Today, The Writing Life is very pleased to welcome Bonnie Dodge, the author of the women’s fiction novel, Waiting.
Bonnie Dodge lives and writes from her home in southern Idaho. Her award-winning fiction, poetry, and non-fiction have appeared in several newspapers, magazines, and anthologies in the Pacific Northwest, including Sun Valley Magazine and Idaho Magazine.
What is your book’s genre/category?
Please describe what the story/book is about.
Three generations of Foster women–senior citizen Maxine, attention seeker Grace, and aspiring artist Abbie–think they are nothing alike. But they all share a secret. They wait. For love, for attention, for life, for death, for Idaho’s warm, but promising summer to return. In their journeys between despair and happiness, they learn there are worse things than being alone, like waiting for the wrong person’s love. With sensitivity and humor, Waiting carries readers into the hearts of three women who learn that happiness comes from within.
How did you come up with the title?
I actually struggled with the title. Although the book is about women who wait, thus Waiting was the obvious choice, there are other books and movies out there with that title, and I tried to find something else. In the end, there wasn’t a better choice.
What is the reason you wrote this book?
A couple of my friends were struggling with their relationships. One said she couldn’t wait until her husband died so she could live her own life. So many women fall into this pattern, even younger girls. By nature, women are so eager to please. We wait wait instead of taking charge and making things happen.
What is your favorite part of writing?
I love hanging out with my characters and watching them make the changes others are unwilling to make. It gives me a chance to play What If? and stir things up a bit.
What is the most challenging aspect of writing?
One of the most challenging aspects of writing for me is time management. Today it is so important for the author to take an active part in marketing, which takes away from the hours one could/should be writing. Sticking to a schedule and pumping out new pages often takes second seat. Marketing is hard for me; I would much rather be writing.
Who are some of your favorite authors?
I’m a big fan of women writers: Alice Hoffman, Anita Shreve, Margaret Atwood, Barbara Kingsolver, and Pam Houston, to name only a few. I also enjoy Stephen King, Gregory Maguire, Michael Ondaatje, and John Steinbeck. I read voraciously.
What authors or person(s) have influenced you?
Perhaps the authors who have influenced me most as a writer are Alice Hoffman, Anita Shreve, Edgar Allan Poe, and Virginia Woolf. I like the magical realism in Hoffman’s novels, the honesty in Shreve’s work, the mystery and macabre in Poe’s stories, and the daring in Woolf’s. I am most interested in what makes us tick as human beings and how well we get along with others. Family relationships are a theme I never tire of and when I read, I look for books that deal with navigating the humanity tightrope.
Favorite place to write?
I work best in my office. Two walls are hunter green, two walls are white, and I have a window that looks out into a yard filled with trees. I can write anywhere, but I’m most productive at my desk.
Something personal about you people may be surprised to know?
In college, I changed my major from Science to English. When I was young and idealistic I thought I wanted to be a scientist and do research. Although I still believe that is a noble profession, subjecting living things to tests for the betterment of mankind is something I would never be able to do. I don’t even step on spiders, or kill mice, which I hate. So I think I made the right decision.
Any surprises or learning experiences with the publishing process?
Publishing and writing are two very different challenges. Publishing requires a business hat, while writing demands a hat of creativity and spontaneity. The two are as opposite as anything can be, and the successful writer needs to find a way to manage both.
Looking back, what did you do right that helped you with this book?
I think what helped me most in writing this book is that I fell in love with the story, and especially Maxine. The theme is one of those universal truths that we can’t escape. In order to coexist with those we love, we often find ourselves waiting and compromising. It’s that simple and that hard.
Any advice for writers looking to get published?
Wow, we could write a book on this question, couldn’t we? The best advice I have for writers looking to get published is first know why you want to get published, and realize that writing and publishing are two separate things. So many beginning writers focus on getting published—they try to write for the market, they try to please their critique partners, they expect to sell the first book they write—and so often the work suffers. Writing is butt in chair, alone, mastering words on a page. Publishing is selling those words to people who don’t know you. Expect rejection and expect hours and hours of revisions. Learn how to pitch, and pitch to the big houses, realizing that there are hundreds of small presses looking for good, interesting books. The hybrids like Sunbury and Booktrope are also options. If you are willing to work hard, your work will find a publisher.
Where can we find your book?
What’s next for you?
I’m working on revisions to my historical novel, Goldie’s Daughter that will be published by Booktrope this fall. It’s a story about a young girl, Emily, growing up in a mining camp. Her mother was a camp prostitute. Emily believes the only way she can escape her mother’s sordid reputation is by running away to St. Louis. There she learns that her reputation follows her, and until she can accept her past and who she is, she can’t have a happy future. It’s a great coming-of-age story set in 1882, with stagecoaches, steamboats, and trains.
Thanks, Ellie, for inviting me to share Waiting with your readers.
My pleasure, Bonnie. Thanks for a great interview and much success with WAITING!
About EleanorParker Sapia
Puerto Rican-born novelist, Eleanor Parker Sapia, was raised in the United States, Puerto Rico, and Europe. Eleanor’s work as a counselor, alternative health practitioner, a Spanish language social worker and a refugee case worker inspire her stories. When Eleanor is not writing, she facilitates creativity groups, and is making plans to walk El Camino de Santiago de Compostela a second time.
A Decent Woman is her debut historical novel, set in turn of the century Puerto Rico. The book was selected as 2015 July Las Comadres & Friends Latino Book Club, Book of the Month. Eleanor is the mother of two adult children and she currently lives in West Virginia.
A DECENT WOMAN available now on Amazon amazon.com/-/e/B00U05ZO9M