Hello and welcome to my blog, Author Interviews. My name is Fiona Mcvie.
Let’s get you introduced to everyone, shall we? Tell us your name. What is your age?
My name is JoDee Neathery, a baby boomer born in 1948…69 years young.
Fiona: Where are you from?
I was born in Southern California, but suffered a culture shock when my family moved to Midland, Texas when I was five years old.As it turned out, it was a great place to grow up…a small town mentality full of talented dreamers and doers, including two former US Presidents and First Ladies, a movie producer and fellow writer, and me… The environment shaped who I am today.
Fiona: A little about your self (ie, your education, family life, etc.).
I was a very meticulous good student all through school and graduated from Lee High School in 1966. I dreamed big wanting to go to college, specifically a private liberal arts university in Louisiana. My father, a practical man whom I adored, suggested that because of my study habits (over-the-top attention to every detail) that I most likely would not make it in college. He asked if I wanted to be a teacher or a nurse…my answer was no…I wanted to major in dance and dreamed of Broadway and Los Angeles. That answer didn’t do anything to persuade him that he should spend a “gizzlon” dollars on my advanced education. I went into the banking industry and in later years worked for a public relations agency in Dallas handling their recruiting. I’ve been married to the same wonderful man for 45 years, we reside in a golf course/lake community in East Texas and have one daughter and two grandsons who live a couple of hours away.
Fiona: Tell us your latest news.
I completed a five-year journey writing my novel in August, 2016 typing The End to a 120,000 word manuscript. I worked with a small press in Dallas, Lone Star Productions, who took it from start to finish when finally in July 2017 I became a published author. Seeing it in print for the first time was surreal and very emotional.
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
I’ve always loved to read and write…nothing on the level of a novel, but journals, book reviews, personal notes to friends and family. Sharing the magic of the written word is important to me and I wanted to be a part of that experience in whatever format available.
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I’ve always considered myself a writer…but it wasn’t until my novel was published did I consider myself an author…that’s a whole different category!
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
For the last fourteen years I’ve been the chairperson of our community book club, conducting the meetings, selecting the books, writing the minutes and musings, and doing book reviews. Those ninety-seven members are the ones responsible for pushing me to take the leap of faith…they instilled a confidence in me that eventually I believed.
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
Life in a Box came to me in the middle of the night…like most of my creative thoughts. I wanted to tell a story about life inside a box…sheltered and protected from failure…and one that thrived outside that box with confidence and no fear of failure.
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style? Is there anything about your style or genre that you find particularly challenging?
My writing style is described as lyrical…lovely yet powerful with descriptive writing that places the reader in the scene. I love literary fiction as the genre allows the author to explore human nature, develop legendary characters, and offer the reader an experience they might not get in other fiction genres. I love the challenge of finding the right word…there goes that “over-the-top attention to detail” trait my Daddy pointed out!
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic and are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
Some of the characters in the novel are plucked from my family tree but the events that happened in the book are fictional. The protagonist, Andee Camp, is patterned after me and my leap of faith to write a novel. Twins VJ and Ben are clones of my mother and her relationship with her twin brother. Andee’s father, Will, is my real-life father and captures his keen sense of fun and our relationship. Catherine and Fulton’s personalities are based on my maternal grandparents. The places described in the book are some that I’ve experienced so I guess a great deal of the novel is from my life…write what you know is what I’ve been told!
Fiona: To craft your works, do you have to travel? Before or during the process?
No, for this one I researched every location and relied on personal experiences and the Internet, books on the locations, and contacts with people in the places designated in the book.
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
A graphic designer is responsible for the cover.
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
I would like everyone to take away one thought after finishing my novel…you are never too young or too old to accomplish a dream. Failure is part of success and learn to embrace them both.
Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest? Who is your favorite writer, and what is it about their work that really strikes you?
I’m a huge fan of Elizabeth Strout and Pat Conroy and everyone else who is successful in pulling emotion from every word. Any author, new or established, that does that is, in my book, in a class of their own. Elizabeth Strout is the one who lit the fire when she commented on a book review I did on Olive Kitteridge. Nothing like a Pulitzer Prize winner thinking you can write…I’m forever in her debt.
Fiona: Outside of family members, name one entity that supported your commitment to become a published author.
My book club members…stood on the side line cheering all the way to the finish line.
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
I am working on another novel, but I don’t think there is time left for me to consider this a career.
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
I don’t think you can second guess what is in print…it would drive you crazy, but sure I’m certain I could come up with something that I would change, but I don’t want to dwell on something I can’t fix.
Fiona: Did you learn anything during the writing of your recent book?
I learned to trust your instincts. I learned to accept constructive criticism and develop a thicker skin. Not everyone is going to love what I write!
Fiona: If your book was made into a film, who would you like to play the lead?
If it can’t be me (HA) I’d like to see Jacqueline Smith take on the role of Andee.
Fiona: Any advice for other writers?
Never give up…just about the time you reach the end of your rope something happens to spur you further toward your goal. Just write is one of the hardest things to do and the other impossible things for me at least is not to edit and pick apart every sentence as soon as it’s typed.
Fiona: Anything specific you want to tell your readers?
I hope you enjoy the journey and I would love to hear from you. I’m a reader too and I would love to pick the brain of other authors, so please read my book, review it if you are so inclined, and contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
For book club, I’m reading Joanna Cannon’s, The Trouble with Sheep and Goats.
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
I’m sure I read something before this, but the one that stands out for me is To Kill a Mockingbird.
Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?
I love to laugh and most of the time silly stuff tickles my fancy. I tear up at our National Anthem so I cry very easily…it’s good for the soul…without tears we have no emotion and I don’t think a writer can exist without emotion – happy or sad.
Fiona: Is there one person, past or present, you would love to meet? Why?
I would love a sit down with Hemingway, Faulkner, and Harper Lee.
Fiona: Do you have any hobbies?
Yes, I play golf but I must say my game has suffered because of my writing commitment.
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
I like old comedies on television…Seinfeld, Cheers, Friends. I religiously am glued to the television for The Voice and Dancing With the Stars. I love to see ordinary people have a chance to succeed and realize their dreams. I wish there was a similar show featuring authors with Simon Cowell and Blake Shelton as judges
Fiona: Favorite foods, colors, music?
I love Mexican food, seafood, and I could eat artichokes for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Pink is my color, and I love all types of music but country speaks to me as it tells a story…just like writing.
Fiona: Imagine a future where you no longer write. What would you do?
Fiona: What do you want written on your head stone?
She stayed true to herself…although it took a bit longer to get started.
Fiona: Do you have a blog or website readers can visit for updates, events and special offers?
Yes, I write reviews on my blog, www.bookers-online.blogspot.com and my website is www.jodeeneathery.com. I have an author Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/JoDee-Neathery338945532849036, a twitter account, authorihope, and Instagram, neatheryjodee, and Pinterest board, Life in a Box, a novel by JoDee Neathery.