Hi, my dear friends! Welcome to a new interview!
This time we have as guest my good friend, fiction author and poet, Noreen Lace! I am elated that she accepted the interview with me! Noreen has many of her stories hosted by national and international publications, and also has been a public speaker. Not to mention that she was awarded in many occasions. We will speak in this interview about the person, the writer, the teacher that Noreen Lace is. We will see how she writes, what stories she has written, what advice she has for other writers, a story she wrote from her family's myths and many more! Hope you will enjoy the interview as we did, and will learn a thing or two from her!
Now, let's start the interview!😊👇
Hi, my dear friend, Noreen! How are you?
Anda! Hello. I’m doing really well. It’s a great time of year. How are you?
Tell us something about yourself.
Like secrets? Haha. I’ve been writing since I could hold a pencil. I wrote my first “novel”when I was 11 years old. It was an intrigue about a young girl who witnessed a crime and was kidnapped to keep her quiet. My parents should have known then that something was very wrong!! haha
Which are the genres you write in?
Literary fiction and poetry.I do write some essays, creative nonfiction.
You are also a university teacher. That’s awesome! How would you describe the experience of being a teacher? What do you teach and where?
I teach writing and literature at California State University. I love it. I get to have a positive affect on students’ lives. Words affect children so much more than people understand, so I make certain that I always keep a positive classroom, using positive language.
Have you ever got inspired in your writing through your students? Either by their personalities or maybe ideas from them?
Everything inspires me, so yes students do too. The first semester I taught the history of African American Literature, I was so inspired by the music and the stories and the students’ shared experiences that I wrote a novel using the music we were sharing in class and some of the students’ names! I did ask their permission. I’m further inspired to write about and share the things I learn in class, about how students learn best, and the exercises the students respond to the best.
I can say that you are quite an accomplished writer and author nowadays having so many national and international publications that hosted your writing. You deserve so many congratulations for that! How was it to achieve all that? Maybe being a teacher and having the academic background helped you? I mean, has your craft got improved with it, hence delivering excellent pieces of writing? I hear that being traditionally published is so hard nowadays. How was it for you? Give us some details about it.
Thank you, Anda!
It feels like I need to work hard to keep up the publications and work on self- promotion, the latter of which I’m not very good. I work hard to continue to improve my writing and to get outside of my comfort zone.
I think having an academic background helped in the fact that I know where to put a comma, I’ve read great literature, and I continue to improve my craft. People who don’t read as much are really at a disadvantage, people who don’t know how to use proper punctuation are also at a disadvantage; however, that being said, my editor always reminds me that “story is king!” Some very novels are almost unreadable to English teachers because of the punctuation errors. (I’ll refrain from naming any!) But what that proves, according to my editor, is that the story is more important than a misplaced comma; however, many editors will reject a manuscript based on punctuation errors on the first few pages.
Which was your first story written and which one first published? How did that experience feel?
I’ve had essays and poetry published back as far as when I began my higher education with poetry appearing in the student journals and essays in the student newspapers. The first publication I think I was excited about was “All the Beautiful People”, which was published in 2010 in the Avatar Review. My first novella, West End, started as a short story in one of my college English classes, but wasn’t finished and published until January 2016. It’s still one of my favorite stories. The characters have been referred to as “haunting,” and I think that’s accurate. I still think about that main character; at some point, I may revisit and give her a second book.
Have you ever received an award? If yes, tell us what was it for and how did it make you feel. If there was more than one award, please mention them all if you can do so.
I’ve received a number of teaching awards, most given by students, including the Golden Apple Award. That was quite nice. For my writing, I’ve received honorable mentions for “Where the Poet Roams” published in Directions in 2006; my poem “All at Once” was a finalist in Medusa’s Laugh nana text contest issue in 2017 and at the same time my short memoir piece, “Memorial Day Death Watch,” placed as a finalist in Writer’s Advice Flash Memoir Contest.
I saw on your Instagram account, that among your posts, there are several pictures with “Creative lit response”. What are those? They look amazing! Are those made by your students? Tell us more about it as it seems very interesting.
