Interview with Contemporary Fiction Writer & Poet Donna Thompson
– Thank you for joining me today, Donna. Could you give everyone a bit of an overview of your book before we begin?
– The Glitch Factory – Perfectly Human in an Imperfect World is a compilation of 11 STORIES, 11 DOSES OF REALITY, 11 QUIRKY PERSPECTIVES, + POEMS all strung together to reveal the glitches that curb out future plans and make us second-guess the reality we’ve been so hastily shoved into. Humans are a stubborn species—we simply refuse to accept that our reality is not working in league with us. We make future plans, and then are surprised when something unexpected comes up and changes everything. This is what I have encapsulated in this book.
Q: Can you describe for us the moment that launched you on your journey of becoming a writer?
A: I would say that the decision to become a professional writer as opposed to a dabbler in words was arrived at after an extremely long and complex series of reflections. The idea was always in the back of my mind. It was time to consider this from a new, more direct position in order to make writing an achievable goal, in order to produce beyond plot lines and publication ambitions. As I kept busy in other directions, I worked out, in my own mind, and in conversations with people, all the angles and kinks, imaginable of a change to writer/author. My change and also changes that others have made became of interest. I read the books, talked to people in general terms about the experience of becoming someone else while staying you. I finally committed myself to recreating myself, teacher to writer, and discovering my voice, after a process of study. I saw, almost perfectly, what this would look like for my circles, readers and I. I had always loved writing, word play, but I realized that to write for the wider world was indeed a complex journey. Now that the decision was finalized, I readied my gear, adjusted the new hat for fit, comfort and style and did my best to prepare my friends and family. Off I went and there was no turning back. Here I am -no regrets-. Huge thanks to my readers, on the web and now, with the new, upgraded material in the book.
Q: How has your ‘day job’ or post-secondary schooling influenced your writing? What would you consider being the main influences to your writing?
A: My passion for literary works, art, music, cultural studies and people has made the transition into writing, full time, more seamless. As an educator, I have a genuine love of learning that gained support from my involvement with children in the Montessori system. Creativity was also a large part of my own identity, as a teacher and a person. This is essential to the craft, in my humble opinion. Discussion and creating works in words, paint, music, movement or video is my idea of a blast and fun. J The main influences, of which I am aware, are Shakespeare, Emerson, Beckett, Joyce, Munro, Bronte, Austen, Woolf, Socrates, Plato, DeWitt, Egan, Saramago…the list is long. The other two lists would center on music and art as I do believe the disciplines are interconnected in terms of influences. Then, there are the influences that bubble up from the subconscious as a result of a lifetime of companionship with sumptuous reads, arts and music.
Q: How instrumental was your support group (family, friends, colleagues) in making this book a reality?
A: My old friends and family had to reinvent their perspectives, in keeping with my new job. This was quite the struggle, at times, for all of us. I was expecting this. I am thankful that they have persevered, and we are all, now, more comfortable with each other and the idea of a writer in the midst. I have some new friends, acquaintances and colleagues that have been integral to the process of discovering my voice. I am grateful to all these people in ways large and small.
Q: What were the most challenging aspects of bringing The Glitch Factory to life?
A: The hardest and most exciting part was the massive learning curve and the pace needed to make it happen. I was starting over, after all on many levels. On a more practical level, I would say the most painful part was pouring over and over and over the pages for edits, corrections, upgrades to make it just right on many levels. I am thankful for the help I received through this grueling process. There were honestly times when I felt intense page rage/exhaustion. I thought of flinging the book into the corner with the dust bunnies as I could never bring myself to burn any book. Luckily, I got past this by working on my novel or other creative endeavors as a break. I would then return to the collection to construct, flow, and nail down the vision in words, paragraphs and digital images. Contentment returned.
Q: What stylistic elements have you incorporated that you are most proud of?
A: I am pleased with layers and the far reaching range of work. You can go as far as you want or as deep as time allows, in this work. The collection has broad appeal, age 14 to 101, male or female, diverse cultures. This was a challenging design but an all inclusive approach. As my first work, I have succeeded, in part, but the next book will go further as mastery is around the corner, the hope.
I also like the crevices and cracks in the narrative without the black holes or pitfalls. I encourage the reader to engage in a puzzle, to shape the work along with me using imagination, emotion and reason. I am careful not to make this an exhausting experience but rather engaging and challenging for the emotion and the intellect.
