Thursday, August 6, 2015

Entry 238 - Interview with Author Tom Glenn

Entry 238 – The Trion Syndrome – Interview with Author Tom Glenn

By Jan Bowman 517F+mrnzGLTom Glenn’s newest novel, The Trion Syndrome is slated for publication November 2015. Tom has worked as an intelligence operative, a musician, a linguist (seven languages), a cryptologist, a government executive, a care-giver for the dying, a leadership coach, and, always, a writer.  

Many of his prize-winning short stories (sixteen in print) came from the better part of thirteen years he shuttled between the U.S. and Vietnam as an undercover NSA employee. His writing is haunted by his five years of work with AIDS patients, two years of helping the homeless, seven years of caring for the dying in the hospice system, and Post-Traumatic Stress Injury, a consequence of his time in Vietnam. These days he is a reviewer for The Washington Independent Review of Books where he specializes in books on war and Vietnam. His Vietnam novel-in-stories, Friendly Casualties, is now available on Apprentice House of Baltimore brought out his novel, No-Accounts in 2014. Jan:   Previously you have written about your experiences in Vietnam during the fall of Saigon and about your hospice work helping AIDS patients in the early years of the AIDS crisis. Tell us about your newest novel, The Trion Syndrome. What do you hope will draw readers into this novel?
Tom:   I am fascinated by the image of a strong, passionate, and gifted man brought to his knees by his own past, and I’m hoping readers will be drawn to his story. I want to lead readers into the world of Post-Traumatic Stress Injury (PTSI) so they can understand and be moved by the plight of a man unable to face his own combat memories.
Jan:   What do readers need to know about The Trion Syndrome and its connections to Greek mythology?
Tom:   When my protagonist’s story took me over, I searched Greek mythology for an apt metaphor for his struggle. I found none, so I invented a myth about a demigod named Trion, the son of Ares (the god of war), who disembowels his own infant son to prove his ferocity. The gods are appalled and curse him with the inability to love or be loved. That tale caught for me the dilemma of a man who has participated in the gruesomeness of armed combat and comes away afraid that he’s destroyed his own capacity for love. That was my story. I worked undercover providing signals intelligence support to army and Marine combat units on and off for thirteen years in Vietnam, then lived through the fall of Saigon escaping under fire after the North Vietnamese were already in the streets of the city. I witnessed and took part in acts so brutal—such is the nature of men fighting each other to the death—that I doubted I was even capable of love.
Jan:   You have mentioned the wisdom and power of Greek mythology to bring about healing. How is it redemptive for you personally, and in this particular novel?
Tom:   When I returned from Vietnam in May 1975 after the fall of Saigon, I was an emotional wreck. My marriage crumbled, and I was afraid I would lose my children, my reason for staying alive. I held top-secret-codeword-plus clearances and couldn’t seek psychiatric help—I would have lost my job. Through writing I was able to confront my unspeakable memories, but to find peace I volunteered to help others less fortunate than me and turned to my language studies, especially German, for solace. Then I remembered the quiet wisdom in Greek mythology. I reread Robert Graves’ The Greek Myths in the complete two-volume version. As I pondered each of the wonderful stories, the gentle insights embedded in each slowly came into my consciousness. I saw the unsentimental lessons inherent in the stories and found metaphors for my own life.
The story of Dave, my protagonist in Trion, is in many ways my own story. He is all but destroyed by a past he has quarantined from his consciousness. For reasons he himself doesn’t understand, he’s drawn to the myth of Trion, the child killer, and sees himself. At his lowest point, he remembers what happened: he killed a child in Vietnam. When another child, his illegitimate son he tried to kill, through abortion, finds him, Dave learns that Trion’s fate, drowning, is not the only way out. Dave is not Trion redux unless he chooses to be. He realizes that Trion’s choices are the lesson of the myth—he could have saved himself but didn’t. Dave’s son leads him to understand the myth at last and shows him the way home.
