Author Interview: Megan Hinde

3 book covers: The Complete Collection, A Second Helping, and Pieces Fall Together

Fellow writer Megan Hinde offered to interview me, and I gladly accepted (posted here). I suggested that I interview her as well, as I was curious about her background as a writer. Let’s learn a bit about her…


1. What caused you to get started in writing?

Midlife crisis…I turned 40. Honestly it just evolved, I wrote quite a bit in high school and college, I worked on my high school newspaper and my college paper. Once upon a time I was a Journalism Major with a concentration in print media. But then life happens. In 2015 I found underlying creativity that had been lying dormant for a good while. Grace Summers who was a character from a piece of dialogue exercise came out to play.     

2. You’ve published a variety of story types in your books — such as flash fiction, detective, and thriller. What inspires you to write these different types of stories?

Variety is the spice of life. Over the last six years writing short stories has also led to reading more variety. I got into more Agatha Christie and odd short story anthologies. Then the Where, What and Who of Writing came to be and immersed me into Flash Fiction. Which was a style I hadn’t really ever written. 

‘Inspired by Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None and Clue, is my version of Where, What, And Who. I think of these as writing prompts to help get the writing juices flowing. I thank everyone for playing along, and invite you to be inspired by the prompts. Also feel free to suggest a place, an item and a name/occupation.’ 

The Detective Stories are just fun, I may have a slight obsession with classic crime, pulp fiction and serial killers. Which all make for good storytelling. Sometimes inspiration just happens, be it things you over hear, read or watch.

3 book covers: Welcome to Edna's Kitchen, Edna's Kitchen: Holiday Collection, and Edna's Kitchen Presents The Best of Bacon

3. You’ve also published several cookbooks, all coming from “Edna’s Kitchen.” Who is Edna? Is there a story behind why you chose that name?

If you read the introduction to Welcome to Edna’s Kitchen you would know. That being said, yes Edna became a creation out of a short story I wrote about my grandparents called After the Glory

‘Mrs. Rachel Darling sat in front of her typewriter working on her next column for The Daily Star, the local newspaper for the area. Her column Ask Edna had recipes, gardening advice and household tips and tricks.’

It has also evolved into its own breathing entity with 16 ebook cookbooks and a recipe blog on WordPress.  

4. What are your favorite meals to cook?

Stroganoff, Spaghetti and Meatballs and Lasagna. Runner ups would be Pot Roast with Potatoes and Carrots, and Slow Cooked Pulled Pork with Katsu Sauce.

3 book covers: Detective Stories, Descending the Spiral Staircase, and No Rest for the Wicked

5. Do your story ideas start with a character, a scenario, or something else?

Usually scenario, which is why I like the Where, What and Who writing prompts. Some of the combinations just write themselves. Like this one: Airport, Winter Jacket, Martha.

‘Winter Jacket 

Martha stood at the arrival gate in the Kansas City International Airport, clutching John’s dark blue winter jacket to her chest. John had been deployed overseas, it had been the longest six months of Martha’s life. She watched, shivering in anticipation as the crowd of people exited the jetway, waiting to see his familiar face among the crowd. Her breath caught in her throat when she saw him, he immediately pulled her into his arms, the winter jacket being crushed between them. She never felt safer or more at peace.’ 

There is also a little truth in all my fiction, details or characters that come from my experiences in life. A lot of them are inside jokes or references for my entertainment.  

6. Do you have a writing routine? If so, what is it?

Not really, if the inspiration is there things get written. Coffee is always involved. 

7. Do you ever experience “writer’s block?” If so, what do you do to help ease out of it?

Not so much ‘writer’s block’ as lack of inspiration. Over the last two years the inspiration to write fiction is just not there. Hence the growing number of book recommendations and articles about other writers. Been reading more and writing less. 

3 covers of flash fiction books: Haunted Hydrangeas, Down the Rabbit Hole, and Hat Trick

8. What kinds of fiction do you enjoy reading? Do you have favorite authors?

I’ll read just about anything, if it doesn’t hold my attention I just stop reading it. I go through phases. I used to read  a lot of Stephen King, Edgar Allan Poe, Henry Miller, and James Joyce. Recently it’s been Agatha Christie, and Rex Stout.     

9. What is one work of fiction that moved you deeply? Why did it have that effect on you?

Here’s the thing I read for pure enjoyment. I don’t put a whole lot of thought into what I’m reading usually at night to fall asleep. This is why I was never an English Lit major. Put it this way, in high school I asked my friend how ‘Catcher In the Rye’ was rather than actually read it. 

10. What project(s) are you working on now?

There are always ideas floating around in the back of my mind: Things like do we need another Holiday Treats From Edna’s Kitchen? Does Detective James Andrews need a back story or a continuation of his Detective Stories? Or is it time to walk away and take a break? I don’t have any answers, I figure if inspiration occurs then more words will be written. 


Links!

Megan’s books are available on Amazon.

You can read some of her stories on her blog — along with recipes and photos.

Her Goodreads page is here.

