At the local Meet The Author event last week, I met fellow participant, Marva Dasef and her father. I found her latest book, "Tales of a Texas Boy, " so interesting, I asked if I could interview her. This is my visit with Marva.
Tell us a little more about yourself.
I'm a native Oregonian although I've lived in the states north and south of us for several years. Both my sons are Oregon-born, too. I'm married to Jack and we're now empty-nesters with two granddaughters and two step-grandsons. I retired from my job at the Judicial Department a couple of years ago with the idea of being a full-time writer. So, writing is my job now. I'll have to say, though, I keep very short hours.
The book I'm marketing right now is "Tales of a Texas Boy." It's a set of twenty stories told from the viewpoint of Eddie, a boy growing up in West Texas during the Depression era. The stories are loosely based on tales my father told me. There are lots of animals in the stories so they appeal to kids, but older folk, especially those who grew up in rural areas, like it because it's a nostalgic look back in time to simpler days.
I have other things going on that are completely different. "The Seven Adventures of Cadida" is a book about a girl and her genie. The adventures deal with magical creatures, danger, fights and general fun for kids. On the other side of the spectrum, I have four stories in a horror anthology titled "Weirdly." It's out now in e book format from Wild Child Publishing. I also write science fiction and I'm pitching a scifi novella titled "First Duty," as well as a middle- grade novel set in Southern Oregon.
How has living in Oregon affected your writing?
Since "Tales of a Texas Boy" is set in Texas and much of my other writing is fantasy, I guess not much effect. I do have one YA novel set in the Klamath Falls Wildlife Refuges. Oregon living had a lot to do with that one.
How long have you been writing?
Like most writers, the answer has to be, all my life. However, I wasted about thirty-five years writing technical documentation. I tried writing fiction while working but that ended up being too much writing. I had to wait until I retired before I could really get into fiction.
Where do your ideas come from?
For "Tales of a Texas Boy," the obvious answer is my father. Several years ago, he mentioned going on a cattle drive when he was eleven years old. I started writing that as a memoir. I kept trying to get more detailed information from him and he gave me quite a bit but I was frustrated that the story wasn't complete. I finally decided to fictionalize the story and started researching West Texas, cattle drives, the ranches, and so on. When I finished that story, I asked him what else he could remember. Floodgate time! How could he have gone all these years and not mentioned Dad Boles and his bear, bone hunting on the prairies, the trouble making hen, the wild-eyed jackass, and on and on? I ended up filling in a lot with fictional material but the essence of the stories all came from my father's boyhood experiences.
Was there ever a moment when you thought you couldn't write?
Let's see. Every day about 3:00? Seriously, since I've been a professional writer for so long, I know I can write. The biggest question is whether I have sufficient imagination to think up good stories. So far, so good.
A favorite writing tip? A favorite book, or a favorite author?
When I decided to publish "Tales of a Texas Boy" through Lulu so my father would have "his book" in his hands, I discovered that the printable files (distilled PDFs) needed for POD (Print on Demand) publishing have audio content!. If you use a late enough version of Acrobat Reader, you can have the computer read your story aloud. This is a wonderful way to pick up errors and awkward wording. So, my tip is a technological solution.
I have tons of favorite books and authors but my all time read-it-again is "The Baroque Cycle" by Neal Stephenson. It's a picaresque. sort of historical, sort of weird romp through 18th Century Europe. Hard to describe but tons of fun. Be warned, it's three volumes with a total of close to 2500 pages. Map out a year or so to read it all.
Advice for writers working at maintaining a blog, creating a website?
Register your own name for your website if possible. Be sure to add lots of metatags so that Google searches show your site for key phrases. If you blog, consider what image you want to give as a writer even when offering your political and personal opinions. I decided to blog with interviews, book reviews, and announcements about my own writing, like selling a story. My website is growing all the time.
How long did it take you to write "Tales of a Texas Boy? "
I wrote the twenty stories over two years. Initially, I sold the stories one at a time. Seven of them have been published as stand-alones. At some point I decided they would make a good book.
Once you had the separate stories, how did you form them in to a book-- give it structure?
LOL. It's not very structured. I tried to make the stories somewhat chronological. The actual time period covered is ages eight to eleven in Eddie's life, so even chronology isn't too important. I included one story from Eddie's high school years because it was too good to pass up. And I added Ma's Story and Pa's Story to provide some context for the two most important people in Eddie's life. There are things they could say that Eddie didn't know. For example, Eddie wouldn't be aware of how broken up his mother was over his siter's death from diptheria. Ma needed to tell the reader how she felt in he own words. Well, in my words trying to express her feelings.
How do you manage time for writing?
I'm a full-time writer so I don't have much managing to do. As I mentioned earlier, I really couldn't start writing fiction until I retired. I'm awed by the people who carry on full-time jobs and write novels. I'm lucky to be able to quit working so I could devote myself to writing fiction.
To find out more about me, visit my website at http://marvadasef.com
mail to: firstname.lastname@example.org http://marvadasef.com http://mgddasef.blogspot.com