Jan Pierson [calamityjan]
What did you first read? How did you begin to write? Who were the first to read what you wrote?
The moment I connected with the page, my life changed. There was no going back. I can't remember but I probably began reading with this energy and hunger when I was about eight. By this time I was also putting myself down on paper for others, but no one seemed particularly interested in those earliest days except God. I wrote him a letter and hid it in a curtain rod which my mother found many years later. It was wonderful to write to God because, of course, I KNEW he read everything I wrote so I didn't have to suffer the raised eyebrows and clicking tongues. My earliest scratchings (to God) were directly from my heart and there were no rejections.
What is your favorite genre? Can you provide a link to a site where we can read some of your work or learn something about it?
I loved mysteries and historical fiction as a girl, and when I began to write as an adult I stayed in those genres. I wrote for middle grade readers because the kid inside me never got out (thank heavens) but I also diverted and occasionally wrote magazine articles about people I knew. For example, "Lively May I Walk," will be released in ARIZONA HIGHWAYS and is about my father and his amazing life and Navajo photography. THE GHOSTOWNERS, four books (Historical Fiction) set in ghost towns of the West is my latest series for young readers and can be ordered through any bookstore or online website or on my own site at : www.CalamityJan.com. I picked up Calamity Jan as a pen name because it fit. Before that, Tyndale House published five books; "THE CARSON KIDS MYSTERIES" set in the San Juan Islands of Puget Sound which are back in print and available in most venues.
What is your creative process like? What happens before sitting down to write?
It happens only if I first get myself in the place and time that will allow that right brain to kick in. If I "wait" (right brain dreamland)... it won't happen. Writing is a hard, gritty, disciplined work and this girl has to make time to make it happen.
What type of reading inspires you to write?
Books that grab my heart inspire me. Internal writing/emotion is the hardest sort of thing for me to do, but I know...if I don't...I won't inspire anyone else.
What do you think are the basic ingredients of a story?
The Hook (grab) and the Glue (tension)
After that, you've got 'em.
What voice do you find most to your liking: first person or third person?
Third person is easiest and I do it the most. My latest book (not for kids) is first person and owwww... it's harder and it bites, but it's probably going to be my best work yet.
What well known writers do you admire most?
Good grief, the list is too long...
What is required for a character to be believable? How do you create yours?
If the character isn't very human and vulnerable, the reader probably won't make the connection. He/She must be somewhere close the playing field where the reader is meandering. I use parts of myself in order to create a believable character because no one can challenge that (me) and hopefully the reader has been in my boots at some time in her life. Boots that are made for walking through deep doo doo are going to get the best mileage with the reader.
Are you equally good at telling stories orally?
Yes. Actually I began telling wild stories long before I began writing them down. I scared neighbors, friends and cousins half to death in those early days but had to ease up after parents and other responsible adults complained that their children were having nightmares. It was fun while it lasted.
Deep down inside, who do you write for?
probably myself. (This is a good answer in the day and age when agents and publishers are harder and harder to get.)
Is writing a form of personal therapy? Are internal conflicts a creative force?
Personal therapy? Probably. Internal conflicts are always a creative force in life and writers are fortunate to vent that force or power in positive ways.
Does reader feed-back help you?
Do you participate in competitions? Have you received any awards?
No. I have gotten a few awards, but the sweetest have been from my young readers and fans who think I'm wonderful and have been inspired by my stories. I love it. Them.
Do you share rough drafts of your writings with someone whose opinion you trust?
Definitely. Without them I'm cabbage soup.
Do you believe you have already found "your voice" or is that something one is always searching for?
I hope somebody found it somewhere. Who knows?
What discipline do you impose on yourself regarding schedules, goals, etc.?
Not as much as I should, but I'm working on that.
What do you surround yourself with in your work area in order to help your concentrate?
Do you write on a computer? Do you print frequently? Do you correct on paper? What is your process?
Computer with lots of going back, but not until I've created the piece. Going back (the editor in me) can kill my creative flow. Once I've 'got it'...then I can be brutal and face the grind of revision.
What sites do you frequent on-line to share experiences or information?
I am all over the place, mostly doing research and so I don't have any particular hangouts online because I don't have time to hang out and chat. Still, I know I need those connections (sharing) so I enjoy that now and then between whatever it is I'm doing.
What has been your experience with publishers?
I did well with my first publisher except when they assigned me a new editor (my third book) who wanted to write my story! Yow. I got on the phone and told them this wasn't going to fly and they took her off and let me (for the most part) write my own story. I hope she got to write her own book eventually. It was pretty clear that's what she was trying to do. Maybe she's a best selling author today! Oh, good grief.
What are you working on now?
Narrative nonfiction. I married a Russian, ex-communist, phycist who was younger than I. If that isn't good grist for Calamity's writing mill, I don't know what is!
What do you recommend I do with all those things I wrote years ago but have never been able to bring myself to show anyone?
I suggest you might have a story from something you've hidden away, but I know you have been growing as a person and writer in the process of all you've been getting down on paper. That second element (growth) is what truly makes you bolder, smarter and better...and it often takes time. So, smile at your filing cabinet and remember it's rich with promise, then keep working on what's coming out of you and just never, EVER give up.
Olympia WA USA