IWSG – Sept 2022 – AllAuthor Interview
Ninja Captain Alex J Cavanaugh created IWSG — because Alex understands we need a place to congregate, insecurity is part of our creative nature, and together we’re stronger.
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Every month, a specific question is offered, which may prompt you to share advice, insight, a personal experience or a story. Include your answer to the question in your IWSG post or let it inspire your post if you struggle with something to say.
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September 7 question – What genre would be the worst one for you to tackle and why?
The awesome co-hosts for the September 7 posting of the IWSG are Kim Lajevardi, Cathrina Constantine, Natalie Aguirre, Olga Godim, Michelle Wallace, and Louise – Fundy Blue!
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Writing erotica would be so far out of my comfort zone that I’d rather go to the dentist and have all my teeth pulled. Please know that I’m not judging anyone who writes in that genre, but I can’t do it. Nor can I read it or watch it. I can’t write rape scenes either, or any scene where a child is murdered or an animal is beaten.
I say this yet I wrote a scene in the opening three chapters of Broken But Not Dead where Brendell Meshango is the victim of a home invasion. Its realism scared me so much that I pulled the scene, only to realize its absence left a huge hole in the plot. My editor and later my publisher assured me readers would not be disturbed because they expect Thrillers to be tense and frightening. And Brendell wasn’t sexually assaulted; it was a psychological thriller. It’s my own fault that I can’t separate myself from my characters. I experienced Brendell’s fear and scared myself.
In my manuscript Shattered, a dog is hit and killed. Although you don’t see it happen, it’s talked about a lot. I can’t show an animal or a child being killed but I can stretch the limits of my creative license and imply that bad stuff happens behind the scenes. I just can’t experience it. I had to leave the theatre before the wolf in Dancing With Wolves was killed. And as a child, I would go outside if Lassie was lost and trying to get home. Even today I can’t watch veterinarian shows because an animal might die.
In my latest novel Kiss of the Assassin, there’s a firefight scene in Vietnam where multiple soldiers are killed.
I know, I am an enigma…
Shattered is finished and has been set aside so I can concentrate on landscaping. I’m nursing the lawn, taking care to empty the grey water holding tanks onto the lawn, and filling the patches with lawn seed. I’m also emptying the c-cans and doing all the other stuff related to living. The work that needed to be done on our raw land was daunting but gratifying. Time sped past. Soon we’ll leave for Bucerias (November) and I’ll resume writing.
The most interesting thing to happen to me since April (besides moving into our RV) has been downsizing and adopting a minimalist lifestyle. It’s a process that is bittersweet. I’ve decluttered 90% of our stuff. There are moments when I feel sad, but mostly I feel as if I’ve been freed from all our “stuff”. I’ve learned to let the tears flow while donating most of my mother’s things.
What I’m not able to sell or donate, I’m storing away. Hopefully, one day what’s left will matter to someone in the family. If it doesn’t, it won’t matter. I won’t be here. Meanwhile, I’m embracing this minimalist lifestyle because I’m sparing the environment from my overspending, I’m decluttering every single bit of space in our home, and I’m letting my eyes relax while they take in the spaciousness around us.
I’m including some self-promotion below if you have time. Mady Joshi interviewed me recently from AllAuthors. I enjoyed his questions. They reminded me that I’ve had a good life. I just wish it wasn’t going by so fast.
An award-winning author, Joylene Nowell Butler began her first novel in 1984 to honor her father’s memory. She grew up on a farm in Maple Ridge B.C., Canada, a farm surrounded by maple trees. She has always felt extremely fulfilled while writing. Her first novel, Dead Witness became a finalist in the 2012 Global eBook Awards. Read full interview…
I’ll admit to being a little jealous of your minimalist lifestyle. I’m not a “stuff” person (with a few exceptions), but Long-Suffering Husband very much is (partly from growing up in poverty and never having enough of anything), so we have… stuff. Less stuff than we used to though.
I think a lot of us have more trouble with killing off animals in our stories than people. I’ve read a lot of Stephen King, and the most awful scene of his IMHO is the one in the Dead Zone with the dog. Dude is the king of horror, and the most horrible thing he ever wrote was someone killing a dog.
Loved the interview BTW. You’ve had a interesting life! And I’m with you–it’s disturbing how fast life is going by.
Hi Joylene – death at the moment with our dear Queen having departed yesterday … seems very strange – so thank you for popping over.
My mother downsized somewhat … I rather wish she hadn’t … as things had gone that I’d have enjoyed… but such is life – there are no grandchildren – so I’m happy with my own memories. I in the last few years I’ve downsized a few times … still way too many books … but most of the rest has gone … I just need to read then they can go too.
All the best … and yes tears … it was so quick – no time to prepare … but my eyes will well up for both … unique women – my mother and the Queen – with thoughts – Hilary
It surprised me how much we have in common in terms of what we choose to write and read. I can read certain genres, but can’t write them like historical fiction, horror, and so on. But one genre I know for sure I can’t read or write would be erotica. It is just not my cup of tea.
