Today I have a very special guest on my blog. She has been my primary editor right from the very start. We met on Twitter and our styles just clicked. I am so excited that she has a new book out. I read it this week and Bigger Things is a really great book. So if you are looking for a new contemporary book to try out, please check this one out!
Best friends since childhood, Jen, Chelsea and Kyra know everything about each other. Or think they do.Jen should be celebrating her whopping 121-pound weight loss. Instead she feels like she’s betrayed fat girls everywhere. Will anyone love her for who she is inside, fat or thin? More importantly, will she?Chelsea appears to have it all—a husband, a family, a beautiful home—but plaguing memories threaten to destroy everything. In her desperation to maintain control, will she succumb to a compulsion that costs her life?Kyra is sick of the superficial persona she’s worn for so long. It’s exhausting to pretend to be an airhead while running a successful business. But if she sheds her life-of-the-party façade, will she ever find the boyfriend she thinks she needs?When a nervous breakdown leaves one of them fighting to survive, all their secrets are laid bare. To stay friends, they need to battle personal dragons, confront the past, and embrace change. But can they break free from the roles they’ve played so long? Or must they leave one another behind in order to move forward?BIGGER THINGS by Ev Bishop is available in digital formats at:You can also read it through Scribd
Now for the interview!!
Interview with Bat Country (Thanks so much, Liz! J)
Q: I read that you shopped Bigger Things, but it was rejected because publishers didn’t believe there was a market for it. What was it about this story that made you want to fight to tell it?
A: It was actually agents that I shopped Bigger Things around to. I sent it out and sent it out. And sent it out. I had quite a few requests for full manuscripts from "big" agents. It was horrible. Almost without exception they all said really, really, really positive things—then went on to say they didn't know where it would go on the shelf, how it would be marketed, or who it would sell to. Initially I found it very disheartening that they would say such lovely, complimentary things about the story, only to decline to represent it. Now I realize, as you so often do with hindsight, that things worked out the way they should. Bigger Things is a wonderful fit for indie publishing. And why did I hold onto the dream of sharing it? Well, the main character Jen wouldn’t let me forget her—kept whispering in my ear—and I really believe that the themes and issues the story explores are important. J
Q: Tell us about the three friends in Bigger Things.
A: Hmmm, what to say, what to say? The three friends in Bigger Things—Jen, Chelsea, and Kyra—feel absolutely real to me, as real as any of my life and blood friends (and yes, I’m aware of what that suggests about me—but I’m safe crazy, I promise!), so it actually feels a bit weird to “talk about them,” per se.
The book blurb shared with this interview provides a small glimpse into each of them, but other than that, I’ll let readers form their own opinions about what they’re like, what their motivations are, etc. I suspect most women will relate to them in some ways—both good and bad. And I do hope people, even if they disagree with them sometimes, understand where they’re coming from, root for them, and like them because as I said, I care about each of them a lot. They’re close to my heart.
Q: You wrote a very sweet Christmas short story that I read last year. Can you tell us about any other work you might have out?
A: Aw, thanks for the kind words! You’re referring to The Present, a novella penned by my warmer, mushier alter ego Toni Sheridan—the pen name I use for Inspirational romance works. And funny that you brought it up. A sister story (literally) called Drummer Boy is coming out this November, again through Pelican Book Group’s White Rose imprint, featuring Candy’s sister Jane.
Despite the fun of having a pseudonym, I do most of my work, regardless of genre or form, under my own name (Ev Bishop). I’m a long time columnist with The Terrace Standard newspaper, have a fair amount of non-fiction articles and essays published in a myriad of publications, and am excited by my growing list of published short stories—yay!
Q: Do you plot or write the story as it comes to you?
A: I’m definitely what some writers refer to as a “pantser”—meaning I write by the seat of my pants, following whatever threads happen to appear, not that I pants unsuspecting people! I happily tear along without plotting or outlining—or do so until some dreaded midway point where I slam into a wall and become convinced I’ll never finish the story. I’ve learned that at that painful place, a bit of outlining—like one line jot notes—to plan to the end of the story helps me find my way again, and to my continual surprise and delight, the story resolves itself.
Q: What is your favorite and least favorite part of writing?
A: I love it all. And I hate it all. Just kidding! (Sort of.)
