This #WritingProcess Blog Tour connects authors all over the world with the intent to share blogs and the writing life. Each Monday a writer answers some questions about his/her process. Then they pass the torch on, to someone else who will answer the same questions the week after.
This is how I met Giano Cromley, author of The Last Good Halloween; he tapped me to follow him on the “tour”. It turned out that Diane Lefer, author of The Fiery Alphabet and Transit, had sent him my way. Giano and I got to emailing. We discovered that we both had studied in Siena, Italy, as exchange students. Diane hadn’t known this but with her writerly matchmaking, she’d hooked up two Siena-philes. Thanks, Diane. And Giano, it was great to meet you and find out about your amazing work. Be sure check out his novel and visit his website http://www.gianocromley.com/blog-that-g.html where you’ll find a lyrical description of his writing process.
And now to answer the “blog tour” questions:
1) What are you working on?
Mostly, I’m working my novel-in-progress, Mrs. May in Egypt, set against the backdrops of Cairo, Milan and Monte Carlo, all places where I have lived or traveled. I began to write the novel late last year, after events in Egypt went from bad to worse. Told from a multiple third-person point of view, Mrs. May in Egypt explores the effect of distance, culture, politics—the landscape—on love, marriage and family.
I’m also working on a collection of short stories, Riviera Red. Set along the Italian Riviera, these stories are about the effect of time and distance on love and relationships but they’re lighthearted and whimsical.
And I’m also re-revising my novel, A Visitor’s Guide to Titti’s Men, which I began while a graduate student at Vermont College of Fine Arts. Told from multiple points of view, the novel is supposedly written as an exposé by the book’s heroine whose portrayal of affairs has landed in the lap of her American lover. He publishes it with footnotes as counterpoint, relating his version of events. The novel explores the emotional journey of love, with truth in relationships shown not as an absolute—there are many sides to a story—but as a multifaceted, mutable affair.
2) How does my work differ from others of its genre?
I suppose my work is literary in genre; I’m mostly interested in exploring human relationships and how they change. Some of my work—the earlier novel, A Visitor’s Guide to Titti’s Men—contains elements of farce and metafiction, while others are more traditional in terms of structure.
3) Why do I write what I do?
Living in another country where the language, culture and habits are different and sometimes inexplicable, I find writing keeps me in touch with my American self, it allows me to express myself in English, to communicate the peculiar and the wonderful of the landscapes where I live and travel.
4) How does your writing process work?
On those days that permit it, I get up early, flip the lid to my laptop and write for several hours. Without fail, by 11 am, our dog comes and scratches at my chair. If I ignore her, she’ll whine and let me know it’s time for a walk.
I don’t usually return to my desk until the afternoon.
I write brand new in the early hours when my energy level is high and our apartment is mostly free (except for the dog) of the other noisy beings who live here. Every once in a while the neighbor upstairs pads across my ceiling. Sometimes I can hear the building’s custodian berating some scapegoat in the courtyard below my window. If her whining and carping grows loud—someone missed the trashcan when taking out their garbage, for example—I might get up and peer out to see what’s what. But mostly it’s easy to concentrate in the morning.
Afternoons are a different matter. First, there’s lunch. Everyone comes home—in that old-fashioned Italian fashion that’s fast becoming an anachronism. I make pasta using lots of pots and pans. I don’t mind. I know that in a short while, they won’t be coming home for lunch every day any more. They’ll be off, on their own, and then, well let’s not think about it, Ok?
After lunch, then there’s errands, or a course I have to teach, or a translation I have to finish. Finally, at some point, I might find a pocket of time and work on revisions.
I can spend weeks completely immersed in one project. Then I come up for air and do something totally unrelated. I especially like going on photographic expeditions. I might pick an event in the newspaper. Or I might meander around town. Then I upload the spoils onto my disc drive, pick out the best shots and develop a visual and textual narrative that I then either blog about or publish at Numéro Cinq magazine where I am a staff writer.