The creative lit response is an assignment for my literature and some writing classes. They must take one of the pieces of literature we’ve read throughout the semester and respond to it in a creative way. They can sing, dance, play guitar, back, paint, draw. In other words, they’re not scored on how well they do any of these things, but on how they tried and connected it to the literature and why they were inspired by that particular piece of literature. I’ve had students do all of the above. A few poems and songs made us cry in class, but I’ve created a safe environment,so everyone feels comfortable enough to share themselves. It’s really a wonderful part of the class.
If you were to name one important published book of yours, which one would it be and why? Give us a little back history of it.
You want me to pick one??? Haha. Well, I think West End is probably my best work in all honesty. It follows a young girl in a declining area, trying to hold her life together while all around her falls apart. But one of the new stories, “H”, published in the Maine Review in the fall of 2018 will prove to be an important work of literature. It’s about a family affected by drugs. I think what you’ll find in most of my stories is the characters are their own worst enemies, remaining stuck in a situation which makes them overwhelmingly unhappy, but from which they don’t know how to break free. I’ve met so many people like this, people who could accomplish so much if they tried, but their so lost in their own fear of the unknown that they choose unhappiness because it’s familiar. It’s sad. My stories, however, always contain hope. Sometimes you have to look for it.
You are also a poet. What messages you want to send through your poetry and which one is your favorite? Can you give us a short excerpt from that poem and maybe explain it a bit?
One of my first poems published is called “Word Problems.” It’s a poem about communication problems in a relationship masked as a math problem. Sometimes, when one person leaves a relationship, they use logical reasoning, not acknowledging they’ve left their partner devastated. The poem in full: 👉CLICK HERE TO READ IT!👈
I couldn’t help observing your drawings and painting on your social media accounts! So many talents you have! Congrats! Is it a natural gift or you took some classes for it?
You are so sweet. I took one of those paint-night type of classes at a local art studio and fell in love. I’ve learned most from books and practice, but would love to take some art classes so I can improve; I just haven’t had time, but it’s on my list of things to do.
Going back to your writing. How do you get inspiration for your stories? Research or just write on the flow of your imagination? Or maybe both?
I must have an active imagination, or a lot of things to say and no one to listen. Haha. I get inspired by walking my dogs, going to art museums, sitting in my house alone. Sometimes I just free write, but mostly I have some little spark of inspiration that leads me into one direction or another. With my story, “Of Strays and Men,” I woke up at 3 am with the first line in my head. I wrote it down and tried to go back to sleep, but the story would not let me rest, so I got out of bed and wrote almost the whole thing. I had to take a break and go to work,then finished the first draft when I got home that night! But after the spark of inspiration is when the work comes in – you must stay with a story, go the research and the rewriting long after the spark has burned out.
How hard is it for you to finish writing a book? Do you ever get write’s block? If yes, how is it for you and what do you do to repel it?
It’s not very hard, but I do get distracted more so than I get blocked.
What’s the hardest thing of being in your opinion?
Which are the things that you need to have around when you are writing?
A cup of tea and one or both of my cats!
How do you construct your stories? Do you have set patterns or something like that? You work on an outline or just sit in front of your computer and write the stories on the flow? Some writers say that they tell the stories how their characters dictate. How is it for you?
I let the stories dictate where they need to go. Then I shape them up.
You have a website. What do you post there?
I post some of my writing, writing advice, guest blogs by other authors, and Food Crimes – my passion for food comes through. I have a yoga certification and am working on a nutrition certification because I’m passionate about clear, accurate information about food and related topics.
I have noticed that you have a reserved page for “Poe”. Also, you wrote the book “Eddy”. Should we say that you are a die-hard fan of the famous Edgar Allan Poe? Any real connections with him or just consider him as your idol/mentor? Give us some details about it and also about your book “Eddy”.
I’m a die-hard fan with far too much information about him! My book, Eddy, is a fictional account of an actual event in Poe’s life. I’m fascinated with him because he was such an intellectual and was not recognized as such. People think of him as a horror writer, but don’t realize he invented the genre, along with detective fiction, and more. He inspired Conan Doyle, author of Sherlock Holmes, and Stephen King to name a few. He also wrote essays, political and investigative. I guess I’ve become the local expert as I’ve been asked to speak and was even interviewed on a live show! It culminated in my guest spot at the Poe Museum during his birthday bash in Jan 2018!