Sunshine Blogger Award

Thank you to Lauren over at Lauren M. Hancock Poetry and Prose for nominating me for a Sunshine Blogger Award. She writes luminous, thoughtful pieces, and I certainly recommend checking out her blog.

The rules for nominees are to answer 11 questions posed by the person who nominated you, and then nominate 11 others for the award.

Respectfully, I’m going to pass on nominating others. I feel awkward about blogger awards.

But it wasn’t awkward to answer the questions:

  1. How do you deal with regretful situations?
    I try to learn from them. Which is an ongoing challenge… I frequently tell myself, Darn it! I should’ve said or done this instead of that when thinking about a previous situation. Ah, the benefit of having time to meditate on a situation, rather than the immediacy of being in one.
  2. What is a joyous moment for you?
    Mornings. There’s a freshness to them. It’s when I work on my personal projects: writing and drawing.
  3. When you’re inspired to write, is it in a frenzy or a controlled manner, how do the words flow onto the page?
    Depends on the day. When my writing clicks, it comes out in a rush. I love, love, love those times. Other days, however, writing is like walking through ankle-deep molasses while carrying a St. Bernard on my shoulders. At least the dog is sleeping, so it’s not squirming. That would be difficult to carry.
  4. What is the most important object in your life, and what significance does it hold for you?
    If family can be accepted in this category, that’s my answer. Family is very important to me. If we’re talking inanimate objects, I would choose photographs. They spark memories of times that are special to me.
  5. Are you a coffee or a tea person?
    Tea. Regular tea in the morning, sometimes green tea in the afternoon. Tea can bring comfort.
  6. What would be your ideal way to enjoy a Sunday?
    Going for a walk in the woods with my wife and two daughters. Or a walk through a museum.
  7. Name one hobby that you enjoy and why.
    I consider writing and drawing to be hobbies, since they’re not paying my bills. I really enjoy both of them. To name one: writing. When it clicks with me, I’m transported to another place, another time, actions playing out before me. Akin to how reading a story can transport me. But with writing, the words of action and thoughts are invented one by one in front of me, rather than all the words have already been formed and packaged into a book. And that’s wondrous.
  8. Share a treasured memory of yours?
    Going to playgrounds when my daughters were younger, seeing the joy on their faces as they ran from the slide to the swings to the climbing structure. Those were beautiful times.
  9. Name a favourite song of yours from a musical.
    Funny Face is a delightful movie, and the scene in the basement cafe is fun. I don’t think there’s singing in the song, just dancing while the musicians play jazzy/funky instrumental music.
  10. Would you consider yourself an extrovert or introvert?
    Definitely an introvert.
  11. And does this affect the way you write for your blog?
    I’m not sure. I wonder… Would I write as much if I was extroverted? Or would I spend more time on other social media sites that are more fast-paced, like Facebook and Twitter? Curious stuff.

Victoria Ray Interview

Fellow indie author Victoria Ray invited to interview me, and I happily accepted. Also, I offered to interview her, as I was entertained by her two short story collections, So Absurd It Must Be True. I enjoy absurdist fiction, and her short stories are bursts of activity and humor and unpredictable plots.

Victoria posted her interview of me yesterday on her blog. And today, I’m posting my interview of her…


How did you get interested in writing? Which kind of writing — short stories, novels, poems — do you enjoy the most? Why?

The sheer pleasure to hold a pen? Or to see if my pen would create the unique blend of images, or build a new universe, or maybe, because, ‘In the beginning, was the Word?’

I believe writing is a part of our daily life: something – it could be a theme, a hero, an idea, or just the word – invites you, then seduces you, and at the end, absorbs you. It’s impossible to force or to stop. You, me, anyone on this planet is a writer. The only question is: what are you – the talent or a genius? The time will tell… Russian writer David Samoylov brilliantly described it:

“In this minute, a genius is sitting and writing…
In this minute, 100 talented people are sitting and writing.
In this minute, 1000 professionals are sitting and writing.
In this minute 100 000 graphomaniacs are sitting and writing.
In this minute, 1 million lonely girls are sitting and writing.
In this minute, 10 million young people (perhaps in love) are sitting and writing.
As a result of this grand event –
ONE POEM IS BORN. Or a genius, throwing out everything
that has been written in a basket.
And heading off.
but the world of literature will remember him/her.

I love writing if it creates the desire to feel, think, and reread. I prefer to write ‘compressed, short’ prose. Why? This is how I perceive the world around me.

Book covers: So Absurd It Must Be True collections and Sophia von X novel

I enjoyed reading your two collections of short stories: So Absurd It Must Be True (Book 1 and Book 2). Now I’m enjoying your novel Sophia von X. What did you think of the jump from writing short stories to novels? Was it a difficult transition?

Thank you! It was and still is a difficult transition. I wanted to try to write thrillers or sci-fi, but there’s a chance I’ll stick to absurd fiction, satire, and humor. I’m never sitting and writing the short stories, not in a usual way – it is often written brick by brick, like Lego – with attention on the construction, shape, form, model.

