Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Author Interview: Suzanne Tyrpak

Hello, everyone! after a brief (and unavoidable) delay, here is a recent interview that I had with author Suzanne Tyrpak!

Dating My Vibrator (and other true fiction)
Vestal Virgin
"Rock Bottom" in MOTA 9 Addiction
"Venus Faded" in Pronto! Writings from Rome

Other Links:
Book Review: Vestal Virgin
Suzanne Tyrpak--Who's Imagining All This?
Facebook: Suzanne Tyrpak
Hi Suzanne! Let's see, you've written several short stories and two books now, and rumor has it that you're working on another—Agathon's Daughter, if I'm remembering correctly. As a busy author, what are your favorite and least favorite parts of the writing process?

Getting through the first draft is always the biggest struggle for me. Even if I outline, my stories continue to morph and change. Sometimes they get away from me. And, when I write historical fiction, every fact has to be checked. It’s time consuming—start and stop, back-track, jump ahead. Sometimes the information I discover leads me in new direction, sometimes it creates roadblock. I prefer rewriting! I love honing the words, focusing on details, weaving all the threads together.

Understandable. Now, you mentioned roadblocks. Given that, what is the hardest part of the writing process, and how do you overcome it?

As I mentioned, the starting and stopping required for research is the most difficult part of writing for me. I accept it as part of the process. The other challenge, these days, is finding time to write. I work long hours, and I’m too tired to write after work, so I do most of my writing on my days off. It’s tough. I look forward to cutting back on my day job(s).

Don't we all! Do you write at a home office, then?

I used to write at a desk. Now I like sitting in my living room with the laptop on my lap. I forget to eat when I’m deep into a story. I forget everything, and hours pass without my noticing.

That certainly comes through on the reader's end. What about the rest of your free time? What sorts of books do you like to read?

Spare time, hah! I read a lot of psychology books. I’m interested in the workings of the human mind, and I’ve studied psychology. I read history books for research. For entertainment, I favor psychological mysteries and thrillers. Lately, I’ve been reading a lot of indie authors—and it’s been great. I read eclectically.

The great characterizations in Vestal Virgin definitely reflected your interests. Speaking of which, from what I hear, you did a fair amount of research for the book. What prompted you to look into this part of history, and how did you direct your search?

Yes, Alice, a lot of research went into writing Vestal Virgin. It all began when I signed up for a trip to Rome with the Maui Writers’ Conference. It was a dream-come-true: hanging out in Italy with a group of incredible writers including Terry Brooks, Dorothy Allison, Elizabeth Engstrom and John Saul.

I fell in love with Rome, and it reeks of history. You’re walking on the same stones Julius Caesar walked on, and it has an effect—like walking through a portal into another time. When I read that Vestal Virgins were the most powerful women in Rome, sworn to thirty years of chastity on penalty of death (they would be entombed alive) the story came alive for me. In other words, I became obsessed.

Sounds like a fantastic trip. Do you have any fun stories from your research-related travels?

Hmmm...I went to Rome, for a second time, to research Vestal Virgin, and I traveled with my friend, Robin, and her daughter. This doesn’t have much to do with research, but I had a great time traveling with Robin. She carried plastic insects in her purse, very realistic. When we were at restaurants, after we’d received our food, she liked to pull out her plastic ants and line them up—as if they were invading our plates. Then she’d call over the waiter and complain. The Italians had a great sense-of-humor about this stunt, and we received a number of complimentary desserts and Limoncellos.

That's certainly one way of doing it. While we're on the subject of interesting (and entertaining) people, if you could be any character from any book for a day, who would it be, and why?

Interesting question. I think I would be Alice in Wonderland. I’d like to be able to change sizes and slip into another dimension. Oh wait, I already do that, don’t I? When I write. Well, I wish I had a pill to change my size—it would be easier than exercise. And I’d love to have a tea party with the Mad Hatter. Wouldn’t want to spend much time with the Red Queen, so one day would be enough.

Off with her head! On that happy note, I'm signing off. Thanks for participating in this interview!

A copy of Vestal Virgin will be up for grabs soon! Stay tuned for details.


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