Author Interview – Darlene Craviotto : Part 1

Darlene the Tour GuideWithin the Indie Author Hub, you can learn about other authors, their thoughts and opinions, what makes them tick and how their writing process works for them.

All this week I will be releasing segments of an interview I conducted with Hollywood Scriptwriter and author, Darlene Craviotto. Have a look at her profile and books here.

Part 1 : How Darlene prepares to write

What inspired you to become an author? My overactive imagination. I was a big daydreamer as a child and I loved nothing better than to act out in my room little stories, complete with dialogue and dance routines. Music was a big part of my stories – Who knows, maybe I should be writing musicals.

If you couldn’t be an author, what would you be? A dancer. Or a choreographer. With all those hours in my room making up stories and dances, I think I was on my way to a dance career. That was a short-lived dream, however, when at age seven I was performing in a “Fiesta” dance number at school and the waistband of my petticoat broke. The entire undergarment fell to the ground; there was an embarrassed gasp from the audience, but I simply stepped out of the petticoat and kept dancing. The event was written about in the local newspaper and my little slip slip-up had its own little paragraph. I guess I knew then I was destined to go into show business. Becoming an author didn’t happen until later.

How do you structure your day? If I don’t plan ahead and structure my day around writing, it won’t happen at all. Life is a sweet seduction for most writers. There are so many distractions that afford writers with too many excuses for not writing. For me, it’s an everyday battle. I write a little bit about that in An Agoraphobic’s Guide to Hollywood: “Writers will find any excuse not to write. A phone ringing. Spots on a carpet. Furniture that needs to be re-arranged. I have never done more laundry in my life than times when I’ve been avoiding sitting down and writing.”

Do you have daily word targets? I don’t write based on word count. For me, that’s problematic. I look at writing as storytelling, and good storytelling is about memorable characters – what they do, what they say, and what action happens to them or happens because of them. I build my stories like someone creating a quilt out of beautiful pieces of fabric that are unique on their own, but once woven together become a part of something new and bigger. Each time I sit down to write I work on one patch of fabric from that quilt. Those “pieces of fabric” are scenes within the story, and I may spend all day writing just one of them. If it’s a simple scene, and I’ve been fortunate to see it in my imagination, I can write it quickly, polish it, and move on to another scene that day. So when I structure out my writing time I ask myself, “What scene do you want to write today, Darlene? What piece of fabric do you want to create for your quilt?”

Before writing, do you plan your books down to the last detail? If I don’t know where I’m going in a story, I won’t know how to tell it. I always use the analogy of planning a trip: Without a map, or some general understanding of the direction you’re going, it’s just too easy to end up confused and lost. Every time I write a film script I begin by sitting in a darkened room, and mentally “turning on a film projector” to see the film I’m going to write. Each day I get a little bit further into the film before my work day is over, and then, I shut down that projector for the day. Little by little, day by day, I see a little more of the film than I’ve seen the day before. That’s how the story reveals itself to me, and over a period of a few weeks, I see the entire film. I did that while writing An Agoraphobic’s Guide to Hollywood, and I imagine I will do that while I’m writing Californio. It’s just comfortable for me to work this way.

How do you get over the fear of a ‘blank page’? I don’t think I’ve ever been afraid of a blank page. Here’s why: The decision to write means you’ve chosen to isolate yourself from the rest of the world. While everyone else is out there living their lives – making memories; having fun times; having bad times; loving, laughing, crying – the writer is all alone, separated from life. That’s pretty boring, if you think about it. And the only thing in the middle of that boredom is the blank page and your imagination. The human spirit isn’t designed to just sit there and not be engaged. If we can’t be out in the world being physically and emotionally occupied, then our imagination comes into the picture and does that for us. It’s impossible for a writer (with an overactive imagination in the first place) to not want to interact with that blank page, to create another reality where that writer can interact. If not physically, then, at least emotionally. I write because I get bored – my mind has no outside stimulation if I’m sitting in a room all by myself. Pretty soon my imagination kicks in and then I’m not bored anymore, and I’m not lonely. If you’re afraid of the blank page, maybe what’s frightening you is the loneliness of writing that put you there in front of the blank page. The blank page is your friend – it provides you comfort, and companionship. If you think of the blank page that way, you’ll never be afraid of it. You’ll welcome it.

How do you decide on your characters? I’ve watched enough people in my lifetime to know which ones have been fascinating and held my attention, and which ones haven’t caught my eye at all. Here’s a tip: Take the ordinary and give it something distinct, quirky, unique, and out of the ordinary.

How do you keep yourself motivated? Writing for me is like breathing – I just do it. No motivation is necessary. If you have to motivate yourself to write, perhaps you’re not really a writer. And that’s fine too because there are a helluva lot of us anyway. Why make yourself miserable doing something that maybe you really DON’T want to be doing?

In Part 2, Darlene talks about book promotion and the publishing industry.

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