Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Author Interview- Jane Kirkpatrick - Part 1

For the last several weeks, Jane and I have been corresponding and working on this interview. We came up with such an abundance of interesting information that I decided to split this into two or three parts.

You may recall I discovered a short German poem I'd learned as a child in Jane's book, "All Together In One Place." After searching for years, I finally got the translation in her book. Jane read my post, and had some fascinating details to add. Rather than re-write her comments in my words, I'm going to quote her directly (with her permission, of course).

"Oh good. The German poem. I've heard from people in Ohio and someone in Florida, who also said they'd memorized that poem as a child, but didn't really know what it meant. They were so pleased to find it in my book.

"My nephew took German in high school. He and my dad were talking about German, which was my dad's first language. The discussion triggered my dad's memory (one of those river-tooth moments), and he recited the poem. We all asked him what it meant, and I wrote it down on the back of a paper plate never imagining I'd use it one day. I'm so glad I had it, especially now that he's gone.

"I'm glad your family carries the story even further on and links people in far away places together as only God's family can do!"

I responded to Jane's email and requested permission to share the above story. Here's her reply.

"Of course, feel free to share that story. You're absolutely correct about the little things affecting us so dearly. James David Duncan (author of The River Why and others) talks about River Teeth -- those portions of the trees that fall into rivers and appear submerged but they keep collecting leaves and branches as the river flows along. He says those little things that come to us in memory are like river teeth. Something catches us in the present moment and takes us back.

"As writers, we can often build those snippets into scenes or even entire books! How they affect me is that they appear in stories, deepening a character perhaps but also hopefully reminding readers of the value of their own nearly forgotten moments that if looked at, even briefly, can bring us insights into our lives today. Jane"

I don't know about you, but I'd love to sit down with Jane over a cup of tea and listen to her talk about the writing life. By the way, I was so happy she explained what the term, "river-tooth moments" meant. LOL! In Part II, Jane answers my questions.

Do you have little memories that pop up in your writing? Do you write down day-to-day happenings that may someday provide a scene or storyline?


Jessica Nelson said...

Eek! So cool that you have an interview with her. :-)

Yes, I do have memories pop up. Sometimes I use the actually memory in my scene and sometimes I just use the feelings the memory evokes.
I'm looking forward to reading the rest of your interview.

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Jess -

Yes, I was thrilled that she agreed to the interview. What gems she has in store for us in the upcoming posts!

I'm still working on using feelings rather than the actual memory. Next book! :)


Cindy R. Wilson said...

That's awesome you did this interview! How great you got to learn more and share it with us.

I love using memories and experiences in my story. Even more fun is having the character experience it or interpret it in a new and fun way, different from how I interpreted it in real life.

Cool post!

quietspirit said...

I sometimes add a memory to the stories I write for my writing group exercises. I always stop and tell them something like: That's true or Yes, we had a nice trip.
But I haven't been able to do that with my other writing except my blog writing.

Terri Tiffany said...

my whole book is a complilation of some of my little memories I think:)and the emotions that came with them.

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Terri -

I can't wait to read your book. :)

Wasn't it neat how Jane wrote the poem and its translation on the back of a paper plate? She captured that memory, and used it in her book.

Susan :)

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Quiet Spirit -

I'm sure it takes some practice. Jess mentioned using the emotions connected with an event. Think about how you felt when you fell in love or the first time you held your newborn.

In fact, that's a great writing exercise if anyone's interested. :)


Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Cindy -

If you liked this post, wait until you read Parts II and III next week.

Wow! That's interesting. I didn't think of taking an experience and making my character react in a different way.

Susan :)

Kathryn Lang said...

I try to weave memories in my writing as well. It makes my characters feel more real to me and it makes it easier for me to understand their reasons for doing what they do.

Thanks for the image of the river teeth. That is definitely one I will carry around for a long time.

Jeanette Levellie said...

oooh, I love the "river teeth" concept, Susan.

Yes, I have memories flood my mind at all times. Smells particularly evoke strong memories.

I do write notes to myself, on brightly colored index cards. My house is littered with those pesky cards! I even refer to them once in awhile. The writing down is what helps the most.

Jane is a treasure box of insights! So glad you got to interview her!

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Jen -

I'd never heard of the whole river teeth thing before. Any time I snag a memory and store it away, the picture of a tree in a river will always pop up.

Writing notes to myself is a habit I developed a long time ago. It keeps me on track...okay, most of the time. :)


Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Kathryn -

I doubt whether any of us will forget the river teeth analogy. Reading her book, I learned a lot about characters and setting.

I'd love to hear Jane speak someday. One of the hallmarks of an effective teacher/speaker is the ability to give nuggets, which people remember.

Susan :)

Nancy said...

Yes, I was singing to a baby and whole songs from the fifth grade came back to me. I am over sixty now. The memory is an incredible, green place.

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Nancy -

Isn't great when that happens? Things you forgot all of a sudden get pulled from a dusty, old file cabinet in the back of your mind.

Susan :)

Jane said...

Hi Susan,
I've been traveling so just now read your posts and the wonderful responses of your readers. thank you so much for letting me be a guest on your blog. I'll look forward to connecting with you again one day and I'll definetly be visiting your blog to read your insights and those of your visitors and guests! Warmly, Jane PS The shoes (in the picture) are Arcopedidico by Parodi. After our airplane accident in 1986 when my foot bones were shattered, I couldn't find shoes to wear that didn't hurt. These are wonderful! I barely limp at all when I wear them. Jane

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Jane -

Thank YOU for the interview. We're blessed to learn from a master storyteller.

Susan :)