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Interview with Sharon Poppen

- You've travelled a lot over the years, how has this effected your writing?

Greatly. There isn't a place I've visited that hasn't somehow made it into my novels or short stories. Walking through historical buildings, standing on the edge of an ocean, driving across The Top of the World Highway, gazing across the vast prairies or dipping my toes in the Arctic Ocean never fails to make me think about who and how many people did these things before me. Often, one of these folks 'talk' to me. I love it when that happens.

- You have published two novels and have six more waiting to go into print. You have also written over three hundred short stories that are widely published in both print anthologies and online ezines. Describe your writing schedule. Do you write at fixed times or give yourself a word count per day?

I get up in the morning and go to the community 30 minute exercise session. Come home, read my paper, drink my coffee and put the dog through her tricks for treats. Then, I sit down at the computer. I read and edit the words written yesterday, then write for 30 minutes. I get up after 30 minutes and take care of household chores. Somedays I have meetings that take me away for most of the day and I never get back to my writing. But, I love the days that after the household duties, I can go back and write. My weakness is sending out my work for publication. I hate the administration work that is necessary to get your work out to the public.

You have presented workshops on journaling, self-publishing, character development, fiction writing and blogging at your local college and at various community centers for citizen enrichment classes. You now offer a class in flash fiction at Long Story Short Writing School at Colorado Free University. How did you start getting involved in these projects and has your own writing improved as a result of teaching?
I got started with classes when I joined a local writer's group and found myself discussing the fine points of writing. Our local community college has an adult enrichment program. They try to present a variety of items to the community. I was asked to moderate classes on any aspect of writing. I met many folks who were involved in various organizations around the city. Then, when I published my book, I found local clubs and groups that were receptive to a free speaker who would share the intricacies of the writing world for just the opportunity to sell my books. The classes went over so well, that I now get many requests for my classes. I've found many fans for my books through these classes.

Tell us about your latest book, After the War, Before the Peace.
This book took years to write. The four brothers started 'speaking' to me years ago. I would sit at my typewriter from time to time and write a few words. But, when the communications industry offered an early retirement at age 50, I jumped on it and went back to college. A professor made the comment that he thought I had talent and encouraged me. I started to seriously write about these four young South Carolina men. They had lost everything, but their pride in their family names and values. It was almost as if they talked to me about how they felt and what they felt they needed to do to reach peace within their hearts. I focused on the state's right aspect of the Civil War. It's a problem that wasn't solved with the war that destroyed a way of life for many folks. After the War, Before the Peace is the story of how one family came to terms with their new future.

How did you research for this book?
Because it's character driven, I didn't have to worry too much about details of history. I used maps, encyclopedias, websites and even some movies to be sure I used appropriate dress, technology and distances. Right before I sent the final edit to the publisher, I realized that one of the characters whistles 'The Yellow Rose of Texas'. Was it around in the last half of the nineteenth century? It was eleven o'clock at night. I went on-line and found many reference to it and that it was written around the time of the battle at the Alamo in 1836.

Who is your favourite character from the book? Why?
My favorite character? That's hard. I do love Michael, the third brother. He's a rock, but almost makes the worst decision of his life. I love Lita. She loves her man completely, but manages to hold onto the inner value system that defines her. I loved working with Deborah. She was a challenge and I've found that she is the favorite of many of my readers. And, Joe, the second oldest brother. He was a great second banana that allowed me to do a lot of showing versus telling when moving the characters around.

Where can people find out more about you and your writing?
I have a blog ( www.poppensthoughtsonwritingandstuff.blogspot.com/ ) and a website ( www.sharonpoppen.com ) that I hope lets my readers have a peek at how and why I write and what I'm working on currently.

Anything else you'd like to add?
I'd like to thank you for this opportunity to get my work out into the public. I want to share with the readers that I have won awards from Arizona Authors Assoc. and National League of American Pen Women. My novel After the War, Before the Peace is available at www.xlibris.com and a Western, Hannah, is on-line at www.virtualtales.com. Some of my print anthologies, include: A Flasher’s Dozen, Desert Treasures, Skive Magazine and Offerings from the Oasis and my onn-line publications include: A Long Story Short, Apollo Lyre and Laughter Loaf. I'm a member of Lake Havasu City Writer’s Group and Society of Southwestern Authors. My goals are to write everyday, publish, as often as possible, and enjoy life every moment.

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