Monday, July 25, 2011

Author Interview: Dana Precious

I recently reviewed Born Under a Lucky Moon: A Novel by newcomer Dana Precious.  Read it here.  Ms. Precious took time to answer some questions for us.  I am pleased to say she is as lively and funny as her novel. Enjoy!

Girls Just Reading (GJR):  The past and present stories in this novel can easily stand alone yet you wove them with ease. Did you write them simultaneously or separately? How did you come up with the idea for this novel?

Dana Precious (DP):  I wrote the stories simultaneously. Honestly I’m not even sure why I felt the 2006 story had to be in there. It just kept fighting its way in. I was told several times to cut that part out but I just couldn’t. Once I came up with the ending it became apparent to me. It was something that was just waiting to be revealed to me as a writer. The idea for the novel is inspired by my family. So many people say, the book is so funny but those things could never have happened. Believe me, I couldn’t have made a lot of this stuff up!

GJR:  You grew up in a small town. Does your family still live there? How often do you go home?

DP:  My mom still lives there in the same house I grew up in. My dad passed away several years ago. My brother and his family still live a half mile away from my mom, just across from her on Bear Lake. I go home every summer and love it. It will always be home to me and I love introducing my four year old son to all the things I did as a kid. We sometimes go home for Christmas but its an adventure getting there akin to climbing Mount McKinley. Once it took my family 36 hours to get home! The planes always get cancelled in Chicago due to snow.

GJR:  I loved all the sisters. Did you base their very different personalities on women you know? Although this is Jeannie’s story and I enjoyed the time I spent with her, Sammy was my favorite to read about. Who was your favorite to write?

DP:  It’s really interesting to me to see which sister the readers gravitate to. You’re the first one to mention Sammy. I’d love to hear why. I wonder if people are drawn to the sister that they themselves are most like. I’m the youngest of five kids. Just like Jeannie I have three sisters and a brother. I had more estrogen running around me than you can imagine. So yes, I did base the personalities on women I know but I exaggerated their characteristics quite a bit. My favorite character to write was Evan. When I started writing, I had no idea he would turn out to be the philosopher in the book. But he became a way for me to tell some of the stories I had heard while growing up and using them as a metaphor for what was happening to the characters in my book.

GJR:  The unspoken hero to me is Jeannie’s mom. She is the glue that holds the Thompson’s together. Did you model her after your own?

DP:  I absolutely did. I’m so pleased to hear you say that she is the glue. I guess I wrote it right because my own mom is the glue that keeps a lot of nutty, now adult siblings, from pulling apart.

GJR:  What motivates you to write?

DP:  I have no idea. I’ve always written since I was a kid. I never took a writing class though. Somewhere I must have figured someone would tell me I couldn’t do it. I’m pretty susceptible to criticism. I probably would have stopped if someone told me I wasn’t good at it. I did, and still do, read a tremendous amount. That probably has something to do with it.

GJR:  Are you working on a new novel? If so, what is the premise?

DP:  Yes, I am. The working title is ‘Jump and the Net Will Appear’. That will probably change. But it’s about taking chances. It is again about Jeannie’s family but takes place in a one month period of time. All of the siblings are home as their grandmother from Texas has been brought to Michigan and she is on her deathbed. The siblings, as usual, pick each other clean with the issues that are stopping them from getting on in life. Part of the novel also takes place in 1940’s West Texas with Rose (the mom in Born Under A Lucky Moon) as a young girl. I’m not sure why I keep writing about two separate time periods. I think I like seeing how families evolve and what makes them tick.

GJR:  Who are your favorite authors? Why?

DP:  I love historical murder mysteries and read Jaqueline Winnespear and Victoria Thompson. I also love the Girl With The Dragon Tattoo series. I read Susan E. Phillips when I’m depressed and need a lift. Richard Russo, Steve Erickson, Dani Kollin, Fannie Flagg, Lee Child. I loved The Help. I pretty much read anything I can get my hands on.

GJR:  What are you currently reading?

DP:  I just finished 22 Britannia Road last night. Really good book. Before that I read The Unincorporated Man by the Kollin brothers. That was a truly fascinating great read. I’m sure I’ll start a new one today but I have to go brouse. My ipad is my new passion. I fought against the technology because I love the smell of books and turning the pages. But the iPad is like having a bookstore in my house. I don’t mean to sound like an ad for Apple!

GJR:  When you write, do you have total quiet or background noise? Can you describe your writing environment?

DP:  I need noise! A lot of my writing has taken place at The Novel Café in Santa Monica. Born Under A Lucky Moon got started at the Sylvia Beach Hotel in Newport Oregon. It’s a writer’s hotel on this cold, wide open beach. I had read about it when I was about 20 years old and always wanted to go there. But honestly, I can pretty much write anywhere. I worked as a copywriter for years and had to deal with very noisy ad agencies. I’m also a pretty fast writer. When you are on deadline and have ten minutes to come up with a good copyline you stop worrying about every word you put on the page. You just do it and then refine it.

GJR:  How do you decide to whom to dedicate a novel?

DP:  Born Under A Lucky Moon is dedicated to my husband, who puts up with me, my son, whom I adore and my mom who is ‘the glue that holds everything together’. My mom is my best friend. I wouldn’t know what to do without her.

GJR:  Something different: Come on…who is Ms. F.U. based on?

DP:  Hey, I’d still like to work in Hollywood for a while! I won’t say who Ms F.U is. But while the character is an amalgamation of stars I worked with, Ms. F.U. definitely is drawn a lot from one in particular. Ms. F.U. also plays a significant role in my new book.



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