Monday, May 10, 2010

Make-Believe Monday with Roland Mann

Today on Make-Believe Mondays my guest is Roland Mann.

Roland, first, tell us a little bit about the manuscript you’re working on now.

Roland: The working title of my current project is The Interns. It came about because I enrolled in the MFA in Creative Writing at Spalding University. I already had 25,000 words of a book I was working on, but the program strongly suggested students produce new material. I’d actually written the very first “scene” as a comic strip that I wanted to pitch to a local newspaper. It didn’t happen, but the scene remained in my head. When I began to generate the pages for the MFA program, that scene popped into my head and became the first three chapters. The story itself is about a young superhero who’s finished his time at The Academy and is assigned to do his Internship. He’s assigned to a small town in the South and things don’t work out the way he imagined they would, being a superhero and all.

Debra: The story sounds very intriguing. Also, those stories that won't let us go, well I think they need to be written and so often turn out to be the best ones an author will write.

Ray Bradbury said, “We are cups, constantly being filled. The trick is, knowing how to tip ourselves over and let the beautiful stuff out.” How do you keep your creative cup filled?

Roland: I love Ray Bradbury. In fact, he’s part of my answer to a following question! J Personally, I think creative people are filled by everything around them, and I mean everything. Though some might try to tell you otherwise, authors/writers can’t remove themselves completely from their work. No, I’m not trying to suggest that when you read a book, the author is the main character, but a part of that author and who he is, is in the work somehow. That said, some of the things I do: obviously, I read a lot. Currently the stuff I’m reading is all for school, but it’s a pretty big load—not that I’m complaining. It’s better than working math problems! Another thing I do is eavesdrop. No, not the illegal kind, but the kind where when I’m out and about, I listen to people. Cellphones have helped that “research” aspect for writers tremendously. Give most people a cellphone and they become oblivious of their surroundings and speak at volumes louder than normal. You can get really good bits of dialogue that way!

Debra: Oh, I love him too. His work and his words of advice are true gems. And I agree with you about removing ourselves from the work. We can get distance but it's still authorial voice coming through at least in good stories it is. And math problems? Shiver. Anything but those. lol. Eavesdropping is a tremendous source. Perhaps everything an author encounters is potential fodder for the page. I'm now thinking I should pay more attention to people on cell phones. :-)

Is there a point when your characters begin to come alive and you can see and hear them?

Roland: That’s a cool question. Y’know, I think it’s kind of like our relationships with “real” people. The longer you spend with them, the more time you invest in them, the better you know them. I think that may be why series are so popular—you’ve invested yourself reading one book, so that when the 2nd (or 3rd or more) book comes out, you already “know” that character. I feel that’s why television series are popular and why new ones are hard to get going. To answer specifically, I felt I really knew Caleb (the main character in The Interns) after I’d finished chapter 6, and then revised the entire chaps 1-6.

Debra: Oh thanks, Roland. :-) That's a great way to explain it. Perhaps our story people become more real the more we get to know them as authors and as readers, then they become less like characters.

As a child did any particular book or author pull you into their imaginary world?

Roland: The first one I name may not be exactly what you or your readers anticipate. For me, the first to suck me in was Stan Lee, the man that created or co-created half of the Marvel universe. As a kid, I didn’t really like to read—had no interest in it. Mom, being the good mom she is, sought a way to get me more interested in reading. She introduced me to comic books and the Marvel Universe. I fell in love with the characters almost immediately. Those comics led me to explore other work, and I found writers like HG Wells, Ray Bradbury and Jules Verne.

Debra: I wonder how many children enter the world of reading through comic books? Bless all the mothers like yours who encourage their children to find a route into reading that they enjoy. That story world of imagination, there's nothing like it. The world of story is such a magical place, whether the route to it is a comic book, a hardback or audio book,or lately an e-book or graphic novel. The story world is where the magic is and I'll never understand why people fret so over the route into it.

Is there anything else you would like to add about the role of imagination, and dreams in creating fiction? Any other message for our readers?

Roland: I told you about the book I’m working on, but I would also like to tell you about the one that will be out in just a matter of days. If you had the chance to re-do part of your life, would you? Even if it meant dying earlier? Buying Time is a book that explores this very thing for two men, who purchase part of their past and attempt to relive it. When I get the book in my hands, I’ll announce it on my blog and let folks know how they can get it. Thanks for having me here!

Debra: Roland it has been a true pleasure. Thank you for joining us here on this Make-believe Monday to share a little bit of the magic of writing with our readers.

Readers may find Roland at

Debra's News/Debra is watching:

I'm home from the Romantic Times convention in Columbus, OH and pictures will soon be up on my website.

There has been a lot going on during the convention and beyond. Here in the mid-south, there has been terrible flooding. Millington, TN is only 20 minutes from my house and to drive home I had to come through Nashville which also had terrible flooding. I'm happy to report that my home is fine as are family members and friends. Some of my friends have lost their homes to flooding and the relief and repair efforts continue here.

My second novel is complete and this week I begin the search for an agent. I will also start playing with the beginning of a new novel, which means exploratory writing, research, imagining.... of my favorite times is the beginning of a new novel, when anything I can imagine is possible.

Until next time, stay safe and healthy and hug your loved ones.

Love and light,

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