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Interview with:

Carol Itoh [carolitoh] 

What did you first read? How did you begin to write? Who were the first to read what you wrote?
I have always been an avid reader. Going to the library with my father was the one activity we shared. I was his only child who would accompany him to the library on Saturday mornings. Literature quickly became my fascination. However, I did not begin writing until after my daughter was grown and I had the time to indulge myself in the fantasy which is necessary for creative writing. In the beginning only very close friends and family read what I wrote. Now that I am published my creations are out there for everyone to read. It's a bit like being naked for the whole world to inspect. It's naughty, exciting and a bit scary.
What is your creative process like? What happens before sitting down to write?
I work in a totally organic way. When I'm working out the storylines and characters I only sketch out the basics. Then I let the story formulate in my mind for awhile. Once it's percolated long enough and I'm clear about what I want the story and characters to say I sit down and write. The book flows naturally and easily because I have already made the book into a movie in my mind. The only thing left to do is type it. My only problem is sometimes I can't type fast enough to keep up with what's going on in my mind.
What do you think are the basic ingredients of a story?
To me the basic ingredients of a good story are simple, you need a good guy, a bad guy, and a situation that throws them together. It's the not knowing who will win in the end, or at least how he will win that keeps the reader turning pages. Tension in any story is vital. Will the good guy triumph over the bad man? Will the boy get the girl in the end? When they solve the case, who will the murderer be? Its the series of tense situations that keeps us turning the pages.
What well known writers do you admire most?
I love Anne Rice, she began writing as a way to express the pain she felt after a family tradegy. How often writers began as tortured souls and putting pen to paper was a therapeutic way of surviving. In that way she found her voice. Same with Amy Tan, she has suffered racism and family issues as well. Amy's storytelling is magical and beautiful while exposing the ugly side of life. I love that her voice champions the female in any situation. Ayn Rand is another writer I enjoy reading. She painted a work of art when she wrote. The dichotomy of tyranny and free will was the center of her work. so I would have to say a lot of strong female writers have inspired me.
Are you equally good at telling stories orally?
Most of my family and friends would say I am a very humorous and vocal person. I love telling stories and can have people on the edge of their seats. But in all honesty, I'm very funny when relating tales to friends. I took public speaking in school for years and storytelling before a crowd is not intimading in the least for me. The concept of the shy writer is highly overrated because most of the authors I've met are confident, outgoing, and excellent orators.
What has been your experience with publishers?
Publishers are a breed all their own. I have had two and both ran small publishing houses. The first one was a nice person but did little to be of help to me. The house was so small it didn't have an editor. I soon moved to a larger house and it's been great. They have artists, editors, and a CEO of the house who makes time to talk issues over with her authors. I have been lucky to have had the same editor for all my books, which has allowed us to develop a repoire so the editing process runs smoothly and quickly. I have been lucky in aspect.
What are you working on now?
Currently I am working on a book about Fibromyalgia from the patients point of view. Women from all over the world have contributed their stories so the book is in the voice of the sufferers and not simply a medical book written by a professional who don't have Fibromyalgia. The highlight is the women's stories of pain and rejection. He Called Me Fat & Neurotic: Our Struggles With Fibromyalgia and the Medical and Legal Systems by Carol Itoh has a March 2012 release date.
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?
If you have stories or even fragments of stories you did years ago, dust them off and re-read them once more with fresh eyes. You may be shocked at how good they are. If it seems dated in any way, i.e. you used 80s music references, update it with modern touches by reworking it to appeal to a more contemporary audience. You might be pleasantly surprised by how good some of your original works were. Once your stories have been tweeked and updated don't be afraid to submit them for publication.

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Carol Itoh
Bowling Green, KY

[carolitoh] Carol Itoh
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