Monday, September 2, 2013

A Short Q&A With Lois Cloarec Hart


1. Why did you start writing?
I was talked into it by a dear friend who spent eight months in ’99 convincing me to give it a try. With her coaching and encouragement, I finished the first draft of Coming Home within the year.

2. If you had to do it all over again would you still write?
Definitely. I very much enjoy it.

3. Once you’ve written a story do you ever sit down and read it for enjoyment?
Only if a few years have gone by. Otherwise, because I’ve gone over it so often, I’m pretty tired of a story by the time it’s ready for posting or publishing.

4. Is your muse a constant companion, or does it abandon you for long periods of time?
She does wander off at times, but if I’m patient she always comes back eventually, though it could be months later.

5. How do you feel about sequels?
As a reader I like them for stories I’ve really enjoyed. As a writer, I generally eschew them for short stories, though I wrote a prequel (Coming Attractions) for Country Mouse because I liked the characters so much. My novels to date have been of a roman-fleuve nature, in that they share some characters and a setting, but each stands alone and can be read independent of the others.

6. Is writing a quiet thing for you, where there can't be any noise or conversation going on?
Definitely a quiet thing. I like music, but don’t even want a radio on in the house when I’m writing.

7. Do you prefer to write/read romance, angst, horror etc, etc?
As long as the story is well written and engaging I’m open to reading and writing almost all genres except horror.

8. What usually sparks a story idea for you?
Often a phrase will catch my eye and trigger an idea, but it could be almost anything. My brother-in-law’s nickname was the genesis of Yak, even though he had nothing to do with the plotline.

9. Where do your ideas come from?
My environment, my experiences, a metaphysical concept, a poem…it’s hard to say because ideas just pop into my mind and I’m not always cognizant of where they originated.

10. What advice can you give to future writers?
Find editors and beta readers you can trust. Good editing and honest input are crucial to a polished final product. A skilled editor will gently re-direct you when you’ve gone off in the wrong direction, guide you to shore up the weak points in your plot, polish your prose, and generally make you look far better as an author than you’d ever look on your own.

11. What has the show Xena meant to you?
It was certainly a life-changer for me. I learned how to navigate an on-line existence, started writing, met my wife—who knows if I’d have done any of those things without the show.

12. How do you feel about the way it ended?
I didn’t like it. As a fan I felt cheated and I’ve never watched it again since first viewing.

13. How real are your characters to you?
Very real when I’m engaged in a story. If my characters aren’t talking to me, then the story isn’t working.

14. Are you in control of your story, or do the characters run the show?
They totally run the show and often take the story in unexpected directions. They just let me think I’m boss.

15. How would you feel about another writer giving one of your characters a cameo in their story?
I don’t think it’s ever happened, but I’d be okay with it if they did me the courtesy of asking first.

16. Has online writing changed your life in any way?
Definitely. When I was a kid devouring books in the local library, authors were gods to me. On-line writing allowed me to learn to write, to practice and improve, and to achieve something I’d never dared dream of…my name on published books.
17. Have you ever been stalked on the internet by an overzealous fan?
No, not a single zealot among my fans. I feel so deprived. :)

18. Which one of your online stories is your favorite?
That’s like asking a mother to choose between her children, but I guess I’d say The Grand Old Lady. I love the combination of different generations and the poignancy of Miss Margaret’s story.

19. Do you have to do a lot of rewrites?
Not total rewrites, but I do a lot of revising and editing.

20. Is there ever a point in your writing where you get stuck each and every time? How do you get out of it?
Not really. If I’m inspired enough by an idea to sit down and write the story that goes with it, the muse usually hangs around until I’m done.

21. Which part of the writing process do you enjoy the most and why?
There’s no part I don’t enjoy. From creation to revising, I like it equally.

22. When you're working on a story are you obsessed with it until it's done?
I can be. When I wrote the first draft of Walking the Labyrinth last year, I ate nothing but sandwiches for three weeks because I didn’t want to take time away from my keyboard.

23. Who are your favorite top five writers? Online or published.
That’s a tough one because there are so many I enjoy, but if I had to select five whose books I’ll buy without having to read a summary first, I’d say KG MacGregor, Georgia Beers, Gerri Hill, JM Redmond and Karin Kallmaker.

24. Do you write a story straight through, or do you write in pieces, then put it all together?
I’m a linear writer (and thinker) so I write from beginning to end, then go back and revise.

25. Do you read books for pleasure while you are writing?
I read every day for pleasure, but mostly on-line newspapers and metaphysical books. I save lesfic novels for when I’m on the road or on vacation.

26. Have you created a character that you would like to meet?
I think I’d like to meet all of them—except Cass from Broken Faith. She’s insane, sadistic, and not someone you’d like to encounter in a dark alley.

27. What do you see yourself doing in the future?
Hopefully what I’m doing now—only more proficiently and productively.

28. What turns you on?
Intelligence and humour.

29. What turns you off?
Unkindness, rudeness.

30. What sound or noise do you love?
The sound of running water—I have a fountain outside my front window that makes a soothing backdrop to writing.

31. What sound or noise do you hate?
Anything that wakes me up in the middle of a good sleep.

32. What is your favorite curse word?
I like variety since different situations call for different cuss-words in escalating degrees of profanity.

33. What profession other than yours would you like to attempt?
I’ve always enjoyed home improvements and I wish I’d taken the opportunity of learning carpentry from my father as a young woman. Unfortunately, arthritis now restricts hands-on activities.

34. What profession would you absolutely not like to participate in?
Retail, in any field.

35. If Heaven exists what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the pearly gates?
“You made progress this time around. Well done.”

Here is Lois Cloarec Hart's favorite story.
The Grand Old Lady
Hailey Anders has been hired as the live-in manager of an all-female resident hotel called The Peregrine. It's her dream job and will allow her to live in a desirable area of New York that she'd never be able to afford otherwise. But the true perquisite of the job is one long-time resident, an elderly lady who lives across the hall from Hailey's new abode. Miss Margaret Coulter is the elegant, caring heart and soul of The Peregrine, having lived there for over sixty years. The two women of different generations grow to be dear friends, and Miss Margaret eventually tells Hailey of her long-lost love, Mary Louise Elwood, aka: Billie. The story of Billie and Maggie affects Hailey deeply, and when Miss Margaret makes a request, Hailey is unable to refuse. That favour will lead Hailey in a most unexpected direction.

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