Thanks for stopping in today, Irene. Tell us a little about yourself. Who's the woman on the other side of the screen? What makes her tick?
The woman on the other side of the screen is a woman of many hats...Mother, grandmother, retired teacher, author, ordained minister, metaphysical teacher, and entrepreneur with great curiosity about life.
I've read the excerpts from both your novels. Each one is intriguing, but they each have a very unique voice and tone. Was it hard to develop such a different atmosphere in each book? Was one harder than the other?
It can be emotionally difficult to stay in character sometimes. Both stories are dark, but had elements that were drawn from documents or real life stories. A lot of research goes into my writing and Jack called for greater fact finding missions than A Matter of Survival did. A Matter of Survival was based more on real life experiences plus a dream I had.
A Matter of Survival came to me in a dream. It woke me up around 3 am and wouldn't let me go back to sleep. I'd write and try to go back to sleep. Did that about 3 times and then I forgot about it until my sister and I were discussing dreams. When we decided to analyze that dream several day later, I discovered that I'd written 20 pages. I had written the whole premise for the story. So that book took very little research, but it was more emotionally draining than Jack.
Did any real life experiences inspire either book?
Yes. Jack is based on the life of Jack the Ripper. I researched the JTR casebook and a variety of forensic studies. It's still the most studied case of a serial killer in the history of the world. It was my son, AKA Johnny Atomic, who encouraged me to write the story on Jack. He had created a board game for Jack aficionados and asked me to write the intro. He liked it well enough to encourage me to make a book out of it.So, I did.
In A Matter of Survival, some of the funnier experiences were drawn from things in my life and the life of a good friend of mine. In both books, the death scenes came from personal experiences. The raw emotion of losing someone you love is an experience that defies true description unless you've been there. I sat and watched my mother 24/7 the last week of her life. I saw her take her last breath. I held her hand as the last pulse of life raced through her body to her heart and brain trying to keep her alive. My grandson died just before his 2nd birthday to a home drowning. The futility of life, the unfairness of a death out of place in time can be devastating. It is simply... unacceptable.
While teaching in Land O'Lakes Florida, one high school reported several teen deaths in the three years I worked there. Some were auto accidents, one stood in front of a train, one walked out into the middle of traffic, and one hung himself. They all played a role in mind set while writing certain scenarios. Re-living the emotions was very draining.
Are you working on anything now, and can you tell us about it?
I just finished a manual on psychic development. It needs to be edited one more time before I offer it to anyone. I have two vampire stories, one conspiracy, a children's trilogy based on biblical events and I think that's it for now. I am negotiating with a graphic designer for the art work on the children's books. I've completed 2 of the three so far. I've started on the third one, but other things got in my way.
I'm currently putting most of my efforts into a teen suicide prevention program that will be offered to public and private youth organizations within the next 6 months if all goes well. It let's the teen know that they are not alone, and that there is hope, help and a support system available. I am also looking at the possibility of creating a residential school for runaway teens and girls that have aged out of foster care. Both projects are time consuming and call for a lot of writing and networking. So the editing and re-writing of some of my books have been placed a back burner for projects I believe to be more important for now.
Don't ya love random questions? Well, here's one for ya: If you could eliminate one household chore or mundane task so that you never had to do it again, what would it be?
Dog grooming. I foster senior dogs. give them a place to live out their last years in peace. But now and then I get a young one that calls for more attention and grroming. I have a one year old Shih-tzu thatwas given to me. I think she's mixed with billy goat. She looks like a mop and eats everything she can get into her mouth. She would rather eat a stick she drags into the house than dog food. She leaves tumbleweeds of hair all over the place and tends to throw up on my shoes.
The other two (one chinese crested and one 'xholo) are up on years and no problem. They're housebroken, have no teeth, no hair, and no energy. Perfect for me!
Finally, Irene, could you share a short excerpt from one of your published works or even a work in progress?
Sure. this is from the second volume of the children's book on creation. God has instructed his first born to go down to the earth to see how it's progressing. His son Jeeze is trying to decide on what to wear for the trip:
"Whoa! Who are you and what have you done with my son?" Our Lord sat comfortably on the garden swing as He watched Jeeze hobble toward Him.
"Ah, Dad. It's me! Don't you recognize me?"
"Is that you Jeeze? what is that thing on your head? Did you have an accident or something? It kinda looks like a giant bruise."
Jeeze had pulled in all the energy he could, and enthusiastically designed a new outfit for his trip to Earth. The body of his costume was bright shades of red, orange, yellow and light blue. The head dress was in indigo, violet, and white.
"Thing? OOhh! You mean my hat. Cool, isn't it?"
"Well, I have to admit...it goes with the rest of the outfit. What would you call that style?"
"Camouflage. You said You wanted me to to fit in with the inhabitants of the deep didn't You? "find some way of drawing them to you", were Your exact words."
"Uh, yes. I guess that is what I said, but I think I pictured something not quite so loud, at the time."
(Later Jeeze models the 3 final suits chosen for his trip.)
"Ok, we're ready." Mother and Father sat facing the door. they were almost as excited for Jeeze as he was for himself.
His parents smiled broadly at their son's creativity. He looked like a duck with scales. His feet looked like duck feet too.
Mother was happy to see that he had included a pouch beneath his chin. It was waterproof and would make an excellent place to carry a clean set of underwear.
"Underwear?" Jeeze rolled his eyes.
"Yes, underwear. You never know what might happen, and it never hurts to have a clean pair of underwear handy.
"Don't look at me. She makes me do it too", said the Lord, slightly amused.
This version of creation is a whimsical, campier version than the traditional biblical one. filled with humor and fantasy, it is packed with a variety of lessons to be learned about faith respect, love, obedience, dedication, salvation, and many other positive concepts that might help a child face illness or loss with greater courage and hope. At least that was my intent.
I'm so glad you joined us today, Irene. I wish you oodles of success!