1- Hi Abbie and thank you for agreeing to this interview. Tell me a little about yourself and your background?
I’m visually impaired and live in Sheridan, Wyoming, where for six years, I cared for my totally blind late husband who was partially paralyzed by two strokes. Before that, I was a registered music therapist and worked for fifteen years in a nursing home and volunteered at other facilities that served senior citizens. I also facilitated a support group for the visually impaired, taught Braille, and served on the advisory board to a trust fund that allows blind and visually impaired persons in the state of Wyoming to purchase adaptive equipment. I write fiction, poetry, and creative nonfiction. I’ve published a novel and two poetry collections. I hope to eventually publish a collection of short stories.
2- Since you are a published poet as well as a novelist, what do you have to say about two different aspects of writing?
Writing prose and poetry are two different things, but I enjoy both. At one time, I wondered if I should stick to one genre but realized that would only squelch my creativity.
3- When did you decide that you want to be a writer?
In the earlier part of this century while I was still working at the nursing home, I started writing as a hobby, but with my busy schedule, it was hard to find time to write. When I married my late husband in 2005, he convinced me to quit my day job and write full time, and I’ve been doing that ever since.
4- What about the craft of writing? How do you approach your writing? Do you have a writing routine?
I treat writing like any other weekday job. I write Monday through Friday between the hours of 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. I’m not always at my desk. Other things keep me busy, but I try to write as much as I can during this time.
5- What do you prefer: Pen or Computer? And how do you stay organized (any methods, systems, tools you use)?
I prefer the computer. All my writing is organized by genre in separate folders: fiction, poetry, and nonfiction. Novels and poetry collections are kept in separate folders within each genre folder.
6- What motivates you to write?
I’m inspired to write by a lot of things: news stories, songs, other writing, some occurrences in nature.
7- How do you decide on the settings for your story? How do they come to you?
The only way I can think to explain this is to give an example. My novel, We Shall Overcome, was inspired by a local news story about people protesting the start of the Iraq war in 2003 in front of our county courthouse. After hearing about such protesters being arrested for demonstrating in the 1960’s, I had one of those “what if” moments. What if our city decided to have these protesters arrested, and what if one of those protesters was a young woman who was visually impaired? I’ll say no more because I don’t want to spoil it for anyone wanting to read the book.
8- What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
I work with several state and local writing groups, walk and take water exercise classes at the YMCA, sing in a women’s a Capella group, and of course I do a lot of reading which is very important for writers. I also enjoy performing on my own, and I occasionally take my guitar to nursing homes and other such facilities and sing for folks there.
9- Are you working on anything at the moment? When can we see your next work?
I’m afraid I can’t guarantee when my next book will be published. I just finished a memoir about how I met and married my late husband and cared for him after he suffered two strokes. I hope to publish it on Amazon and Smashwords, but first, I’m taking a break from that to put together another poetry chapbook I plan to send to a contest sponsored by QuillsEdge Press.
10- Do you have any advice for aspiring/emerging writers?
Don’t quit your day job until you’re sure you’ll be able to make enough money with your writing to support yourself. In the meantime, even if you write for only fifteen minutes a day, you’re still a writer. Don’t let the fact that there aren’t enough hours in a day discourage you.
About Your Reading Life:
Q- What do you prefer while reading: paperbacks or ebooks? Because I’m visually impaired, I prefer to have my books read to me. I download books in recorded and text formats from Audible, Smashwords, and other sources. I don’t use Kindle or Nook because those books aren’t always accessible. I do use Bookshare, a worldwide Webb service for people with print impairments, and I also download recorded books from the National Library Service’s Braille and Audio Reading site.
Q- Do you re-read books? One book that you would read again & again? I rarely re-read books. Once I’ve finished reading a book, I delete it.
Q- Your favourite author(s)? My favorite authors are Debbie Macomber, Cheryl Woods, and Susan Wiggs. However, I’m open to reading other authors. I recently read Naomi Jackson’s debut novel, The Star Side of Bird Hill, which was reviewed in The New Yorker.
Q- What book(s) are you reading at present? I just finished reading My Home Away from Home: Life at Perkins School for the Blind by Robert T. Branco. Being visually impaired and having attended a school for the blind in Arizona, I occasionally like to read about the experiences of others in such institutions. I review most of the books I read at the end of each month on my blog.