Why did you decide to do it?  
Fears: More criticism. The viciousness of the internet. Writing words you don't have to own and lobbing them at people who are vulnerable to your attacks.
Exciting to think of sharing my stories with more people. Worth the risk. And sticks and stones....
I'm not getting any younger.
If the main reason I'm not doing something is fear, that's not enough of a reason to NOT do it. That is an honestly I hold myself to.

Question: Do you think the majority of the work you publish from here will be OF, new material, rather than starting as Twi? I ask bc you often seem to post as you go - 500 words here, 2,500 there. How do you think you handle writing OF where you don't have that immediate feedback?   Get pre readers? (Sign me up!) or just trust your gut and write as normal, but hold it all until something is complete?
Answer: I will post my work from Twi cause some version of some of those stories are essential in me, essential I not abandon them but push them forward. SM's generosity in letting the Twi inspiration continue also meant it kept evolving. Live things evolve. I came in as it was already evolving. It was moving into every genre, every idea imaginable.
None of us are purists. We are inspired by one another. SM had her inspirations and she was out with them--classical romantic stories. That didn't mean her work wasn't original. It was. It was her interpretation of types she found in classical literature. 
She accomplished something few authors ever do--a level of commercial success that resonated. She did that! Then she allowed others to keep it up using her characters and let's face it, her actors. We reimagined her characters and  her actors in our roles. That's really where the evolution went because the actors became those beloved characters in our minds. So we were inspired to keep giving them other roles and redeveloping their personalities. And they are classic roles. They are types that go all the way back to ancient writing. SM took what she loved and through her unique self created this incredible studio and allowed us to go in and play and out of it came newly imagined things.
I have a sequel in mind for DiTHoM. It's a big story if I go all the way. Will I write that on FF? I don't know. Can I write without my readers? I did for years and found the isolation the reason I went back to school. That led to my real job. Now I fight to find time to write. But I couldn't handle another year of the isolation and FF takes that away. But I found my audience and I have them (you) and I will come back to you, just in another venue. Will knowing you're out there be enough in my creative process? Well, you sure brighten my days. That's why I've stayed so long. Can I do this? I don't know. I'm a hands-on learner.
Pre-readers, maybe, but there's an old discipline in me I might be able to tap, if it's not dried up. I have to write. I have to. But not having  your immediate feedback? Yech, no fun. So I don't know. I'm in transition here. Stay tuned. Please.

Question: What captivated you about the Twilight Saga?
Answer:  Edward. SM created an outrageous world and she used standard types and brought them through her unique voice to make something that turned her readers upside down. Throughout her story she brings the classic themes of pure undying love. It's been done a million times because we need this story in all of its forms and variations. She just did it very well. Argue that all you want but jealousy is unbecoming. SM did it very well. Obviously.

 Question: If you were to write a Twicanon-based story, what would it be about?
Answer: High school-aged  love. Like she and many others have done. It's so pure because you're so open to love. You see love. You embrace it. All of its complications come later. So to tap into that time of purity we all remember is to do something human and beautiful and fundamental.

Question: Do you still plan on writing counselor fanfic or will you now write as Diane?
Answer: Doing both at the moment. Can't imagine letting go of FF. I don't know. I'm open. I do not plan to abdicate any time soon and right now see myself always doing something there. I'm proud of it, that world, such intelligent readers and fine, fine people and the evolution revolution. I'm blessed there. I can bless there. It's a rich thing.

Thanks for this. Just...thank you.

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