When Lisa Kline asked me if she and Joyce Hostetter could interview each other about their recent books, of course, I said yes! Both authors are North Carolina friends, terrific writers, and have been featured on my blog several times. Without further ado, here they are--interviewing one another!
LISA KLINE's INTERVIEW With JOYCE HOSTETTER
I read and loved Joyce Moyer Hostetter’s historical story Blue, which has become a classic, become required reading for many schools, and has even inspired a play. On her website, she says that she writes about tough topics because she is trying to understand the world’s sorrows. I so admire the way she addresses these tough topics in such an authentic and straightforward way.
LISA: Jackie Honeycutt, your main character in Equal, is an appealing and earnest young man who wants to do the right thing. Tell me a little about how you developed his character. Was he in any of the previous Baker’s Mountain books?
JOYCE: Jackie shows up at the end of Comfort but the reader doesn’t know much about him until they read Drive, the 4th book in the series. As the youngest member of the Honeycutt family, he had to wait his turn to be the main character. Once the series was underway, Equal, the 5th book was always going to be Jackie’s story.
LISA: You drop Jackie, your fictional hero, into a real protest march in Greensboro in 1960. That must have been a fun scene to write. Tell me a little about that decision.
JOYCE: Ha! It was a necessary decision but my first draft didn’t include it. Since Jackie doesn’t live in Greensboro, I assumed he’d be reporting on the movement as seen through the eyes of his activist sister. But, of course, that doesn’t work! The protagonist has to get in on the action. So, I dug a little deeper and found a way to get him to Greensboro at a critical moment in history. In the end, it all worked well and yes, it was fun to write! Because, as you know, conflict creates the story.
LISA: You’ve said this is the final book in the Bakers Mountain series. Many readers will be sad to hear this. What project is next for you?
JOYCE: I’m writing another North Carolina story set during WWI when several thousand German “enemy aliens” were interned in the small town of Hot Springs. In more ways than one it is a “friendship with the enemy” story. I am so psyched about this and am close to submitting my editor’s requested revisions. Maybe I’ll blog about that soon at www.joycemoyerhostetter.blogspot.com
JOYCE HOSTETTER's INTERVIEW WITH LISA KLINE
Filled with dreams of publication, in the early 2000's I attended a writing session on historical fiction. The presenter, Lisa Williams Kline had recently won the NC Juvenile Literature Award for her historical novel, Eleanor Hill. I soaked up her wisdom and made it my goal to write as well as she did so I could win that award myself one day. Clearly she set me on the right path because I actually did a few years later! I've been writing historical fiction ever since. (Carol's note: I attended that session and still have my notes--somewhere. That's before Joyce and I knew each other--and before the three of us became friends.)
JOYCE: I loved reading One Week of the Heart and One Week of You! Both were poignant and funny and written with a lively, authentically teen voice. And they made me wonder, how'd she do that? Which of these stories did you conceive of and write first and where did your idea come from?
LISA I wrote One Week of You first. The idea came from two real-life situations. The first was that both of my daughters had to carry “flour babies” as part of their 8th grade health curriculum. Both boys and girls had to carry five pound bags of flour for a week, ostensibly to show them the meaning of having to be responsible for a baby 24/7. I found this curriculum kind of funny, and I thought it would make a funny story to have my main character forgetting her flour baby all the time, ironically because of a romantic relationship she was considering.
The second real-life event was when there were three bomb threats in one week at my younger daughter’s high school. It was, needless to say, a chaotic and scary and emotional week, and I wanted to write about it. I wondered, could I combine a humorous story line with a serious one? I decided to try that challenge, and One Week of You was the result.
After One Week of You came out, my publishers asked me if they could have more of Lizzy, the main character, which really made me feel good, of course! They wanted possibly a series, but said a novella would work also. And so I decided to write One Week of the Heart, a novella, which is actually a prequel to One Week of You. Getting back into Lizzy’s flaky character was a delight.
JOYCE: Did you know, at the outset, that the whole story would take place in one week? What challenges are involved in fully plotting a story that takes place in a week?
LISA: I did know that the story would take place in one week, because the students had to carry the flour babies for a week, and the bomb threats also took place in one week. And, of course, many teen-age romances last about a week, haha! I like using compressed time periods for my novels. It can keep the tension high, your reader doesn’t have to wait months or years for a resolution, and you still have freedom to explore the past through flashbacks.
JOYCE: I always wanted to write funny and you do it so naturally. Got any tips for me and others who want to tickle the reader’s funny bone?
LISA: That’s a very nice compliment, thank you! I think the concept of the flour babies is inherently funny, so I had that going for me in this book. I found the irony of Lizzy repeatedly losing her flour baby because of her crush –the very thing the flour baby was supposed to be training her to guard against– to be funny. Also, Lizzy is a very flawed main character – she is forgetful, she is susceptible to flattery, she is overly competitive – and I think flawed characters can lend themselves well to comedy. Some things that I write just come out funny, and I have no idea how it works. I tried studying humor once – I read articles by really hilariously brilliant writers like Tobin Anderson – but found that being analytical about it didn’t work for me. When I try to make something funny it never seems to work. I’ve written several serious novels, but have seemed to have more luck with the ones that just turned out to be humorous.
Learn some fun tidbits about Lisa at her Website's About Page.