The form is also a metaphor for the Glitches or tears, microscopic and large (imperfections) in humans and our environments. The author, me, does not take you by the hand and lead you through the garden path of storyline but rather erects signposts, and clues that take you places in a selection of works with split roads, bumps, some potholes and meandering lanes. There is even the opportunity to move off the path onto the lawn as we analyze actual writing as a form, genre, etc. You get to choose the route and navigate the prose and poems.
As a Montessori teacher, one of the main ideas is to promote independence within the collective. This is the method I strive for in writing for the reader. These ideas are modern.
Q: Who is your favourite character? Describe an interesting moment in the development of this character.
A: My favourite character, if I must choose one, is Margo from “The Water Cycle” closely followed by Sarah, “An Encounter with Silence.” Joe is revered in “Slam Dunk” as I admire him. In “Thirst” the imagined bride/woman suggested in the real image, is my favorite. Oops sorry, I could not choose one. J An interesting moment in the development of Margo was the change that occurred in my immediate circle after people read the early drafts. They spent more time out on the back porch staring up at the night sky, and more immediate attention was given to the art and the work of recycling. Hurray!
Q: Which is your most beloved short story or flash fiction and why?
A: Most people in my immediate circle genuinely like “The Water Cycle”, “Slam Dunk” or “The Coffee Shop” I agree.
The one that touches me the most personally is “My Summer of Solstices” for obvious reasons. The one that was most innovative in terms of mixing language including, html, was “Can you spare some change.”
“Thirst,” reaffirms how delightful it is to be a woman.
Q: Which of your published poems do readers often gravitate toward and why?
A: The poems are as unique as the readers that enjoy them. “The Journey” series is probably the most general and seem to be of interest to many. Each of the other poems in the collection has an appeal for reasons that pertain to readers personal preferences and life experiences. The work is only actually finished when read and discussed on the larger scale, by humans. J
Q: What insight can you give regarding the publishing industry and the route you chose for publication (traditional publishing vs. self-publishing)?
A: Good Question! I have had no experience with traditional publishing, other than the workshops I attended in the early days of writing and from other writers in my network. I will find out, I suppose, when I try to publish the novel. I want to give it a try. This idea may vary depending on circumstances.
Self publishing was a unparalleled learning experience, and I was thankful for the phone calls, online chat and email communication opportunities as I waded through the process with Book Baby. They were extremely helpful!! Next time will be a breeze. I took copious notes. I recommended this to others, and I want to share these in the next phase of things.
AiA has a fantastic framework for self- publishers. The Writer’s Union is working towards including self publishers. The Arts Council may provide grants in time.
I enjoyed working with the design team, who were open to letting me use my photo and ideas together with their skill for a beautiful cover. They were quite expensive, though.
Editors are key!
E-book and print, together, are useful for reaching many people. Some still enjoy having a signed copy. Everyone likes choice.
Set a budget.
Working with an online team was not as difficult as you would expect, but make sure you get out and interact with people, in person, too, to balance this.
Q: What have you found to be the most challenging aspect of publicizing yourself and your work?
A: The most challenging aspect is my complete lack of interest and talent for high level marketing. This has been and will continue to be problematic. When I do market, essential if I want to continue to do what I love, it feels so forced and unnatural. I also have an extremely low level of interest in all the content or how tos for marketing. I am conflicted by this as this may mark the end of me as an author.
On a more upbeat note, this interview does not seem like marketing but rather a Q and A. I actually thoroughly enjoyed your questions. This means, there is for me, hope as an author after all.
– Thank you for your questions and your interest in me. I appreciate the opportunity to reflect on the work in this way and share these thoughts on your site. It is incredible people like you that help writers, like me, to gain visibility and support for their voice.
– Thank you, Donna, for sharing your collection of works with my readers. I wish you the best in this and future endeavors.
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Donna Thompson is a Montessori teacher turned writer. Through networking, a conglomerate of conferences, practice and workshops she has acquired a style of writing that is contemporary. She likes to think, innovative. Her first published book is a based on experience, readings, humans and a full bar of imagination. She enjoys all creative opportunities and is learning to market, painfully.
Thompson loves kayaking, running and sports, as time allows. To dance, sing, learn and give back has always been and continues to be a most fulfilling enterprise. She enjoys conversations of all sorts. Laundry and household chores keep her grounded and humble along with contemplating the Universe.
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