Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Half Moons and Maiden Names by H. Charles Dilmore ... Interview

I'm pleased to have this interview with author, H. Charles Dilmore. His second novel, Half Moons and Maiden Names has been released and is available at Amazon and autographed copies via his website. And again he has written a unique and unusual story as he did in his first novel, My Quirks and My Compass, published in 2009. His titles alone should give you a clue to the uniqueness. I also find a metaphysical/spiritual touch to his writing.

I wanted to interview Charles after reading his first novel and waiting months for him to complete his second book—I was also interested to see if he could reach his goal on time—a schedule he had set for himself—and I believe he did. His writing reminds me of the writing of Robert James Waller, author of The Bridges of Madison County. I say that because of the style and use of poetic prose and metaphor that both men employ in their writing. Also what is interesting about Charles is how he used his blog to twice a week post a brief excerpt of the books as he was writing them, along with a beautiful photograph for each entry.

Linda: Charles, one of the first questions I usually like to ask is did you write as a kid? When did you know you wanted to write?

Charles: I didn’t realize that I loved to write until I was in high school. It felt peaceful to write, so I went to it often. But more, there was something magical knowing that another would read it and might actually enjoy it. And that aspect caused me to take great care with the writing.

Linda: Who has influenced you the most in your life?

Charles: Probably my dad and older brother. Of course, they had very different ways of influencing me—Dad taught quietly, by demonstrating. My brother was much more expressive, encouraging, and everything he imparted was mixed with wild passion and great humor.

Linda: What books have most influenced your life and/or your world view? What books do you believe have influenced your writing? Favorite author?

Charles: Irwin Shaw was probably the first who consistently made me feel like I was not observing a character, but actually living inside one. I loved his Rich Man, Poor Man and Beggerman, Thief.

Ken Follett, Chuck Palahniuk, and John Irving are favorites. But it Charles Frazer’s first novel (a little number called Cold Mountain) that lit a fire inside me. I’d heard him interviewed on NPR, and will always remember that his intent was to write “the best book in my basement,” since that is where he felt his book would end up.

Linda: I like to ask writers how they receive their inspiration. Many writers feel the inspiration comes from beyond them at times as they are working with their characters. Do you experience that in your writing? Your scenes and descriptions are so visual but I will ask anyway, do you visualize your scenes? Do you “walk” in your character’s shoes?

Charles: great question! Both books, for me, were like watching a nine-month movie. I had to be patient if I wanted them to unfold properly! Of course, at the end, when the lights came on, I could not tell exactly what I had in my hands. “Was that a movie? Does it feel like it’s really a story?” We take leaps!

In both My Quirks and Half Moons, I felt everything to a great degree. The former was challenging because the main character is a woman, but it was a beautiful journey for me. The latter was challenging because I wanted to believe that I had learned from the first book and had improved.

In both books, I cried writing certain passages. No, wept! (The things people have to endure in this life!) Cried again when I edited them. And once more when I read them for the audio book! My wife would know when it was okay to walk in… if I’d pulled the hat over my eyes, it meant that I was into something very sad or touching. There’s an agony and a sweetness to both.

Linda: Tell us a little about Half Moons and Maiden Names and what inspired you to write it.

Charles: When I finished My Quirks and My Compass, there was a story that still needed to be brought to life—that of Carter Monroe, the father of main character. So, I went back three generations to learn what had shaped the modern-day Carter. 1860 is where Half Moons begins.

Linda: Of the elements that go into a novel such as characterizations, dialogue, action scenes, plotting, sex scenes, and setting, among other things, which do you find easiest for you personally in your art of writing? In other words, what do you consider your strength to be?

Charles: Description. Aftershave. A stranger’s hand on the arm. The angle of the autumn sun. Crickets. Once I get it staged, I pull back and observe. And I try to report what I observe without editing. As you said, it does come from a place far away… and deep inside at the same time.

It’s relatively easy for me to write a scene, and very challenging to carry it for 6-9 months and make it a coherent, worthy story.

Linda: You have chosen to do what many of us are now doing—self-publishing. What motivated you to publish under your own imprint rather than going the traditional route of finding a publisher? Would you like to tell us about your next project?

Charles: When I finished My Quirks, I sent the typical stack of inquiries. After a while, I sensed that it wasn’t going to happen the traditional way. So, I researched starting a publishing company, and Pensive Pony Media was born. We currently have three books available—not bad for 1 year old.

I wrote My Quirks and Half Moons quickly—each took about nine months from page one to print. That took a fair amount of sacrifice. Come home from work and get right into the writing chair. Everything else fell to the side because this was vital to me.

You mentioned the deadlines that I set for both books. When you announce an availability date nine months out, you are driven to achieve it!

Book three? I’m fiddling with some ideas, but am not quite ready to draw that line in the sand, yet! I’ve planted some seeds. Let’s see which one calls to me.

Linda: I understand you will have an audio book available soon. I enjoyed listening to My Quirks and my Compass on DVD. Have you enjoyed recording your books? Tell me about the beautiful photographs you have used on your blogs. Did you take those pictures?

Charles: Yes, both books are available as audio books at
www.PensivePonyMedia.com. The recording process is fun, demanding. And when I finish, I always go back and add as many sound effects as possible, create the ambiance. I was a little perfection-crazed with Half Moons. I also included the outtakes in both books, as well as a cameo appearance from a voice I enjoy impersonating—the late Barry White.

I took all the photographs on both sites. I’m fortunate to live in Western NY, where hills and lakes are plentiful.

Linda: One last question—what is your favorite quote?

Charles: Thank you for this, Linda!
“Men live in a world of illusion, peopled by the phantasms of their own creation.” Wisdom of the Mystic Masters by Joseph J. Weed

“Do, or do not. There is no try.”

Linda: Charles, thank you so much for taking the time to answer these questions and share your thoughts on writing. I love your answers! Good luck with both books, and I look forward to more beautiful photography and more excerpts of your writing as the next book unfolds.

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