Interview with Staci Greason
1. How did you become a writer?
When I was a little girl, I dreamed of being a librarian - the dusty smell of a book, the thrill of going to the library with my mom and sister to pick my next adventure, the anxiety of never having enough time to read everything. At first, I wrote bad love songs on my guitar. In high school, I wrote a short story that my English teacher gave to a college professor. They encouraged me to become a writer. Instead, I followed my friends to college and became an actor. When I was on Days of Our Lives, my best friend Deb and I started doing exercises from Writing Down the Bones, by the amazing Natalie Goldberg. Slowly, I began to hear my own voice. It felt true. The Artist’s Way and Julia Cameron sealed my fate. I fell in love with the writing process - the hard work, discipline, breakthroughs, and breakdowns. The power of expressing emotions through story. I left Hollywood, moved to a guest house on a mountain top (because I thought that’s what writers did), and started teaching myself to write - aided by some wonderful mentors. It’s been wild ride, a grand adventure - which is just about right, since I also wanted to be a cowboy.
2. What inspires you to write?
I woke up in the middle of the night. A voice in my head said, “The last time I saw my mother alive, she was standing outside of Ahab’s All-Night Mart. A sixty-one-year-old heartache.” I jumped out of bed and went straight to the computer. Ideas leap out at me. Hiking, driving, during a play or film, listening to music, reading, and yes, even sleeping. The trick is to act on it, or it may be lost forever. It’s so very easy not to write.
3. Tell me about your protagonist. What’s your favorite trait and/or weakness?
There are three protagonists in Love & Other Calamities: Dani, Red, and Sasha. I love Dani’s glee at killing her husband over and over on her blog. I love her weakness, always comparing herself to other women, agonizing over imperfections, real and imagined. I love the way she tries to connect miserably with her teen niece, Violet. Mostly, I love that Dani always does the right thing. Red is fierce, capable, and completely messed-up. I love that she counsels battered women yet allows Peter, the antagonist, to destroy her self-esteem. She is the avenger. I love the way her garden reflects her state of mind. Sasha is a work-in-progress, beautiful, and without guile. I love her determination to see only the beauty in people and things, often to her detriment. Collectively, I love these women for the reasons that I love women. We often can be our own antagonists, but we are capable of setting aside personal differences to unite for a higher cause.
4. What are your current/future projects?
I’m in the throes of rewriting my third novel, Killing All the Actors, about two agoraphobics who join a survivalist cult in the desert. And I’m working on a one-woman show which involves my personal feminist heroes going back in time to save my great-great grandmother Candace Kincaid from her horrible fate.
5. If you could go back in time and give yourself advice, what would it be?
Just finish college. It’s only two more years.
6. Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?
Read every day. Write every day. Choose a good mentor. Get a spiritual practice, you’ll need it. Eat your vegetables. Exercise. Don’t drink too much. Tell your story. Keep going!