Friday, February 09, 2007

Serials and Scenarios - Christine Schaub's Driving Music

Happy Friday all.

Christine Schaub was kind enough to share her thoughts with us. I loved what she had to say, I think you will, too.

I didn't investigate the missing font color button ,alas, so I will BOLD her answers. On a side note...last night Pat reminded me of a story I'd blocked out for some reason. "Pat goes to the Park." I still haven't shared Pat's Rooster Dance or the Bees Knees - ahhh - I see a Pat marathon coming up. And I had a moment in an grocery store yesterday - public scream laughing is frowned upon, apparently.

Now back to Christine. Thanks, Christine. I'd love to see you write about rubber tree adventures.

Fiction character you would most like to be or most identify with and why?

When the movie “Pride & Prejudice” came out, I immediately identified with Jane Austen’s Elizabeth Bennet and returned to the literature to find out why. Like Elizabeth, I am a woman “out of time”—i.e., my natural inclinations don’t seem to fit into society’s expectations of how today’s woman should sound, act, desire, achieve. This makes us exhilarating to some and perplexing to many…admired and loathed…quite often too much, too challenging for the masses.

Some out there in writing land have strange rituals. Share yours.

I write out of order. Because I’m a rabid outliner, I choose a chapter or scene that appeals to me at the moment, then start writing. Of course, that leaves the unappealing parts for last—when it’s a race against the deadline—and I hate myself for it. But it always works out in the end.

What crayon in the box describes you on a good day? Bad day? Which one do you aspire to be?

Oh, for a box of crayons at my fingertips! Is there a “cerulean blue”? That would be me on a good day—the color of the sea and sky along the Amalfi Coast that almost hurts your eyes, it’s so pure and alive. For a bad day I’d have to go with “burnt sienna”—an angry orange-red you find in the coats of the predatory animal kingdom…fascinating, but don’t go near them. I aspire to be a crayon somewhere in the middle—maybe the color at the point where the sunset meets the ocean and blends.

Character, plot or prose? Which grabs you by the heart? Why?

I’m a sucker for really good prose—when the writer can make a scene or sentiment come alive simply by word choice and arrangement. I think particularly of Jacquelyn Mitchard’s The Deep End of the Ocean…such lyrical, heart-stopping descriptions of a mother’s long-term struggle with the disappearance of a child. You don’t have to be a mother to understand: “And so she had made the choice, it seemed now, to not heal. Instead, she would try to live around the friable edges of a crater, to tread softly and avoid what she had come to think of as the avalanche.”

Pink iguana, purple cow, periwinkle giraffe. Which one and why? Can be negative or positive.

I’m gonna have to go with the periwinkle giraffe—not only because it’s fun to say, eg. “So I stood there in the dressing room, looking like a periwinkle giraffe…”—but also because it’s great imagery…like, Jurassic Park gone cartoon.

Favorite turn of phrase or word picture, in literature or movie.

I love (and have stolen) Tom Hanks’ line in the movie “You’ve Got Mail” to describe his girlfriend: “She makes coffee nervous.” Isn’t that great? Imagine a force of personality that has the power to give a stimulant the shakes.

If you were assured of writing a best-seller, what genre would it be? Give us a sliver of information, a characteristic or glimpse of a scene.

I’d write action/adventure with humor—something like Evanovich’s “Stephanie Plum” series. Here’s a glimpse of something I’m working on:
I was hanging upside down from a rubber tree, watching my carefully-packed items bounce around on the ground, thinking this situation would only be funny in a Jerry Lewis movie. Oh, and it was raining.
I started swinging toward the nearest trunk, reaching out for a handhold. I looked up. The chute seemed to be holding in the canopy. The trunk slipped away from me and I tried again.
This time I caught a vine and hauled myself upright. With my left hand on the vine and my legs gripping the tree, I reached down with my right hand and worked the jungle knife out of its sheath in my leg pocket. It was a wicked weapon—black and almost a foot long. I sawed through the parachute lines, felt a moment of freedom, then plunged all the way to the ground in a barely controlled trunk slide.
I sat on the jungle floor for a moment, trying not to let my already foul mood get any fouler. The jump had been hot and sticky, and just so we’re clear: landing in rubber trees is not like landing on a pile of bouncy balls. They’re freakishly tall and skinny with slippery, slap-happy leaves and creepy vines. I hate them. Passionately.

What period of history intrigues you the most?

I’m intrigued by the customs and mores of the late-19th century, when the world was on the edge of exploding technology and people were reinventing themselves with optimism and ingenuity. At the same time, men were overtly masculine and women were happily feminine, and that was freely embraced by the masses. An excellent description of this period is Jack Finney’s time-travel novel, Time and Again.

What makes you feel alive?

I have a risk-taking personality, so I feel most alive when I’m doing something daring, something my mother might call “stupid,” like jumping a snowmobile over a snow bluff or skiing down a mountain in an ice fog, or even traveling to New York City alone. I’m in control, but the fringes of the activity are a little…lunatic.

Favorite season and why?

I love the Fall because it brings colorful leaves, wood-burning fireplaces, football and school supplies. The long, uneventful summer has ended and we’re heading into sweaters and Thanksgiving and, if you live in the North, blowing smoke out your nose.

Favorite book setting and why?

I enjoy books set in Washington, DC because I thrill to the patriotism and power in that city, and the reader usually gets a tour of the monuments and emblems that define America.

Which compliment related to your writing has meant the most and why?

One reader wrote and told me my books read like classics. That was refreshing, as I try very hard to write dialogue that matches the time period, using words and concepts that might be wholly unfamiliar to 21st-century readers. I want my readers to feel like they’re living in the past with my main characters, but not be thinking, ‘Thither? What does that mean?”

What criticism has cut the deepest and why?

I’ve never had a “don’t-quit-your-day-job” bad review, but one reviewer wrote about Finding Anna (which opens in the midst of the Great Chicago Fire of 1873): “Although the opening is weak and somewhat confusing, the writing improves as the novel progresses.” Now, this reviewer also printed my name as “Straub,” so there may have been less attention to detail than I desired. Nevertheless, each review is only one person’s opinion…and a writer is never going to please everybody.

Creative Corner : )

Pick a scenario, recipe or story starter from the list below and create a paragraph for us. Feel free to change anything or if you want to get really creative start from scratch.

If Alex had known the body of the senator was in the bathtub, she would've taken Jim's offer for coffee.

So now she had no Starbucks peppermint mocha, no chance of catching a seven o’clock movie, and scant time to freshen up before her favorite detective arrived. Oh—and the senator was starting to stink. She breathed through her mouth while applying lipstick and surveyed the scene: bullet hole over the left eye, closed in peaceful slumber; jacket missing, but shirt and tie neatly arranged; pricey watch and cufflinks intact; dark hair falling across the brow in Robert Redford fashion that made the female politicos swoon. When the door-pounding started, she jumped—not so much from the sound as the last-minute realization that the world was about to witness and photograph her skanky tub ring.