Today's blog focuses on author, Bonnie Palis, and her responses to our interview. Thank you Bonnie for taking the time to answer our questions!
1. What inspired you to write this book?
Answer: Bipolar disorder is hereditary in my family and I struggle with it myself.
2. Can you tell me about the book?
Answer: It’s one woman’s journey with a normal life as she finds out she is bipolar and tries to maintain a career, marriage and as normal a life as anyone else. It has a lot of horse show action in it and through this she learns she is not a machine, but a human being.
3. What is your writing process like?
Answer: Ha! It’s an intermittent process for me. I don’t just sit down at a prescribed time and write. It happens as it starts to flow from my mind and if I have time while running a farm.
4. What did you learn when writing the book?
Answer: So many people are suicidal in their bipolar suffering. I learned to help them through Facebook groups. It’s not an easy process to collect information and make it fiction.
5. What surprised you the most?
Answer: Editing is never done! I only wish I had an academic group to help. Criticism hurts when you are a writer because you put yourself out there and it’ as though people are criticizing you in a personal way.
6. What does the title mean?
Answer: The main character was called ugly in school and her personality is uglier when she is not treated for her disorder. Of course, being fiction, she is quite pretty.
7. Was the character inspired by a real person? If so, who?
Answer: Just a collection of family personalities and friends who suffer through Bipolar Disorder.
8. What do you think happened to the characters after the book ended?
Answer: Readers all wanted a sequel! They wanted to know the same thing. I imagine that the main character lives through more insightful moments and had a decent life.
9. What advice do you have for writers?
Answer: Start now, you can always go back and edit. Put those ideas down on paper and don’t worry about the naysayers.
10. Does writing energize or exhaust you?
Answer: Exhausts through self-doubt.
11. What are common traps for aspiring writers?
Answer: Publishing too early. The want to be done with the project and hurrying along. Do not listen to those who say you cannot do it.
12. What is your writing Kryptonite?
Answer: Myself! Self-doubt is huge with writers.
13. Did you ever consider writing under a pseudonym?
Answer: My work in progress is a tell all and I am considering using a pseudonym because it is based on real people with real problems. I am working hard to disguise personalities and identities.
14. Do you try more to be original or to deliver to readers what they want?
Answer: I honestly have no idea. I write fiction, but always wonder who will read it.
15. Do you want each book to stand on its own, or are you trying to build a body of work with connections between each book?
Answer: Alone. I’m not a series writer and am amazed at those who can keep my interest through a series of books. Their imaginations are truly admirable.
16. How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?
Answer: One. The working title is The Farm Manager Diaries and I don’t think it will ever be done because I’m stymied and the real story hasn’t yet ended! I’m living it now and wonder, myself, how it will end.
17. What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?
Answer: Oh my, what a question. I research areas and things to death and never use those facts in my writing. I think that the research helps to set a piece in your mind so you can step into the fictional side of your brain. Research is also an excuse not to get busy writing some days.
18. How long were you a part-time writer before you became a full-time one?
Answer: I’ve been writing since high school and was a newspaper reporter after college. I was accused by editors of making stories up because I would find the most unbelievable things on my fact hunts.
19. How many hours a day do you write?
Answer: I’m not the type of writer who sits from 5 am to a designated time and writes. I write when I have complete silence and the muse is with me. Editing back work is a good motivator for me.
20. What period of your life do you find you write about most often? (child, teenager, young adult)
Answer: Actually, none of them. I write about adult problems and the awakening that happens daily as I age.
21. What did you edit out of this book?
Answer: Mania and suicidal ideation. I wanted it read as a hopeful piece for those who suffer from Bipolar Disorder and took out all triggers except one. Triggers are facts or thoughts that elicit dangerous responses for Bipolar sufferers. I want them to read the book and find hope through fiction. Very touchy subject for mental illness.
22. How do you select the names of your characters?
Answer: Uglier was a collection of names of people I love or I’ve never met. The WIP is to disguise the personalities and I chose names I wasn’t found of or names that were far from the people I’m describing.
23. If you didn’t write, what would you do for work?
Answer: Read and edit. Likely that job is not in my wheelhouse and I’d never get a chance to do it. I do offer to help others, but like me, they don’t take me up on the offer.
24. What was your hardest scene to write?
Answer: A “romantic” one. I feel that people are overly critical of sex and romance scenes. Plus, I wanted a virtuous main character.
25. What is your favorite childhood book?
Answer: Dandelion Wine by Ray Bradbury. If it weren’t for the master crafter, I would not be a reader. I was 12 when I discovered him through school and I’ve never looked back. I think that without Ray Bradbury I would not be a reader and, therefore, a writer. My favorite author because you can smell the ravine in three words. He was magnificent.
