The POV Lounge (POV) Why did you become a writer?
E Marie Sanders (EMS) I became a writer because I would always have tons of stories floating around in my mind. I have a vivid imagination and I take simple, real events and dramatize them into the world of fiction. I’ve always enjoyed getting lost in a good book, and I figured that I could combine my love for reading with putting my imagination on paper, hopefully enticing others to enjoy reading as well.
POV: When did you know you wanted to publish a book?
EMS: It largely has to do with the literature/classics that we teach in school and how some of my former students reacted to them. I appreciate what’s included in most standard high school state curriculums. However, the average student who is not thinking about college, who does not have a clue about the difference between a Montague and a Capulet, gets into the classics. Instead of banging my head against a wall by assigning readings that most of them would not complete, I used the Native American tradition of storytelling, using stories that happened to me in high school and college as my text. One day, based on how I told stories, one of my students told me (in addition that I need to go to Hollywood and become an actress!), “Mrs. Sanders, you should write books. I don’t even like to read, and I’d buy your books!” What a push that was! If I remember correctly, I went home and wrote that night clear through the next morning… and I took the next day off from work. I finished the first part of To K(no)w Avail that quickly and decided to start using what I wrote as lessons for writing in the classroom and to teach critical literary elements my students had to master for the state test. In my mind, there was no need to just write the book and let it sit; I knew I had to publish the book for students like the one who motivated me to write it in the first place.
POV: Why did you pick the genre that you write?
EMS: There’s something special about realistic fiction that makes a fake story seem real, and that appealed to me. I will never know all the experiences of my readers, but I can imagine that they will be able to relate to one or more characters or at least know someone like them!
POV: If you could write in any other genre what would it be?
EMS: As for another genre, if this counts, I would love to explore the whole screenplay writing arena. So many books nowadays are being turned into feature-length films, and I would love to learn how to transform a book into a screenplay.
POV: What is your writing process?
EMS: My writing process is purely based on inspiration. I don’t force it because I doubt what needs to be on the page will come out that way. I always keep a pad, some pens, and my iPad with me just in case inspiration hits. I’ve been known to wake in the middle of the night to write or to completely stop whatever I was doing at the time and begin writing. I completely depend on inspiration when it comes to my writing.
POV: How long did it take you to write your current book?
EMS: The book is divided into three parts. Part One took the day and a half after my student encouraged me to write. Parts Two and Three took the following 18 months.
POV: What mistakes have you made with this book that you will be sure to correct next time?
EMS: There are six grammar/typo/stylistic errors in my book that an editor and I didn’t catch. I know I’ll be more careful when it comes to editing next time. Thank goodness they’re not HUGE errors, but they are errors nonetheless.
POV: When do you feel most comfortable in your writing zone?
EMS: I feel most comfortable in my writing zone when it’s as if the characters are telling me the story and they just let me record everything. It’s very organic, linear, and extremely natural. There are times when they want to share everything, and there are times where they don’t want to say a word for weeks. I just follow their lead, but I attempt to be ready at all times.
POV: Who is your favorite author? Favorite book?
EMS: It’s hard to pick one single favorite book… If I had to pick a favorite book, it would be Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe. My favorite author is a pre-Harlem Renaissance poet, Paul Laurence Dunbar.
POV: What books are you currently reading?
EMS: I’m finishing up Letters to a Young Brother: MANifest Your Destiny by Hill Harper. In a few days, I’ll begin Seasons and Elements and Reflections of an Inner Being, both by Yolanda Gaston.
POV: What advice do you have for those who are looking to publish their first book?
EMS: Remember that what you produce represents everything about you: your family upbringing, your education (or lack thereof), your character, your integrity, etc. Make sure what you put out reflects your skills and every effort someone else has poured into you.
Other than that, go for it! With the additions of print on demand self-publishing and e-book publishing, opportunities to break into the business with your work is more available than ever. Be prepared to earn PhD.’s in everything involving your book, including marketing, blogging, self-employed taxes, social media, editing, publishing, book blurb video producing, and anything else you may want to include with your book.
The Spring/Summer Campaign was a blast! Tune in to our website tomorrow on how to sign up for the Fall Author’s Campaign! www.fromawriterspovmagazine.com