Somedays ago I read a book named Never the same by Bess Richards. That book literally made me cry. (It deals with the mind state of people during 9/11)It was so heart touching that I couldn’t help the tears. I was so moved that letting Bess know about the extent to which her book affected me became important. Apart from twitter I couldn’t find any contact information for her. (Her website was undergoing some changes so it wasn’t functional, not it is. You can find the link in the end of the interview. 😀 )
I am not that of a twitter fan so I didn’t have a twitter account. Just to let her know how I felt about her book, I made a twitter account. (It’s @dimplebookfeels, if you guys are interested! 😛 )
And here we are today, doing an interview. 😀
When told to describe herself she had a pretty cute answer-
Click the cover picture, to read my review on the book. 🙂
Let’s get started with the interview, shall we? 🙂
Questions regarding Bess’s book (Never The Same):
- What made you choose the title “Never The Same” for your book?
Honestly, I don’t remember there being much of a deliberation over the title, I think it just showed up one day and made so much sense considering the themes of the story. There are certain events and relationships – good and bad – that happen to us and we can never go back to being the person we were before they happened. We can all feel that sense of how things will never be the same after 9/11/01, so there’s that aspect, as well as the perspective of what the characters in the story mean to each other and how they’ve forever changed each other.
- Your writing really connects well with the reader, any inspiration? (I loved how easy it was to remember all the characters.) 😀
Thank you! That’s honestly the best compliment you could ever give me because my main goal is to create relatable characters. As the writer, I obviously spend a lot of time with the characters so I want most of them to be people I would enjoy hanging out with in real life – and in real life, no one wants to be around uninteresting, absolutely perfect people, or the kind of people who use big words in an effort to impress others. Readers don’t want to hang out with people like that either, so I try to keep my characters simple and relatable, yet at the same time, irresistible. I try to focus on what makes people interesting and tell the details we all want to know. I also want to tell the story in a way that the reader feels like the character is sitting down with them and telling the story directly to them.
3. Were there alternate endings you considered?
For the most part, no, but that’s not to say I didn’t toy with the idea of ensuring a happier ending for absolutely everyone. Ultimately, I listened to the voices in my head (as I like to call them). I wish things could have turned out differently for some of our characters, but that’s not how life works, and truly, I think having it end the way it did is a tribute to the heart of the real life victims of 9/11. I imagine they wrestle with “if only” almost every single day.
4. Which character from the book did you find the easiest to write about?
Hmm. That’s a tough one. There were definitely difficult sections to write, but for the most part, the characters were all pretty easy to write. I remember Juliette’s part flowing very freely and being a fun scene to write. Same goes for Harvey. I really enjoyed writing Harvey – so much so that I’ve thought about writing about his life post 2005. I admire many of the characters, and when you admire or have empathy for someone, it’s super easy to write their story.
5. What got left out in the final draft?
Not a whole lot. I slashed thousands of words but most of them were from making my writing more concise. The meat and potatoes of the story remained intact. There will be some who think I should have cut some of the supporting characters to make the story shorter, and they could be right, but I don’t care. I left everyone in the final draft because I wanted to let them speak. I wanted Never the Same to be sort of a mirror image of the collective group of people directly affected by 9/11. I didn’t tell everyone’s story, but I wanted to tell as many as possible.
One thing I do remember cutting from the story was a Briggs and Lucy love scene. It’s actually still in there but it’s less detailed than I originally wrote it, mostly because I wasn’t happy with it the way it was but also because I didn’t want my mother and grandmothers to have to read it, haha. Sex sells, but…oh well.
6. Your book has all the elements of a great story- war, disease, love, support, family, hope, all the great feelings. Was it planned that way or it just happened?
Thank you. It just sort of happened. The fact that the story is based on an historical event led me down a planned road, but I didn’t exactly have it all marked out before I started writing. I just let it unfold as the story progressed.
Questions related to being an author: 😀
- Are you a plotter or pantster?
Definitely, in this case, a panster. I had a rough outline sort of in mind but not on paper. For the most part I just let the characters speak to me, it’s how I operate as a writer. But for my next novel, The Devil I Know, I’ve had to do significantly more planning because the plot is intense in a much different way than Never the Same.
- What’s more important for you: characters or plot?
