BookPleasures.com - http://www.bookpleasures.com/websitepublisher
A Conversation With Eli Thorpe author of The Valley of Ashes and The Weight of Deeds: A Collection of 14 Short Stories
http://www.bookpleasures.com/websitepublisher/articles/4505/1/A-Conversation-With-Eli-Thorpe-author-of-The-Valley-of-Ashes-and-The-Weight-of-Deeds-A-Collection-of-14-Short-Stories/Page1.html
Norm Goldman


Reviewer & Author Interviewer, Norm Goldman. Norm is the Publisher & Editor of Bookpleasures.com.

He has been reviewing books for the past fifteen years when he retired from the legal profession.

To read more about Norm Follow Here






 
By Norm Goldman
Published on January 9, 2012
 


Norm Goldman, Publisher & Editor of Bookpleasures.com Interviews Eli Thorpe Author of The Valley of Ashes and The Weight of Deeds: A Collection of 14 Short Stories


                   



Follow Here To Purchase The Weight of Deeds: A Collection of 14 Short Stories

Author: Eli Thorpe

Publisher: Outskirts Press

ISBN: 978-1-4327-8334-1

Today, Norm Goldman Publisher & Editor of Bookpleasures.com is pleased to have as our guest Eli Thorpe author of The Valley of Ashes and his latest tome, The Weight of Deeds: A Collection of 14 Short Stories.

Good day Eli and thanks for participating in our interview

Norm:

How do you motivate yourself and stay motivated to write?

Eli:

Motivation is not a problem for me; I have to write. I'd go crazy if I didn't write. Once in a great while, if I'm not feeling well, or very tired, I'll go a day without writing, but that's very unusual. I could no more go without writing than I could without breathing.

Norm:

As a follow up, do you ever suffer from writer's block and if so, how do you deal with it?

Eli:

I get stuck sometimes on particular pieces. If I can't get anywhere on one story, the first thing I do is see if I have another one going that is more in tune with my mood. I generally have anywhere from three to six stories in progress, so I can do that. If I can't get going on any of them, I'll read through fragments of writing that I have. Sometimes that will get me started on one of the stories I have, or sometimes it will get me started on something new. If all else fails and I can't get anything going, I'll go out and hang out somewhere with a lot of people. 

Norm:

I notice you have experienced many occupations. How have they influenced your writing?

Eli:

Well, it helps me give my characters realistic work lives, for one thing. More importantly, the occupations are reflective of a varied life. There were hard times when I had to work two or three jobs to make ends meet, and times when I was moving around, very unsettled, so was changing jobs frequently, and settled times when I spent years in the same job. Those different experiences have all influenced my worldview, my writing, and provided me with endless reams of material.

Norm:

What process did you use to generate your great short stories contained in The Weight of Deeds? As a follow up, how did you go about creating your subjects and characters?

Eli:

I don't have a particular process. I usually have a few ideas sort of fermenting in the back of my mind, and when they're ready, the ideas attach themselves to settings and characters. I write a lot of fragmentary things - a description of a scene that strikes me, a quick character sketch - and eventually stitch some together into a story. And sometimes, I start writing and let the story write itself. This can lead to dead-ends, which end up in the materials pile, but it also leads to stories. "Old Wounds" was one of those. I started with just the opening line, and just went from there. Soon I decided that it sounded like the two men should be Irish, so I went back through and altered the dialog to reflect the dialect. After an hour and a half, I had a complete first draft of a story that was tied up intimately with the Irishness of the characters, even though I hadn't any intention of doing something like that when I started.

Sometimes characters just create themselves, as in the previous example. Most of the time, my characters are composites of people I've known, or speculations about people I've met. In my bio, I mentioned I enjoy dark, smoky bars. One of the reasons for that is they're great places to meet people, and to watch people to interact with their inhibitions down. Half of good writing is good observation. Sometimes just a casual encounter sets me to speculating. One time when I was traveling a few years back, I stopped in this place for lunch. There was a woman behind the bar in her 50s who had clearly once been very pretty. I wondered what she had been like in high school. I didn't know anyone in high school who's life ambition was to tend bar. So who was she? What had she wanted, and how did she get where she was? That's a character, and a story.

Norm:

As a follow up, why have you been drawn to the short story? Are there aesthetic advantages and disadvantages peculiar to the short story? Does it have a form?