Jan:   The protagonist Dave Bell of Trion discovers a connection between his life and an unpublished novella by German author, Thomas Mann. Does this unpublished novella exist or is it a necessary fictional literary device to propel plot?
Tom:   The novella, like the Trion myth, is fictional. I needed to have another angle on the Trion tale. Mann is one of my favorite authors, and he frequently used myths as the basis for his stories. I drew on his greatest work, Doctor Faustus, to select the lessons I wanted the Trion novella to demonstrate and incorporated them. I deliberately changed the Trion story, in the Mann version, to include Trion’s suicide by drowning. That suggested to Dave what he should do.
Jan:   Once again you explore the power of repressed PTSI and the emotional wreckage of so many lives from wars and clandestine intelligence operations. Why do you think it has taken so long for our government to acknowledge the damage?
Tom:   Our American culture stresses masculine virtues—courage, strength, self-reliance. We look askance at anything that resembles softness or vulnerability in men, and we deemphasize nurturing and gentleness as masculine traits. Besides, a segment of our population considers psychology as suspect at best. And even today in many military circles, PTSI is dismissed as a cover for cowardice. All that’s changing, but change takes time. And while we wait, the victims suffer in silence. I’m doing all I can to speed up the change. That’s why I painted my protagonist as a brave virile man undone by his repressed memories. PTSI is not cowardice. It takes strength and courage to face the past and comes to terms with it.
Jan:   You worked for many years as a US Intelligence Operative for NSA. Are there still limitations on what you are free to say about that work?
Tom:   Yes. Most of what I did in my career is still classified. I had to personally request declassification of my work in Vietnam. And I was only partially successful. Everything after Vietnam cannot be discussed publicly.
Jan:   How long have you worked on Trion? When did you experience a breakthrough, an insight as to how you would end it, or did you always know the ending?
Tom:   As with most of my books, I spent about fifteen years writing Trion. The story had been kicking around in my head ever since I came back from Vietnam in 1975, but it took time for all the pieces to fall into place. I didn’t know the ending until I wrote it after finishing the rest of the manuscript. But that’s standard practice for me. What I have to do is use something like meditation techniques to unleash my subconscious mind. It’s like watching a movie and writing down what I see. That’s why I make no attempt to write an outline for a novel until I’ve finished the first draft. Then I look at the outline and spot weaknesses, dull spots, and inconsistencies. In short, I rely on something deep inside me to tell the story. For example, I make no pretense that I understand women; they continually surprise and mystify me at the conscious level. But a large part of Trion is written from the point of view of Mary, Dave’s wife. Women who have read the book tell me I got it right. So some part of my subconscious is able to get into a woman’s head and write from her point of view. I have no idea how I do it.
Jan:   What are your particular satisfactions on seeing Trion published at this point in your life?
Tom:   Two real satisfactions. First, I’m proud to have finally mastered the craft of writing fiction to the point that I turn out finished story telling. I’ve spent my life learning how to do it, and I’m still learning. Second, and more important, I yearned to bring to readers the story of a man spiritually crippled by combat and show how he managed to survive. I want people to know and understand how our past can lacerate us. When I came back from my many trips to Vietnam, I and the troops I was travelling with were jeered and spat upon. Even now I ache to hear the words, “Thank you. And welcome home.” Maybe my readers will cry a little with me and say those words to Dave, and therefore to me.
Previously I interviewed Tom Glenn about his book, No Accounts on my website as Entry # 220 in July 2014.  Here is the link:
To find out more Tom Glenn’s web sites are:; and
(under construction)

