Libby Belle, author – The Juicy Parts and Other Quirky Stories
1.Tell us a bit about yourself – something that we will not find in the official author’s bio?
I am naturally young at heart and frankly, I forget my age. There are times when I feel ancient, intuitively aware of myself before and after. I feel the closest to purity in the gloaming, at dawn, and when my loved ones smile. I believe in good as an energy that never dies. I adore laughing. I dream wildly in color and much too often. I have a propensity for quirky people and unabashed optimism. And if I keep going, this could turn into a confession.
2. Do you remember what was your first story (article, essay, or poem) about and when did you write it?
1994: I wrote a cute article for parents about letting go of their graduating senior, starting with my own son who attended prom in a top hat, a funky red tux, and Mick Jagger shoes. 2012: My first story, a spin-off of Shirley Valentine, the movie, was published in a 107-year-old magazine – Woman’s Weekly UK. They only accepted submissions by snail mail, and when my story was all polished and published, they sent me copies in a brown paper package tied up with string, I was
in heaven. Yep, I had to go all the way to London and the mailbox to get my first published story.
3. What is the title of your latest book and what inspired it?
The Juicy Parts and other quirky stories is the first of my four completed books of stories. Many writers, including me, title their collections by one story within the book. Like the titles of my upcoming books: Closet Love, Humble Fumble and Happy Hour Fools, what inspired those titles, all depends on where my imagination takes me.
Over the years, short stories were not taken seriously. Novels were king. It was a total thrill when not so long ago, stories were revived, and publishers began to welcome them. Inspired by this new awareness and the Reader’s Digest when I was a teen, Adelaide Magazine, and the short stories now pouring out from famous authors, I remain dedicated to the little story I like to call the sidekick to a novel.
4. How long did it take you to write your latest work and how fast do you write (how many words daily)?
It took me probably a year to write these 22 stories. I have over 100 stories, some songs and poetry, all written in the past eight years. My writing times are kind of erratic, but I have been known to write up to 8,000 words in a day. One of my favorite shorties I wrote on the plane from Austin to Milwaukee.
5. Do you have any unusual writing habits?
Writing fiction requires unusual habits. Observing people, places and things sparks my imagination daily. I write at bars, coffee shops, picnic tables, in the car on the side of the road, in a hammock, at airport gates, hotel lobbies, and even in the bathroom. I get something fresh every time. I sleep well, so insomnia is not my excuse for this habit – dreams wake me up in the middle of the night and send me hypnotically to my desk where I write, and write until my feet fall asleep, and I quit just in time to watch the sun rise.
6. Is writing the only form of artistic expression that you utilize, or is there more to your creativity than just writing?
Early on I wanted to become a character actress. I did my share of acting throughout my school years. Now, I create crazy characters with my grandkids, and I go wild during Halloween, as you can see in my photo collage. A chip off the old block, my parents composed many songs, so I’ve dabbled in that, too. I have lovely musician friends and we gather and sing together often. I
spent years nuts over photography – I passed that on to my son who is now an Austin celebrity with his photographic art and studio, Austin Art Garage. (Mom’s bragging rights) I’m passionate about many things and love to freely promote non-profits (Balcones Community Orchestra), local musicians and other writers.
7. Authors and books that have influenced your writings?
I was influenced early on as a teen by Judith Viorst – It’s Hard to Be Hip Over 30. As a young mother I was influenced by everything Erma Bombeck. Daniel Wallace, author of Big Fish was the author that sent me soaring. He actually took the time to read one of my stories, and lo and behold, he said exactly what I needed to hear, at just the right time. He has no idea how much he influenced me with a few kind words.
8. What are you working on right now? Anything new cooking in the wordsmith’s kitchen?
I’m always creating ideas – currently I’m entertaining putting together a collection of stories from new Texas writers. My fantasy has been to turn my stories into screenplays with the likes of John Hughes (bless his soul) and Peter Bogdanovich. I’d love to work with Nancy Meyers, Somethings Gotta Give. Ya hear that, Nancy?
9. Did you ever think about the profile of your readers? What do you think – who reads and who should read your books?
Oh sure, but I found that if I focus on that, I lose my tone, my creativity. People are so diverse these days – and proud of it – in their thinking, their beliefs and how they live, I try not to guess profiles. But I would say, probably mostly women over 30. I’ve had a few men friends read my stories and cry. Quite a few have bought my book and are reading it now. The consensus is still out.
10. Do you have any advice for new writers/authors?
Don’t give up (if it’s truly your passion, you won’t anyway), don’t force, don’t stop trusting yourself, and be smart about who you share with. I don’t give writer’s block much power. I believe that it’s my subconscious telling me to rest and come back refreshed. Like when I’m full from eating, and my body screams, “Hey fatty, you can stop now!” On the other hand, I do believe writer’s block is a great excuse for having a glass of wine.
11. What is the best advice (about writing) you have ever heard?
A very fine author told me this: The hardest thing to do as a writer is to find that thing that makes you different from all the rest. But once you find it, you’re set for life.
12. How many books do you read annually and what are you reading now? What is your favorite literary genre?
I’ve lost count of how many collections of short stories I’ve read by emerging and seasoned authors. Novels? I just recently finished Enduring Love by Ian McEwan, Where the Crawdads Sing, and I got a big kick out of Tom Papa’s Your Dad Stole My Rake. ALL FICTION!
13. What do you deem the most relevant about your writing? What is the most important to be remembered by readers?
I want my readers to be entertained – purely and sweetly, that’s my goal. If by chance a reader gets something more…say a message they needed, or a fresh idea, that’s the cherry on top.
14. What is your opinion about the publishing industry today and about the ways authors can best fit into the new trends?
I appreciate that there are so many avenues for emerging writers to get published now, when before it was nearly impossible. It is admirable that Adelaide opened the door to everyone, and they seem to be determined to give new writers a voice. Bravo!
If you’re a writer that spends most of your free time writing, you might consider a publisher. Self-publishing is a full-time job and wearing all hats can put a damper on your creativity. But either way, new authors always have to work behind the scenes. It’s like parenting, it never ends. Never!