Monday, August 5, 2013

Author Interview – Alana Cash

1.  Where do your ideas come from?

Questions.  I ask myself a question.  For example, one of my favorite stories is “Roger’s Chairs” (  I was inspired by a photograph of a half dozen wooden chairs placed out in a field.  The question I asked was:  Why are those chairs there?  I’d just read an article about how the Shaker’s build chairs and I incorporated that knowledge into the story with the answer to my question.

For “Camille’s Net Worth” ( HOW YOU LEAVE TEXAS), I asked myself:  What if a 40 year-old woman lost everything and decided to go to jail as a retirement plan?  Originally Camille was determined to go to jail, but as I developed her character the story took a radical turn and jail became sort of an accident.

  1. Do you work with an outline or plot or do you prefer just to see where an idea takes you?

Both.  I start out with a question and then get a vague idea of the character that would answer that question.  Then I develop the character until she/he is real to me. Meaning, I feel their presence.  From there, I begin the story.

The story, “Camille’s Net Worth,” was once twice as long as it is now.  She went all over the world and had all kinds of life complications and Angelina-Jolie adventures, but I had jumped the rails on her personality.  This was a 40 year-old woman with a loving family and a load of tragedy, not a 25 year-old action hero.

Camille is a woman who is “nice,” a “Southern lady” who doesn’t see the truth of her life because she represses a lot of her own feelings and desires to please her husband.  She doesn’t need to move out of the country or get high on drugs to escape her life, she simply denies herself until she can’t any longer.  .  I cut the action story.

At the end of the story, Camille is still nice and still a lady, but waking up from a dream, a fantasy.  The one she was living in.  And, she’s in jail.

  1. Do you let a book or story “stew” – leaving it for a while and coming back to it to edit?

Yes.  It took me a year to write “Camille’s Net Worth.”  As I said before, I tried to write another story, but because I had created Camille so fully, I wasn’t satisfied.  I had to come back and tell her story.  I had to cut half the story away – all the action/adventure part – and let Camille’s character do what she really would do.

She was not the type of person to break her patterns overnight because she was so locked into pleasing her husband.  She had lost track of her own desires and was bored, but she wasn’t going to throw over her marriage and join the Peace Corp.  She probably would have been satisfied to sign up for an art class if her whole life hadn’t fractured in one day.  When everything went to hell in a hand basket, she was disoriented and not ready for all the decisions she would have to make to rebuild her life.  So for her suddenly to become an action hero was too far from who she was.  So I cut, cut, cut and rewrote.

I’ve heard that she’s a wonderful character that people would like to know.

HOW YOU LEAVE TEXAS is a volume of four unique stories about four young women who leave Midland, Austin, Fort Worth and Mayville, Texas for New York, California, Jakarta, and in one instance, jail. These young women seek escape from boredom and sorrow and find it. Told with humor and pathos, here are the synopses:

DAM BROKE – after high school graduation, two quirky best friends reveal big secrets.

“In sixth grade, I abandoned the reading glasses for a blond wig and a fake mole above my top lip. Mickey started wearing sunglasses indoors and carrying business cards.”
CAMILLE’S NET WORTH – on her 40th birthday, Camille’s life falls apart in uncontrolled demolition. Life improves when she gets a job creating art paper and returns to painting. But the plot twists and she ends up in jail, laughing.

“I’m not going to spend much time repeating myself,” Camille said, “I want you to remove whatever you want to keep from this house. You can store your stuff in a rental truck if you need to until you find a new home, but you will be gone from here by midnight and never return.”
“You can’t do that!”
“If you are not gone by midnight, I will set fire to the house.”
KRYSTAL’S WEDDING – Heading for New York, Krystal leaves behind her shoddy family in Midland, Texas. Ill-prepared for the culture shock and expense, she takes a few slippery steps before she finds true independence.

“Krystal’s family wasn’t an American success story. Mom felt like life had cheated her since Daddy never made any real money and spent most nights getting drunk at the Welcome Inn. Erin never finished beauty school and worked at a donut shop. Bethany worked as a bar-back at the Rusty Nail and was turning out like Daddy. Alcoholic, back-slapping, charming. Eddie Garthwaite, owner of Garthwaite Used Cars located on Interstate 20 between Midland and Odessa. Eddie Garthwaite who currently had his driver’s license suspended because of a DUI.”
FRYING YOUR BURGER – Nicky and her friends spend mornings slinging repartee in a coffee shop. While paying a traffic fine, she meets a director and soon finds herself a pawn for two directors trying to ruin each others careers.

“I went into the room marked Cashier and got into a long line. And there he was. Grinning that grin. He should have had a license for it. It was that bright. I stood next to him in my white t-shirt and white pants looking like someone straight out of the ‘hospital orderly fashion catalogue.’ It was all I had clean that day.”

Buy Now @ Amazon

Genre –  Women’s Fiction

Rating – PG13

More details about the author

Connect with Alana Cash on her