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Entry 237 - "In Everything, Birds" - Interview with Santa Fe, NM Poet Debbi Brody

51hMVu+HL8L._AA160_Jan:     Thanks for the interview Debbi Brody; your newest book of poetry, In Everything, Birds will be released at the end of May, tell readers about yourself.
Debbi:     I consider myself a poetry activist, bringing poetry in wherever I can. This includes conducting poetry workshops and readings at festivals and other venues throughout the Southwest to writers age five through eighty-five. I publish frequently in regional and national literary journals. My work has appeared in the Santa Fe Literary Review, Broomweed Journal, Poetica, Sin Fronteras and many others literary journals and books of note including numerous anthologies. My first full length collection, “Portraits in Poetry,” (Village Books Press, Oklahoma, 2006), as well as my chapbook, “FreeForm” (2003, self published) are out of print. My new chapbook, “Awe in the Muddle” is almost sold out, but available through As well as being active in the poetry community, editing, writing and reviewing, coordinating readings and judging art shows and recitations for the National Endowment for the Arts annual high-school Poetry Outloud State Finals, I work full-time for a small scientific research and development company. I have lived in Santa Fe, NM with my husband since 1992. We have one grown, married son.
Jan:     Tell me about your new poetry collection “In Everything, Birds.” I like the title. What inspired you and what is the significance of the title?
Debbi:     Birds are traditionally, in the arts, a symbol of communication-including communication with the spirit world, as well as a symbol of the spirit, the soul, and of diplomacy. These are all subjects I regularly address in my writing, both head-on as well as sideways. It is infrequent that birds themselves are the actual subject of a poem, but they are flittering about within the work.  I have been fascinated and comforted by their constancy in real life, even feeding one with an eyedropper, bringing it back from the brink of death, when I was eleven years old, skipping school to do so. I discovered, accidentally that birds are a constant in my real life and in my writing. How did I learn this? One day, when completing the title poem of this collection, as I hit save, the computer asked if I wished to replace a document of the same name. Without meaning to I said yes and realized I had lost a gritty poem from ten years previous of the same title. It was my Eureka moment for this collection.
Jan:     Which of your current poems are your favorite poems to read before an audience and how do you select particular poems to read aloud?
Debbi:     I did a CD of the collection, which covers about half of the 80 or so poems. I learned a lot about my reading style making the choices. I like poems that ask questions of the reader, that don’t provide answers, that have strong musicality. Different audiences require different choices; if I am reading at a gallery, museum, or university, I veer towards the more “intelligent, narrative, less visceral” poems. If I am reading at a Festival I steer towards the theme of the festival and more lyric and surreal pieces. I truly enjoy reading in tandem or collaboratively and will choose poems that I think will complement my co-reader (s). For many authors, writing is a solitary pursuit. For me, writers are my community, my family, my tribe. I belong to two bi-monthly writing groups. We feed off of each other’s lines at 5 minute intervals, to push our minds and pens to unexpected places.
Jan:     What happens when a poet reads her work aloud before an audience? Based on audience reactions, tell us about how that experience best empowers your resolve to write?
Debbi:     Funny you should ask this question because I wrote a letter to myself last night asking why I have no fear of reading in public to an entire theater full of strangers. Am I some kind of sociopath? Even the most renowned writers I know suffer stage jitters. Then of course, I realized I have this fabulous tool of suppression. Generally, I smoke 4 cigarettes a day. That’s all I want. But as the date of a big reading comes up, such as the first release of this new book, a week from the day of this writing, I am smoking seven a day!
I feed off audience reaction and participation. I encourage heckling. After reading, naturally, people approach and volunteer their favorites and I always ask why. This helps me make choices for future readings.
Jan:     When did you begin to write poetry? Do you remember the first poem you ever wrote? How does it “stack up” next to your current work?
