Today, Norm Goldman, Editor & Publisher of Bookpleasures.com is pleased to have as our guest Racine Hiet author of Stanley Park.

Good day Hiet and thanks for participating in our interview

Norm:

Good day Goldman, hee hee, I’m so very honored!

Please tell our readers a little bit about your personal and professional background.

Racine:

I’m been married forever to Ivor Block, who is originally from South Africa--I’m from Montreal. He left the country because of Apartheid, though he is Caucasian, and we met and married on a kibbutz in Israel. We have two grown sons and one daughter-in-law. We’ve now lived in British Columbia for a long time. I worked previously in contract positions in a non-profit mediation society as well as a non-profit women’s society. More recently, I launched the non-profit Thrive In Life e-Magazine, now in 136 countries, and for the last year I’ve been a volunteer radio host of Sexy Vegan on party 934.  As well as finally, finally, getting my novel, Stanley Park, published by the good people at Second Symphony in Toronto!

Norm:

How did you get started in writing? What keeps you going?

Racine:

Throughout my childhood and adolescence, I wrote poetry and expressed my thoughts and feelings on paper. (It was before personal computers, if that can be possible!). It was a secret part of me that I didn’t share with friends, and especially not boyfriends. It was something I did naturally. It took me a lot of time to express myself in spoken words, to find my voice in the world. That has all changed and I’ve since become the voice that roared, to the annoyance of many I’m sure!

What keeps me going? A good question. I’ve always considered this writing thing to be both a blessing and a curse. The rejection has been endless. When I set my mind to something, I just don’t give up! I’ll bounce around and write screenplays, think about a graphic novel for variety. I have told my husband periodically through the decades that I’m quitting writing. He knows me too well, and soon enough I’m back creating and banging my head against the wall. Luckily, I have a hard head.

Norm:

Are you a plot or character writer?

Racine:

I think it starts with characters. They’re sort of like imaginary friends, buzzing in my head, telling me about their lives, wanting their voices to be heard. But like in real life, every character carries out a personal journey in a wider world context, has a plotted course, but must make individual choices that take them on different paths. So ultimately, I think that plot and character can’t truly be separated. We all have conflicts and inciting life circumstances that challenge our characters to be strong or weak, to triumph within our spirits or go into survival mode, to follow blindly or be authentic to ourselves and our truth.

Norm:

What inspired you to write Stanley Park?

Racine:

It’s hard to remember exactly what starts a literary journey. As I’ve mentioned, getting a novel published has been extremely rocky for me. I needed some understanding of the influences on my life that began in the 50’s before women’s liberation, a time that now must seem to young women utterly incredible and unimaginable with the limitations put on both women and subsequently men as well. It was almost an unconscious time until the late sixties and seventies when all hell broke loose and young people were protesting every accepted society convention. So the novel spans the era that I grew up in. It’s about a woman and a man’s journey back to themselves, and that’s ultimately all our journeys. Our lives are like novels. We have our cards given to us in our childhood, but the choices of how we are going to play those cards evolve throughout a lifetime. It feels like our lives are all about finally getting to know and understand ourselves, breaking through outer limitations and even more challenging, self-imposed chains. It seems to be about waking up and living consciously. My novel explores that.

Norm:

Are experiences in the book based on people you know, or events in your own life?

Racine

My father did have his own small industrial business. I worked for him when I was a teenager. He began life as a sculptor, worked through the night making mannequins, and that made it too difficult for him to see me with that kind of schedule when I was very young. He left that life to go into the business world. It was a difficult path for him and he had many disappointments. In a way, he stopped being a sculptor because of me and I sometimes wonder what that path would have been like for him. We had a very close relationship. But ultimately, I think he tired of life; I believe the world disappointed him. It often disappoints me. I became a vegetarian as a teenager and always felt different. I have curly hair and actually went through the trauma that Alyson goes through in the novel when her friends try to cut off her curly hair. That feeling of human betrayal and walking alone that some of my characters feel comes from my own life. And obviously, the compulsion to create artistically, whether in music, writing, or any other outer expression of our inner life, comes from my own life.

Norm:

Did you know the end of your book at the beginning and did you work from an outline?

Racine:

I would never recommend my way of writing. I have an idea of a plot, pieces here and there, notes everywhere that I can’t read after, and I try to muddle through, rewriting and rewriting endlessly, obsessively, ridiculously, stupidly. Don’t do it my way! I‘m going to try not to do it my way. Some kind of outline is good. Muddling without real direction is bad.

