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Friday, August 16, 2013

Author Interview: Pam Stucky

Today I am pleased to present to you all the 88th in a series of Author Interviews. Recently I sat down with the sometimes dis-organized, minion-seeking, Pam Stucky, and our conversation went something like this:

Paul: I like to start my interviews by asking if you have any writing rituals?
Pam: I don’t, but now I want to make some! I suppose the closest I come to rituals is that generally I do my big-picture thinking with pen and paper, and then once I have a general idea of what I want to write, I switch to computer. Another thing: when I’m really stuck I take my giant stack of notes and I go to happy hour. I’m not saying people should drink to write, but giving those little internal editor gremlins a bit of the hair of the dog can distract them just enough to let the writing flow. Ha!

Paul: If someone had the power to step into your creative mind what would they see?
Pam: They would see a space in desperate need of organization. At any given time I have a dozen or more ideas churning around in my head. I’ve often wished there were a way to physically go into my brain and set up file cabinets, file everything away in its proper place. I am constantly looking for ways to more effectively organize all my ideas so I can be more efficient with my time.

Paul: How do you find the time to write?
Pam: It’s definitely a challenge. I sometimes wonder how people who work full-time do it. I have a part time job rather than full-time, so that’s a bit of a luxury some don’t have. Still, I don’t take time off. I work every day and feel “off” when I don’t. I think it takes far more time to avoid writing than to actually write – that is, all the things we do to avoid writing when we feel that fear or block. If you just sit down and write, it takes a lot less time.

Paul: What is one thing you hope I do not tell the readers?
Pam: Interesting question. Going through the process of putting my first book out there felt so vulnerable that I’m not sure there’s anything left for me to hide! I suppose I hope you don’t tell them that my books aren’t worth their time. I believe they are, and I very much hope readers do too!

Paul: If you are self-published, what led to you going your own way?
Pam: I spent a year trying to get an agent for my first book. I had rejection after rejection – all very kind, saying things like, “Your book is good but it’s not for me” – but rejections nonetheless. After about a year, I didn’t know what else to try. Now I know much more about the process and could probably find a publisher (if I wanted to go that route, which I no longer do), but at the time I didn’t. Rather than give up, I decided to self-publish. I’m so glad I did. I love the control it gives me!

Paul: Do you plot your stories or do you just get an idea and run with it?
Pam: When I started my first book, Letters from Wishing Rock, I just had an idea and ran with it. I had no idea where it was going! When I wrote the second book in the series I did a little more pre-planning; I’d plot out maybe ten or twenty pages at a time. Then in writing the third book, The Tides of Wishing Rock, I plotted out the whole thing, very loosely. I had a giant sheet of paper taped to the wall on which I planned everything! With my new travel books now, it’s part planning and part serendipity.

Paul: Do you do a lot of editing or do you find that as time goes on your writing is more fully formed?
Pam: I’m not so sure it’s as much fully formed as it is that I have a better idea now of what I’ll end up cutting later. When I edited my first book, by the end I’d cut nearly 20% of the book. Now I’m better able to recognize when I’m just putting something in for filler, or when it’s interesting to me but likely no one else, or when I need a “beat” before I move on to the next scene, so I adjust as necessary as I go.

Paul: Do you have to do much research for your stories?
Pam: My Wishing Rock series didn’t require much research as the books took place in a fictional location and the stories were very slice-of-life. Occasionally, though, scenes required some research, and that’s one of my favorite parts of writing. Writing is like having a passport into the secrets of the world; people are so eager to help and invite you in when you explain why you’re asking. For my upcoming travel series, of course each book requires a ton of travel and travel research – the best kind! I am, at my core, curious; combining research with creativity is a delight.

Paul: What is your most recent book? Tell us a little about it
Pam: Technically my most recent book is a compilation of recipes from my first three books (novels with recipes). Before that, my most recent book is The Tides of Wishing Rock, the third (and final) book in the Wishing Rock series. These novels chronicle the twists and turns of the daily lives of the characters of Wishing Rock, Washington, an island town where everyone lives in the same building. The novels are filled with wit, wisdom, and recipes, and explore community, relationships, forgiveness, risk, and trust. They’re about ordinary, quirky people and the choices that drive them through life and love.

Paul: Do you also write any poetry, non-fiction or short stories?
Pam: Yes! My next series will be non-fiction, a combination of travelogue and humor. I’ll be launching my Pam on the Map series this autumn with three books. Pam on the Map: Iceland will be the primary book at launch, with two retrospective books to accompany it, one on Ireland and one on Switzerland. I have always wanted to write travel books but had never quite found the right format for me. I finally figured it out and am so excited! Also, I will eventually have a sort of memoir/book of essays, which is also currently in the works.

Paul: What’s your favorite / least favorite aspect of your writing life? Has anything surprised you?
Pam: My favorite part is that I get to share stories! More and more I’m thinking of myself as a person who connects people through words, rather than an author. It’s all about stories. We will always need stories. Least favorite aspect is that I don’t yet have as much time to write as I’d like. What has surprised me, I suppose, is that after decades of not knowing what I wanted to do with my life, I finally figured it out. I’m not searching anymore. Now I just get to observe and explore and share the world. Pretty amazing.

Paul: What do you do when you’re not writing? Do you have any hobbies or party tricks?

Pam: Right now it feels like any time I spend not writing is spent on marketing my writing. The more books I have under my belt, the more juggling there seems to be. I keep joking that I need minions, but it’s true! Aside from that, though, I love to travel (which I’ve also now turned into a part of the writing career, with my upcoming Pam on the Map series), and on occasion I like to get out in the garden and work until I drop.

Paul:  Thanks, Pam, that was great! I wish you every success for the future.

About Pam Stucky: Pam is a travel enthusiast, an amateur photographer, a backseat philosopher, and an excellent baker. She would like to claim to be a gardener, but the plants beg to differ. Pam’s first series is the Wishing Rock series, starting with the award-winning Letters from Wishing Rock (a novel with recipes). For her next series, Pam will be integrating her love of travel with her love of writing, when she launches the Pam on the Map series this fall – books filled with wit and wanderlust. Pam lives near Seattle, where she works to fill her days with connection and stories.

Pam's Blog: Pam Stucky
Pam on Twitter: @pamstucky
Pam on Facebook: Pam Stucky
Pam's latest book: The Tides Of Wishing Rock (Amazon)

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