My feelings, as my initial response suggests, about writing are all over the place. A famous quote, though I can’t recall who said it, speaks to this for me: “Everyone wants to have written. Nobody wants to write.” I don’t quite agree with it fully because I love falling into a story and being thrown this way and that in a world that I’m creating and somehow in charge of, but that’s a complete mystery and is totally beyond my control at the same time. I delight in—and need—the process of trying to articulate what I feel, what moves me, what angers me, what baffles me, what incites love and passion in me in whatever form, creative non-fiction, story, or poem, that those words want to come. What I don’t like—dread, in fact—is the incredibly nasty things inner voices throw at me, especially at the beginning of a writing session or new project (once I get into the zone, the sheer joy and rush of story and/or thoughts tend to shut them up). That’s why the quote resonates with me. I love writing, but often that joy comes after I’ve actually gotten myself to do the writing. Does that make sense?
Q: Did you have any fears about publishing this on your own? What were they?
A: I have constant fears and worries—about everything. Just ask my poor husband! But at the same time, I’m fearless and go for whatever I want. Is that a confusing, contradictory answer? If yes, welcome to my head! For example:
I am afraid people will read my books and not get them, not relate to them at all.
BUT . . .
I don’t really care because I care about my stories. I get them (sort of!). I relate to them. Also, if even just one person reads something I’ve written and thinks, “Ah, that’s like me. . . .” and for one minute feels connected to and understood, like they have company on the road of life—all the work is worth it to me.
I’m afraid people will think less of me, depending on the subjects I tackle and how I tackle them.
YET . . .
I don’t care if people think less of me. I care that I do the best I can, at the time and place I am at the moment, and that I’m honest and share things as I really see them and feel them.
I’m afraid I’ve made—or will make in the future—some terrible financial decision and bankrupt us.
EXCEPT . . .
I’m a very hard worker and I’ve never met a job that I’m “too good” for. I’ll always be able to find something to pay the bills—and if I can’t, there’s social assistance—and I don’t want the reason I write to ever be about the money anyway. J
I’m afraid I’ll fail.
EXCEPT AGAIN . . .
I don’t know what that even means. The only true failure, to my mind, is not to try. Try = success. So whoohoo, I’m a success! (Er . . . now I feel weird and self-conscious for yelling that!)
I’m afraid I’m not good enough. That I suck.
(Er . . . speaking of those mean voices again.) But again, what does that even mean? Some attacks are not worthy of a response!
I’m afraid. . . .
But I won’t let any of that inner-icky nonsense stifle me. Both my parents died young and it has been a massive wake up call for me to do things I feel passionately about now, to not put off pursuing passions or things I feel I need to do until some far off, random point in time because sometimes that future day never comes. I don’t mean to be depressing—but seize the day. It’s the only one you know you have.
I’m afraid. . . .
But argh, you get the point already!
I could continue on and on with “I’m afraid” lines and my rebuttals, but there’s no more need. I think we all have two (or more!) sides: the brave, conquering adventurer side and the bar-the-windows, turn out the lights, and quake in our shoes and hope the scary opportunity passes us by side. The older I get, the more I want to bolster the brave side of myself. And I hope you relate even a little bit to the voices in my head or is my face red! J
Q: What is your favorite genre to edit?
A: I have very few preferences. Reading and writing-wise, I love stories in all their weird, twisty varieties. The only thing that has surprised me genre-wise is my growing appreciation for romance. In the past I never would’ve said anything against it, just would’ve described it as “not really my thing.” Lately, however, I’ve changed my tune. I love a good romance now, in a variety of heat levels—as a reader and a writer. J J I can’t believe how fun—and how varied—the genre is.
Q: Tell us how your background in editing helped or hindered your writing.
It helps when it comes time to edit my own work because I’m able to close the door to my writer self better now and can be quite ruthless with things I know need cut or changed.
It can hinder my writing because it’s always easier to spot what needs fixed in someone else’s work than it is to see what needs fixed in your own. Sometimes I imagine clients reading my stories, thinking of comments and “fixes” I’ve made or suggested on their manuscripts, and shaking their heads—talk about intimidating!—but like I’ve learned to close the door to writer-me when I’m editing, I’m getting better at politely (ha ha) asking my inner editor to leave me alone while I’m writing. It works pretty well.
