Good Thursday to you! Today's guest on The Same Six Questions is author Pearson Moore!
The Same Six Questions
1. Have you published a book yet?
Cartier’s Ring hit the Amazon shelves in May of 2011. I wanted a book that people would enjoy regardless of their genre preferences. I call it an adventure story because that’s a better descriptor than any traditional genre designation. The opening scene establishes the problem: An eleven-year-old girl is in danger. Two dozen men have travelled eight weeks over rough terrain, and they intend harm toward the girl—or do they? We are not so sure anymore, until the end of the chapter, when an even more diabolical plot appears. Yes, the girl is in danger, it turns out, and it’s worse than we ever could have imagined. Cartier’s Ring tells the story of the first contact between Native Americans and Europeans in 16th century North America. It’s an epic that spans eight decades, following Myeerah from those first terrifying moments on the shore of the Atlantic through her triumph over slavery and into her old age as respected matriarch of a large clan. I chose to tell the story in first person, present tense; many readers have told me it’s the most engrossing novel they’ve read this year.
2. When did you know you wanted to be a writer?
Writing is in my blood. My father was a journalist and my mother was in theatre. I was writing as early as I can remember, even before I could string words together into a coherent sentence. I wrote my first story as a first-grader, but I didn’t begin writing seriously as a novelist until decades later, in 2005. I’ve always seen writing as a dialogue. This idea was probably influenced by my impression of my father’s work. He would write his column and later in the week letters to the editor would appear, commenting on or taking issue with what my father had written. Sometimes my father would mention these comments in future articles, so it really was an honest-to-goodness back-and-forth between writer and readers. This kind of daily contact with the realities of journalism made me aware that, whether or not we know it, any idea or opinion we express is subject to interpretation and re-formulation by those to whom we convey the thought. In Cartier’s Ring, I make certain statements regarding the impact of trade on early Native American societies. I don’t expect that these statements will be taken as historical truth. Rather, I hope they will act as a springboard to ongoing discussions regarding the nature of human interaction.
3. What was your first lengthy piece of fiction (say, >1000 words)? What was it about? When did you write it? Do you still have it?
My first bits of writing appeared so long ago, and in such a different mental frame, that I retained no copies. Until recently, I saw writing as a kind of evolution. The first incarnation of a story was Version 1.0, and then a year or two later I’d write Version 2.0. It wasn’t until I began to understand writing as an art—something with definitive beginning and end, something containing a perfection within itself—that I started to see written work as embodying unique ideas worthy of developing into a story sufficient in itself. I completed two novels prior to creating Cartier’s Ring. Those earlier novels certainly tell a story, but I don’t think they achieve the standards I set for myself in Cartier’s Ring. Is the story complete? Are the ideas fully amenable to in-depth discussion with my readers? I wanted anything I wrote to rigorously adhere to those two standards. More than anything, I want to engage the reader.
4. When was your first indication, "I can do this (write)"?
I never questioned my ability to write, and I’ve been doing it from a young age. My efforts soon turned to technical scientific writing, though, and it wasn’t until well into my career as an R&D chemist that I finally decided to attempt a novel. I knew the rubrics were different, and I knew my understanding of the underlying principles of fiction writing was not well developed, so I joined a critique organization. After five years I had given nearly 1200 critiques, but more importantly, nearly a thousand people had given me first-rate advice on my writing. I think a major problem with much of indie writing is the fact that it has never been vetted. My stories have been torn apart hundreds of times over a period of years. They’re better because of it, and they have broader appeal than most indie novels.
5. If you could meet one of your characters in real life, which would it be?
I would love to meet Myeerah, my 16th-century protagonist from Cartier’s Ring. She is from a culture so different from my own. What would I think of her? How would I attempt to communicate with her? What would she think of me and the way I lead my life? Despite the vast differences between us—different culture, different time, different place, different gender—I am excited by the truth that we share dozens or hundreds of things in common. It would be exciting to see the ways in which those similarities or shared concerns came to light as we began sharing ideas and experiences with each other.
6. It's a dark and stormy night...you're alone in the house...there's a knock at the door...you open it, look out, and proceed to scream like a little girl. What's on the doorstep?
I would be screaming like a little girl, but also crying like a baby abandoned, and shedding adult tears of empathy, compassion, and deepest disappointment. It is not the end of life or a physical threat that I find most frightening. What most frightens me are threats to my expression of who I am. Close-mindedness, selfishness, the complete lack of desire to move beyond self-centered ideas and dreams—these are the elements of existence that are the most frightening, because they are themselves entirely outside the scope of true existence. Existence is dependence. I did not come into this world of my own accord. I did not learn to read, write, and create mathematical equations all on my own. I did not learn to respect and honor human dignity by my own lights. I had parents and teachers and counselors and pastors. When I attend conferences, I do not prepare my hotel room beforehand. I do not jump into the hotel kitchen to prepare my meals. All of these things are done for me. What I see on that doorstep is the person who views herself as self-made, as independent, as not requiring human interaction because she is perfect in herself, the woman who leaves the maid a one-dollar tip because that is all the maid is worth in her jaded and selfish eyes. That is frightening, and it is sad and disappointing too, all at the same time.
Thanks for sharing with us today, Pearson! For more of Mr. Moore, be sure to visit his Web site, art site, and blog.
My guest on Monday will be author Kimberly A. Bettes! Be sure and stop by.