Debbi:     You can laugh as you wish, but I began writing as soon as I could write. I was a bit precocious and taught myself to read, via the backs of cereal boxes and Dr. Seuss books by the time I was three. I have a very distinct memory of going out on to the driveway with a piece of blue chalk, writing “ that fat cat hat,” then running inside to show my mother that I knew not only how to read, but how to write. Something my big sister (4 ½) couldn’t do! I don’t believe my first “poem” stacks up well to my current work, but strangely I still feel Seuss in my bones, although my rhymes are all slant and/or enjambed – unless I am writing in a form which requires a rhyming pattern.
Jan:     What “rules” for poetry do you reject as too constricting? Are there any particular “rules” that you believe are essential for the full development of your work?
Debbi:     Yes, I firmly believe that all writing must follow the same rules, no matter the form. But in poetry, if it does not have some scheme of rhythm, it is just an essay shaped as a poem. Use complete sentences, avoid superlatives, create images in the reader’s mind. Remove the distance between self and reader wherever possible. Did I say image image image, to tell a story and/or to create a visceral response? The joy of poetry for me, versus the other kinds of writing I do, lies in the non-linear nature of the genre. I can go from a dream, to under a tree, to a remembered conversation all in under 30 lines, and it feels natural and right to do so. That is an on-going thrill!
Jan:     Who are among your favorite poets alive and writing today? And of course, I must ask who are your favorite poets who are no longer with us?
Debbi:     Currently, I am hooked on Joan Logghe, poet laureate emeritus of Santa Fe. She has had a big influence not so much on my style, but on my process. I am a devotee of Sharon Olds and Dorianne Laux. But it was a visit to the Chicago Public Library as a little girl, when I heard Gwendolyn Brooks read that everything fell into place. This was before she became Illinois’ poet laureate in 1968. So here’s my poetic lineage post Seuss and Brooks: Ginsberg, Yevtushenko, Gerald Stern, Dickenson, Langston Hughes, CK Williams, Maya Angelou, John Muir (I say everything he wrote was poetry), Rumi, Plath, Miribai, Cummings and Leonard Cohen. Wow, reading that list, I see I am a weirdo even for a poet.
Jan:     What are the greatest obstacles to your writing at this point in your life? And of course, what do you know now about writing, poetry and the poet’s world that you wish you’d known when you were twenty?
Debbi:     You ask some wonderful tough questions. I was saying to a friend at a reading this afternoon that life gets in the way of poetry. I work full time at a fairly intense office. I am the only full-time employee there who is not a scientist, and I do everything except science. This includes the occasional midnight alarm call (a window in the laboratory has been broken into!) I also find that while waiting for a new book to come out, it is difficult to write, it’s like having sex at the end of a pregnancy, no purpose, no desire. In those moments I turn to flash fiction and socio-political essay as well as close content edits for friends and customers who write nonfiction.
11401573_408443282685832_3146710083622327730_n“I wish I knew when I was twenty that not everyone, in fact very few, will hear your words the way you intend them; this is one of the joys of writing. It is not a problem of execution!”
Jan:     And what advice do you offer to a budding poet that would help and encourage him or her? What should you know if you want to be a poet?
Debbi:     You should know that  if you are an organic and tasty poet versus pedantic and scholarly poet, this will always be your avocation, not your bread and butter, even if you acquire great success.
“First thought, best thought,” as Ginsberg said, may be a great way to find your initial draft, but in reality, first thought is much like the first pancake on the griddle, not as pretty as the next one. Clich├ęs come to exist for a reason, so “revise, revise, revise,” as Ginsberg said. Think of poetry more as a process than a product and you will be happier every step of the way. Play with your stanzas, invert them, subvert them! What words are unnecessary to the picture you are painting? Get rid of them, don’t love your own words too much; you are a poet, or as Shakespeare says, “Brevity is the soul of wit!” You will still write long poems. Most importantly, don’t take yourself too seriously.
Lastly, there is no such thing as writers block for a poet, only an unwillingness to look outside yourself and record what teases your mind and sparkles.

