Today I am interviewing the quirky author, Greta Silver, who authored the book titled, appropriately enough, Quirky Short Stories. Ms. Silver is the author of short stories, essays, humor columns, local and national trade and syndicated articles, and has hundreds of credits behind her name. It’s a pleasure to speak with you today.
The pleasure is all mine.
Can you tell me how you name your characters? Do you check your names out in baby name books or do you just pick a name you like?
In QUIRKY SHORT STORIES, the names fell into place because I knew my characters. In The Garden Plot, Mert, the narrator, is a simple woman in a narrow world with no sense of humor. She complains constantly about her neighbor, Pearl, a gem, who glows in her efforts to keep Mert off balance by bringing new experiences into her life.
In The Last Puzzle Piece, I chose the names Wallace to portray a stiff, controlling husband, Diana as his conflicted wife, and Valerie as the other woman. Did I struggle over the names? No. They seemed to fit their roles.
In Airpocket, I selected Howard and Louise. During the story, he became Howie or How and she became Lou.
How do you choose a setting? Do you research specific places for details or use a more non-specific setting that everyone can relate to?
I’m partial to apartments and houses for my stories because I’ve loved every home I’ve lived in. But I’ve written stories that take place in psychiatric institutions, on airplanes, in hotel rooms and at work.
It depends on what pops into my head, where I’ve seen a person who fascinates me until I get her or him down on paper.
For example, I saw Louise on an airplane. She was there from head to toe. We left the airplane, but her character stayed with me. Also, it can be where a person said a word or sentence that plays over and over in my brain, like a scene from a play.
How do you choose a title? Do you try to encapsulate the meaning of the book or simply go for something eye catching?
QUIRKY’s thread is that each story has an unexpected ending. A friend once told me, “You lead a quirky life.” I agreed with her. According to the Oxford American Dictionary (yes, I still use it) quirk is defined as a trick of fate. Hey, I thought, that sounds like it’s unpredictable, variable, peculiar, all those yummy things. I like quirky best.
That certainly sums up the book. How do you deal with writer’s block?
What’s that? I don’t call it a block. I call it going crazy by inches. Here’s a typical day.
I tell myself I am going to write today. No excuses. I’m going to say focused. I inform my husband, “No matter who calls, I’m not going to answer the phone. I’ll call people back.” Then the cannon blasts off, and I shoot out in a thousand pieces.
The phone rings. My husband comes into my office with the name of the caller written on a piece of paper.
“Thank you for answering, honey,” I say. “No, no, no. Don’t tell me who called. Keep the paper. Just answer the phone and add any other names and numbers, please. I’ll get to everyone eventually. Promise. Love you.”
Five minutes later my hubby comes into my office to tell me the newest word our parrot said, and reminds me the cable company tech is due between one and five p.m. Wonderful. That genius will take over my office. It takes twenty minutes to get back to the sentence I was editing. My husband asks what I want for dinner. I request reservations.
The calls continue. “So far the phone has rung eight times,” he yells from the family room.
I know it’s bothering him that those calls are mostly for me and I haven’t answered one. That’s too darned bad. After I stick my nose out of here he will nag me until I check each name from his list.
But it’s worth it if I complete writing five pages before the darned tech arrives. I hope that nerd is late.
If he’s not, my next project will be a book about a TV tech who is found dead in the home of one of his clients. Now, what should I name him? Clarence? Abner? Bartholomew? Otto? Otis? Orville?
I’ll worry about it tomorrow.
I’m sure everyone can relate to a day like that. Thanks for your off-beat interview. I enjoyed the chuckle.
You can buy QUIRKY SHORT STORIES at Amazon. I recommend you do so. The stories are delightfully quirky.
You can reach Greta Silver at her website.
She is also on Facebook.