Example: To write the scene, let’s say 2k short story, I need bricks I’d like to use. For that, I’m collecting words, sentences, and phrases. It doesn’t matter how bizarre/wild they are or how out of context – I’ll find the place for them in my chapter or story. That’s why, perhaps, the text seems a bit rough, irregular, abstract, or undeveloped.

Writing the big novel is a different deal. Usually, I’m writing 20k (a core or skeleton), then I’m expanding the text – adding chapters, situations, details. It takes a lot of memory cells – to keep all those details in mind.

Book covers: The Life Written by Himself by Archpriest Avvakum and Buddha's Little Finger by Victor Pelevin

Your profile says you have a Ph.D. in classic Russian Literature. Very impressive! How have those studies influenced your writing?

I read and analyzed so many books (from the 11th century to modern fiction) that often, I’m leaving empty-handed at any bookstore. I love being there, though. Ah, all those books! Even if mass media products, those books are magical to me, too; full of messages and endless words. As a teacher of Russian literature, I love words. I can’t say that bookstores are selling boring books, not at all. What troubles me, the writing is nice and clean, but you won’t find any modern Prousts, Diderots, Kafkas, or Cervantes on the shelves.

Lately, many authors trying to come up with some new forms, ideas, word-playing, but still, it is rarely something different from all that what-market-wants-plot-hero-sleek-sameness.

And yes, of course, Russian Literature influenced my writing – from Life of the Archpriest Avvakum (written by himself) to modern surrealist, Viktor Pelevin. In my books, I make a unique mix of everything I know – DJ Ray NB. Welcome to my party!

How does research factor into your writing? Do you pick a topic, then research it, and that leads to ideas for stories? Or is it more often that you have a story idea, and you do research to give it believability?

Each story or novel starts from an image or a scene. When I’m writing a book, sometimes I can research beforehand. The problem with novels – they are so damn long – I see nothing, I forget everything – my mind is blurred. About short stories, usually, I’m working on each for only 2-7 days (max), and I never get back to rewriting after the piece is finished. I have to admit, I dislike rewriting. I see each story as an ‘impression’ of that particular moment/feeling.

Book covers: Seeds of Tomorrow and Harvest on the Don, both by Mikhail Sholokhov

The spontaneity and unpredictability in your short stories reminded me of the graphic novel Giraffes on Horseback Salad, which was based on Salvador Dali’s screenplay for a movie he hoped would star the Marx Brothers. Sadly, the movie was never made. Other than authors, what artists or musicians or actors do you see as role models for your writing? Why those artists?

What a fantastic title – ‘Giraffes on Horseback Salad!’
To answer your question: Ye shall make you no idols – my #1 rule
BUT I’d like to mention a couple of ingenious people:
Movies – Louis de Funès (because he is a true joy)
Literature – Teffi (a Russian humorist writer, fascinating lady, died in 1952); Mikhail Sholokhov (Nobel Prize winner 1965, Russian novelist. Seeds of Tomorrow and Harvest on the Don are my favorites: epic dramas); Dostoyevsky (so much passion, madness, and imbalance); O. Henry (fun, intelligent stories with a lesson); W. Thackeray (because of Becky and Amelia; satire, the sketch of English society); Stendhal (because he had more than 100 pen names and visited the city where I grew up); R. Sabatini (adventure and pirates).
Music – anything without words. Or silence.
Art – impressionism.

Book covers: Idaho by Emily Ruskovich and The Erasers by Alain Robbe-Grillet

What’s one work of fiction that moved you deeply? Why did it have that effect on you?

Nothing ‘deeply moved’ me for the last thirty years, but there are modern books that made some splash. I’d like to mention Idaho by Emily Ruskovich. I know a lot of people dislike this book. They want an ‘easy-read’ crime novel. People are simple creatures, we often prefer to be a part of the flock, and in XXI – we are even more ‘simplified’ – more herd-y, I’d say. It means we don’t want to think, imagine, or reflect. Not by ourselves. We want everything to be delivered – given – gifted – placed inside of our minds.

The goal of any novel – to stretch your imagination. Any story/book is a Novel of Uncertainty; remember that. You can retell it the way you wish in your head – and that’s the magnitude, the real value, and the strength of great immortal literature.

One more book I’d like to mention – The Erasers, by Alain Robbe-Grillet: mix of avant-garde and nouveau, literary puzzle in each sentence, bizarre prose, can make you dizzy… I’m still reading it.


Links!

Victoria’s blog, where you can read some of her surreal and funny stories, as well as posts about writing and philosophy and wisdom she’s picked up from reading from various sources.

Victoria’s books on Amazon. In addition to the books I’ve mentioned here, she has published The Pearl Territory (surreal, sci-fi drama), Dulcinea and The Death Code (young adult novel), and two poetry collections.

Also! I want to mention two awards that Victoria Ray has won … Book 2 of So Absurd It Must Be True was a Finalist of the Book Excellence Awards for, and Sophia von X was picked as the Silver Medal Winner in the Fiction – Religious Theme category of the Reader’s Favorite Book Reviews and Award Contest. You can see the awards on her blog’s about page.