Jan:    How can people contact you and learn more?
Please find me at And of course at your local independently owned bookstore,, and OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

This entry was posted by Jan Bowman on Monday, June 29, 2015.
Filed under: Interviews, On Writing, Reflections
You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Responses are currently closed, but you can trackback from your own site.

Entry 236 - "Do Writers Have a Code of Ethics?"

Stephanie Spector of Roanoke Review (online) spoke with me (January 2015) about my thoughts about Ethics in Writing.  As I said, I can’t speak for anyone but myself. But here are a few thoughts that I shared with her. To read more of this interview, go to Roanoke Review’s beautiful new squarespace online website for more.

Stephanie:    Do you think there is a code of ethics in writing?
Jan:    I would hope that writers, just like good people in any line of work, have an inner compass that causes them to use their talents for good and ethical behaviors. John Gardner had some lovely things to say about that in his Art of Fiction. I can’t speak for others, but I am a writer who believes, for example, that writers have an obligation to dig deep, find truth as they can tell it, and help people feel more connected, alive, compassionate, and relevant. I believe writers have an obligation to share their knowledge. Writers are privileged when they can help other writers grow in their writing skills.  I try to do that on my website and when I teach or attend workshops. I believe we have an obligation to help each other on this planet.

This entry was posted by Jan Bowman on Saturday, May 23, 2015.
Filed under: Interviews, On Writing, Reflections
You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Entry # 234 – GOOD NEWS

By Jan Bowman
mermaid01Evening Street Review will publish Jan’s story, “Kindness” in the May 2015 Issue.
The Editor of a press (later to be named) read one of Jan’s stories and wants to read her story collection, MERMAIDS & Other Stories, for possible publication.
The Roanoke Review debuts a beautiful newly designed website posted Jan’s (2012 Issue) Fiction Award Story, “Mermaids” in the Archive section and an interview with Jan from Fall (2014) in the Interview section. Link for Roanoke Review story Mermaids. Click within story sidebar for an Interview with Jan. Might need to copy & paste to browser.

