A while back I posted a review of a wonderful book called the The Clock of Life by Nancy Klann-Moren. And Nancy was nice enough to give us an interview with some insight into who she is, her books, and her writing process! (Plus, she also recently found out that the The Clock of Life is a finalist in the 2013 Next Generation Indie Awards! Exciting : ) So check out this interview with the wonderful Nancy Klann-Moren:
First let us get to know you : ) Tell us a little bit about who you are.
Over the years I’ve had two husbands, two sons, 5 grand kids, and a whole mess of cats.
I learned to handicap the ponies and take no prisoners at the poker table, from my bookie Grandpa. On my eleventh birthday Gramps took me to the track, where I ate my first pastrami sandwich and then picked the daily double, to win $657.
I love the folds on the legs of toddlers, a great shower head, convertibles, a 75% off sale, the chatter of morning birds, the Basque country, cheeseburgers, long, long walks along the ocean shore, and the taxi drivers in France―really.
I make primitive wall hangings from found objects collected on walks. I gather pods and seeds from trees, and pieces of driftwood, and the occasional palm cloth.
I love to make up stories and have been writing fiction for over 15 years.
How did you come with your idea for the book The Clock of Life in particular?
Similar to a novel I’m working on now, The Clock Of Life began as a short story of about 4,000 words. It deals with friendship, and also bigotry.
One morning while in a workshop at The Santa Barbara Writers Conference, I read my short story. When I finished, the instructor, Sid Stebel, asked what I was doing for the next couple years, because, “What you have written isn’t a short story, it’s a novel.” Because of the weight of the subject matter, I took up the challenge.
The idea of human inequality and how it comes to be has always been a concept I’m unable to understand, so the foundation of that aspect of the book was more emotional than cerebral. And, it has always been hard for me to stomach the politics of why we went into Vietnam (and most wars since.) Looking back at those times in our history, it’s clear to me our American protests changed the status quo.
There was a lot of research involved, but I had a ball weaving these two chapters of our history, the Civil Rights Movement and the Vietnam War, throughout the novel.
Do you have any favorite times or places to write?
I write on the computer, in my office. The first and most difficult step is sitting my butt in the chair and giving my writing a higher priority than, oh, everything else. I don’t write in coffee shops, or public places, and I don’t have a musical playlist to write to because I prefer silence. I “see” the scenes in my head, and “hear” the voices during the conversations. For me, outside noise gets in the way of the process.
This is a question I have personally, but others may have too (hopefully it’s not just me); when you write have you already fully created your characters (like their whole history, personality, etc.) or do they develop it as you write? You had amazing characters in The Clock of Life, so I’m curious as to what your process was.
As I said before, The Clock Of Life was originally a short story. In writing that, most of the character’s personalities evolved organically. I imagined them as if I was watching a film, and they did indeed develop as I wrote.
When I began the novel I already had a relationship with most of them, with the exception of Jason Lee’s father. Since he died in Vietnam before the tale begins, in the early chapters his life’s story is conveyed by others. By the time I got to chapter 19, (when Jason Lee finds his father’s journal from March 1965, when he went to Selma to take part in the Right-to-Vote march from Selma to Montgomery) I realized I didn’t really understand the man. The major events were there, but the chapter read more like a history lesson than a personal journal.
So, I worked up a character study. In doing so I found out a lot about his personality. While being kind and compassionate, at the same time he was hot-tempered, impatient, and he was extremely fond of the word douchebag. I discovered why he felt the way he did about civil rights, and was able to use that later in the book. That freed me up to write the journal entries with his unique voice and persona.
I know you have a book of short stories out called Like the Flies on the Patio, tell us a little about that.
Thanks for asking about that. I started writing short stories as a creative outlet while on long plane rides traveling for my work in advertising and marketing. I love the discipline, with its economy of words. There’s a magical element about peeling the layers and exploring the characters motives, their decency, and their struggle to make sense of the turns their lives have taken. Most of the stories in this collection revolve around friendships, real or imagined. The protagonists and narrators have distinctive voices that are tragic, funny, and poignant at the same time.
Do you have any other books or stories that you are currently working on?
Yes. It also started out as a short story. Without giving away too much, the premise is loosely based on the time a friend and I found an old diary, and went to find the person who wrote it. This novel takes two women on a cross country road trip. Their names are not Thelma and Louise, but I’m hoping their story will be just as memorable.
Who are some of your favorite authors to read? Are there any who inspired you?
Ray Bradbury, Flannary O’Connor, Pat Conroy, Susan Cisneros
From these skilled pros I learned that writing can be playful. I’m drawn to the rhythms throughout their work. For me, they transform writing from the craft of storytelling, to fine art.
Do you have any advice for new writers out there?
Getting advice on how I should write never worked very well for me because my process is more organic than structured or disciplined. The two things I can say for sure are, don’t give up, and don’t let others make you doubt yourself (or if they do, shake it off fast and get back to your project.) Keep going no matter how long it takes, because it’s the only way it will happen.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
Yes. Readers hold the key to any writer’s heart. Readers are our raison d’être, and I am particularly grateful to everyone who has expressed appreciation for my efforts.