Norm:

What do you want your novel to do? Amuse people? Provoke thinking?

Racine:

I mostly write comedy/satire because I love to amuse people and satirize our often crazy culture and provoke thinking at the same time. Stanley Park is not a comedy. Its original title was Hearts Don’t Burn. That title came from a true story--that’s mentioned briefly in the novel-- about teenager Joan of Arc being burned at the stake for her beliefs, and her executioner saying after that her heart would not burn. I believe it’s our hearts that are real, that we need to follow them, and that is where our dreams live on, the dreams that sustain us and lead us to our authentic selves. Our hearts, if we listen and follow them with courage, can help us break the chains that bind us in our self-made prisons of fear, scarcity, and limiting belief systems. I wanted to give a sense of hope that though all may seem lost, our hearts at any time can be resurrected from the ashes.

Norm:

How much of you is in Stanley Park?

Racine:

Scarily enough, I believe that writers are always basically writing about different facets of themselves, good and bad or neutral, perhaps overly exaggerated. I have lived much of my life with the theme of parental responsibility versus personal freedom. My parents lived with us for 16 years after my father had a heart attack. My mother, who is widowed now, has dementia and we have lived with that for the last two years. I’m conflicted all the time over how to balance other people’s journeys and my own. I am conflicted about how I feel about the human species--their brutality and selfishness makes me enraged and feel alienated--but I also feel deeply moved by the sadness of the human condition and have the spiritual knowledge that we are all one, so I have to fight those negative feelings. I keep on seeing people as I want them to be--their highest self--and not as they truly are--a work in progress--and I end up utterly disappointed. So yes, for better or for worse, I think I’m everywhere in Stanley Park.

Norm:

How did you go about creating the various characters in Stanley Park?

Racine:

With a lot of work! I like to know the history of my characters, which often takes research. I like to know their “fatal flaw” as they call it, what beliefs or childhood experiences motivate these characters’ actions and passions later in their lives, and how it makes them who they are. Some of the creative process feels mysterious, even mystical at times I have to say, coming forth from the subconscious mind.

Norm:

What has been the best part about being published?

Racine:

Finally realizing a life-long dream! Getting an email from my enthusiastic publisher, Matthew Forbes--who truly appreciates and honours the written word-- about how my novel moved him and that he wanted to publish it. That put me in a paralysis of shock. If it wasn’t for Ivor telling me to finally reply to Matthew, he might still be waiting for me to tell him “Yes!” Having my wonderful, talented editor at Second Symphony, Monique Loveless, also embracing my work with such sensitivity and perception, was unbelievably gratifying and a beautiful experience for me. And lastly, the reviews that have come in so far have made me almost faint and cry with their deep understanding of this novel. That has boggled my mind and touched my heart, so much so I can hardly express my feelings of gratitude and joy.

Norm:

What do you think of the new Internet market for writers?

Racine:

If it wasn’t for e-books, I would be on my deathbed crying out with my last desperate breath-- “Won’t you please, PLEASE publish me!!!!” It’s opened the publishing world to writers. I think e-novels have a distance to go still, however. It feels like they’re not as equally respected as print novels and it can be quite the obstacle, if this is your only version available, to get reviewed or to enter prestigious literary contests, or even to get exposed to audiences as it’s not in traditional bookstores. And it’s not like you can sign books. But that status, I’m sure, will be changing.

Norm:

Where can our readers find out more about you and Stanley Park?

Racine:

They can go to my Stanley Park Website

Also, go to my Facebook Page

Norm:

What is next for Racine Hiet?

Racine:

My next novel, a comedy this time, currently titled Barbie And The Barbarian, will be coming out next year in London, UK. I still have my screenplays waiting for their time in the sun. I will continue my huge mission to free animals from the slavery and cruelty they endure at the hand--and mouths--of our human species through my “Sexy Vegan” radio show and my accompanying Facebook page. And I hope to eventually complete my “Sexy Vegan” literary project that may be a script or a Graphic Novel; we’ll see what home it will ultimately find.

Norm:

As this interview draws to a close what one question would you have liked me to ask you? Please share your answer.

Racine:

Well, Norm, you asked me such insightful, in-depth questions, that there’s nothing more you could have asked. I totally appreciate you taking the time and putting in so much effort for not only my novel, but for so many struggling writers. I can’t thank you enough for what you do for literature and for writers. THANK YOU, NORM!!!!

Norm:

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

Follow Here To Read Norm's Review of Stanley Park

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