Friday, March 8, 2013

Interview with Norma Budden

Norma Budden resides in Arctic Canada with her young and growing family. An Administration Manager by day, Budden fills her evenings between spending time with her family and snatching whatever moment she can to write or promote her writing, fostering friendships along the way.
In time, Budden dreams of being immersed in the writing world on a full-time basis where she can alternate between writing in a room overlooking the ocean and meeting her fans.
1. How old were you when you wrote your first story?

I can't remember much about writing while attending elementary school but I remember becoming more interested in the written word when attending junior high. At the beginning of grade 6, I remember the teacher asking us to write a list of books we read throughout the year; by the time June came around, I had read 168 novels. She was surprised - but I lived to read and, by the next year, I developed a fascination for writing a story of my own. I don't recall writing an ending to a story, though - until I started writing a novel when I was 19 and finished it a year later after moving to Arctic Canada.
2. Did anyone inspire you? If so, who was it?

Eric Wilson, a mystery author for kids, was one of my favorite authors when I lived in Goose Bay, Labrador. I had read some of his titles and meeting him in person was one of the highlights of my life as a kid. We just didn't meet "authors;" they seemed to exist in a different world.
In fact, it wasn't until I became a writer myself that I realized that writers are ordinary people with ordinary needs. It was an eye-opening experience and, I guess I felt a little like the kids in town feel when learning I publish books. They're in awe; they just can't believe a published author lives among them, a person they have only seen on the front lines as a "customer service" department store professional until recently.
3 Who are your favorite authors? What did you learn from them?

As a young adult, I remember reading books by Max Lucado and loving his writing voice so much. I wanted to emulate his style and, in some earlier non-fiction titles, I'd like to think I came close to drawing the readers into my words as though they were listening to my voice while occupying the same room.
Advancing years would bring me into contact with the likes of Dee Henderson, Deborah Bedford, Karen Kingsbury and Terri Blackstock, among others.
Dee Henderson interested me enough in the first book of her "O' Malley" series that I had to read all other titles; I loved each book equally, getting to know the stories of each of the characters and how their souls were knit together as an "adopted family." She definitely made me think in terms of writing a series as opposed to writing solely stand-alone titles.
Karen Kingsbury's stories inspired me, too. I enjoyed meeting various characters she has created and the situations her characters have faced in the past, currently face and will face in the future. She draws me into the web of each story I read, bringing modern day life into the fiction world with families facing challenges most readers can identify with on some level. However, I really enjoy the way she meets the level of her readers, regardless of their walk in life. Her dedication to her family is obvious, one I admire. I think it's a beautiful way of showing us, her readers, that we are important to her - important enough to take a step of faith by bringing us into her personal world so we get a glimpse of the people who enrich her life on a daily basis.
Deborah Bedford also pens a good story which rivets me from the time I open the book and read the first page. She draws me into her characters' situations while weaving simple, timeless truths into her stories. Her writing voice is very rich, as if she has experienced every situation she has written about in her stories. In fact, it was Deborah Bedford who inspired me to write author's notes - to bring myself to my readers, to share with them aspects of my heart and soul.
Terri Blackstock is in a different category. She writes what I would classify as "Christian romance" titles but there's no such thing as sitting down and slowly turning pages as I absorb every word. Blackstock doesn't give me that luxury whatsoever. Instead, she sucks me into her stories and barely grants me an opportunity to breathe or sleep, all the while trying to figure out the various mysteries I find myself absorbed in. Her "Cape Refuge" series will always be among my favorites, though her "Intervention" series was a real eye-opener.
I've crossed paths with many other writers over the years and, especially, since 2011 when I became immersed in the world of Indie authors. There are so many talented writers out there; it's a shame I don't have time to read them all.
4. What made you sit down and begin to write?
The first pieces of writing (outside of school) that I wrote were actually not stories at all; my writing debut began in the form of poems and songs. I remember as a 19-year-old taking lunch breaks in the food court of a shopping mall and finding myself rather bored. I began taking a notebook and pen and it transformed my life as I would write about the good, the bad and the ugly things of life.
5. Do you find the beginning, the middle or the end the hardest part to write in your book(s)?
(This answer combines both 5 and 6)
Writers/Authors, far and wide, may resent me or feel jealous after I make this confession: no part of the book is hard to write. When I sit, stories just come of their own free will, as if my characters pull all the strings and reveal things to me as I need to know them. Amazingly, when I finish a book and go back over it, everything ties together so nicely.
That being said, the hardest book I've ever written was Coming Unglued: A Mother's Journey into Hell. It sucked the life out of me, draining me to the point I wanted to quit, yet I felt in my spirit that I had to finish the story. There was a sense of urgency I couldn't shake. As a result, I put everything on hold.
Except for a couple of negative reviews on iTunes, the book is being met with stellar ratings on Goodreads and Amazon. Furthermore, there are many people reading the printed copies of the book who are telling me their glowing impressions - some of whom don't have as much as an e-mail address, much less than an Amazon account to leave a rating.
6. When you sit down to write a book, do the characters come first or the story, or maybe something else entirely?
Already answered this above.
7. If you could have dinner with one person from the last century, who
would it be and why?
The last century? Wow! I couldn't answer - but I can answer for this century, if that is acceptable. If so, it would be author Michael Phelps. I'm not referring to the Olympic swimmer; I'm referring to a retired criminal investigator who has dedicated his life to law enforcement, in one capacity or another. I'd like to be his student so I could have a chance of learning a portion of what he knows; I know it would serve me well when writing crime-related titles and dinner would be spent encouraging him to teach me everything he can. 
Of course, that's the professional side of me talking. The personal, down-to-earth side would revel in the pleasure of just being in the presence of Phelps. I've gotten to know him online a little over the past year. Currently, I'm learning about his friendship with "The Fugitive" series star, the late David Janssen. From reading the early chapters of his upcoming release, "David Janssen: Our Conversations," it's obvious Phelps is a devoted friend who holds his friends in high regard. Such a person is definitely worth my time of day, from both professional and personal levels.
8. Has writing changed your life in any way?
Yes, it has. Nothing just "happens" anymore. Everything provides fodder for stories and my imagination runs wilder than ever before. Of course, there is the absence of doing other things I enjoy, especially when writing a longer manuscript. It seems I spend so much time writing that everything else falls by the wayside, except for summer when I force myself to go outside.
9. Are you superstitious about your writing in any way?
Not a chance - but there is one story I began writing in 2007 which I have yet to finish. My daughter got spooked because similar things started happening in reality soon afterwards. I will finish it - just not right away, but that's because of time constraints and other more pressing matters. I'm prone to starting stories and putting them on hold after a base has been established.
10. Do you ever appear in your own books?
I haven't yet and, likely, won't. However, I have introduced fictional characters bearing the same names of people I admire.
11. Are you a fan of re-writing??
I enjoy editing. Re-writing, no way! I had to do that when I lost a manuscript and hated every wasted minute it represented. I don't even like re-writing e-mails. If I fear I'll lose an e-mail response, I will copy it first so I can save it if I need to send it later. Duplicate work is something I never enjoy doing, whether it involves writing or anything else.
12. What is a typical day for you when you write?
When I write? These days, I have to ask what that means. Before, I used to work outside the home as an Admin Manager, then come home and tend to various things online and write while interacting with the kids and grabbing a bite to eat, often settling into bed late at night.
Now, I still work outside the home as an Admin Manager but distractions abound everywhere, especially in the form of a little grandson who wants my undivided attention. By the time he goes to sleep, I can hardly find time to do everything which needs to be done online and with writing.
Essentially, I have to close my room door when I need to get at the computer, when I can't put it off any longer. Even so, if one of the kids as much as shouts out to me and I respond, I hear his little footsteps in the hallway and, soon afterwards, I hear him knocking. I just can't resist him so I open the door, hang out with him again for a bit and sneak into my room, closing the door for another little while until he discovers my absence once again. 
13. What would surprise most people about your writing?
Probably that it comes as easily as it does - that I don't struggle with the writing process, regardless of the types of stories/titles I write. Of course, some people may be surprised to learn that, most of the time when I sit to write, I feel exhausted. It's amazing how quickly the worlds I create wake me up and, even as a reader of my books at a later date, they have been known to keep me up late into the night. Truth really can be stranger than fiction.
14. If your story was made into a film, who would you choose to play you?
I've never really thought about it but Robin Wright Penn comes to mind. I remember watching her on TV when she starred in Santa Barbara as Kelly Capwell. She always came across as being down-to-earth, passionate about things and causes important to her and having much depth. It describes me so much that she might be the perfect candidate to take on such a role.
15. Do you have a favorite room to write in?

