Delighted to welcome my good friend and talented author, Leigh Verrill-Rhys, to this blog today and tomorrow. Leigh and I go back a few years and we both published in non-fiction before getting contracts with novels. For this new appearance, I threw some tough questions at her and I think her answers here are marvelous.
But also you’ll want to check out Leigh’s previous guest appearance, which has been one of my most popular columns on my other blog:
Answering Jeff’s Pop Quiz
By Leigh Verrill-Rhys
1. Have you ever encountered people who seem unable / unwilling to comprehend that writing is something you are driven to do?
Saying this happens to me about once a week is not much of an exaggeration if you consider all the years that I denied it myself. Anne Rice put it best when she said she felt less like a monster when she wrote. We all have our varying degrees of monster but for me, I feel less like I am a waste of space when I have written something that day.
Perhaps that particular sentiment – being driven – has a connection to a fundamental need for a sense of purpose. I have always written in some form, as a child I told stories and began writing them when I had access at home to pencils and lined paper.
I could no more give up writing in some form than I could voluntarily give up breathing. Stories are in my head, along with all the characters that populate them, all the time. I will never have enough time now to write them all.
2. If you were not a writer, can you imagine what else you might do to express the creativity within you?
I have always loved to sing and dance and have done both as a performer, but I don’t have the talent to make a career of either. I’m not ‘driven’ to develop my voice although I took lessons for years. I’m not driven to practice or develop my dance technique, though I love the participation. I don’t have the same fascination for music or dance that I have for language.
3. Give us at least one example of someone who has contacted you and expressed how much your writing meant to them.
I have had some wonderful reviews over the last few years and I appreciate all of them, even those that aren’t even remotely kind. My favorites are those from readers who say they think about my characters for days after they have finished the book. That means I have created people that someone else can identify with and care about. For me, the characters are the number one ingredient.
One of the nicest comments I received from a reviewer/reader about Wait a Lonely Lifetime was, “Maybe we’ll be lucky and there will be a sequel.”
4. In the interviews & blog questions you've handled over the years, what is one writing question which you've WISHED had been asked of you ... but never has been asked?
That is a 16 trillion dollar question, Jeff! The answer to that is a question I ask myself, over and over: Why do I write?
5. What's your answer to # 4 above?
And the answer to that is “See Question 1 above.”
I could say ‘because I have something to say’ but most of what I have to say has been said. Or ‘because that’s who/what I am’. I believe all creative people are either courageous or foolhardy – probably, and necessarily, a little of both. We are makers, changing chaos into form.
For instance, a box of embroidery thread is a jumble of colors and tangled skeins but a creative person so inclined to work in that medium will select from the chaos and create a wall-hanging or a cushion cover. Someone else may look at the box and find the chaos has a meaning in itself when they paint a picture of it or take a photo. I’ve done all of the above and I have also used that box of thread as a prop to present one aspect of a character’s personality.
Singing, dancing, painting, embroidery, photography are all creative outlets I happily undertake, but none is more fulfilling than words on a page to build a world that I can inhabit along with all the people in my imagination.
Crazy? Without doubt.
Genres: Contemporary & American Historical Romance, Women's Lit, Women's Autobiography
Publishers: Avalon, Amazon, Eres, Honno
Latest Release: Salsa Dancing with Pterodactyls, Eres Books, 2013
Available on the iBookstore:
A native of Paris Hill, Maine, Leigh spent most of her childhood and early adult years in San Francisco before immigrating to Wales to marry and raise three sons. She has been a writer, editor and lecturer for most of her life, intermingled with career portfolios in marketing, finance and community arts projects. An award-winning editor, she has published three volumes of women’s autobiographical writing about their lives in Wales and during World War II. Following the Troops, Life for an Army Wife 1940-1945 is her mother's memoir, published posthumously. Wait a Lonely Lifetime was her debut novel, inspired by a visit to Firenze and her fascination for its beauty and history. She is currently working on a serial novel set in Maine, Nights Before, the first two episodes were released in December 2012 and February 2013, respectively. She is also the author of Salsa Dancing with Pterodactyls, Parts I & II.