Today I am interviewing Laurianne Macdonald, who is an award winning author, artist, photographer, and a certified Poet Laureate. She is also studying for a Doctorate in Chinese Medicine with a Masters in Herbology. Ms. Macdonald, thank you for taking time from your busy life to interview with me.
Your first book is a thriller involving oil company cover-ups. You are also writing a series about the second coming of Christ. With such diverse genres, how do you name your characters? Do you just pick a name you like? Do you research the name so it is historically fitting, or do you choose by the meaning?
For me, picking names for my characters happens differently with each story. So many things go into a character’s “Birth” name, like historical meaning, prior literary references, and symbolic inference, theme and time period as it would pertain to the tale. I use many devices to research a name, including the Bible, the WEB, and Baby Naming resources.
But as careful and thoughtful as I am about naming my characters, I have had a character who, once they came to life (so to speak), simply took their own. Julia in Penance and Prey started out as Rhea, a goddess of nature and earth. A fitting name for a story about an ecologist saving the planet… I felt. Anyway, half way through the first draft the image of my character began to materialize and it turned out that Rhea looked just like Julia Roberts, the actress, (whom I love). Before long I was writing Julia on the page instead of Rhea. By the end of the story, Julia was my world saving ecologist and Rhea was history.
It’s funny how characters can take on a life of their own. How about settings? Do you research specific places, or do you choose something familiar and easy to write?
Choosing a place, city, or environment that are familiar does make the writing process much easier. However, an author can become as complacent to a setting as anybody else. Like that 19th century picture of your great uncle or the thread-bare edges of the Oriental rug in the dining room that have become invisible to the occupant, something is missing from the description when an author is too familiar with a particular setting.
I enjoy reading good description, but I love to write it even more. I try to choose settings that are as interesting and valuable to the story as the main characters. This can be challenging and demanding. In Chiliasm Diaries, for example, the characters are not only chased around the world, they travel through time. The research that was needed to accurately depict the various and exotic physical settings within the context of different time periods was sometimes daunting but exciting too. The thrill kept my writing vibrant and my descriptions dynamic.
How do you choose a title for your book? Do you search bookstores for similar titles or just hope your title hasn’t been used before? Do you choose a title for shock value, or one that will project the theme of your book?
After reading the question I am almost embarrassed to admit that I don’t put any of that kind of effort into titling a work. For me, the title is usually part of the initial threading of concept or inspiration. It’s the eye of the needle, so to speak. A lot of times I can’t even start writing a piece until I’ve got a title. A good title denotes theme, tone, and premise in a single cue that reassures and reminds me of my purpose every time I open the page and read the words in the header.
Now for my final question: How do you ward off writer’s block? Do you read more? Take long walks? Play exciting music in the background?
A scary subject. I feel we should treat it like Voldemort― “He who must not be named.” Or maybe we say: “writer’s block, writers’ block, writers block…” until the words don’t make sense thus losing any and all power.
Basically I wish I had has many ways to dispel writer’s block as I do ways to initiate it, (like a rainy day, tax season, a sunny day, Facebook…) but I don’t. Not a one. I can honestly say I have never once successfully thwarted, warded, or otherwise chased off a case of the word willies. For me it is like having the flu. The only cure is time, rest, and hydration: a few hours in my comfy reading chair with a glass of Merlot and an episode of I Love Lucy or The Big Bang Theory.
I might then say laughter is my go-to philtre. Thanks for helping me figure it out.
And thank you, Ms. Macdonald, for such a personal and enlightening interview.
You can buy PENANCE AND PREY at Amazon.
You can learn more about Laurianne Macdonald and view some of her wonderful artwork at her website.
She is also on Facebook.