Middle of a Sentence – interview with Nadine Laman (1 May 2009)

NadineLamanatthebeachIntroduction

I was introduced to Nadine’s work by Frederiko Aguilar. I hopped over to Nadine’s website and one of the things which caught my attention was the energy that seemed to emanate from her words. Her story, when I finally read it, is really inspiring and I hope you will enjoy it as much as I did. Without further ado, I have great pleasure in introducing you to Nadine Laman …


Aneeta: Nadine, thank you for agreeing to this interview.

Nadine: Oh, it is my pleasure, Aneeta. Thank you for inviting me. This is the first interview since the third book of my trilogy was published. Good timing.

Aneeta: Let’s start with a little about you: where were your born, where did you grow up, what was your youth like, what do you do for a living and where do you live now?

Nadine: I was born in the Los Angeles, California, area commonly called the foothills.  So even though I write about the beach, I lived inland in the city. Part of the time I lived in the high desert near Edward’s Air Force Base, which is the West Coast landing site for NASA’s Space Shuttles. The other part of the time I lived in the city in a bit of a rough neighbourhood. I come from a large extended family who are very loving and affectionate, which is a marvellous backdrop for childhood.

There was and still is quite a bit of racial tension in Los Angeles and that had a big impact on me. My mother was colour blind when it came to people, so the riots made little sense to me. I try to bring out some of that philosophy in my stories. Mostly I state the obvious when it comes to social issues and spend most of my storytelling time focused on the characters. Good stories are full of drama triggered by the characters’ personalities.  I use a lot of humour, often at the character’s expense, to entertain my readers.

I’ve lived in several US states, but now I’m living in Arizona. I’m very much a city girl and love it best when I’m living in a large city. I went to University for a social work degree and specialized in child abuse investigations and teaching developmentally delayed adults – not at the same time, of course.

Aneeta: Am I correct in saying that you have had three books published: Kathryn’s Beach, High Tide, Storm Surge? If so, can you please describe each book?

Nadine: Yes, this is a short story that grew into a trilogy. What happens in the series is Kathryn has been broken by a tragedy and through the story’s progression she finds her strength again with the help of her friends. In Kathryn’s Beach, Kathryn comes home to face the situation she ran from, only to learn that she had not been the failure she had feared. In High Tide, almost nothing (or should I say, no one) is as it first appears to be, which challenges Kathryn’s beliefs of what is real. It was fun developing the characters around Kathryn to give her growth a stage to play out the drama of her romance and to give her sure footing to move into the next story. Storm Surge is her biggest challenge and she meets it head on. I’m really proud of how Kathryn grew and the messages in the telling of her story.

A lot of readers think that the trilogy is a fictionalized autobiography, which it isn’t, but it is a realist sampling of life. People die, fail and succeed, do stupid things, worry, laugh – the whole gamut of life happenings. Mostly I am proud of how entertaining my audience finds my stories.

Aneeta: Amongst all the interviews you’ve given, the ones that intrigued me the most, I suppose, were the ones with the blogger whose blog title is, Grumpy Old Bookman. He does sing your praises and says that you’re one who ‘does your own thing’. What are you doing on your own? Why? And, has it been effective?

Nadine: Britain’s Michael Allen, Grumpy, is someone I admire, so for him to say complimentary things about me simply leaves me awestruck and humbled. What I think he meant was that I don’t follow the usual methods of doing things; from actual storytelling to anything related to publication. But I really do employ the standard literary devices common to storytelling.

There are set patterns or mores of how to do things in this industry, which I guess I don’t strictly follow. It isn’t a rebellion, it is simply that I see things differently from the masses. For example, I’m an Indie writer now, which I love. It allows me to lower the price of my books and select the best quality of printing I can find. The print shop is here in Phoenix. I’ve met the people who print my books, and I like that personal connection. I’ll ship books anywhere in the world. I autograph every book. And I answer every fan email. My books are available only directly from me, at my website, www.NadineLamanBooks.com. Maybe that is a little different from most writers?

My writing is about storytelling, not about publication or the publishing industry. Technically I’m an author because I’m published, but I refer to myself as a writer because that is what I do – I tell stories in written form. I think I would have liked being a storyteller when it was done live in a small group setting – maybe by a fireplace.

Yes, I do think that it has been effective for me. What I do might not work for anyone else, but I’m much better at being myself with my audience than some industry generated look-alike. I get complimented often about my easy, uncomplicated writing style. I’m very shy, so being able to connect with my audience of readers is not only important, but a miracle

Aneeta: Obviously, your work involves a whole lot of storytelling. What element of storytelling do you use most and why?

Nadine: Literary elements of style are paramount in good story telling. Mastering them is part of the craft. I like telling stories in first person, present tense. I think that is more personal and authentic (not to say anyone else is inauthentic). I let my characters share themselves with the reader on an intimate level.

I start every story in the middle of a conversation, because that is life. We walk into each other’s lives mid-way and learn who they are from there. I’m not in any rush to get the story told. I like to let the characters breathe. I like to write as if the reader and I are sitting around talking together.  I really want to connect with readers in a way that they feel I have told them a good story and they find it satisfying.

Aneeta: As you know, this website caters for storytellers. What advice would you give those who are would-be storytellers?

Nadine: My advice is always, tell your story to your audience. The pleasure is in the storytelling. Hear the words aloud as you write them, so they have life in them. Tell a good story, don’t chase the market. Be honest with your readers. Allow your characters to come alive, make your setting real, and like a good actor – ‘deliver’ every line until the end.

I advise against revisions until the first draft of the story is completely written. Then in rewrites it is like telling the story again, it is always enhanced (and in our family, lots of new ‘facts’ are added) at each retelling. That is how storytellers are, they keep adding and changing things until they get a story that wows their audience. In the oral tradition, storytelling served many functions, but the one I’m after is to entertain.

Aneeta: Nadine, this is all I have to ask. Is there anything else you’d like to add?

Nadine: I’ve been told that my writing is an acquired taste, and I suppose that might be part of what Michael means. But I think it is important to find one’s own voice as a writer. My voice is influenced by the fact that I have dyslexia and didn’t learn to read (something simple for most people) until I was 12 or 13 years old. From that handicap, I learned to make up my own stories. So as unlikely as it is for someone who was functionally illiterate, I became a storyteller. The point is, not to let anything stop you from telling great stories or reaching your potential in any area of life.

One thing I often end my newsletters with is this: I believe in you. You can do this marvellous thing. Write your best story.

Thanks for inviting me, Aneeta. This was really enjoyable.


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