Characters for sure! I’m more interested in the characters than making sure the plot is something you’d find as an example in a textbook. I think readers are more drawn to what they’re learning about a certain character rather than thinking, “oh wow, this plot is amazing!” I don’t think I’ll ever get an email full of praise over a plot well done, and truthfully it wouldn’t do much for me anyway. I want the readers to form a sort of bond with the characters, whether it’s falling for them, feeling for them, or rooting for them. That will keep them reading until the end, and any holes in the plot can be fixed after writing the rough draft. But the characters and plot definitely rely on and feed off of each other, so I work to make sure they’re both solid.
- How long on average does it take you to write a book?
I wish I knew. I’m terrible at keeping a logbook, not to mention the fact that when I started out to write Never the Same, I was also working another job. I’d squeeze the writing in any time I could, and I was enjoying it, so I wasn’t exactly counting the hours. Now that I’m not working another job on top of writing, I think a year is a safe chunk of time to dedicate to a rough draft, let it rest, go back in and fix, and then let some other eyeballs take a critical look. I have to set deadlines, and in an alternate universe, I’d have all the time in the world to write, write, write, but there are other responsibilities and distractions, and that’s good because it brings balance to my life.
- Is there a certain type of scene that’s harder for you to write than others?
Anytime a scene is too hard, I know I’m going down the wrong road. Also, if I don’t know the character well enough, the writing doesn’t flow, so I have to sit back and think for a minute and answer some questions about who the character is, what they want, and what they would or would not do and say. But yes, certain scenes are in fact harder to write, but I think it’s usually because I’m not in the mood to write them.
- Which other genre you would want to try your hands on?
I don’t think I’ll ever stray too far from what I’m writing now, but as I hinted on earlier, The Devil I Know will be a little different than Never the Same. My writing style doesn’t change, but this one is more action packed, and the sweet parts are sweet for different reasons. It’s similar in the way that just like Briggs and Lucy, Adrian and Julia fall in love despite their many differences, but there’s a twist this time because Adrian isn’t as wholesome and virtuous as Briggs. The characters as a whole are less likely to remind you of your neighbors, but I think you’ll still be able to relate to them, or at least empathize with them and be interested in their lives.
- Tell us about the cover and how it came about. 😀
Everyone is asking about the cover, and I recently posted the story behind it on my Facebook page.
Questions for fun: 😀 ❤ 😀
- Do you have any scars? What are they from?
Yes, most of them are from sports injuries. I had ACL surgery as well as a surgery near my eye, so those are pretty decent scars. I also have one on my back from flipping over on a big wheel as a kid, and minor ones from burns and scrapes. I think they’re sort of cool, and if nothing else, a story to tell. Scars are an interesting thing to write about – so many analogies just waiting to inspire someone.
- What do you want your tombstone to say?
Maybe something funny. I don’t know. You’d think a writer would have a clever answer ready and waiting but I think I’ll just let my loved ones surprise me. As long as there are no typos.
- Everybody hates typos, I sure do. 😛 Characters often find them in situations that they aren’t sure they can get themselves out of. When was the last time you found yourself in a situation that was hard to get out of and what did you do?
Oh man. It does sometimes feel like you’re in a situation that you’ll never escape, but for the most part I believe there’s always a way out. Something that’s coming to mind is a story from this past winter in Japan. I was riding the train home during rush hour. I’d been to a mall about thirty minutes away and hadn’t really eaten much. The heat on the train was blasting, and we were crammed in like sardines. I started feeling dizzy, and as someone with a history of fainting, I knew what was coming. I started stripping off the layers of coat, scarf, and cardigan, but it wasn’t helping much. We made a stop, and in hindsight, maybe I should have just gotten off the train, but instead I darted toward the one empty seat that had just become available and plopped down. The next thing I know, I’m leaning sideways in the seat, with my head on an elderly Japanese lady, and three other people are shaking me awake. The language barrier is enormous, but one person did ask, “You OK?” I nodded that I was, and everyone sort of just turned and left me alone as if nothing had happened. Maybe not the answer you were looking for, but I knew I wouldn’t make it off that train without passing out, I just hoped I wouldn’t split my head open, and thankfully I didn’t.
- The language barrier does make for an awkward situation. 😛 Share a fun fact with us before signing off. 😀
Hmm. Maybe not fun to some, but…sometimes people ask really technical questions like what program I use to write, and things like that. But I actually just write each chapter in a separate Word or Pages document and sort of string them together on the desktop so that I can see the progress. I write in Courier New because I like to imagine I’m writing on a typewriter without the hassle of the clanking or inability to store and edit electronically.
Link for Amazon purchase: Never The Same
Connect with Bess: 🙂
It was fun interviewing Bess. Thank you so much for your time, Bess. 😀 😀 I loved our interaction and I am looking forward to your next book. 😀