As promised in my previous blog (https://sueclancy.com/2015/10/13/with-dog-as-my-co-pilot/) here is the not-too-long awaited interview with Lorna Lee!
I met Lorna as part of a fundraiser for the Ridgefield Community Library. Lorna taught a 5 week writing class for the library and since I’m a big fan of libraries and always on the prowl for stories to illustrate I took the class. Yes, I have high hopes of having stories of my own to illustrate someday. Plus it raised money for a library! Viva Libraries! Yippee authors, artists and fun times with words and pictures! Hip, hip, hooray! But enough of context – let’s get to the interview.
Sue Clancy (artist): What book would you like to shamelessly promote here – along with a flattering sketch of you that I’d draw and post along with this question? (Any photos I could use as a reference for my sketches?)
Lorna Lee (author): You’d think I would be well beyond shame, having written a memoir that reveals just about every secret I ever had, but I’m not. So I’m here to sheepishly (but earnestly) promote said memoir and first book I ever wrote: How Was I Supposed to Know? The Adventures of a Girl Whose Name Means Lost. And, yes, “Lorna” really does mean “lost.”
Sue: How did you come to write the book? Did you just wake up one morning and think “Hey, I’ll torture myself with words and punctuation for a few years?”
Lorna: Ah, if only it had been that easy…This memoir took me a lifetime to write, but that makes sense, doesn’t it? Here’s what I mean. As I little kid, I knew I wanted to write a book; but what kind of book would I write? I had no clue. As I grew up and had some rather unpleasant experiences, mostly with male bosses, I decided my book would be titled, “Little Men, Big Problems.” I haven’t written that one…yet. The story of how I came to write the memoir is really in the memoir, so I don’t want to spoil the book for all of you who will surely want to read it. Let’s say I looked at my life after having been through some very rough times and realized that maybe showing how I use humor and a positive perspective to navigate this often challenging journey we’re all on might help people who are struggling. So I decided to tell my truth with humor and compassion. That took a few years. I could write a book about that!
Sue: What is your favorite part of that book? Why is that your favorite?
Lorna: Oh, that’s hard. That’s like asking, “What’s the favorite part of your life?” I love the beginning for two reasons. I struggled with how to start my memoir. You’d think this would be easy, right? It’s about me, so start at the beginning. Nah. Too obvious. When I decided to start with my first, then second, close-encounter-of-the-personally-electrifying-kind with lightning, I knew I struck (pardon the pun) gold. Opening with a story of being hit (or almost hit) by lightning twice is a great hook and it sure explains a lot about all that comes after.
Sue: How about a quote from your book to post after this question mark? (Or if not a quote from your book will you say something silly or clever here about yourself, your book, the writing/creative process?)
Lorna: There are so many clever and poignant moments in the book. How can I pick just one? I’ll let you ponder something I continue to discover, meaning I need to relearn constantly: no matter how bad (or good) things are at this very moment, you can count on the fact that things are going to change. Accept this, and you don’t have to go seeking out peace; peace will find you. Someone please remind me of this next time I’m frustrated!
Sue: Do you have any visual descriptions of people, pets or places within your book? Were the visual elements easy or hard to write?
Lorna: I describe the “Broken House” in more detail than any other place and I describe me more than any other person. Because I include photographs at the beginning of each chapter, I give readers visual cues. I wanted the other people in my memoir to remain as anonymous as possible. Also, I find that readers enjoy conjuring up their own notions of places and people, so giving them a few details is enough—they color within the lines the way they wish.
Sue: What did you do to keep your creative juices flowing as you worked on your book?
Lorna: I never forced myself to write like some writers do. When the words wanted to come, I let them flow—golly, I couldn’t stop them! But when they were hiding, there was nothing to do but wait.
Sue: Are there any illustrations in your book? If so, who did your illustrations? Got a photo of the page with your favorite illustration?
Lorna: No illustrations, just photographs. Gee, if I had known you then…
Sue: Good thing we fixed that huh? But, since you didn’t know me then, who did your books cover design? Got a photo of your book?
Lorna: My “husband” (we’re not technically married because my divorce agreement bars me from marrying anyone until I turn 67—long story) learned PhotoShop so he could create the cover based on a photograph of me when I was four years old.
Sue: Good job “husband”! Where/how can people get a copy of your book?
Lorna: Both paperback and electronic versions of the book are available at Amazon. To learn more about the book and for links to Amazon, visit the page on my website devoted to the book: Lorna’s Voice, How Was I Supposed To Know? A Memoir (http://lornasvoice.com/how-was-i-supposed-to-know-a-memoir)
Sue: Besides yourself do you have any favorite authors?
Lorna: Oh yes! Haven Kimmel wrote a very funny memoir inspiring me to finally write mine (A Girl Named Zippy). Laura Hillenbrand writes historical nonfiction as if she were writing action-packed fiction. She, too, has chronic fatigue and both of the books have been made into movies (Sea Biscuit and Unbreakable). I imagined that I, too, would be a chronically fatigued famous author. I’m still imagining. Ann Patchett writes fiction and is a wordsmith extraordinaire. I marvel at her command of words and phrases to paint a mood or movement. Her most famous work is Bel Conte. Finally, I love, love, love Stephen King’s mastery at telling a compelling, complex tale. I prefer his more down-to-this-earth work (Misery, The Green Mile, Shawshank Redemption, Mr. Mercedes, Finders Keepers).
Sue: Do you have any favorite animals or colors? Are they in your book?
Lorna: All of my adoptees, which is to say every animal companion I’ve ever had the privilege to share my life with, are my favorites. Not all of them made it into the memoir: the bevy of stray cats and a few dogs who were more family dogs than “Lorna soul mates.” I love horses and donkeys but never had the honor of being a mom to one. Colors? I love all colors—can’t pick just one or even a few.
Sue: What is your idea of a good meal after you’ve been working hard all day writing? Is there any food described in your book?
Lorna: I’m vegan, so it’s going to be veggies, grains, beans and fruits. My favs? Again, too many to list—I don’t like to be limited! They vary by season and mood. And, yes, there is a food mentioned in the book. Meatloaf. Odd, right? Well, I wasn’t always vegan and this was one amazing and memorable meatloaf!
Sue: Any past or current pets you’d like to share with me and your other adoring fans? If you share a photo can I draw a sketch of the pet and post it with this question?
Lorna: The pets that have a special place in my heart are (in order of appearance in my life): Humphrey, Wolfer, Jazzy, Reggie, and Scrappy.
Sue: Any other website, CB radio handle or Smoke Signal Stream you’d like to share?
Lorna: My personal (and zany) website is Lorna’s Voice, (www.lornasvoice.com ) so named because for most of my life I did not dare speak my mind for fear of making waves that might drown me. Now I know I’m quite buoyant! I’m also integrally involved in the Ridgefield Community Library and the Friends group. I built their website (www.folridgefieldwa.com) as part of their efforts to raise awareness and support for their new library building project.
Sue: Thank you for this interview and for all you are doing for the local library! All the best of luck to you personally and, of course, to the Ridgefield library!
Lorna: And thank you, Sue! This has been a delightful interview. I’m looking forward to having you over to my place soon to talk about your talent and projects!
Sue: Wahoo! See you later then!