I’ve had several people ask me if I’m related to Joan Sowards. The answer is yes, through our husbands. The relationship is distant enough that we’d never met until a few weeks ago, but close enough that we could figure it out with a few emails. It’s a small, small world. Joan is a songwriter and a novelist. She loves her big family, writing, composing, and doing family history. Oh, and chocolate. She currently lives in Arizona, and I’m delighted to have her on my blog today.
What is your favorite Shakespeare play?
In college at Arizona State University, I took a Shakespeare class and loved it. We read Hamlet, Romeo and Juliet, The Merchant of Venice, and studied many sonnets. By the end of the semester I came to understand Shakespeare’s language and appreciated that he was a master of words. The idea that writers could take famous works and write modern retellings, as they had done using Shakespeare’s works, fascinated me. This is how I came to write Chocolate Roses based on the ideas in Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre.
If you had a time machine, when would you like to visit?
I definitely would visit ancestors in early America and ask them to sort out my tangled genealogy records, tell me where they migrated from, and fill in the blanks!
Best writing advice you’ve ever received?
Your best writing is when you write from the top of your head and from your heart. Don’t stop to edit. Don’t watch your keyboard. Dig, and write your deepest feelings, upbraideth not. When I’ve done this, and later read what I wrote, I am amazed at how good it is.
What are you working on now?
I am finishing the first draft of a YA medieval novel titled, Shadows of Montségur, based on the 1244 massacre of the Cathars during the Inquisition in France. A young orphan girl leaves the nunnery where she has lived for a year, to take care of her dying grandmother in southern France, only to find herself thrown into the middle of the Cathar eradication. Nicole has lived a cushy life to this point and must learn to stand strong on her own and decide with whom her true loyalties lie.
Writing advice you’d give to others?
Keep writing and be prepared for when you are in the right place at the right time. Learn the craft of writing—there is plenty to learn that high school and college English classes don’t teach. Attend writers’ workshops and classes, read books on writing. Join a critique group and learn to take criticism.
I’ll have to read Chocolate Roses. Jane Eyre is one of my favorite books of all time.
Jane Eyre is a good one. Did you see the movie version from last year? I was a little disappointed with the ending because it cut out all of Mr. Rochester’s penance/change. I also didn’t like his Taliban beard. But I’m glad the movie came out because it spurred me to read the book again before I saw it.
Thank you for the interview, A.L. Happy to be shirttail relatives!
I loved the movie last year. Not near as good as the book, but still pretty dang good. I agree with your dislikes about it, but such is the life of a book when movie-tized. They never get it quite perfect (although Holes almost did).
Good point. I probably got my expectations up too high. Hunt for Red October was a good movie adaptation (and one of my favorite movies ever), but in general the movies aren’t as good as the books.
Oooo yeah! Red October was well done. I’ve watched that tons of times and never get sick of it. Sean Connery is great in that one.
I was glad to have you on the blog Joan! And so happy to meet you at the writer’s conference!