This is a photo of Francis Guenette, author of some great books, one of which I reviewed here, The Light Never Lies.
She was kind enough to agree to an interview with me. Brave soul, since I haven’t a clue as to what I am doing. I am not a professional interviewer. I am just nosy. So I ask questions to which I really want to know the answers.
Marti: I admit it. I have the kind of admiration for writers that teen girls have for rock bands. I think it is because I cannot write fiction. I have no stories in me. You obviously have glorious stories in you. Have you always had these stories inside you screaming to get out?
Francis Guenette: I’ve always had a very active imagination. For as long as I can recall, I’ve played around with ideas in my mind, letting them spin off into any number of scenarios – daydreaming or woolgathering or whatever one wants to call it. One day, I got to a place in my life where I gave myself permission to write some of those meanderings down.
Marti: Do the events in your life prompt which story needs to be told next?
Francis Guenette: A definite yes to that question. When I first flirted with the idea of writing fiction and the bare bones idea for Disappearing in Plain Sight came to life, I wasn’t a grandma yet. That life stage came during the years that it took to get my first book out. Lo and behold, along comes the next book and a baby makes an appearance. Between the first and the second books my father died – another major life experience that has shaped me. What I write is fiction but I think all fiction comes out of the boiling pot of life – albeit twisted and massaged into what the current story demands. The liberating thing about writing fiction is that it doesn’t always have to have been something that happened to me. I am quite capable of getting a lot of mileage out of other people’s experiences, too.
Marti: You write what I call literary fiction. Do you consider it literary fiction? Women’s fiction? How do you categorize it?
Francis Guenette: Wikipedia defines literary fiction as: complex, literate, multilayered novels that wrestle with universal dilemmas. I think I’m good with landing under this definition except for the word – literate. I’m not really sure what that might mean. Richard Thomas writes that a literary work of fiction has aesthetic value, it stands the test of time, the reader will find layered characters with complex emotions. The work is character driven, not plot driven. I’m comfortable and highly flattered by all of that. I think where I fall short of the category is in his description of the writing style. You won’t be running to a dictionary to look up words you’ve come across in my novels, or seeing a lot of literary passages or poetic quotes alluded to. Though I do pay my dues to symbolism and there is something of the mystical finding its way into my stories, I wouldn’t say those themes dominate my work.
I do use the literary fiction category along with women’s fiction, romance, and family. Finding a way to categorize one’s own work is difficult. There are times when I drop the literary category because it turns a certain audience off. The same goes for romance or women’s fiction. The reality is that whenever we categorize we are inviting some readers and turning away others. There is simply no way around that dilemma.
Marti: Are you able to write two different books at the same time? No, I don’t mean with a pen in each hand, but can you pop back and forth between two different works?
Francis Guenette: n the conceptual stages – yes – but when it comes to the actual hard-core, first-draft writing, there is room for only one book at a time. The same goes for rewrites and the intensive stage of editing. Once I get onto fine tuning and formatting for publishing, I can consider other stories again.
Marti: I guess what I am asking is do you ever get bored with one book, and go to work on something else in order to refresh or get a different perspective on Book A? I tend to read at least three books at one time, jumping from one to another if one is getting too intense, or too silly, or too complicated and I need a break from that storyline. So I was just wondering if it is the same when writing.
Francis Guenette: I don’t get bored when the writing is intense and moving forward. Boredom does creep in after publishing. I still have to maintain a high level of commitment to the book so I can do promotion and marketing when all I want to do is get back to the storyboard on a new writing project.
Marti: I read you live off grid! Damn, girl. Is it complicated? Do you have enough electricity? How about the internet connection? I experience panic attacks if we lose our electric here, because I’ll lose my internet connection and ‘here’ being Mexico you can just guess how often that is. OK, I exaggerate, but how do you handle it up there in the wilds of Canada?
Francis Guenette: On the issue of it being complicated – not especially. The sun shines, the stream flows and the electricity comes in the cabin through the outlets just the way it does for most everyone else. I confess to not giving it much thought these days. That certainly wasn’t always the case but after thirty plus years and numerous upgrades, most of the kinks have been worked out. Internet is a relatively new phenomenon out here in the wilds of our lives – a satellite connection that has its occasional ups and downs but no more so than any connection I’ve used in the city.
Marti: I promised I wouldn’t ask this, but I have to, now that I know you live where it is very very dark. Have you ever seen any UFO’s?
Francis Guenette: Can’t say that I have though the way the stars are visible here is something to behold. A canopy of sparkling, dazzling pinpricks of light that often beckon me outside to the deck and invite me to crane my neck this way and that – far more than is usually wise. As a matter of fact, tonight we will be out on our cliff deck with the a fire in the little chimney stove, drinking wine and star gazing. Does that remind anyone of anything? Talk about writing what you know.
Marti: What is your latest release? And can you tell us what you are currently working on?
Francis Guenette: The Light Never Lies, the second of my Crater Lake series came out in February of this year. As soon as I can clear the decks of promotion activities, I will start the third book in the series, Chasing Down the Night. This book picks up with the Crater Lake characters another year along the road of their lives. Of course there will be new characters thrown in the mix as well as new twists and turns. Readers can expect more Justin and Lisa-Marie, more complex family dynamics and drama, an expanded role for Robbie and his unique way of seeing the world, as well as more ups and downs for the kids over at Micah Camp. Looking at a late spring 2015 release date for this book, so stay tuned.
Isn’t she just the nicest person! When I die, I want to come back as her. And if you want to know more about her and her books, you can find her at her blog, Disappearing In Plain Sight – Writing About Writing. And of course, you can find her books at Amazon.com.