Questions for the author
Why do you write?
When I write, the day feels right.
I write to wiggle my toes in the shoes of others, take those first hesitant steps, and then head off. In my character’s shoes I become introverted, tidy, and haunted by an unkind past. I dance the salsa with hips that rise and fall in perfect rhythm. I bask in being self-centered. I am terrified of being abandoned. I become poised, confident, and fear almost nothing. I am gay, straight, an atheist, a believer, Mexican, African American, European American. I expand myself. I disappear. I return to my own shoes the same and different.
I like playing with words, listening for their sounds and the music in their phrasing, feeling them in my mouth, crossing out the stinkers.
I write to discover, to clarify, to confound, to laugh out loud, to cry.
I write to share with others.
Why did you write The Trumpet Lesson?
I didn’t intend to initially. I meant to write a comic novel about a writing group. I jotted down some vignettes featuring the members’ foibles and was playing around with how to link them together.
Then a new character came to me. Pamela. Talented, outspoken, confident, she bowled me over. I loved her, but I didn’t know what to do with her until Callie showed up. I was at my desk one morning doing some quick freewriting before going off to swim when out came the basics of her story. As a teen Callie had been pressured to give up her baby and had, for decades, hidden her loss, even from herself. I remember feeling that I had to tell her story. It touched me so profoundly that I shook for hours.
It wasn’t easy, living with Callie’s loss, so I added moments of humor as a respite from the pain. Armando helped with that. And Callie’s imagination. And once I found a place for Pamela, I knew that eventually everything would be okay.
Writing the novel became a way for me to process my own losses, my own sacrifices of self, my own betrayals of trust. I hope reading it will comfort others.
What inspires you?
Moving my hand across a page or clicking a keyboard. That is, most ideas come to me when I am writing. Starting off without inspiration can be nerve wracking, but there are ways to invite ideas. One of my favorites is freewriting on a question or puzzle. Intensive research pays off, too. That and taking breaks. A walk. A shower. Folding laundry.
Have a question for the author? Feel free to contact her! Look for answers to frequently asked questions in future blog posts.