My guest today is G G Collins. G G is an artist and an author. Her views are fresh, personal and a delight to read. Here’s what she has to say about herself:
“If I’d been born with a Crayola in my hand it wouldn’t have surprised me. For the first 25 years of my life I painted in several mediums, did pencil drawings, dabbled in pastels and even fired a few ceramics. After marriage, it took a few years, but the writing bug bit hard. When I snagged my dream job of journalist, I was thrilled when promoted to arts editor. The best of both worlds; writing about art! That resulted in a few journalism awards and a fellowship at Duke University. These days, I’m writing my Reluctant Medium series and creating my own book covers. In my spare time (smile), I write posts for my blog. That’s fun because I get to explore some subjects that aren’t, well, mainstream. Recently, I’ve begun taking photos for it. And I promise, I’ll get better!”
To find out more about G G, visit her Blog at: http://reluctantmediumatlarge.wordpress.com
From where do you draw inspiration?
When I was reporting, I would find my inspiration in my research and interviews. Oddly, now as a fiction writer, that is still true. The difference is that I follow my interests now instead of an assignment editor. For instance, while working at a book publisher I ran across a Native American ceremony to return the dead. The instant I read about it, I asked, what if the wrong spirit returned? I’ve had a few strange experiences which might have been paranormal so I began researching these phenomena. I even accompanied a ghost hunting group on one of their investigations. It was fascinating! My character, reporter Rachel Blackstone, tries to return her dead father in Reluctant Medium, but an evil spirit slips through the portal she opened. I’m also interested in animal communication, so I added a spirit wolf to the storyline.
In my forthcoming book I’m once again following my inquisitive nature—something I haven’t been able to shake since I was a three-year-old child. But instead of asking why the sky is blue, lately, I’ve been studying astral projection and the lost continent of Lemuria. Yes, you’ve guessed it; they’ll be a part of the story.
What is the hardest thing about your creative process?
Honestly, getting the words right. I love to write, but when I’m working on the rough draft of a project, I just want to get it down. Rewriting is where I really pay attention to the words I use. I ask myself, how many times have I used that particular word? Is there a better way to describe this scene? Should I tell this through dialogue? Should this be suspenseful or can I interject some humor?
Now that my first book is out, I find it more difficult to write because of all the marketing. But there is a rhythm I’m beginning to pick up. It’s becoming easier to balance the two.
Do you work everyday, or only when inspiration strikes?
I work every day, although I do try to take off most weekends. When you’ve been meeting newspaper deadlines for many years, you learn to write with a headache or a heart ache. You write whether there is inspiration or not, because the paper has to come out—will come out, regardless. I don’t believe in writer’s block. We just have to sit down and start stringing words. If you can’t think of a lead, then write what comes easier and come back to the opening. I do the same thing with fiction. If I’m really stuck on a particular scene, I take a walk. By the time I return, things are percolating again. Writing is less inspiration and a great deal more perspiration.
How do you feel about the current art market/art climate?
As an arts editor, I was encouraged about the art market and climate, despite the Great Recession. There always seemed to be a new wrinkle in the art world as ideas and mediums developed. Having begun my life as an artist and later an art major, I found I needed that art background when I morphed into indie author. In fact, I used some of that capacity to create my book cover. The backdrop is a painting from my college era with items placed in still life and photographed.
The publishing field is changing at light speed. The traditional bricks and mortar book publishers are diminished. The system for choosing writers and their projects was so antiquated that many good writers were falling through the cracks. With the arrival of eBook technology, some of those writers are finding their way out of anonymity and establishing rewarding careers as indie authors and publishers.
If you could change one thing about the art world today, what would it be? The lack of interest in the arts is troubling. The US is experiencing a 12-year low in attendance; after gains were made prior to 2007 (Americans for Arts, National Arts Index).The arts lag near the bottom of the public’s interest. I know of one newspaper who polled its subscribers and arts came in last! Whether it’s visual art, performance, books or theatre, there is a much smaller audience than say for a football game, a shopping trip to a mall or a “reality” show on TV. With that said, if I could change anything, it would be to place arts back in all schools so kids can have more choices. You will never want to dance, if you don’t see dance.
Talk a bit about your current project and why you decided to embark on it.
Embark is the right word. Astral travel is definitely a voyage to unknown parts. Having set sail on the Reluctant Medium series, I of course had to write the next installment. The action begins in a Santa Fe art gallery with a painting that has powers (and the first chapter, albeit early draft, is available to read on my blog). Once the painting has worked its magic, a friend of Rachel’s disappears. The trip to rescue her is out of this world.
How does being a woman impact your work?
This question is really making me think. Since I’m not a man, I don’t know how a male would approach this type of story or even if he would. And I’m an unconventional woman at that: no children, known to travel alone, don’t have a conventional job and practiced yoga before it became ubiquitous. But it’s important to the arts that women come from many experiences and each voice is heard. We are stronger, and more interesting, when our differences merge. And even in a book such as mine that is purely entertainment, readers watch as Rachel becomes stronger with each attempt she makes to overcome the malevolent being she inadvertently unleashed. Women have always been strong, but we are now found in power positions that the average woman in the l800s couldn’t dream of, let alone achieve. I believe the contemporary changes more of us are experiencing are reflected in the books we write and the art we create.
If you had the chance to address a group of young girls, what would you say to inspire them?
I used to carry pencils with the inscription: “Girls can do anything!” I wish I could find them again. When I saw a young girl having a bad day at an airport, I handed her one of the pencils. She read the message and gave me a smile. It was as if we had a secret, just the two of us. I’m not a mother, so I don’t know what advice or inspiration mothers give their daughters in this era. But I hope it amounts to “Girls can do anything!”