Let me introduce my guest today. This is Arlene Culiner. Arlene and I have recently met through the cyber world. But as I prepared this author spotlight, she stole my heart with her joyous smile, Paris residence, linguistic abilities, and travel log. I know all my reader are going to enjoy getting to know her better through this interview.
Interview with J.Arlene Culiner
at between the lines and more (January 9, 2015)
Arlene, are you ready to get started?
First, Lynda, giving authors a chance to present themselves is a lovely generous thing to do. Thank you very much for this opportunity. Nonetheless, I’m not entirely comfortable writing about myself: it feels so self-indulgent, somehow… but here we go. I write in several different genres: I’ve written a social critical mystery, a creative non-fiction history of 19th century Romanian immigration. At the moment, I’m working, quite intensely, on another creative non-fiction work: the biography of a totally forgotten 19th century Eastern European poet — and four days ago, I returned from Ukraine and Romania where I was snuffling around for “atmosphere”. And, yes, I also write contemporary romances, perhaps as a delightful counterweight of sorts; I have two coming out with The Wild Rose Press, and both have older heroes and heroines.
Where would I live?
From April to November, you’d live in an ancient former café/inn in a tiny village in the Mayenne region in the west of France. From December until April, you’d be in Meudon, just above Paris, and looking down onto the Eiffel Tower. You’d be speaking French all the time (never English) but you’d also have several other European languages under your belt because the research you do requires that, and because you’ve been itinerant for most of your life.
What would my writing space look like?
When living in the country, your writing space would be a vast wonderful room with stone walls that are three feet thick — your former inn is over 500 years old — and your artwork hangs everywhere (you’ve been a social critical artist for the last thirty years). There would also be two rescue dogs and two rescue cats hanging around.
However, in the city for the winter months, your writing space is quite limited. You’ve taken over a windowless closet, moved everything into that, and you actually manage to work amidst the utter chaos. Of course, both the cats and the rather large dogs think it’s the perfect nest, and insist on squeezing into this teensy space too.
Would I also have other hobbies, if so, what kind?
You’d be a musician. You’d play the oboe, the English horn and the oboe d’amore in an (amateur) symphony orchestra in the country, in two chamber music groups. You’ll just have joined another orchestra in Paris too, one that plays early baroque music, and you’d be awed by instruments there — ones long vanished from the music scene: cornets à bouquin, serpents, wooden baroque flutes, the viola da gambe. And you’d dream of buying an oboe da caccia.
Do I write for myself or my readers?
You’d write for yourself because writing is a creative explosion for you. You need to do it. You need the sheer heady excitement of doing it. You have things to say, ideas you want to share… and that means you also write for your readers. You are dialoguing with them through your books, you are exchanging ideas with them, you are sharing what you know, what you’re learning.
Would my writing lean more toward stimulating imagination and thought, or taking-one's-breath-away and pulling heartstrings?
Without wanting to sound too preachy about this, stimulating thought is your primary motivation. You don’t go to movies, you know no star’s names, you’ve never had a television: frankly, life is just too short for pre-chewed, second-hand living. You want to get people interested in the real world around them, in history, and even your romances have intelligent heroes and heroines who think, discuss, laugh at themselves and are stimulating — definitely not consumers who need designer labels to give them character. And because they are caring people and independent thinkers, your readers can believe in them, laugh with them and even fall in love with them.
A Swan's Sweet Song
Great Romance and Engaging Stories!