Jan had a recent story on the short-list for the Folio Fiction Award.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Entry # 233 - "More Than I Could Ever Know: How I Survived Caregiving" - by Dale L. Baker

“More Than I Could Ever Know: How I Survived Caregiving” – by Dale L. Baker

Interview By Jan Bowman  December 29, 2014
dentist pic 2Dale L. Baker is an award-winning author. She was born in Ohio, completed high school in California, graduated from college in Oregon and now lives in Hawaii and Arizona. She retired from county social services in 2003 to take care of her husband full-time. Her book More Than I Could Ever Know: How I Survived Caregiving” (a best seller in the AZ retirement community of Westbrook Village) is usually read in one sitting, then passed on to another caregiver, if not kept for reference. Often gift copies are bought. More Than I Could Ever Know: How I Survived Caregiving is a BRONZE MEDAL WINNER in the 2014 Living Now Book Awards and a FINALIST in the 2014 USA Best Books Awards. For more information about her writing career see her website or just Google “Ms Dale caregiver.”

Interview by Jan Bowman – December 29, 2014
Jan: Thank you, Dale, for writing this important book and agreeing to talk about it with me. You’ve said, “Every caregiver needs a support group. You might think that you don’t, but you do.” At what point in your husband’s illness did you come to that reality?
Dale: That phrase comes from a man in my old support group in Portland who was taking care of his wife. It was advice that he had been given from a colleague—“guy talk” around the water cooler. “Support group? You think you don’t need one, but you do.”
I didn’t think I needed one either until I had a melt-down at a grocery store. My husband and I had made it through the rigors of his first cancer together but when he was diagnosed with a second untreatable cancer I felt alone and overwhelmed. Helping him get better so we could go back to living happily ever after was one thing. But, watching him slowly deteriorate until I was left a widow was something entirely different. I was at a loss.
Jan: What do you wish someone had said to you and to your husband when he got the second cancer diagnosis?
Dale Baker CoverDale: No words would have helped me. A hug would have been better. People would say “let me know if I can help” but I didn’t know what to ask for at the time. Then they disappeared, waiting, I guess, for me to call them. What I needed was for someone to call me on a regular basis and say “what can I do to help today—pick up groceries?—wash a load of clothes?—sit and have a cup of tea with you? If you really want to help a caregiver, keep in touch. Be available to do little things. They are SO appreciated. Don’t wait for a crisis call.
Jan: Chapter 19 of your book offers five tips for surviving. To what do you credit your own survival in the face of the daily stress of caregiving?
Dale: Participating in a weekly support group changed my caregiver life. The other life-saving tools—breathing, yoga, respite—came later, after my mind had cleared. I had bottled up emotions that needed to be expressed and on-going decisions that had to be made. The support and practical knowledge that I received from other caregivers kept me focused on my job of taking care of both my husband and myself. Even though I was not interested in joining in at first, the time came when it was essential for me to participate. I encourage all caregivers to seek out a group that’s a comfortable fit. I gladly facilitate one in my community.
Jan: What was your initial reaction when your husband began to help you put together a “To Do” list before he died? How did that help you?
Dale: I was deeply touched with his thoughtfulness. In fact, from that moment on, his focus was on my well-being rather than his. He was my hero again—the proud strong man I married who wanted to protect and provide for me. He felt useful again. Our “To Do” activities took us away from the grind we were in of illness and pain management. It was uplifting for me—a time of joy that softened the tragedy of losing him.
Jan: How do you feel about the current “right-to-die with dignity” movement in this country?
Dale: Having lived in Oregon for most of my adult life, I am very aware of and have contributed to the death with dignity movement. I was a supporter even before I came face-to-face with loved ones in their declining years. None of my people (husband, Mom, Dad) considered ending their lives early but watching them struggle cemented my own wishes to have a different ending for myself. If I were diagnosed with a terminal illness I would not want to be the “one in the bed” for very long. It’s too hard on the “one bringing juice and pills.”
Jan: Do you plan to write about this topic or a related topic in the future?
Dale: Poetry is my first love. I am close to finishing a very personal book of photographs taken by my niece who is a professional photographer (Tamara at Every Emotion Photography). My poems open and close the book and are sprinkled through the middle. I also want to gather all my poems (many about caregiving) into one collection. In addition to the poetry work I am writing short stories again. Fans have been asking me for the full story of the long black dress and tango night that I mention in Chapter 19. It will appear in my humorous online dating manual for widows.
Jan: Is winning two book awards the highlight for you as an author?
Dale: Actually I can think of two experiences that thrilled me as much as the literary recognition.
The first one happened in my dentist’s office. When I slipped into the dental chair I saw a copy of my book lying on a table separating me from another patient on my right. My book had only been released a few weeks earlier so I was thrilled and shocked that anyone who was reading it would be having their teeth cleaned the same time I was. Not only did I have a wonderful chat with the woman who was reading my book, but my dentist took pictures of both book and my smile for her website.
The second heart-warming experience happened recently. “I survived caregiving,” a reader wrote. “This book helped.” I have received many lengthy 5 star reviews on Amazon, but this brief one sums up my mission.
Jan at Corolla HouseAbout Jan Bowman
Winner of the 2011 Roanoke Review Fiction Award, Jan’s stories have been nominated for Pushcart Prizes, Best American Short Stories, and a Pen/O’Henry award.  Glimmer Train named a story as Honorable Mention in the November 2012 Short Story Awards for New Writers. Jan’s stories have been finalists for the 2013 Broad River Review RASH Award for Fiction, 2013 finalists in the Phoebe Fiction Contest, 2012 “So To Speak” Fiction Contest.
Jan’s fiction has appeared in numerous publications including, Roanoke Review, Big Muddy, The Broadkill Review, Third Wednesday, Minimus, Buffalo Spree (97), Folio, The Potomac Review, Musings, Potato Eyes and most recently, Uncertain Promise: An Anthology, Edited by Von Pittman. She is working on two collections of short stories while shopping for a publisher for a completed story collection, Mermaids & Other Stories. She has nonfiction publications in Atticus Review, Trajectory and Pen-in-Hand. She writes a weekly blog of “Reflections” on the writing life and posts regular interviews with writers and publishers.  Learn more at:

