May in Texas is a time for celebrating the literary contributions of those who have changed the world with their pen. From O Henry to Katherine Anne Porter, we love our writers, and this month we’re taking the opportunity to shine some light on today’s writers who call Texas home.
Are you a native Texan?
No, I was a lifelong resident of the great state of Alabama. I moved to the Lone Star State in 2011 to be near my friends, Debra and Mark Meehl.
Has living in Texas shaped your writing?
Yes. The rhythms of small-town life provide the perfect environment in which to write. I awaken to the sight of longhorn cattle grazing in a pasture, and my creative juices begin to flow.
What inspired you to pursue writing as a career?
The many English teachers and professors who taught me to love literature have all contributed to my decision to pursue writing as a career.
Tell us a bit about your latest book. Where did you get the idea for it?
Colorblind is a fictional account of what happened to me in the sixth grade when my all-white public elementary school was integrated with the addition of an African American sixth grade English teacher. The book takes place in my hometown of Montgomery, Alabama in 1968. The book compares the bullying which my character, Caucasian sixth grader Lisa Parker, endured because of the way her nose looked with the discrimination which African American sixth grade English teacher Annie Loomis endured because of the color of her skin. Lisa befriends Miss Loomis and earns the moniker “colorblind” because she does not care what color Miss Loomis’ skin is. This book is one of the first books to spotlight the physical challenges of cleft palate and cleft lip.
Which books or authors have inspired you the most?
Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird; Truman Capote’s A Thanksgiving Visitor and A Christmas Memory; and the complete works of James Joyce
What are you reading at the moment?
Tell the Wolves I’m Home by Carol Rifka Brunt
Where are some of your favorite writing spots around Texas?
Starbucks in Lake Jackson and the Barnes & Noble Café in Pearland. How do these places help you create? In Pearland I would sit under a writer’s’ mural of James Joyce for inspiration. In Lake Jackson I would compose a chapter a day at my special table.
What do you find most difficult about your writing process?
Writer’s block. When I overcomplicate my writing style, writer’s block ensues. Too many character choices would lead to no character choices. To thwart writer’s block, I would set realistic daily writing goals which I would achieve with relative ease. I was writing once again.
What advice would you give to aspiring authors looking to give writing a shot but don’t know what to do?
For starters, take an idea and try to write a short story with it. Then, see if the short story plot could be expanded into a novel. The short story would then become a chapter of your novel. My book Colorblind is based upon the short stories Angel from Montgomery and Second Sight.