Friday, December 17, 2010
I'd like to say, Not that much. But some characters seem very much like best friends, which tells me there's a big piece of me in there.
As a Christian, however, I'd have to admit that the characters I dislike have even more of me. I'm writing around that plank poking out of my face.
Either way, I love them all. When I hate them they get revenge by spitting out dialogue so wooden I can hear termites approaching.
What is the quirkiest thing you have ever done?
How much time do we have?
In college, I majored in geology because I was such a rotten scientist and mathmetician. In some ways it was perverse, except that I genuinely wanted to understand the earth's processes. I wasn't thinking, "Job. Career. How do you feed a dog on this paycheck?" Somehow I managed to scraped up credits by writing long research papers on the very science I couldn't perform. My professors exploited that, God bless them.
When did you first discover that you were a writer?
The enjoyment of writing was always there, from the time I was a young kid. But during that time in college, I realized that most people saw writing as some horrid chore. I never did. In fact, I felt more alive when writing. That later led me into journalism -- it seemed too wonderful to get paid to write about people.
Tell us the range of the kinds of books you enjoy reading.
Right now I'm really into dead Russian guys. Tolstoy and Chekhov sit like bookends on an eclectic pile of bedside books. Between them are some mysteries, a few archaic nature journals picked up in thrift stores, some C.S. Lewis, and two Eugene Peterson books on growing spiritually. Plus my son just gave me Inkheart -- it's so fantastic that it jumped to the top of the pile.
How do you keep your sanity in our run, run, run world?
That's not a flip answer; it's the simple truth. Running not only puts the frantic pace of the world in perspective, it usually gives me answers to the questions that are bothering about certain characters or plot. Somebody told me there's such a thing as a treadmill desk. It was made for me.
How do you choose your characters’ names?
What is the accomplishment that you are most proud of?
Being happily married. It would be an accomplishment no matter what, but with a writer's schedule and the demands that come with living a creative life, I feel blessed that my husband and I are still very much in love.
I believe God has a special reward in heaven for spouses married to writers. James and I just celebrated 46 years of wedded bliss last month. If you were an animal, which one would you be, and why?
Somebody once asked this question in college, and the answer has never changed: Lion.
Lions remain calm until provoked. They're protective of their tribe. And I seriously love their manes.
What is your favorite food?
It's not one food. It's food, period.
My protagonist Raleigh Harmon craves junk food, but I'm a really healthy eater. I crave good vegetables and fruits and homemade meals. I never eat fast food. But when I'm on deadline, my sons slip chocolate under the office door.
Yes. Dark chocolate has carried me through deadlines. What is the problem with writing that was your greatest roadblock, and how did you overcome it?
I ask for too much too soon. The first draft needs to be messy and wild and without strict boundaries. But I'm uncomfortable with apparent chaos.
I've overcome that roadblock by repeatedly telling myself the first draft is one stage in a book's life. Eventually it will grow up and appear in public without humiliation. I hope.
Tell us about the featured book.
The Clouds Roll Away is my Valentine to the city of Richmond, a place of amazing contrasts. Confederate history versus new South. Old money versus new wealth. White and black, living side-by-side.
At the center of this Valentine is Raleigh Harmon, forensic geologist and Special Agent with the FBI. A Richmond native, she's assigned a case involving a cross burning at a black rapper's estate. As the case unfolds, Raleigh digs deeper into the evidence and starts to realize nothing is what it appears to be.
There's a Dooley mansion in Richmond, so I'm intrigued by that city. Please give us the first page of the book.
Winter rode into Richmond on the chattering breath of the Atlantic. Each year the season blew itself into existence. The ancient elms crystallized and frost crocheted the birches into lace doilies. On this particular December morning, with a bright sun overhead, I drove out New Market Road past fields that glistened like crushed diamonds. For this moment, my hometown looked cryogenically frozen, preserved for future generations to discover Richmond's wide river, verdant soils, and the plantation lifestyle forged through generations -- gone tragically, humanly awry.
But the reverie was shattered by two elephants. Carved from white granite, they stood on either side of a black asphalt driveway with a steel sign naming the property: Rapland.
The scene of the crime.
I turned down the asphalt driveway. It was a long drive, rolling over fenced fields where satiny horses were grazing, their breath quick clouds that evaporated in the sun. At the other end, an old plantation house faced the James River. The historic clapboards were painted polo white, the copper cupola green from exposure. But pink stucco additions rose starkly on either side, modern additions with plate-glass windows that stared down on the historic middle and made it look priggish and stuffy, like a dusty repository for outdated books.
A muscular man stepped from the guardhouse as my car . . .
Way to just leave us hanging. I want more. Now where did I put that book? To the top of the to-be-read- pile, it must go. How can readers find you on the Internet?
Surf over to http://www.sibellagiorello.com/. I blog on reading, running, and real science -- the three Rs that matter. To me.
Thank you, Sibella, for the wonderful entry into your life.
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