Sunday, June 5, 2011
Part 2 on Clu Gallagher; Senior Citizen and Debut Author
Here is the 2nd half of my interview with master wordsmith and senior citizen extraordinaire, Clu Gallagher. Her novel “Shattered Seeds: Sophia’s Story” is available on Amazon in paperback and Kindle.
Betty: Continuing with my questions, Clue, Your health wasn’t good, and you couldn’t keep working in the educational field, so I’m interested to learn what motivated you to start writing at that point?
Clu: I needed to find something that I could do that would prove to me that my life was not over, but just beginning a new phase—a Plan B.
Betty: Where did the idea for this particular plot come from?
Clu: I don’t know. One day, when I had bottomed out to the point of no return, feeling as if my life was over, my character, Sofia came to me and told me a story...which I promised I would tell to the world and that it would have a meaningful effect on its readers.
Betty: You must have done a great deal of research for this novel. How long did it take altogether, research and writing?
Clu: I worked for over four years on this novel. I had to do hours and weeks, even months, of research. I did interviews with anyone I knew who might have lived during that time; or had relatives still alive who could share; or stories that they remembered being told. I also did Internet searches on events and times for the background information. In addition, I wanted to make sure that the events of the times were historically correct...I remember feeling as if the story was almost writing itself. Sofia became as real to me as if she was in my living room telling me her own story.
For example, I am not a quilter. I have no idea where the idea for the quilt originated...and I realized that the story of the quilt is the common denominator, which would unite the three women—(the main characters of the story.)
(Betty: I don’t want to give away too much of the story so I’m leaving out some of the interview here. You’ll have to read the book to find out what Clu means about the quilt.)
Betty: Like many of us, you entered the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Awards first contest in 2008. Was that helpful to you?
Clu: It was not only helpful, but I believe was part of the “grand plan of the universe” for me. I wrote this manuscript just a few months before the first contest...and I will be grateful forever for entering ABNA. I met the most amazing people. People who love the arts, and are creators, gifted and talented artists, who are also warm and caring human beings. My first mentor was a writer named Allie Lo. She took me under her wing and helped me to develop my work, not according to her stands, or the publishing business but according to my own standards as an artist. I’m a perfectionist and probably my own worst critic. Allie taught me to listen to my inner voice and let it guide me. Besides Allie, during the course of the next four years, I also entered “Shattered Seeds” in the competition of ABNA II, III, and IV. I met others, like you, and Jeff Fielder, David Smullen, Megan Bostic, Erica Olson, Shye Mendelsohn, Gae Polisner, Sofia Samatar, etc. Too many to list actually, but they know who they are and more importantly—so do I. A group of the most kind, and generous people, willing to give of their time to share ideas, thoughts, and expertise, with a perfect stranger.
Betty: Yes, I can definitely echo those sentiments. I’ve learned so much about writing from the ABNA association. So, in the end, you decided to ‘self-publish.’ Why was that?
Clu: Beginning in 2010, after “Shattered Seeds” had received a review in the Quarterfinals from Publisher’s Weekly, I began to rewrite, edit, and restructure the novel to make it worthy of publication. I did an online search for quilts made at the time of my novel, and to my amazement, I found the exact quilt I had written about in the novel. I bought that quilt, and once I had it in hand, I realized that my destiny was to have my first novel published...it had to be shared and read by others, and it was up to me to make that happen. Once I was out of the contest, I tried the traditional methods of sending out queries, etc., but only found they led to rejection.
Betty: Ahh, yes, the all too familiar rejections! Every writer can relate to that.
Clu: Undaunted, I forged on trying to learn how to create an E-Book. I started to prepare the manuscripts for self-publication, when another writer came to my aid. J.D. Hall, I call him my “knight in shining armor.” He guided me through the task of publishing on Kindle. From there, I moved to CreateSpace to publish it as a paperback. As you know, it is not easy to write a novel; and it is even harder to act as your own editor, publisher, and marketer. However, with Plan B in place and a “little help from my friends,” “Shattered Seeds: Sofia’s Story” was launched on February 20, 2011.
Betty: That’s a very encouraging story, Clue. Are you writing anything else now?
Clu: Yes, I have my second novel, “The Road to Righteousness,” almost ready to launch. I’m looking to late summer or early fall, 2011. I also have a third novel, “Forgotten,” drafted, and I am outlining a sequel to “Shattered Seeds,” which I have tentatively titled “Gathering Seed.”
Betty: You are a busy lady, and an inspiration to all seniors who have always had the desire to write, but have had to put it on the back burner until now. Thank you for spending this time with me and giving me the opportunity to share with others, your fascinating journey to publication.
Here is my Amazon Review of “Shattered Seeds: Sophia’s Story.”
Janene McDeenon has had a wonderful life with her adoptive parents; but after the death of her mother, she is determined to find her birth family. She hits the jackpot when she discovers her real grandmother, a famous writer of children's books. She is able to provide Janene's family tree back five generations.
At this first meeting, the grandmother, Sophia Anderson, tells Janene the story of her life. Beginning in Germany, where we get a fascinating account of life for German people under Hitler's regime; she shows how World War II shattered her entire family. Then goes on to explain how, against all odds, many of them were able to reunite.
The story Sophia tells, is a delightful and tender tale that tugs at the heartstrings. Sophia is such a lovable and empathetic character that you are rooting for her every step of her journey. The author of this debut novel is a master of beautiful descriptive writing. So many scenes contain word picture that the delight the senses and place you directly in the setting. Sometimes the descriptions tend to slow down the plot, but the themes are so fascinating, it never stalls.
`Shattered Seeds: Sophia's Story' is a heart-warming novel that will make you smile and make you cry.