MY INTERVIEW WITH BRENDA VICARS, author of “POLARITY IN MOTION” which is featured on the page “STAR BOOKS”
What motivates you as an author?
While I was a high school English teacher, I also taught college English at night inside a nearby prison. When I first entered the prison, I fancied that I would bestow brilliant wisdom upon the inmates. However, it was they who taught me. They often wrote about their youth—sometimes their middle and early high school years—when their lives had begun to unravel. I gradually
realized that many of my high school students were living through the same stresses that haunted the prisoners. The inmates’ pasts were my high school students’ present. The difference was my adolescent students weren’t talking or writing about their struggles. Instead, they were coping and doing their best to navigate—so far.
Teaching in prison changed me. Lessons from the incarcerated made me acutely aware of how fragile and blurred the critical line is during adolescence—the line between holding onto a path to success and crashing through a crack.
As an author I’m compelled to unearth that line and give it voice.
How do you deal with rejection and setbacks?
I suffer! And then I look for a way to learn from the rejection—a way to apply the knowledge to my next effort.
How do you deal with writer’s block?
I have three approaches. (1) Take a break from writing. (2) Follow what Julia Cameron advises in THE ARTIST’S WAY. She recommends that writers go out and experience something totally new at least one hour a week. For example, spend an hour trying to play a harmonica, take a salsa lesson, go to a woodworking shop, or do anything that’s totally new to you. I’ve used this trick before and find that after a breather and exposure to new stimuli, for some reason my brain kicks back in and is ready to write. (3) Another trick I use sometimes is to turn away from the manuscript I’m stuck on and work on a different project for a while.
Do you have any motivational books or websites?
Hundreds—I thirst for them and constantly poke around for something new to fulfil my craving. Right now I’m reading Stephen King’s ON WRITING.
Who has been the biggest influence upon your writing?
I could list fifty authors, but today I’m thinking about Flannery O’Connor. Her work has a way of making me see that I’ve never really seen before. And she leaves me wondering, “Okay, what else it is that I’m not seeing?”
Now the good question: Tell us about your book.
POLARITY IN MOTION is a young adult novel about a high school girl whose nude picture shows up on the Internet. People mock her when she swears that she never posed for the photo, and basically her life is ruined. While she struggles to find answers, her ever-unraveling mother’s borderline personality disorder makes life more complicated, and Ethan, the guy of her dreams, backpedals and joins in with the taunting chorus.
So, going forwards as an author, what do you realistically hope to accomplish?
I have a draft of POLARITY IN LOVE. By the time I completed POLARITY IN MOTION, the two main characters had matured, and their needs had deepened. They walked out of the first book and into the second, ready to take greater risks and to have a more complex relationship. I also have two additional novels drafted that I’ll be working on, so as an author I hope to publish three more books, and then from there—we’ll see.
GUEST POST TOPIC:
Is there such a thing as fiction?
I love the question: Is there such a thing as fiction? And I agree that everything that happens in a story is rooted in the author’s experience. So maybe there is no such thing as a totally made up story. Maybe fiction is a misnomer. But, I wonder, if we so declare fiction, should we consider that non-fiction could also be a misnomer.
For example, if three different reporters cover an incident, each one of them will bring back a slightly different story. Each will call his story the truth, but in reality his story is his perception of the truth. Moreover, a single reporter’s version might be differ from one day to the next, depending on how his day is going, who he speaks to at the scene, what background he’s read related to the scene, etc.
An even more systemic example of questionable non-fiction can be found in American public school history texts that extol the founding fathers’ brave declaration that “All men are created equal…” but ignore the reality that most of those founding fathers kept slaves.
So when we take a look at the layers of deviation in non-fiction, then perhaps we have to conclude that the “truth” in non-fiction is pretty nebulous. And perhaps fiction is more truthful because at least fiction doesn’t purport to be truth.
There is no such thing as fiction—in fact, the literature we call fiction is truer than non-fiction.
THANKS BRENDA. Having read “Polarity in Motion”, it’s one of my top ten recommendations for readers looking for an enjoyable ride.