26. How long on average does it take you to write a book?
Answer: Years because of self-doubt. I have friends who churn out tons of books each year and brag about it. It unsettles me because I’m slow.
27. Do you believe in writer’s block?
Answer: Yes. It prevents you from sitting in that chair and getting it done. It’s called doubt.
28. What works best for you: Typewriters, fountain pen, dictate, computer or longhand?
Answer: I’ve had my hands on a keyboard since I was 14 and think through my fingers.
29. When did it dawn upon you that you wanted to be a writer?
Answer: About age 11. It took me decades before I could find the nerve to write fiction.
30. How hard was it to sit down and actually start writing something?
Answer: Massive because of the subject matter. I find that I am most inspired by touchy subjects.
31. Do you aim to complete a set number of pages or words each day?
32. Do you set a plot or prefer going wherever an idea takes you?
Answer: I don’t plot or diagram at all. I just let it flow.
33. Any tips you would like to share to overcome it?
Answer: I assume this question is about the previous one. I need to sit down more often and practice.
34. Do you read much and, if so, who are your favorite authors?
Answer: This is a huge bone of contention in my marriage. I love to read and read a lot of indie authors. My husband is not a reader and he feels I should be busy accomplishing something of merit. He’s a doer and I’m a reader!
35. What is the most important thing about a book in your opinion?
Answer: Ease of reading and believability. Even in science fiction.
36. How would you feel if no one showed up at your book signing?
Answer: Every writer’s fear. I do a lot of author fests at libraries and there is always someone to engage with. That’s a poor sentence, but true.
37. Do you recall the first ever book/novel you read?
Answer: R is for Rocket by Ray Bradbury. I was 11 and enthralled.
38. How much of yourself do you put into your books?
Answer: Dad always said, “Write about what you know.” It’s hard, Dad, it’s hard. You put yourself out there for criticism.
39. Who are your books mostly dedicated to?
40. Who is the most supportive of your writing in your family?
Answer: No one in my family. I think they are tired of hearing about it or don’t want to acknowledge that I write. My friends are the ones who encourage me.
41. Writers are often believed to have a Muse, your thoughts on that?
Answer: My muse if the race to get the story told. Often too fast.
42. Another misconception is that all writers are independently wealthy, how true is that?
Answer: I have a writer friend who loves to write and it’s not painful for her. Most writers make or find the time; they are supported by something or someone else. My husband is the main bread earner in our family and I am grateful.
43. Is it true that authors write word-perfect first drafts?
44. Did any of your books get rejected by publishers?
Answer: Because of the subject matter and medical findings and commonality of Bipolar disorder I had to self-publish to get it on the market as soon as possible. It was a race for me to get it to print. The work in-progress will be submitted and I’ll cry at the rejection letters, I’m sure.
45. What is your view on co-authoring books; have you done any?
Answer: I can’t even imagine working with someone else because I’m so disorganized. I have two good friends who co-author everything and I’ve asked them how they do it. They say that they each choose a character and go from there.
46. Is writing book series more challenging?
Answer: I’ve been asked for a sequel for Uglier, but can’t even think of a name for it!
47. Does it get frustrating if you are unable to recall an idea you had in your mind some time earlier?
Answer: Yes it is. I may make notes and look back at them and wonder what I was trying to remember. I’m not a plotter.
48. Have you ever destroyed any of your drafts?
Answer: Oh, the pain! No. I just rip and rewrite sometimes. I really need an good editor to work with me who won’t hurt my feelings.
49. Can you tell us about your current projects?
Answer: Tell all fiction about things that have actually happened here at the farm with a parade of freaky people who were intent on destroying themselves and us. The working title is The Farm Manager Diaries and I’m having a tough time disguising people who really exist.
50. Had any of your literary teachers ever tell you growing up that you were going to become a published writer one day?
Answer: I’ve had a few try to discourage me because my “news” pieces read like fiction. Yes, a few, but I was a scattered young adult struggling with life. I think they were more concerned that I was going to endanger myself than succeed.
51. Were your parents reading enthusiasts who gave you a push to be a reader as a kid?
Answer: Not at all. My dad read a little, but not at home. My mother attempted to write, but was not a reader. They go hand-in-hand and that was her downfall.
52. Do you enjoy discussing upcoming ideas with your partner? If yes, how much do you value their inputs?
Answer: No, my husband is not a writer or a reader. I’ve written business chapters in books he is published in because he works on bullet points and I complete the paragraphs for him.
53. Have you ever turned a dream or a nightmare into a written piece?
Answer: Not yet, but you’ve given me an idea. Thanks!
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