Eli:

I like the focus that a short story has. A novel wanders around, with subplots and extra complications, but the short story is just one theme, pure, no side trips. When I write longer pieces, that clear, central idea sometimes get lost. I constantly have to go back and check myself to make sure I haven't drifted too far from my main ideas. Sometimes that results in scrapping large chunks, sometimes just rewriting long sections. Perhaps that's a flaw in me as a writer, or perhaps not. From an aesthetic standpoint I like the short story, though. Edgar Allen Poe was a critic as well as a writer, and he wrote an essay about short stories which has always resonated with me. He said a short story is superior to a novel in that it can, and should, be read in one sitting. He said a short story should also have an emotional effect, creating a mood or feeling in the reader. Who am I to contradict Poe? I like it. I think it's a more effective way to build a relationship with my readers.

Norm:

Do you believe you have already found "your voice" with the short story or is that something one is always searching for?

Eli:

I've found my "voice" for now, I think. These things change. There was a time when I was writing little except poetry. In my teens, my ambition was to be a novelist, and I suspect I've got a few more of those in me, too. Perhaps one will grow out of a short story; certainly my novel has generated a couple short stories for me. I don't think I'll ever stop growing and evolving as a writer, any more than I will as a person.

Norm:

What discipline do you impose on yourself regarding schedules, goals, etc?

Eli:

Discipline? Me? I make sure I spend at least an hour a day writing, but I also have to make sure I eat regularly. Depending on what's happening at the time, those can be equally difficult.

Norm:

What do you do when you are not writing?

Eli:

I have a house to manage, so I do things around the house, and I help my kids with homework. I run errands. I laugh at the antics of our cats, practice my guitar, work on my photography, go on walks. In the summer, I enjoy swimming and hanging out in the sun, and growing roses. Like so many people these days, I'm not working a regular job at the moment, so I look for work and hope the money lasts long enough to get me there, wherever "there" may be. I read, and I study. For example, I'm currently working on learning how to do Flash animations. Even without a steady job, there's never enough time to do everything that has to get done.

Norm:

Which one book had a profound impact on your life? What was it about this book that impacted you so deeply?

Eli:

That's a tough one, and my answer is likely to vary from day to day. There's Fitzgerald's Great Gatsby, and Hemingway's A Moveable Feast, and Glen Cook's Black Company series. But if I had to pick one, and only one, I'd have to go with The Old Testament in The Bible. It has shaped the world we live in today in countless ways. It contains archetypes of almost any story you can tell - disaster stories, romances, tragedies, hero stories, allegories - and incredible characters. It has influenced more writers than any other book ever written. It contains the basis for much of law. If it had no spiritual component at all, it would still be the most influential book ever written.

Norm:

Do you worry about the human race?

Eli:

Yes and no. I do, because as a species we seem so muddled and often downright stupid in our choices and actions. Yet we are outstanding survivors. Consider that with no more than stone-age technology, human beings had managed to adapt to and populate every habitat on the planet. That's a hell of an achievement. And in the end, we are capable of so much, of transcending ourselves on a grand scale. It is when things are at their worst that we see the best of ourselves emerge and rise to the challenge. I think that is what will ultimately pull us through as human beings.

Norm;

What advice would you give someone who is contemplating a writing career?

Eli:

Read. Read everything. Fiction, non-fiction, biography, scripture, newspapers, magazines. See how things are written. Learn about everything. Be a generalist. Live. Experience. Feel. Think. Ask questions. Make "what if" your mantra. Persevere. That especially, because we've conditioned people to expect instant gratification, instant success. We always hear about people who write their first novel at 18 or 21 and make it big, but that's not the reality for most writers. It takes time to perfect your craft. Don't give up.

Norm:

Where can our readers find out more about you and what is next for Eli Thorpe?

Eli:

The best place is my WEBSITE. You can also friend me on Facebook. I accept all friend requests, and enjoy finding out about readers. People who subscribe to me on Facebook get information others don't; in the two weeks before The Weight of Deeds was released, I posted a background write-up on each story each day - where the story came from, how it came to be written.

Norm;

Is there anything else you wish to add that we have not covered?

Eli:

I don't think so, other than to hope lots of people enjoy my book. That's ultimately what I'm trying for - to entertain lots of people, to have them enjoy my work.

Norm:

Thanks once again and good luck with all of your future endeavors

Follow Here To Read Norm's Review of The Weight of Deeds: A Collection of 14 Short Stories

Follow Here To Purchase The Weight of Deeds: A Collection of 14 Short Stories