Another thing I have noticed is that you have a “Friday Feature” on your website. Actually, I was one of your guests a while ago. Thank you once again for inviting me, it was a fun experience and honor! Tell us more about this section.
I believe we are better together. I ask, allow, and encourage other authors to talk about their work or their inspiration. We are not in a competition; there is enough room on this planet for all of our talents!
What’s your favorite character from your stories and why?
As I said, the character from West End haunts me, and I have a great affinity for one of the characters I’m working on right now. She’s had a hard life and like’s being alone, but then someone dumps a kid on her. She’s not willing to let the kid suffer, so she takes responsibility for the little one.
Many writers struggle with the “show more than tell” aspect when writing their stories. How is that for you and how do you manage to accomplish that?
It’s all in the rewrite. I tell, then I go back and show, show, show.
Social media. Do you consider that social media, which is called the “author’s platform” nowadays, is of real help for a writer? Is it for you? How do you take advantage of it as a writer?
Publishers won’t look at you if you don’t have a “platform.” I guess I consider it a necessary evil.
Reviews. Well, reviews are called “the blood” for an author’s career/book. Have you ever received any negative reviews? If yes, how did they impact you and how did you overcome this?
Well, I showed one woman my book and she said, “oh, it’s like a real book and everything.” I didn’t know how to respond. I have some very good reviews on Amazon, but it means a lot when people actually tell me how much they liked it and what it meant to them.
If you were to name one positive review, which one would that be and how did that make you feel?
The members of the Poe Museum loved Eddy! The events coordinator said she was “blown away”! One of the staff said, he’d never read such an intimate portrayal of Poe and he felt it was well done!
Beta readers. How do you find them and how do they help you with your stories? Are they an important stage for a writer?
Beta readers come after editing, editing, editing, and should read after a professional editor and before you submit.
What advice would you give to new writers? What are the things you wish you knew when you first started?
Feel free to check out my Writer Wednesday on my website; I keep advice there and have received good feedback from beginning and experienced reader/writers.
Can writing be considered an escape from reality?
Any art can – if you do it right!
What’s your work in progress book? Can you give us some insight?
I have a few works in process now. One is the one inspired by that Literature class I mentioned earlier. It’s called Our Gentle Sins and has passed the beta readers. I’m looking for publisher now. It’s about a recovering drug addict and a married teacher – they could both lose everything they’ve worked so hard for.
Do you ever keep a journal for ideas for next stories? If yes, can you give us some details?
Multiple journals! Near my bed. On my desk. In my car. And on the computer!
What’s your future goal as a writer? Do you have one?
Write more. Sell more.
Have you ever been affected by personal life in your writing career? If so, can you give us some details and what did you do to regain your writing mojo?
I’m actually working on a series of essays about the different types of writers’ block and how to overcome them! I’ll let you know when they come out.
Among your stories, you have “Grandma’s Last Secret”. What’s that story about?
I was inspired by one of our family stories; my grandfather was shot in the back by a cop. They’d said he matched the description of someone who robbed a Wells Fargo Bank Truck. Many people thought my grandmother had the money and was hiding it; however, we were very poor. This was my spin on that family myth.
Wow! Sadly, we are approaching the end of this interview… Do you have any last words to say for your fans, our readers, family, friends etc. ? Anything?
I appreciate anyone who takes the time to read or drop a note, thank you, thank you. Much love and luck to you all!
Last question. How was the interview? 😊
Thank you so much!! I appreciate you and your hard work.
Thank you so much once again Noreen for accepting the interview! It was fun! And we also appreciate you and your accomplishments! ❤😘
OK, my dear ones, this was the second interview on my "INTERVIEW TIME!" section. I hope you enjoyed it as much as we did. For those of you that are writers, I am sure there is interesting info that is of help for you. Check out Noreen's website for more advice and tips for writers. 👉CLICK HERE FOR HER WEBSITE!👈
Don't forget to subscribe to my website to be notified when new posts are up! Leave a comment for this article and tell us your opinion. I have no words to describe how much I appreciate it! 😊❤😍💕🌹
Follow me on social media, let's connect! 😊❤
If you liked this article, press the like button in the shape of heart and share it on your social media. Thank you in advance for that! 😊❤🌹💕😘
Stay tuned for new interviews and other articles! 😊❤
Thank you for taking time to read this interview! 😊💖
Your true friend always,