Thursday, October 24, 2013

Interview with the Authors of UNCLAIMED BAGGAGE, Part One

Nineteen Writers from the Main Line Writers Group have put together an anthology of their short stories and poems. It's called Unclaimed Baggage, and it's being released by White Lightning Publishing of West Chester, PA.

The anthology is scheduled for release this Sunday, October 27, 2013. There will be a book release party at Nestology in the King of Prussia Mall, from 1 to 3 pm.

In advance of this book release, we interview some of the authors who have work in this anthology. (This is Part One of the interview.)

Let's start with a quick, easy question: Who is your favorite author, the one whose writing inspires you or the one you'd like to write like?

Sarah Cain: I'm a great fan of Shirley Jackson. “The Lottery” still gives me chills.

Tony Conaway: Among contemporary authors, Michael Chabon.

Sue Drummond: Oh, so many! I like Annie Proulx, John LeCarre, Amy Tan, Scott Fitzgerald, Richard Russo, Yann Martel, CS Forester. . . even got into Faulkner this year. I am a voracious reader. Presently reading Tea Obrecht. Just finished How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia. So many good books!

Julie Duffy: My first favorite author was Douglas Adams (I could recite Vogon poetry at age nine...). Having been weaned on him, I went on to discovered Neil Gaiman, Terry Pratchett, and of course PG Wodehouse, Mark Twain, T. H. White. George MacDonald Fraser is another wonderful humorist. I really admire TV writers Joss Whedon, Stephen Moffat, Russell Davies and Jane Espenson for their storytelling and heartbreaking use of tension and humor. I've always been a fan of mysteries --- sneaking copies of my mother's Dick Francis horse-racing thrillers off a high shelf at a young age probably caused my love of page-turners. Recent favorites include Ellis Peters and Elizabeth Peters and (I know, I'm late to the party) Agatha Christie and Arthur Conan Doyle. I fell in love with Arthur C. Clarke's use of the Big Idea as a teenager and that was my gateway drug into Stephen Jay Gould's non-fiction and John Donne's poetry as well as other sci-fi, including Isaac Asimov, Ben Bova, H. G. Wells and Neal Stephenson. And I haven't even started on the historical fiction writers yet...

Joan Hill: My current favorite author is Elizabeth Berg, whose realistic fiction reaches some gritty truths. I am also very much enjoying Aimee Bender’s work. She is quirky and original.

Tom Joyce: Asking me to name my favorite author is kind of like asking me to name my favorite song or movie. It’s the kind of thing that changes on an hourly basis. But one name that comes to mind immediately is Elmore Leonard. A lot of people justly praise his quirky touches and arch tone. But I think his greatest quality was his solid craftsmanship. The man knew how to construct a sturdy story arc.

Walter Lawn: Every American who writes poetry does it in a constant struggle with Emily Dickinson. You may try to pretend she's not there, but she always is. More immediately, though, I love Paul Zimmer's poetry - affectionate, humorous, intimate - he has an amazing, light touch in his deepest moments. I want to be him.

Matt McGeehin: Mary Higgins Clark was the first fiction writer I remember reading.

Robert Charles Mercer: There have been many authors that have inspired me. To name a few, there's George R. R. Martin, S. M. Stirling, Robert Charles Wilson, and Stephen King.

How long have you been writing?

Tom Joyce: A very long time or a very short time, depending on how you look at it. I worked as a newspaper reporter for nearly 20 years, and I did a lot of writing in that capacity. But I started writing fiction only a few years ago. I discovered that fiction writing is like newspaper reporting in the respect that it’s a frequently aggravating and nerve-wracking process, but ultimately rewarding enough to get you through the rough spots.

Martha Nawrocki: I have been writing since I was 12 years old but just for fun. In high school I had a really excellent English teacher who taught the fundamentals of writing. His lessons gave me the basic tools to produce well constructed papers. I was an English major in college but wound up in the computer industry as a programmer and knowledge engineer. I did a lot of technical writing along the way, so I really have been writing for most of my life.

Sarah Cain: I've been writing over 25 years, mostly non-fiction--speech-writing, video scripts, op-eds, brochures, etc.

Matt McGeehin: Fiction writing, I started in high school. Being a meek, nerdy type, that was my way of coping with all of the crap that comes from high school.

Julie Duffy: It sounds like a cliche, but as a youngest child I was 'writing' before I could write. I remember lying on the floor dragging a pencil over a sheet of paper in imitation of my siblings before I even started school. Once I could finally make the right shapes, I was off. I read and wrote incessantly...until they started to teach us to appreciate literature (around the age of 12) at which point my writing screeched to a halt. I didn't write creatively again until after I'd graduated from formal education. Since then I've been working on and off on my creative writing. Things really picked up when I launched the StoryADay May challenge in 2010 and discovered a lurking community of would-be writers online, desperate for 'permission' to write creatively again.

Walter Lawn: When I was 6 or 7, frustrated that there were no more sequels to The Wonderful Flight to the Mushroom Planet, I wrote my own. I haven't stopped since. My penmanship has not improved.

And that's all we have room for in this post. Please join us this Sunday for the book release party of Unclaimed Baggage, and look for Part Two of our interviews with the authors!


  1. Great interview. I always worry that when I am published and am asked, "who's your favorite author?" I won't sound intellectual enough when I say something like "Janet Evanovich" or "James Patterson"...

    1. Thanks, Susie. As for admitting that your favorite author is a popular one (as opposed to one who writes "serious fiction), as writers, we read in the genre in which we write. I write SF, mystery and humor, so I need to read how other authors in those genres work. I gave Michael Chabon as my favorite. Despite winning a Pulitzer, he's a very funny author - "Wonder Boys" is a very, very funny book. So if you write like Evanovich or Patterson, there's no shame in listing them as your favorites!

  2. haha... I usually say... Have you ever heard of Linda Law? She's a wonderful writer/author... and has such a great slant on her views...always with a sense of humor sprinkled in with the serious subjects that she writes about. Tony, I loved this interview.. you did a great job .. !!!