Q: Why did you become an editor?
A: Well, for one, it’s my dream job. I used to always joke that if I could be paid to read I’d be a one hundred percent happy woman. So here I am, one hundred percent happy.
But personal pleasure aside, I believe that fiction is critically important to the emotional growth, health, and well-being of people. Stories help us deal with the challenges and trials we encounter in our “real” lives, give us tools and coping strategies to survive hard times—and provide laughter and escape and adventure—things all humans need. Experiencing life through the lenses of “others” builds empathy and understanding, and hopefully helps us become kinder, more sympathetic, less selfish people as we identify with individuals who are different from ourselves and feel what it’s like to be them. How does that relate to why I chose to become an editor? Well, if I can help one person bring one story out into the world that helps or enriches one person’s life I am very privileged.
Q: What is your favorite book?
A: Oh, come on. . . . You might as well ask me to choose a favourite child! I can’t pick because one favourite does not exist. Here are just a few books I adore (and I already feel guilty for all I’ve left out!):
READY PLAYER ONE by Ernest Cline. (This is one of those books that I read and then almost hated the author, lol, because I was jealous I hadn’t written this story myself! It’s TOTALLY AWESOME, MAN. 80s lingo used intentionally!)
OUTLANDER by Diana Gabaldon (and then the rest of the series): I know . . . me and the rest of the world, hey?
THE MEASURE OF A MAN by J. J. Lee: Okay, this actually may be a favourite-favourite but I read it just after I lost my dad so it could just be that it personally spoke so much to me.)
BAG OF BONES by Stephen King.
BLOOD MEMORY by Greg Iles: Tough subject matter—brutal, in fact—but amazing, amazing read.
MERE CHRISTIANITY by C.S. Lewis: I love his other titles too. I credit this book as a being a big part of why I became a Christian, actually.
THE COWBOY’S E-MAIL ORDER BRIDE by Cora Seton: Pure fun!
PLAGUE by C.C. Humphreys.
Q: What is your favorite quote?
A: Well, quotes are a lot like books in that I don’t play favourites. J That said, different words speak to me more or less deeply at various times. One quote with special resonance and motivating power for me right now comes from Mark Twain—and how I stumbled upon it is an interesting story.
A few months ago I was in a hard place, grieving the loss of my dad and feeling discouraged and down about a few things. I decided to try morning pages for a while to get to the root of what was bugging me. I opened my neglected, practically cobweb encrusted journal, and found my last entry, written by my hand—but consisting of words I swear I hadn’t seen before, words that were exactly the message I needed to hear and spurred some long dreamed of, scary actions on my behalf (like quitting my day job to write and edit full-time, like publishing Bigger Things). And what was the magical quote that now lives on the wall by my monitor, with the words “To Ev” above it and the signature “From Mark Twain” below it? Just this:
Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones that you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbour. Catch the wind in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.
I don’t know who all’s reading this interview, but if you’re on the fence about some big life change, I hope Mark Twain’s words somehow encourage and cheer you on. Say no to fear. It’s all in your head.
And if you are so kind as to read Bigger Things, I so hope you enjoy it. I’d love to hear from you if you do—and I covet any and all honest reviews, too.
Thanks so much for inviting me to do this interview, Liz. I loved the questions. Very fun!
Ev Bishop: Ev Bishop is a long-time columnist with the Terrace Standard, and her other non-fiction has been published across North America. Her true love, however, is fiction, and she writes in a myriad of genres.
Some short story publications include: “The Picture Book,” Every Day Fiction Magazine, “Riddles,” 100 Stories for Queensland, “On the Wall,” Every Day Fiction Magazine, “My Mom is a Freak,” Cleavage: Breakaway Fiction for Real Girls, “HVS,” “Red Bird,” and “Wishful,” (available through Ether Books).
Her novel Bigger Things (Winding Path Books 2014) will be followed shortly by another standalone novel, What is Seen, then Wedding Bands (Book 1 in a romance series called River’s Sigh Bed & Breakfast). She also writes romance under the pen name Toni Sheridan (The Present, Pelican Book Group, 2012, and Drummer Boy, Pelican Book Group, forthcoming).
Visit Ev online at www.evbishop.com, join her on Facebook, or follow her on Twitter (@Ev_Bishop). She’d love to connect with you!