The tea kettle hisses in the Dragon’s kitchen and a scaly claw reaches for the pot. Dragon sized trays are laden with delicious treasures and cups far too small and delicate for dragon form are set out in preparation. Soon it will be tea time and I am expecting a
With a loud roar I am pleased to announce my
mouth watering guest Francis Guenette, author of Disappearing in Plain Sight, “a contemporary work of literary fiction with definite romantic overtones.” I have read this amazing work and am very excited to have Francis here at the dragon’s den for tea and a few questions so that you may gobble up her replies.
Dragon: Won’t you please take a seat…Tea is ready. Will you have Chamomile or Earl Grey?
Francis: I will definitely take the Earl Grey – I would not waste my time on a hot beverage that didn’t include at least some caffeine!
(A caffeine addict myself I can only smile in response. We sip a moment in silence… I watch Francis closely. Yes–to answer an age old question–dragons drink tea pinky out)
Dragon: Can you tell us a little about yourself and why you chose writing as a form of expression?
Francis: If you can’t sing or dance or paint – what’s left? I’ve always been a writer, and that has a lot to do with the fact that my mother was a writer. For a long time, I couldn’t see myself writing fiction because that was what my mom did. We couldn’t possibly occupy the same spot in the cosmic universe, or so it seemed for many years. I directed my desire to write along other paths – letters, journals, articles, essays and a thesis or two. But I was always a storyteller and somehow, somewhere along the road of a writing life, the stories took over.
(I don’t voice my worries about dragons that don’t sing, paint or dance…. We stare at one another for a moment while I empty my cup with a long slurping noise that makes Francis giggle.)
Dragon: In Disappearing in Plain Sight you introduce many characters. What is your inspiration for design? Do you incorporate aspects of people you know? Please tell us a little bit about Izzy, and how you wove the creation of her personality.
Francis: I think a writer can’t help but work out of personal experience, but it’s complicated. One of my characters in the Light Never Lies says that all the time (it’s complicated man, f—ing complicated). Have you heard of the process that Smashwords uses to get an e-book up on various platforms? They run the files through a meat grinder. I love the meat grinder analogy. I’ve got this lifetime of personal experiences – people, places, happenings – and it all gets smashed through a meat grinder and out pops a character or two.
Izzy is the epitome of f—ing complicated, man. From the beginning, she was always meant to be an introspective character, and that gave me a lot of scope with her. I wanted a strong female character that operated in the world wielding a considerable amount of personal power. Izzy’s smart and attractive and she has money – quite the combination, right? But, she is also subject to her own inner doubts and fears. I hope she comes off as strong but at the same time vulnerable and human.
(she forgot to add possibly delicious….)
Dragon: Would you like a scone with your tea? Chocolate or blueberry or a lady finger?
Francis: Chocolate for sure – you heard what I said about the caffeine, right?
(I wonder if Francis has stolen a lady finger while I was distracted pouring another cup… I have attempted to count how many she has but stopped at 10. Everything seems to be in order…)
Dragon: Do you meticulously plan the events of the plot or let the characters control the creation? What do you see as your methodology?
Francis: I will tell you straight out that I love the word methodology. That’s the researcher in me. For years I wrote about and worked within the paradigm of narrative methodology – no doubt that had something to do with my shift over to writing fiction. I could only go on for so long saying things like we are all storied beings until I began to want to write a story. But, that’s a story in itself, definitely one for another day.
I am not meticulous about a single thing in my life – so, no to the meticulous planning question. I do plan, though. I believe in all kinds of creative ways to outline – calendars, maps, flowcharts, brainstorms, word webs, and sticky notes all over the place. But I also believe the best laid plans have lots of wiggle room. Once the characters get moving anything can happen. Not to say that all of their shenanigans will make it to the final draft, but I am sometimes amazed what my characters end up dictating.
(her characters are not huge red and scaly…imagine what problems dragons can cause! A small puff of smoke strays from my nostrils and thankfully Francis is polite enough to pretend she didn’t notice!)
Dragon: Lisa Marie is a teen with definite problems and one of the main characters in the story. The way she solves her problems is rather unique. Can you tell us how the title, Disappearing in Plain Sight, relates to Lisa Marie’s situation? What made you choose the title?
Francis: The title comes out of what I think is a core experience for many people. The circumstances of life (the past, others, situations) can make a person feel disappeared. No one sees that person for who he or she truly is. Each of the characters in the book has a unique take on this phenomenon. Lisa-Marie has tried to be seen, and things haven’t worked out well for her. One of the major themes in the book revolves around the fact that Izzy (a counselor who works with young people for a living and is exceptionally gifted at that work) fails to see Lisa-Marie (a young person who has problems). The interlocking triangles that led up to that state of affairs and the consequences that lead away from it, provide a lot of fuel for the story.
Dragon: Caleb is idolized by all the characters in the story. Have you ever considered resurrecting this dead hero to examine his faults?
Francis: Caleb is iconic, and since the reader only has access to him through the memories of the other characters, the question is begged – do the characters remember Caleb as he was or do they remember him the way they need him to have been? Another theme of the story is how people begin to put into perspective the death of someone who has been a pivotal force in their lives. So each of the characters tell stories about Caleb, and these stories end up to be the stories that will allow them to move on.
To resurrect Caleb, would be to destroy him for the reader. He is who he needs to be for all of us – that shining memory of something lost that can never be recaptured and yet something of that shine lives on in our own lives. To use a fishing analogy – Caleb is the one who got away.
(We will need to catch that one…and eat him.)
Dragon: The man that invades their summer has his own agenda. Is there anything you would like to share about this character?
Francis: The Reverend Daniel Patterson – just call me Dan – is a Catholic priest who has struggles and yet he appears to remain unaware of the true nature of those struggles. The antithesis to Izzy’s introspection, he is a person who does not find value in looking deeply into his own motives or behaviors. At the same time, he’s a happy sort of hail fellow well met guy. This type of character gave me a lot of leeway, but the danger with Dan was to paint him all one way or the other. He has blind spots, but so do the rest of the characters.
(humans with blind spots…how tasty!)
Dragon: Francis, I would love to thank you for joining me at tea and I’m sorry that it’s time to say a fond goodbye with a roar. Can you offer us a glimpse into the future for your work? I understand that there is a sequel underway! Can I ask you one more thing—- Please finish the second book soon!
Francis: The sequel to Disappearing in Plain Sight – The Light Never Lies – should (with any kind of luck, stars aligning perfectly, and the moon in the seventh house and all of that) be available in the spring of 2014. There will be new challenges for all the characters. Izzy will have new clients to deal with, and there will be a greater emphasis on family. Lisa-Marie and Justin will be back, and of course she is not over him. There will be a few more interlocking triangles and some fascinating realignments for the reader to grapple with.
(I will let her go…this time. I want to read her next book!!!)
Please have a look at Disappearing in Plain Sight. The Dragon says: YOU WILL NOT BE DISSAPPOINTED!
You can locate Francis Guenette at her WordPress blog!