Here's a 1/2 Dozen with novelist
7 Easy Suggestions for Falling in Love with a Writer
A Brilliant Must-Have take on Touring
and Some Otherworldliness
(Enjoy the ride.)
What’s your advice to someone who’s fallen in love with a writer?
I can do this with seven easy suggestions:
1. Know your writer/lover will hock your mother’s television to buy some writing time, and then go back for her eyeglasses and her Barcalounger.
2. Try not to take this too personally: we spend as much time lost in another world, as we spend lost in this one. There’s no GPS for this.
3. All vacations are about research regardless of how many candles and rose petals you get up to in the hotel room.
4. There’s no shut off valve, no wrench to tighten down that engaging sensitivity that turned you on when you met us.
5. All characters are not YOU, in wigs.
6. If you start a verbal match—some people might call a fight--it’s good to know we have prehensile stingers.
7. Never, ever mess with the desk. That gum wrapper with an X drawn on it in No. 2 pencil is the start of the next novel.
Some writers hate to write. Other writers love being engaged in the creative process. How would you describe your relationship with the page?
For me, it’s not often like swimmer’s high where I stop counting laps. Some days, I probably wouldn’t notice if I smacked my head at the end of the pool. Other times, I’m a nervous writer, checking the NYTs online or dopey social media, or doing a load of dishes, all while I mull over the passage I’m working on. And then there are those pacing afternoons, where I’ve got an overload of energy because a chapter is snapping into place and I just have to go for a walk. I’m one of those people who loves writing, every last bit of the process.
What kind of child were you, inside of what kind of childhood, and how did it shape you as a writer?
I spent a lot of time with my mother’s parents when I was young. My grandmother had a sash window between her kitchen and her screened-in porch. She used to raise the window and I’d stand on a box in the kitchen and pretend the window-frame was a TV set—and then I was on LIVE. The goal was to entertain my cousins hanging out on the porch. And that meant trying to be more entertaining than the tree swing, the creek, the train track, and the strip mall on the other side of the underpass. I guess I got a notion of audience and storytelling from those moments. But sometimes I was a rather brooding TV personality like Edward R. Murrow, and then the cousins would scatter for the ice cream truck.
What other jobs have you had -- other than writing or teaching writing? Did one of these help shape you as a writer?
I have been a mother’s helper, motel maid, waitress in a Chinese restaurant for one day, an inventory controller for an herb company, a bank teller, a secretary, a Hallmark Card saleswoman, and a bookkeeper in a corrupt car dealership to name a few. I am able to write about colicky babies, cleaning products, bad tips, the medicinal properties of herbs, bank heists, fast typing, catchy meaningless slogans, and a lack of cash flow.
What’s your take on touring?
All tours should go through Paris. And I should be sent on a lot of tours.
Faith. Do you consider yourself religious? If so, how does that manifest in your work and/or your process?
No, not religious. But this is what I can say, and I’ll take this one on the serious side:
At home, I have several Buddhas and Hindu figures, as well as a Tibetan Thanka hanging by the front door that a close friend gave me.
I meditate though I’m not consistent.
One of my favorite spots in all the world is a temple in Southern, California, surrounded by chaparral, with a view of the Pacific. I like to sit when no one is there.
I think a great deal about faith, as well as fate. One is typically addressed in fiction, at least to some degree, the other is much tougher to get on the page, and there’s probably good reason for that.
I’m drawn to writers who acknowledge otherworldliness like Margot Livesey and John Fowles.
I think compassion is essential. Period.
I can’t imagine a career that takes more faith and compassion than this one.
Without a sense of humor, we’re all dead in the water.
LISE HAINES is the author of three novels, Girl in the Arena, a South Carolina Book Award Nominee in 2011 and a CYBILS finalist, published in the US (Bloomsbury USA) with foreign rights sold in Turkey (Alfa-Artemis Yayınevi) and Brazil (Editora Underworld); Small Acts of Sex and Electricity (Unbridled Books), a Book Sense Pick in 2006 and one of ten “Best Book Picks for 2006” by the NPR station in San Diego ; and In My Sister’s Country, (Penguin/Putnam), a finalist for the 2003 Paterson Fiction Prize. Her short stories and essays have appeared in a number of literary journals and she was a finalist for the PEN Nelson Algren Award. Haines has been Writer in Residence at Emerson College since 2002 was Briggs-Copeland Lecturer at Harvard. She holds a B.A. from Syracuse University and an MFA from the Bennington Writing Seminars. She grew up in Chicago, lived in Southern California for many years, and now resides with her daughter in the Boston area.