Hi, Lynne! Welcome to Susan Finlay Writes blog site. Can you tell us a bit about your background as a writer?
My Mom was an English teacher and encouraged me in all of the arts, especially writing from the time I was a small child. I have always written, but my main focus in my career life has been my art.
Your memoirs about growing up in the Bronx, and much more, An Untenable Fragrance of Violets, is four volumes long. Can you tell us about it? What inspired you to write it?
The main impetus for the writing of my autobiography was the tragic episode that changed the direction of my life. A bitter divorce from my attorney husband, after having six children, resulted in his vendetta and a vicious custody battle. It was his goal to delete me from the lives of my children. There was a hideous court battle, and lots of vituperation, a deliberate attempt to alienate my children from me…after many, many years, he and his new wife could claim success. I began writing in an attempt to tell my story to my children so that someday they might know the truth. The story had a life of its own, though, and began to envelope my childhood, my search for love, my art career, encompassed in current events and social changes. Whenever I attempted to edit something out, I realized that it had impact on the gestalt of the story. And so it grew like Topsy. The reason it became four volumes is simple; when I finally completed the entire story, I found that I had way too many pages for one book. So I decided to divide the story into three parts, a trilogy if you will, each one encompassing one of my three [yes, three] marriages. Then there was still stuff left over, so voila, the sequel.
Are you working another book– a fifth volume or an unrelated book?
I am working on a kind of a weird project…that evolved from the very complex combination of stories and incidents that make up my “trilogy with a sequel”. I have been separating specific subjects, like the stories of all my many pets, like the story of how I met my husband and all of the adventures we had, like the incredible experience of building houses, like the rich exciting elements of the art world, like gardening, cooking and recipes… My intention is to publish each of these as a short E book, possibly with the intention of publicizing the rest of the series. Who knows? I may even write that series of murder mysteries I have been doodling for these years…
Have your family members read your memoirs? How did they react?
Strangely enough, the response of my family to my books has not been positive. Several have refused to read it at all, some have read only random pages. The degree of animosity towards me is so great, due to the machinations of my former husband and his wife, and the success of their ‘brainwashing’ campaign so fine, that my sincere attempts to share the entire truth was lost. In fact, two of my daughters wrote scathing reviews on Amazon, so nasty that Amazon ultimately removed them. I have written a blog about this entire situation, but have not yet had the nerve to post it anywhere. I can send you a copy…
You’re also an artist. Do you create your own book covers?
Yes. The concept of the book covers was a collage of the members of my family over the years. The small girl in the center of the Book I cover is me, of course.
Have you done many book talks or signings? Do you have any planned for this year?
I have done a cablevision interview, and a book talk and signing at our local East Hampton library, both of which are on video on U tube and on my web site. Last spring I had an art studio open house and book signing at my home, which was really successful. I plan to repeat it again this spring.
You’ve been an artist for more than thirty years. Do you have an artist studio? What kind of artwork do you do? Is your work on display?
I have actually been an artist for over fifty years! I have owned schools and galleries, and at the present time have a large studio in my home. My work can be seen on my website, lynneheffnerferrante.com. I am actually an artist that uses many different mediums; I began as a realist, moved on to impressionism, became interested in abstract later on. I have done realistic figurative sculpture, abstract steel and junk sculpture, assemblage, tesserae mosaics, etchings, monoprints, and so much more.
What is your favorite or least favorite part of writing?
I am not fond of editing and deleting parts. I love falling into that magical zone when words seem to flow out of some deep well of words and phrases seemingly having nothing to do with me. I love the part where disparate arcane paragraphs and pages suddenly rearrange themselves and make sense. I love seeing it all come together.
Do you have a writing routine, a special place where you go to do your writing, or a certain time of day? Do you listen to music while you write, and if so, what kind of music?
I listen to what is called, ‘easy listening’; old favorites, show tunes, forties and fifties, love songs…and watch, or rather use as background sound, any drama on TV. I do my best writing early in the day, before I am distracted by art, garden, or other delights. A good book calling to be read, for example. But I have been known to fantasize or compose in my mind while attempting sleep at night, words and phrases that can not be denied and may not be left until morning upon which I will get out of bed and either scribble it all down in my bedside notebook or boot up and frantically try to recall what I have just done in my mind. It is not about place or time of day, it is about focus and determination.
Are there any writers or artists who inspire you?
Artists…Louise Nevelson, Joseph Cornell, John Chamberlain, Jackson Pollack, the guy who did the paintings in “An Unmarried Woman”; the impressionists…Monet, Van Gogh, Cezanne, Degas. Writers? EL Doctorow, “Ragtime”…I forget the author, but, “Snow Falling on Cedars:. Love the popular murder mystery and suspense novel authors of these days.
Please list any websites or social media links for yourself or your book. Thanks!
My website is lynneheffnerferrante.com; my books are listed on Amazon com “An Untenable Fragrance of Violets”. I am on Facebook. I recently lost my husband, and am recovering from breast cancer, and I have been incredibly remiss in attending to the promotion of my books. I hope to remedy this in the near future.