I used to write longhand. But now, when I try, I find I don’t have patience. I have to get the words out quickly. It used to be when I got stuck, I’d write in a notebook with a pen. The act of writing out longhand seemed to help free up whatever was blocking the brain cells. Now, when I get stuck, I look through my pictures on my disc drive and fiddle with them. The color glowing on the screen relaxes me and then all of a sudden I can write again.
My writing and photographs have been published in the US and Italy by, amongst others, the University of Texas Press, IPSOA publishers, Corriere della Sera, The Huffington Post and Numéro Cinq magazine.
Tune in next week to read the words of Ben Woodard, Jeanne Gassman and James Pounds. In the meantime, here’s a sneak preview:
Benjamin Woodard lives in Connecticut. He is a co-editor of the literary magazine Atlas and Alice and a staff writer for Numéro Cinq Magazine. His recent fiction has appeared in decomP magazinE, Cleaver Magazine, and Numéro Cinq. His reviews, essays, and author interviews have been featured in Publishers Weekly, Rain Taxi Review of Books, The Bygone Bureau, Numéro Cinq, and other fine publications. He is a member of the National Book Critics Circle. You can read his post on March 10 for this tour here: www.benjaminjwoodard.com.
Jeanne Lyet Gassman holds an MFA in Writing from Vermont College of Fine Arts. She lives in the hot desert of Phoenix, Arizona, but her heart longs for pine-scented mountains. Jeanne writes fiction and creative nonfiction. She also teaches part-time and works as a freelance editor. Her historical novel, Blood of a Stone, is forthcoming from Tuscany Press in the summer of 2014. Best described as “Crime and Punishment in first century Palestine,” the novel is the story of Demetrios of Tiberias, a slave who murders his Roman master and creates a new life with a new identity. The penalty for his crime is crucifixion, and when Demetrios’s business partner reveals the truth about Demetrios to a healer named Jesus of Nazareth, Demetios realizes he must take drastic measures if he hopes to survive.
Jeanne’s fiction has appeared recently in Red Savina Review, Museum of Americana, Assisi, and WOW! Her short story, “A Perfect Fit,” is forthcoming in the anthology, Mother Knows Best, published by Infinite Acacia Press. In addition to writing, teaching, and editing, Jeanne also maintains a blog, Jeanne’s Writing Desk, where she posts opportunities for writers, including calls for submission, contests, grants, fellowships, and more. She rarely posts anything about herself on this blog, but for this tour, you’ll be able to read her post starting on March 10th here: Jeanne Lyet Gassman.
James A. Pounds is on a mission to make up for lost time. The son of a military journalist, he’s written his entire life as a sideline and as personal exorcism. During his career as a designer and general contractor, the voice of the muse grew more insistent and could no longer be ignored. He began taking journalism classes with the goal of becoming a travel writer, but made the mistake of beginning a novel and was consumed. He is also a poet. His work has been a semi-finalist or finalist in the William Faulkner Writing Competition in three different categories: novel, novel-in-progress, and poetry. His work has appeared in New Literati, The Sorin Oak Review, The Hawaiian Women’s Journal, Martial Arts Magazine, The Santa Fe Sun and Wildflowers. He is at work on a third novel, figuring that, well, third time’s the charm.
A rich background of travel and experience shaped James’ power of observation. A Marine Corps military “brat”, he moved frequently as a child and acquired the travel bug. Having lived on all three coasts and in Hawaii, he’s now traveling further and has spent time in Japan, Australia and New Zealand, Canada, Mexico, and Brazil.
A long-time Karate Sensei (www.KarateAustin.com) as well as a Kundalini Yoga instructor, James and his wife, the beautiful and brainy Theresa Herrera, reside in Austin, Texas and in the hill country outside the historic town of Blanco. He holds an MFA in Writing from Vermont College of Fine Arts and has served on the board of the Writer’s League of Texas.
A fan of Annie Proulx, Michael Ondaatje, Sherman Alexie, and Paulo Coelho; poets Brian Turner, Octavio Paz, and Pablo Neruda; minstrel Richard Thompson; Clint Eastwood’s noir western Unforgiven; and Mexican and Japanese food, folks, and architecture, James enjoys all things in life that have heart and soul.