Monday, May 3, 2010

Interview with Meredith Efken

Back with more Meredith! Enjoy... :)

1. Do you love to write? Or is is a chore/occupation/obligation?

Oh I LOVE to write! It's my favorite thing to do in the whole world--until I sit down with my computer. Then I spend several minutes utterly loathing the written word while I'm staring at that horrid blinking cursor. Eventually, I start writing something, anything, and am convinced it's complete schlock. But then later, I read back over it, and discover it's not actually half-bad. And then I LOVE writing again.

2. What do you do when you get writer's block?

Well, I can tell everyone what NOT to do. When I was writing LUCKY BABY, and got a pretty bad case of writer's block, I self-medicated with those big chocolate chunk cookies from Starbucks. I got the book written, but I currently have three really cute pairs of jeans I can't wear anymore!

The other thing I did, which I DO recommend, was working with a creativity coach. My coach is Judy Baer, and she's a multi-published, bestselling author of like a million books or something, and she's specially trained as a life coach, especially for us creative types. She was able to help me get over the creative block and rediscover my passion for my story.

Unfortunately, not even she could coach away the cookies!

3. Your new book is in the vein of Sarah Addison Allen's Garden Spells. What made you interested in magical realism?

This was one of the best things that came out of my coaching sessions with Judy. I was at a point with LUCKY BABY where I felt like I was losing creative control over my work. Plus, the subject of adoption was so deeply personal to me that I was paralyzed by my own expectations. I wanted to show how miraculous and "magical" that adoption journey was, and I didn't know how to put that into mundane, everyday words.

At the same time, I'd started reading Garden Spells and some of Alice Hoffman's stories. I loved how they wove the fantastic right into the fabric of everyday life. To me, it was a perfect vehicle to show the reality and the mystical aspects of the adoption journey. So when I started incorporating that into the book, it was a huge breakthrough and made the story come alive for me. It gave me back my excitement about the story.

I had such fun with it that I'm planning to write some more books in that general style. To me, it's a perfect way of conveying how the world of faith and the unseen intersect and impact the world we can see and touch. It resonates with me in a way I hadn't expected, and I'm very excited to explore it further.

4. What do you do to unwind?

I LOVE hanging out at bookstores--that's actually my husband's and my favorite date place. Funny thing is, I tend not to do a very good job of self-promoting my books, so up until very recently, the bookstore employees knew me so well they could order my drink for me, but they had no idea they could order my books!

I also really like getting pedicures. Now, if I could just get a pedicure WHILE at the bookstore, that might just be my idea of heaven! :-)

5. Take a moment to shamelessly plug your new book!

This is an adoption story like no other. It's not a "baby coming home" fairy tale, but there IS some fantastical elements in it. It's not a story about a child seeking a birthmother--although there are actually two birthmothers in the story. (One is obvious. The other, you will have to search for and you may not find her. And don't ask me, because I'm not telling.) It's not about an adoption gone sour, although it does have some serious conflicts in it.

At it's core, LUCKY BABY is about overcoming abandonment and the miracle of loving despite pain. It's about a group of people who have no reason to love each other at all, and their journey to become a family that can survive no matter what. There's an American woman trying to become a mother, while still hampered by the effects of her stormy past with her own mother. There's a precocious, brilliant Chinese orphan who can't allow herself to trust, but has no choice but depend on others because she is going blind. And there are loving Chinese foster parents who are bound by their culture and family expectations and doing all they can within those constraints to make a difference for the orphans they love.

It's a story of overcoming all these odds and finding the courage to forgive and then to love, no matter what.

The general subject matter, adoption from China, was inspired by my own experience of adopting a child from China. But while I've drawn on my own experiences, and those of other adoptive families, it is completely fictional and NOT auto-biographical. But it's emotionally authentic and real, and I think by the end, it will make you feel alive and hopeful, and help you believe again in all those things we can't see but know must be there.

Your Turn: I love Meredith's answer to the question, What do you do when you get writer's block? Her response is totally original--no one has ever suggested getting a creativity coach to me! Honestly, I didn't even know they existed. :) Anyway, it got me thinking... Maybe you have a fabulous, new way to deal with the age-old problem of writer's block. Care to share??? Also, don't forget to leave a comment on Saturday's post for a chance to win Meredith's new book, Lucky Baby!

1 comment:

  1. I solve writer's block by calling my girlfriends! I'm writing contemporary women's fiction, so there's nothing like talking some drama with my girls to spur my imagination a bit :) I also try to get out of my house for a little while for a movie or a walk (or a very expensive visit to the bookstore). :)