I was lucky enough to receive a free copy of Unwell by Marie Chow to review. That will be up later today. Marie was kind enough to answer some questions for me too. I have to post the review and the interview in separate posts to stop them being ridiculously long. And I got too distracted by facebook to get both sorted out before my lunch is ready! Ooops!
This is probably a tricky one but can you describe Unwell in six words or less?
In Memory of a Failed Life
Where did the idea for Unwell come from?
I had a moment of panic when I was pregnant with my first child. I wasn’t sure I was ready, I wasn’t sure I was prepared. I wasn’t sure I could go through with it. Options and thoughts that I had never once considered started to float through my head.
My moment of panic eventually subsided, and I am now the proud (and long-suffering) mother of two very spirited… toddlers. But the idea of being trapped by motherhood, of being unwilling to give up the part of your identity that does seem to get inevitably subsumed by being a parent, was an idea that stayed with me. Eventually, after marinating for long enough, it became this book.
Without wanting to spoil anyone who hasn’t read it, what’s your favourite part of the book? I really liked it for lots of different reasons but especially liked the bits where she talks about the writing class she took.
First, I’m so happy you liked that part! It’s near the beginning, where I made the biggest and deepest editorial cuts (about 30 pages from the initial introduction), and it was a huge internal debate for me, whether to hang onto that scene. In most ways, it really doesn’t push the narrative forward, but I felt it was a solid introduction to the protagonist, and I was just really attached to the Guy character.
My other favorite scenes are: the introduction to Barbara (yet another professor), and the very end.
I enjoy writing and was wondering if you have any writing tips for me?
I’m new to blogging, but one of my favorite guest posts I’ve done, originally entitled the Pros and Cons of Indie Publishing, really turned into what’s become a bit of a mantra for me: Quit or Commit! It’s been such a tough road: learning how to self-publish, trying to figure out this marketing thing, committing to putting yourself out there, and then realizing that even your best effort sometimes isn’t enough. I’ve had both wonderful and scathing reviews from strangers, people who said they loved it, but it disturbed them, people who thought they maybe hated it, but then weren’t sure. It’s been an up and down journey and I feel like the one thing I’ve learned is, you have to pretty much write through everything. The ups and downs of the actual process, the joy and agony of reading and receiving reviews, and everything in-between.
Since I know I’m not ready (or even able right now) to quit writing, I have to commit to the process: which means that I write a minimum of 2,000 words a day, even if it means starting a new project, even if it means sitting in front of my computer and listening to the same song on repeat until something, anything, starts clicking.
Is there something you’ve always wanted to write but haven’t yet?
I have something like 6 novels in progress. I know full-well which one I most want to finish writing, and it’s the one that I am struggling with the most. It’s set in a different time period, and the research required is immense. It was a story that was told to me (and that I was asked to write) and so the emotional burden there is also… intense. To distract myself, I’ve started a variety of other books and projects, but I know what my priority is, it’s just difficult getting there.
I absolutely love reading and would love to know what your favourite book is – I’m always looking for recommendations of things to read.
Margaret Atwood’s Blind Assassin*
Richard Russo’s Empire Falls
Jhumpa Lahiri’s short stories, specifically “Sexy” and “A Temporary Matter”
Tobias Wolff’s short stories, specifically “A Bullet in the Brain” and “Say Yes”
I see you’ve also written a children’s book. Which was easier writing for children or writing for adults and which would prefer to do in future? Or do you hope to continue to do both?
What a great series of questions – I find it easier to write books for adults (and then edit later). For the children’s books, I either have an idea or I don’t! I don’t have an active children’s book I’m writing (though there are three that are “done” and just getting illustrated and I do have a young adult book). I would love to write
**Note from me: I’ve already read The Blind Assassin, I read it last year and really liked it so if you’re looking at Marie’s recommendations and thinking of trying one I’d suggest that one. Not read any of the others yet 🙂