Over the years, we at the Memoir Network have helped many, many people to turn memories into memoirs. It has been a labor of love—sometimes a shower of kudos, sometimes tough love. As a result if this collaboration, we now have several shelves of books we have midwifed into existence.
How appropriate then to have a series in which we interview these writers whose books have brought them the satisfaction and audience they so desired. What was it like for them to write? What were their hard moments? How did they reach their audiences? How were their books received?
We hope this series will not only honor the many writers we will be featuring but support you in your own writing efforts so that, one day, you, too, will be a featured writer in this series.
Congratulations to author Dennis Blue! He has received the 2019 Christian Indie Award in the business category for Through the Eyes of a Fisherman. Dennis is truly one of those authors who is a pleasure to work with. He brought much thoughtfulness to bear on his task and we are so proud to see his efforts rewarded. His memoir writer’s experience is something I would like to share.
Talking with Dennis Blue about his writing
Denis Ledoux: Can you tell our readers what your book is about and why you were impelled to write your book? What was driving you to spend the time, energy and money to get this book out into the world?
Dennis Blue: My first book, Running the Good Race, is about growing up on a farm and learning religious values, my thirty years with Ford Motor Company, fourteen of which were living overseas and flying as a missionary pilot. My second book, Through the Eyes of a Fisherman, recounts my twenty-eight years as a charter captain, guiding fishing expeditions throughout the US and Central and South American while using my charter business as a ministry to witness to others about Christ.
DL: Can you tell us how long it took from the time you conceived the book to the time you had it published? How many years did you spend in active writing? Were there long breaks in between active writing periods? If so, what happened to get you writing again? [Free Membership required to read more. See below. ]
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Mary Ellen Ellwell was a writing client with whom I especially enjoyed working. She brought to the relationship a sense of the value of collaboration. This made the time together a creative one for both of us. Below is her account of writing her book. Mary Ellen departed from the Q/A format but very smoothly […]
Today’s successful memoir writer is Jean Crichton. Jean attended the very first national workshop that I organized in 2000. From that time, we developed a strong working relationship via coaching and editing. She was one of those writers who was an absolute pleasure to work with. To read past interviews For the most recent interview with […]
Today’s writer is Cindy Doucette whose book is It Can Happen to Any Family. On August 22, 2012, we printed a testimonial written by a young person who was in the correctional system and who wrote of the influence Cindy Doucette’s book had on her. Our last interview was with author Peggy Kennedy. If you haven’t read it, click here. Denis […]
Denis Ledoux: Can you tell our readers what your successful memoir is about and why you were impelled to write it? What was driving you to spend the time, energy and money to get this book out into the world? Peggy Kennedy: The name of my book is Approaching Neverland, A Memoir of Epic Tragedy […]
Here’s a recent discussion we had with Libby Atwater who began telling people’s stories professionally after a career in education. As a writer and editor, she has worked for individuals, families, businesses, nonprofits, universities, and community newspapers. Tales from her life have been published in several anthologies. Her memoir What Lies Within covers her first […]
Here’s the second half of my recent discussion with Libby Atwater who began telling people’s stories professionally after a career in education. As a writer and editor, she has worked for individuals, families, businesses, nonprofits, universities, and community newspapers. Tales from her life have been published in several anthologies. Her memoir What Lies Within covers […]
William Andrews about his experience writing his recent book, Daughters of the Dragon. Bill exemplifies a commitment to writing. It is the same commitment but in the memoir field that will see all of us succeed at our endeavors.
During WW2, the Japanese enslaved thousands of women to serve as prostitutes. I recently had the opportunity to interview author William Andrews about his experience writing his recent novel, Daughters of the Dragon: A Comfort Woman’s Story. Last week, I published the first part of the interview and below I publish the second portion. If you have not read the first portion, it is a good idea to do so before reading the text below.
DL: You changed narrator in this book. You went from a third person to a first-person narrator. You went from a middle-aged man to a young woman. Can you talk to us about why you did that? What were some of the challenges you had?
BA: Yes, both of these changes—from third person to first; from father to granddaughter—really helped the book. Let me start with the second—changing the character. I first wrote the frame of the book (the book is written in a framed narrative or a story within a story) with the father of the adopted daughter as the narrator. Why? Because I was him. It was easy for me. Then I realized that the granddaughter had the most at stake in the story. By giving her the narrative, the frame had much more power, more emotion. It was more direct, more raw, more dramatic. It wasn’t nearly as easy to write, but it was way better.
As for switching from third to first person, that was a result of needing to give the narrative a better voice. Writers and agents and publishers and coaches talk about “voice” all the time, but it isn’t always clear what it is. Well, to me, it’s a simple concept, but not easy to do. Voice is the personality of the narrator. Think about it. If you could have your comedy told by either a boring person, or by Robin Williams, who would you choose? Then again, you might not want Robin Williams to narrate your romance since the personality or voice of the narration must match the story. To get the voices right in Daughters of the Dragon, I changed the narration to first person. Once I did, the personality HAD to come through. The 20-year-old granddaughter said things like, “awesome” and “seriously?” and such. The 80-year-old Korean grandmother’s voice had to be deliberate and precise to match her personality. Structurally, it wasn’t all that hard to change, but really forced me to think about voice.
DL: Is there anything in particular that you would say that was the most difficult thing to do in this book? Was it research, plotting, point of view?