Friday, August 07, 2009

Patty Froese Ntihemuka - Author Interview

Mary: Call Me Blessed

Mary and Martha
The Woman at the Well


> What made you want to be a writer?

I've always wanted to be a writer. It doesn't make financial sense to write. You get paid is little chunks that are never enough to cover the bills, it seems, and you certainly can't count on a regular pay cheque! But I have to write. It's a need I have. If I don't write, it feels like a gear in my head starts to grind, and I need to express myself creatively in order to get back to normal. I've heard it said that writers don't retire, they die, and I think I can understand that. I'll keep writing, even after I stop making sense! It's not about "the job" so much as "the need."

> In the books you’ve written, who is you favourite character and why?

I think my favorite character so far is Nilloufar from "The Woman at the Well." She is the woman who meets Jesus at the well. She had five husbands and is living with a man. In Biblical times, this was horrific. She was really fun to write because she is such a survivor! She might go through men, but she doesn't let them ruin her. She isn't "good" or virtuous in any way, but she doesn't just get run under, either. She does what she needs to do to keep going. Getting into her head was really cathartic because I could experience her passion and drive without having to tame her down to keep her "good" in the cultural view. I loved that!

> If you could, would you change places with any of your characters?

Not a chance! I do horrible things to my characters. I break their hearts, I mess with their love lives, I dash their hopes, I marry them off to inappropriate people... No, I would never change places with them! Drama is great to read about, safely in a book. I wouldn't want that kind of drama in my real life!

> What was the first novel (published or unpublished) that you wrote and how long did it take to write it?

The first novel I wrote was called "Love on the Links." It was a romance novel, and it was truly terrible. As you might have guessed, it remains (thankfully) unpublished. It took me about six weeks to write it. While it was a terrible piece of work, it taught me a lot about planning a novel and writing it. I was also very proud of myself to have finished an entire novel. It was an achievement!

> What was the hardest scene for you to write?

The crucifixion of Jesus. I hate violence, and the Romans were some pretty brutal people when it came to executions. Having to focus on the torture was difficult for me. In fact, I almost abandoned the book I was writing because of it. I ended up finishing the book, but it didn't get accepted. It might have been that the readers could feel my discomfort with the topic. I'll certainly never attempt that scene again! There are too many ways to get around it...

> Share an interesting fan story.

The only time I have ever received fan mail, it was a package that someone sent to my publisher and asked that they redirect to me. In this package, the person had photocopied pieces of articles that someone else had written, and they highlighted the highly racist parts, in essense telling me that I was a bad person for having married a person of a different race from me. I was really shaken by the experience. It still makes my heart pound a little bit to think about it!

> If you still have one, what’s your day job? If you don’t, how long did it take before you could support yourself only on your writing?

I have worked all sorts of different day jobs. I tended to work part time so that I could focus on my writing. I've worked retail, worked as a bank teller, managed a retail store, and worked as an interior decor consultant. When I had my son, I quit working outside the home to be a mom and write whenever I could squeeze the time in. At this point, I probably make the same amount of money I did at a part time job. However, I'm pretty confident that I can get that up to a full time income with freelance work once my son is in school.

> What is your university degree in?

English Lit.

> Any tips against writers block?

Nope. Sometimes, if I have a deadline coming up, I don't have the luxury of writer's block. Other times, I watch entire seasons of TV shows, episode after episode, until I either finish the entire show, or feel guilty enough to get back to work and produce something that will make me some money!

> How many rejection letters did you get for your fist novel or story?

I actually don't approach things in a traditional way. I picked a market (for me the Christian market) and then picked a publisher and researched what they wanted. My options were limited, since most publishers want an agent. Then I just kept writing piece after piece until they finally accepted something. I think I sort of battered them down, after a while! It worked for me... What can I say?

No comments: