I am having so much fun with these interviews. There’s nothing like getting a writer to answer questions – in writing.
Today I welcome Christine Stinson, author of Getting Even With Fran and It Takes A Village to my website to talk writing and gardening with me. Getting Even With Fran is about a reunion of school friends and I had to keep pinching myself and looking over my shoulder to reassure myself it wasn’t anyone I knew. But ‘It Takes a Village’ stole my heart. A little girl growing up in the fifties. We need more of this period recorded. Already it is slipping away.
1 What do you like, starting with a seed, a seedling or an advanced mature tree?
I like all three when it comes to gardening. With writing, each book has started with a seed, although I generally think a lot and jot down copious notes about that little seed before I start writing. So I suppose it’s leaning towards a sapling by then!
2. When you create a path is it a mystery tour, or a definite plan to get from A to B?
It’s always a definite plan. I need to know how the book will end: it gives me something to aim for from the opening chapter. Although the ending has a habit of changing on me while I’m writing, or at least moving around a little bit/
3. When it’s time to prune do you get out the secateurs or the chain saw?
I’ve been known to break out both! I’m lucky enough to belong to a critique group (we meet once a month to workshop the scenes we think aren’t working) and it’s a great way to pinpoint what needs a re-shaping with secateurs or would benefit from more drastic treatment. We were all readers first and it’s amazing what eight sets of fresh eyes can pick up, things you as the writer are too close to see.
4. How easy is it for you to let people loose in your garden to weed and plant – even to dig holes where you tell them?
I trust the girls in my critique group so it’s not hard to ‘let them loose’ on my work. That doesn’t mean I always agree with them, or even that they agree with each other! But the ‘lively discussions’ (nice euphemism for disagreements!) are the ones where I usually learn the most. Working with publishing editors is different again, but in a way, it’s easier – editors are there to help polish your book and make it shine, so what’s not to like?!
5. Can you layer?
I can. It’s the part I like most, because it means the story’s already down and the pressure is off.
6 Would you rather put a plant in a pot, or in the garden, or out in the paddock?
I don’t think I have a preference, just wherever the particular plant looks best. I suppose the trick is knowing where that is, and being prepared to change things if and when you’re wrong. To break out the shovels rather than secateurs or chain saws!
7. What stage would you say your newest work is at – in gardening terms?
‘Nothing like Mozart’, the story of a world famous conductor who comes home to face a different kind of music, is ready to be layered.
8. Do you have a favourite, flower, leaf or tree?
Any flower with a scent. I love stocks, hyacinths, freesias, roses, gardenias. Obviously I don’t suffer from hayfever…
Thank you so much Christine for joining us today.
Thank you for having me, Jane, I’ve enjoyed it!