Friday, December 12, 2014

Entry # 232 - "Interview with Deepan Chatterjee"

Entry # 232 – “Interview with Deepan Chatterjee”

By Jan Bowman

b22aea_4bc5c21faebd4b1e8f9fefea55a8ebb1.jpg_srz_p_196_320_75_22_0.50_1.20_0Interview with Deepan Chatterjee – “The First Propetical: A collection of poetry and short fiction.”
Dr. Deepan Chatterjee is a Licensed Clinical Psychologist in Maryland. He has over fourteen years experience (eight of them postdoctoral) in providing diagnostic evaluations, individual, family and group psychotherapy, crisis counseling, psychopharmacological consults, as well as psychological assessment services to children, adolescents, adults, couples, geriatric adults, families and criminal offenders. Dr. Chatterjee’s writing has appeared in several newspapers, online blogs and literary magazines, including The Statesman, The Telegraph, The Tower, The Harbinger, The Daily Kos, Altarum Institute’s Health Policy Forum, among others. His poetry has also been featured in art exhibitions, including “Poets and Painters” at The Artist’s Gallery in Columbia, Maryland. He is the author of a recently published collection of short fiction and poetry entitled “The First Prophetical.” Dr. Chatterjee lives with his wife in Columbia, Maryland. Learn more about him at
Jan: For whom did you write this book? Who would be your ideal reader?
Deepan: I wrote this book for a variety of readers – those who grew up in a foreign country (like I did) and then immigrated to the United States, those who reside here and wish to learn about other cultures and traditions, and anyone in general who loves reading short fiction and poetry. I have tried to include a variety of stories, including a murder mystery, a O’Henry type short story with a twist and a story with a psychologist as the narrator. Also, there are a variety of poems that I feel reflect many different moods. As such, I do not have an “ideal” reader in mind.
Jan: How does your background as a Clinical Psychologist influence your writing? And why do you write?
Deepan: I think my profession has a lot to do with my writing. I see writing as a sort of therapeutic catharsis, if you will. I write to relieve the stress and anxiety that inevitably comes with my job. I also write to escape the everyday mundane world of work and family life. Writing brings me great joy, and I would love to do it full-time if I could.
Jan: Many of the short prose pieces are listed as fiction, but seem more like they could be regarded as creative nonfiction. Why did you decide to write them as fiction?
Deepan: The stories are actually fiction. I have been asked by some readers and friends who have read my book if the characters depicted in the short stories are any of my patients in real life. My answer has always been that all the characters in my stories are fictional. They are part amalgams of different patient narratives, as well as part creative imagination.
Jan: This collection combines both fiction and poetry. Which do you prefer to write?
Deepan: Both, actually. I used to write poetry a lot at one time in my earlier life. I have started writing short stories again after a long time, and feel like I am really enjoying the process. I might go back to poetry again, who knows? However, I am thinking of writing another collection of short stories in the near future.
Jan: You have three poems on the topic of “Perfection” that are separated by short prose works, tell me about those poems and why you’ve positioned them as you have in the collection?
Deepan: That is a great question.The three parts of Perfection are interspersed between a story with a shocking ending, a reflective short piece, and a murder mystery. I think I was trying to evoke a variety of emotions in the reader, going from shock to a neutral pondering to the thrill of a “detective” story. If you read the three parts of perfection, they act as buffers between the different emotional states.
Jan: I try to take at least two intensive writers workshops each year, mostly in the summer to build connections with other writers and to help me grow in my development as a writer. Have you explored taking intensive summer writing workshops, and if you did, what would you consider the most valuable thing you could gain from that experience?
Deepan: I have considered participating in intensive writer workshops before. The only thing that prevents me from doing so is my full-time job as a Clinical Psychologist. I am also a Partner in our practice, and between my full clinical caseload and the added administrative responsibilities, I haven’t had the time. However, I am hoping to make some time in future for workshops. It would be really nice connecting with other writers.
Jan: Who are among your favorite authors? What are you reading now?
Deepan: As far as prose goes, I love Ernest Hemingway, Paulo Coelho, Satyajit Ray, and Amitav Ghosh. My favorite poets are Rumi, E.E. Cummings, Rabindranath Tagore, and Walt Whitman. Right now I am reading “Beyond the Pale Motel” by Francesca Lia Block.
Jan:  How can readers find out more about your new book and perhaps order it?
Deepan:  Here are links to my website.

About My book

I have written and published a collection of my short stories and poems. This collection includes many stories that draw upon my own experiences as an immigrant and as a psychologist. I have tried to include several genres in the writing, including minimalist styles, abstract postmodern styles, as well as a murder mystery. All the stories and poems have a common psychological thread running through them. In keeping with the Eastern philosophy of “daana”, I have decided to donate all the proceeds from the sale of the book to charity. Please visit the following websites to buy this book:

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Entry # 231 - "Tips to Beat Block & Banish Fear - using Pat Schneider's Writing Alone and With Others"

By Jan Bowman

Pat Schneider’s Writing Alone and With Others, is a fourth entry in a series about craft books that I have reread recently and found useful. And while many wonderful books on the writer’s craft are available, sometimes when the flame of inspiration flickers, it helps to read practical books on craft. In recent blog entries I have given my impressions about four books that offer ideas that have helped me improve my writing. Perhaps these will be useful to you.

PatSchneider's bookSchneider’s craft book is divided into three sections.
Part 1 – The Writer Alone - explores a range of topics essential to the individual writer, whether facing fear, finding your voice, or practicing your craft and working toward a disciplined writing life. A final topic in this section examines ethical questions writers face, whether they are concerned about spirituality, privacy and the politics of what they write.

Part 2 – Writing with Others – guides writers through the process of working in workshops or in small writing group settings to promote healthy growth experiences. The last topic includes an insightful discussion of ways to empower the silenced, so that writers who find the process of working with others intimidating, feel empowered to grow and risk in a place of safety.

Part 3 – Additional Exercises – offers more than 60 pages of writing exercises and story starters designed to address specific problems writers face in writing and revising. This section alone is worth the price of the book.
Craft books can help writers grow. Truman Capote said, “Writing has laws of perspective, of light and shade, just as painting does, or music. If you are born knowing them, fine. If not, learn them. Then rearrange the rules to suit yourself.”

Special Note:  I have turned off the comments section temporarily. Am having hundreds of inappropriate email/comments from websites unrelated to writing.