And we are writers, another commonality. Thanks, Damyanti.
I’ve got some of my parents stuff stored in my house from their downsizing. Things like photo albums that are nice to keep, but take up a lot of space that could be put to better use in their trailer. It was a bittersweet process for them too.
I think we can write things like people dying without touching on the more difficult subjects of the death of innocent children or animals. But if you don’t enjoy reading it, then no sense in writing it, right?
Right. Thanks, Loni. Hope your parents are doing well. It’s a daunting chore, downsizing. I bet they’ve found it freeing though.
Your publisher is right. Readers do have expectations and it’s up to us to meet them. I’m sure you they were very happy and came back for more. 🙂
Anna from elements of emaginette
Thanks, Anna. I’ve been fortunate, that’s for sure.
I so admire your de-cluttering success. We are in the process, too. My biggest challenge is to not fill the empty space. Love reading your writing process and look forward to reading your interview.
Looking forward to seeing you in November!
Yes, that’s a good point, because you do have space that you’ve never had before. I’m going to do that when I’m finished, have empty space that is actually going to remain empty. What a concept, eh!
Reading your comment made me feel really tearful. My caring duties for my dear husband are heavy, but I’m of a positive nature and write when I’m feeling low. I’s so pleased to see you doing so well, keep up with your excellent writing and enjoying your life x
Thank you so much, Carole. Best to you.
Oh, I forgot about the erotica genre – I can’t go there either! I enjoyed your post, Joylene. And wow, I admire your downsizing and decluttering. We need more people to do that. It’s such a brave thing to do, esp. letting go of your mother’s things. I have a ton of mum’s and dad’s stuff around here so I should do the same!
I read the book about Swedish Death Cleaning, and I can’t seem to stop. LOL. Thanks for visiting, Yvette.
Such an interesting post, Joylene! I hope you and DH have a lovely time in Bucerias. You’ll be ready for relaxation and rejuvenation after your busy, work-filled summer. I’m slowly downsizing, but I’m down to the really hard stuff now: family things that I love but I have too many of. I take pictures of things I’m parting with and thank them for the time they were part of my life. It helps. I, too, am sparing the environment from my overspending, well except for books, lol! Have a great autumn. Take care!
That’s what I’ve been doing too, taking photos of those pics that mean the most. I’m passing along my books. Just when I wasn’t sure what to do, the community hall started a share-a-book program. Perfect timing.
Thanks for dropping by, it is very appreciated. You will never need to remind me which number you are on the blog hop; since my first visit here, I make a point to always drop by.
I sincerely hope that you find the peace that comes with reducing your stuff as part of your downsizing effort. My wife and I bought some land 10 miles out from her hometown in a forest in south Arkansas. We downsized from a 4k square foot home in Houston to a 450 square foot cabin. We have a few other smaller buildings, one as a guest cabin, and another as a ‘she shack’ (containing her closet mostly).
We originally had intended to build a large 2k square foot house. After a while, we determined we did not need anything bigger and it has been a wonderful experience and very freeing to be able to focus on the things that are important. A huge plus has been reduced utility bills. I wouldn’t cover the cost of the electric bill alone in Houston with what little I pay for everything in the cabin.
Writing a murder mystery doesn’t need graphic violence, especially when you can invoke the emotions of the loss and hurt; that can be powerful enough.
Thank you for sharing.
Thank you, Douglas. You are so right, downsizing has been a rewarding experience. Your place sounds wonderful.
I wish my mother had decluttered. We had to go through TWO houses’ worth of stuff!
So you will be returning to Mexico soon?
In November. It’ll start getting too cold here for dear husband.
A lot of us seem to be in agreement about what we can and will write. I have to be able to read a genre before I can write it and you’ve ID what I don’t read.
I’ve also noticed I’m changing, broadening my horizons. I’m hoping to write a children’s book before too long.
I hear you. And couldn’t write (and can barely read) those things either.
Well done on the decluttering front. Something I/we badly need to take on.
I’m here to tell you it’s been gratifying. I’m definitely hooked.
I wrote a book that I thought was a mystery, but there were some scary scenes that kept me awake at night. I quickly learned to only write terrifying scenes in the afternoon!! I laughed when reading your interview. As a child, you believed you had been born 100 years too late!
Best wishes on your writing projects!
I used to make my mother crack up, which was confusing because I thought I was being serious.
I couldn’t write anything sexual. Or show an animal being hurt.
Bittersweet but I bet it feels good to downsize.
Thanks, Alex. It does. It’s sweet to live a simple life.
Sometimes hard things happen in stories. While I’ve been drawn to more “sweetness and light” stories during the pandemic, I’m reaching a point where I’m ready for things with a bit more realism. They all have their place.
I know what you mean. What used to hook me, puts me to sleep now. LOL.
I read Broken But Not Dead and thought the opening chapter and following chapters were very intriguing.
It was a story that engaged me.
All the best.
Pat G @ EverythingMustChange
Thanks for your kind words, Pat. Your continuing support means a lot. Congratulations on your success.