I’ve been friends with Joe Novara for over ten years. We were in a critique group together for some of that time, and after that group disbanded, Joe and his wife Rosalie acted as Beta readers for my novel A Killer Past.
In return, I’ve had a chance to read parts of Joe’s new novel, Come Saturday, Come Sunday. Now that I have a copy of the finished book, I’m eager to read it from start to finish.
Joe’s publisher, Cawing Crow Press, just released Come Saturday, Come Sunday, and I thought I’d invite Joe back to my blog. (Yes, he was here once before: Joe’s February 2015 blog ) This time I tossed him a few new questions and here are his answers.
Joe, writers spend hours coming up with story ideas, creating characters and plots, writing the initial drafts, and then editing the manuscripts. It can be a very long and lonely process. Why do you write and what keeps you going?
Writing, for me, is like scrabbling in a ragbag of memories in search of telling scraps to stitch into a narrative quilt.
I’m fascinated by story telling…to my grandkids, grade schoolers, college students, my weekly writing group. Listening to others, imagining, patterning tales is my way of leading a mindful life.
Getting started writing fiction is the hardest part because I like to write about something important, something I want to tell others. Maybe it’s the priest/teacher in me. To do that I need to keep alert for themes and problems of my own and others. Then the challenge is to work those issues and insights into an engaging story as opposed to the cogent essays I would have had my college composition students writing. From there, it’s the draw of word play, metaphor, punchy dialogue. All fun.
In Come Saturday, Come Sunday, you’ve written in both Ramon’s and Emily’s point-of-view. Did you find it difficult to write in the female pov? Why did you use both povs?
It’s exciting to try to write in a woman’s POV, to see things from another’s perspective. But then that’s the challenge of all good writing—empathy for the lives of others to make our characters come to life.
I sometimes try first person POV just because of the immediacy of the storytelling—minimal attribution. Even though it confines structure at times it’s so much fun to take on the character and get in his or her skin—like an actor with a juicy role.
Which do you find the most difficult, the first draft of a story or the editing process? Why?
When I’m writing an essay, I follow Anne Lamott’s advice to write a ‘shitty first draft’. Not so in fiction. For me fiction is more like engaging in good conversation. I might have a pretty good idea of what I think or know or want to discuss but if the encounter is really going to fly, I need to listen to my partner and follow the conversational gambits that emerge. Same way in a story. Once you get a good handle on the characters and point them in a certain direction, you have to let them take you places you didn’t expect. If you end up in a dead end…that kind of backtracking isn’t fun. On the other hand, I live for the moment when my character makes me say, “I know. I know what she’s going to do next.” And it feels real. The editing after that is just polishing.
Can you give my blog readers an idea what Come Saturday, Come Sunday is about?
Come Saturday Come Sunday draws on the pain and transitions of recent widows I know and love. I hope I got it right. Stories and contacts from the seminary and priesthood ground my male character as he painfully grows past early and repressed trauma.
Here’s a blurb:
After rescuing her middle-aged Mexican snorkeling guide, Emily is drawn into his intriguing bachelor world. The retired Army nurse in her responds to the wounded man. The grieving widow in her is cautiously ‘getting out there’ until a traumatic episode from Ramon’s seminarian past erupts into their budding relationship. Emily allows time, a return to Lake Michigan and an unconventional priest to heal Ramon’s painful scars.
The story involves priests and the Catholic Church. However, I think it speaks to anyone stuck in a doctrinaire, rigid system of thought and expected action. Think soldier, Idaho militia, revolutionary. There comes a time when a person may mature, outgrow, decide to escape that confining environment. The transition is difficult and painful. That’s what I think I was writing about.
Here’s a short scene from Come Saturday, Come Sunday.
Ramon knelt in place after the church emptied. Emily sat beside him. A full-figured woman side-stepping along the pew in front of them stopped in front of Ramon. Turned. A round, fine-featured face in a setting of filigreed ebony hair and gun-barrel black eyes did a slow, ankles-to-hair assessment of Emily. “Por fin,” she muttered.
Por fin, por fin…Emily mentally paged through her Spanish phrase book, thinking, I know what it means: finally, at last. Why would she say that? Oh, now I get it. She’s the cousin trying to get Ramon married off. But, from the look on her face, though, I’m probably not what she had in mind for him.
Ramon lurched to his feet. “Emily, this is my cousin, Sara. Sara, Emily.
Sara held for a three-count, staring, expressionless before uttering a begrudging, “Mucho gusto.”
Emily stood, extended her hand, looked Sara in the eye and said, “Yo tampoco.”
“You said, me neither. Don’t you mean yo también—me too?” Ramon corrected.
Sara, picking up on the eyebrow raised over Emily’s left eye, snorted, her sweet round face hijacked by a wide-mouthed grin. “No, cuz. She said exactly what she meant.” Then she pointed a finger and bobbed her head toward Emily, “She’s all right.”
Thanks, Joe. Where can readers find Come Saturday, Come Sunday?
Amazon site: http://amzn.to/290DYvI
Joe Novara is a former priest, retired trainer, and writing instructor. Joe and his wife live in Kalamazoo, Michigan. His published works include a memoir, poems, novels, short stories, plays, anthologies and articles. Seven Young Adult novels are accessible through Story Shares.com. He also maintains a web/blog titled, Writing for Homeschooled Boys http://joenovara.wordpress.com
You can learn more about Joe on his Amazon Author Page: Joe Novara author
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