Wednesday, November 23, 2011

An Interview with Sibylla Nash, author of Bumped

When and why did you begin writing? 
There were stories I wanted to tell and there were stories that needed to be told. I was the type of kid that always had her head in a book. I have an insatiable need to figure out the world around me by writing things down, pulling back the layers of character and asking what if? When I discovered that people could actually make a living from writing, I was all in.

When did you first consider yourself a writer? 
I’ve always written, ever since I was kid, I was banging away on a typewriter (yes, I’m dating myself) writing short stories. Professionally though, I didn’t really consider myself a “writer” until I was in my 20s and started seeing my byline in magazines.

Is Bumped your first book?
Bumped is actually my second novel, fifth book. I’ve written three non-fiction books, one of which was co-written with a friend. In fact, I’m re-releasing a guide for parents later this year – Baby Modeling & Beyond: From the Stroller to the Red Carpet. My daughter began working as a model/actress when she was a baby. I wanted to share our experiences with parents who may be considering getting their child in the business.

What inspired you to write your first book?
My first novel was DreamCity. It came out 11 years ago (eegads!!) and it feels like it was during the prehistoric times pre-social media. I had a new cover created for it and I’m updating it for a re-release in December. I wanted to write that book because I’ve always kept a journal. I loved Bridget Jones’ Diary and really wanted to create a story using the diary format. I wanted to capture the experience about an actress who moves from the east coast to the west. It’s funny because DreamCity was fictional but now I find myself really seeing that lifestyle up close because of my daughter. When I originally wrote DreamCity, I had worked in talent agencies and production companies and saw the business from that perspective.

What was the hardest part of writing Bumped? 
Bumped was a long work-in-progress. If you were to ask my daughter how long it took me to finish it, she would probably say “forever.” In the beginning, the hardest part was just trying to find the time. I was a new mom when the idea for the book came to me. As I wrestled with the time management issue, the challenge became keeping the tone consistent after so much starting and stopping. I think in one version I mentioned Sky Pagers! The other challenge was reigning in the story, trying to find its heart.

In hosting the Colorful Chick Lit challenge, I’ve found it difficult to find books about “colorful” chicks that fit into the genre. Did you write Bumped intentionally as chick lit or did you just fall into that category? 
I always saw Bumped as chick lit. Early on, when I was work-shopping the book, I had some folks say it was more literary, but I love the chick lit genre. I wanted it to be in the same vein as Shopaholic and In Her Shoes.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp? 
I didn’t start off with the intention of conveying a message to my readers – I’m not a fan of books that are too message-y because it takes away from the story (in my opinion, although I have to say I did like the Left Behind series). Bumped is one woman’s journey and I hope it kept the readers entertained and enthralled. If it makes them reflect on decisions they have made, great! If it makes them give the next smooth-talker the side-eye, even better.

What books have most influenced your life most? 
Notebooks. I have a thing for journals, notebooks, sketchpads and anything bound that I can write in. I have boxes of journals and notes that have captured moments in my life and being able to write down my thoughts, plan out my dreams, it’s allowed me to be the architect of my life.

If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor? 
That’s a tough one, I read so much and soak in everything. I love Stephen King for his pacing and ability to scare the crap out of me, the VC Andrews Flowers in the Attic series for its high concept/hooks. I once interviewed the late LA Banks and she was so inspiring and prolific. She didn’t find time to write, she made time to write. The list goes on. I’ll read books and see how someone made a transition or how they structured their novel and it goes into a pot that I stir and will later pick out bits and pieces and figure out how I can put my own spin on it.

What book are you reading now?
It’s not even funny, I have a backlog of books stacked up in the house and on the iPad. The one that I’m almost finished with is Rob Sharma’s The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari. This book has been life-changing for me because it’s helping me to regain my focus and really concentrate on what’s important. I also have an excellent book on screenwriting I’m getting ready to start called Save the Cat.

Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?
I don’t know if they’re new, but they are new to me. I enjoyed Silver Sparrow by Tayari Jones and 32 Candles by Ernessa T. Carter.

What are your current projects?
I have two books that I’m updating this year that I mentioned and I’m also working on a sequel to Bumped and I’ve outlined the sequel to DreamCity. So 2012 should be pretty busy.

Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing? 
Writing can be very solitary and it’s work, some days you have to really wrestle the words on the page. It’s totally self-directed and self-motivated and the hardest thing for me is tuning out the noise of the day and really challenging myself to write outside of my comfort zone, push the boundaries of the craft and become the writer I’ve always wanted to be. Once I actually get my butt in the chair, it’s all good. It’s getting there that tends to be a problem.

Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work? 
We were driving past a section in Los Angeles the other day and I was telling my daughter that the homes reminded me something out of an Easy Rawlins’ mystery. I read those books years ago and even now the imagery and characters are just as vivid as the day I read the book. As an author, that’s what we all strive to do: create characters and settings that are so real, they become memories of places you’ve been, not stories you’ve read. Walter Mosley does that, he has the ability to pull you into the story headfirst.

Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers? 
Thank you for reading my work and going with me on this journey as an artist. I hope you are having as much fun as I am. Life’s short: Live large, dream big and love hard!

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