I write in my bedroom, with my computer desk sitting next to the foot of my bed. The entertainment unit - which entertains the kids during the day and early evening - is across from my bed, beside the door. When sitting at my desk, working on the computer, it's the only time I ever feel comfortable with my back to a door.
16. How much time do you spend on the names of your characters? Have
you ever changed a name half way through your book?
I don't think about characters' names so much; I go with what comes into my mind. I don't research names for meanings or to see if real people exist with those names. As for changing a name, I changed the surname of one character halfway through writing one story but, otherwise, the characters' names were set in stone.
17. How do you feel about research for each of your books? Do you
enjoy it or does it drive you crazy?
I try to avoid writing fiction titles which require a lot of research. However, I am definitely one for asking a question or two as situations arise from experts I know in certain fields. In areas of crime fiction, my titles are read to be sure no inconsistencies exist. If I was writing a non-fiction title, however, or a fiction story which I felt I wanted to write about a subject I was not familiar with, I would dig into the research as if I was a starving person with a feast put before her.
18. Are you a solitary writer or do you enjoy writing with a colleague?

I had a good writing experience with a colleague once and might do something of that nature in the future, if the situation warrants. However, I've been so busy trying to get my own stories written that getting those stories out there will definitely be my first priority.
19. Do you have a special thinking space?

No, I am thinking almost all of the time but it is easier to think when my eyes are focused on something, staring at one thing in particular. I enjoy thinking most when accompanied by nature, though. Sitting on a rocky beach or walking along a sandy one makes for wonderful inspiration and there's nothing quite like standing at the foot of one of the Rocky Mountains.
20. Do you have a favorite character that seemed to come to you rather
than allowing you to create him??

All of my characters come to me but, of those I've created so far, Ace Townsend and Jack Steele (of my Freedom in Love series) are taking the lead. There is something about these two dynamic men which captivates me beyond belief.
21. What is your best way to kick writers block when it happens to you?

Honestly, I don't know. It has never happened to me. There is always such an abundance of ideas - more ideas than the time it takes to write them.
Thanks so much for taking the time to be with me today. It has been an absolute pleasure!

Coming Unglued: A Mother's Journey into Hell

1 comment:

  1. I can't believe I never left a comment on this before. I just took a trip down memory lane and thoroughly enjoyed the experience.

    FYI: I did meet Author Michael Phelps in person (in April 2015) but we didn't try to educate each other in anything. Instead, we just enjoyed the opportunity to meet in person and he enjoyed getting to know my granddaughter who made the trip to Florida with me.