Q&A with Seana Graham, Award-Winning Author
Please welcome Seana Graham to our Featured Q&A series at Writer’s Fun Zone. Seana’s story, “Monsoon Nights” won Second Place in the 2017 Genre Novelist 1st Chapter Contest, I sponsored (Beth Barany) in conjunction with the 2017 San Mateo County Fair Literary Arts Stage. Seana’s story, “Monsoon Nights,” along with all the winners, will be featured in the book, Carry The Light. I really enjoyed her tale! If you’d like to be considered for an interview, check out our guidelines here.
ABOUT SEANA GRAHAM
Seana Graham is an author, blogger and book reviewer living in Santa Cruz, California. In addition to writing fiction, she writes nonfiction pieces on her blog, Confessions of Ignorance, which bears the subtitle, “Correcting my limitless lack of knowledge, one post at a time.” It will no doubt be a lifetime project.
On to our interview!
1. Tell us who you are and what inspires you to write.
I don’t think I’ve entirely pinned myself down as writer even now. I have tried my hand in a variety of forms, including novels, short stories, screenplays, blogs and book reviews. I’ve attempted a musical and even co-authored a trivia book about Southern California, where I was born and still have family ties. I worked for many years in an independent bookstore in town, but for the last few years have been focusing on developing my writing life. I like to experiment and don’t really want to be tied down to one path or form.
2. How did you get to this place in your life? Share your story!
I am what in the writing world is called a pantser and I suppose I am that in the rest of life as well. I have an aversion to making plans too far in the future, but in fact work well with people who do like to plan, and find that I can hitch up to their energy and get places I wouldn’t have thought of on my own. That’s how I got to France, Ireland and Southeast Asia. It’s why I’m currently doing yoga, and am in a longstanding Finnegans Wake group.
3. What are you most passionate about?
Although I don’t think of myself as a passion-driven person, I do have pretty strong feelings about many things, usually involving injustice and inequality. I am a fairly typical bleeding heart liberal, and my main concern is how well my actions match up with or fail to match up with my beliefs. I think we are all on a long road toward really living the Golden Rule, which will probably extend beyond treating all people as our equals, but end up including respecting all forms of life and eventually even the earth itself. We have an almost infinite capacity to put blinkers on and be inhumane, but despite that, I believe that empathy is our true nature.
4. Can you tell us a little bit about your writing process, routine, and/or rituals around your writing?
I would love to say I have a writing process or routine, but I think the way I am productive has to do with deadlines, either imposed or self-created. I like challenges like Nanowrimo, where you write a 50,000 word novel in a month, or contests to get me to finally commit to paper some idea I have. Sometimes an idea itself will be enough to get me to commit to it, but usually there has to be an external situation that drives me toward completion.
One thing I’d say about being a deadline-driven writer, I do know how much you can get done when you’re just pushed to the wall. That’s why Nanowrimo, or National Novel Writing Month, is such a good exercise for people like me, because it teaches us that we can accomplish a lot in even a few minutes, much more than I usually like to think.
5. What are a few challenges you faced in creating, marketing, or publishing your creative work? And your solutions to them.
Well, the big one is of course not finding publishers for my longer pieces. But I think there are always unexpected and disappointing small setbacks that fit in the “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” category. I have a short story called “The Pirate’s True Love” which I was thrilled to place with Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet, and they submitted it to an editor who asked to publish it in a best of the year anthology. Unfortunately the publisher of this collection died unexpectedly in a car accident and although his wife tried to keep the publishing house afloat, it all went down, the anthology with it. Obviously, my own misfortune was very small potatoes against the grand scheme of things, but it still was a blow at the time. The story actually has a life of its own, and most recently I was asked whether it could be used in a fantasy podcast. So that is not so much a solution I came up with as a message not to get too downhearted about disappointments but to just keep going.
6. What do you wish you had known before you started writing fiction?
I could say that I would have liked to know how competitive the market is, just so I wouldn’t lose hope, but I don’t really know that it mattered. It can be just as harmful to know the realities of the publishing world as to not know them. I worked for many years in an independent bookstore, doing some of the buying as well as working on the floor and that was kind of an education in itself. For instance, even the small writing contest that the store ran for its newsletter was flooded with entries, and so you can only imagine what it is like for more prestigious publications. And of course you can become a bit jaded about what people actually read, how herd-driven reading can be, and how cynical the publishing industry itself can be, although of course isn’t always.
But there’s something to be said for knowing nothing about all that and just plunging in youthful or even not so youthful innocence. An un-calculated approach is a priceless thing in its own right.
7. What’s next for you in your creative work?
I have stacks of things to edit to a better place, including the latest novel, a ten minute play, and maybe even a musical. But as far as new work, I think I will be just doing what I always do, which is letting ideas come to the surface and seeing where they take me.
In the wake of family woes, a teenager tries to find the true spirit of Christmas.
To connect with Seana Graham
Site Link: http://confessionofignorance.blogspot.com/