Saturday, April 7, 2012

Interview with Christopher McPherson author of "News on the Home Front"

Hey everyone!

So today I would like to welcome Christopher McPherson, who has agreed to an interview for his new release News on the Home Front!

News on the Home Front is about:

(From Goodreads): Set against a worldwide canvas that includes New York, Paris and Germany "News on the Home Front" tells the story of two women who have been friends since their childhood in West Lake, Maryland. The world war has torn apart their lives leaving each trying to find a way to put it back together. It's been a difficult few years with rationing and shortages starting to take their toll. Carole's boyfriend, Philip, is off to fly for the Army; and Irene has taken a job at the nearby aircraft factory. Carole promised Philip that she would wait for his return from the war -- but circumstances begin to conspire against her. She's waited her whole life for him, but can she make it until the end of the war? 

I personally can't wait to read it one of these days.  I wish I had more time!! But I will read it!

So now please welcome Christopher Geoffrey McPherson, the author of News on the Home Front:

The Romance Bookie: What made you choose to have the time period be World War 2?

Christopher Geoffrey McPherson: I have always been fascinated by America between the wars -- roughly 1918 (the end of World War One) to 1945 (end of World War Two). Those years saw some of the most important and long-lasting influences in arts, politics and society.

Just look at some of what occurred during that time: radio (its beginning and rise to prominence), film (from silent to sound),  music (swing and big band), art (cubism and the avant-garde), theater (the Group Theatre), literature (F. Scott Fitzgerald), dance (Isadora Duncan) -- and so much more. It can be argued that those years were some of the most fertile and influential in the whole of the 20th century.

In addition, the war years of the 1940s were perhaps the last time everyone in the country came together behind a single cause. There was a real possibility that our American way of life would come to an end with the aggression shown by the Japanese and German militaries. People were scared and, so, motivated to do their part. I have read a lot about the military aspect of this effort, but very little about the people left behind to fight their own war in the states. It seemed like fertile ground for a story.

TRB: How did you come up with the concept for News on the Home Front?

CGM: I have long been a fan of the so-called "women's movies" of the 1930s and 1940s. They are such great examples of the quality films produced within the studio system.  I thought it would be both fun and an interesting challenge to write a novel as if it had been one of those women's movies.
TRB:  Did the story come to you at once or in bits and pieces?

The germ of the idea was the very last scene (about the birds). I thought it a very powerful way to end a story. I just had to think of a plot that ended in such a way so I could incorporate that scene. In thinking about it, I next came up with the very first scene (the woman singer). So, I had the beginning and the end and just needed to come up with all the middle parts.

I liked the idea of having one of my characters working at an aircraft plant.  So many women did so much for the war effort at those plants; and, aside from Rosie the Riveter you never hear any of their stories. And, of course, it wouldn't be a proper melodrama without someone dying. So, I put all those things together and out popped "News on the Home Front."


TRB: What is your writing process like? Do you listen to music?  What kind?

CGM: You always hear of these writers who sit down at their typewriter at 8:00 a.m. and write straight through until noon making sure they turn out at least ten pages a day.  I'm nothing like that.  I belong to the camp that understands 90% of writing happens before you ever sit down at the typewriter (or computer). The research, the thinking about characters, about how they interact with each other and with the plot points -- these all must come first. I spend a lot of time cogitating about the research, the people, the ideas and let them organize themselves in my mind. At some point everything aligns  itself just right and I sit down and start typing.

(This probably comes from my many years working at newspapers.  When you are on deadline, you don't have the luxury of writing and rewriting.  Many times I had to sit down and type what became the article.  So, I guess I taught myself to organize the details in my head while I was driving back to the paper.)

This early writing is mostly to get things on paper.  I don't worry too much about specifics of plot -- I just put down something like "they meet at a restaurant and have a fight about something."  I can elucidate it later. I want to get my thoughts on paper. Then, once I have written down everything in my mind, I put away the pages for a few days and think about something totally different.  This allows me to clear my mind.  I then go back and read what I wrote.  It is here when the book begins to take shape.

Once my thoughts are on paper, I try to write every day -- sometimes new pages, sometimes rewriting or editing. But, if I don't feel like writing I don't.  I don't believe you can force yourself to write. It has to flow naturally.

As for your specific question, no I don't listen to music while I work. I try to have no distractions at all because writing (and the editing process) is very focused for me. (But when I do listen to music it is mostly big band, swing and jazz.)

TRB: What are you working on now?

CGM: Well, I just published my second novel "The Life Line" about a huge earthquake that levels San Francisco. Now, I am rewriting and editing a collection of short stories I have written over the years, and compiling them into my next book. After that, I will continue work on my third novel about some American expatriots living in Europe in the 1920s.
TRB:  What do you prefer: paper books or ebooks? Why?

CGM: This is a great question -- especially for me.  I am a purist and love paper books.  I like the smell of paper books, I like the feel of paper books, I like how they don't use batteries. On the other hand, I understand the convenience (and inevitability) of ebooks. Ereaders are way more efficient.  I think there will always be a place for paper books. My spouse and I are always scouring thrift stores for vintage books that, in most cases, are not even available as ebooks.

TRB:  Any advice for aspiring writers?

CGM: I have done a lot of speaking engagements about writing for students in grade school, high school and college.  I always tell them there is only one way to be a writer and that is to write.  I know it sounds trite -- especially because it belies all the hard work involved to get published; but you will know if you are meant to be a writer if you cannot live a day without writing.  That's how I have been since I was a child -- always writing and reading. If you want to be a writer, write; if you want to be a good writer, read; if you want to be a better writer, read a LOT.  Perhaps the most important thing I can add is that you must write for our own enjoyment.  You will probably never get rich writing.  For most of us, the writing itself will have to be the destination (rather than fame or fortune).  If that is not good enough, then I would suggest finding another career. 

Doesn't News on the Home Front sound great?  I'm definitely looking forward to reading it one of these days! :)

Download your copy HERE at Amazon!  It's only $1.99! :)

A HUGE thank you to Christopher for agreeing to do the interview!

Have a great weekend everyone! :)
The Romance Bookie :)

1 comment:

  1. You ask such great questions. I thoroughly enjoyed reading your interview. Oh, and also... you should definitely go out and get a copy of The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight. It's such a sweet read!