Welcome to my blog interviews with novelists, poets, short story authors, scriptwriters, biographers, agents, publishers and more. Today’s is with poet, non-fiction and short story author Marguerite Bouvard. A list of interviewees (blogged and scheduled) can be found here. If you like what you read, please do go and investigate further.
Morgen: Hello, Marguerite. Please tell us something about yourself, where you’re based, and how you came to be a writer.
Marguerite: I’m based in Massachusetts and have been writing all my life. But, I began to write poetry when I was in my thirties, when I went to a poetry reading for the first time and thought, “That’s what I’ve been thinking about for years,” and went on to get an MFA.
Morgen: What have you had published to-date?
Marguerite: Six books and two chapbooks of poetry.
Morgen: Are your books available as eBooks?
Marguerite: Only my non-fiction books are e books.
Morgen: Do you think eBooks will change poetry?
Marguerite: Well, most good magazines are online as ezines. So I bought an ipad.
Morgen: They do seem to be heading that way. I think all our dailies here in the UK are available as online subscriptions. Starting with your poetry, do you generally write rhyming or free verse?
Marguerite: Free verse.
Morgen: Do you go to poetry slams? If so, could you tell us how they work?
Marguerite: No, I don’t go to poetry slams. I don’t like them. It doesn’t feel like poetry to me.
Morgen: Do you have a favourite of your poems or topic to write about?
Marguerite: I write about life, love, death, nature, politics. I am a writer of the world, what is happening. I wrote about a starving child in Somalia, what is happening in Haiti, and about my grandchildren.
Morgen: Do you show / read your poems to anyone before you submit?
Marguerite: I always exchange poems with another poet when they are finished.
Morgen: Let me know if he / she would like an interview. 🙂 Why do you think poetry is such a difficult market to break into?
Marguerite: Because there are so many talented writers.
Morgen: Are there any tips you could give to someone wishing to write poetry?
Marguerite: Trust your vision, your voice and yourself. Don’t compare your work to famous poets.
Morgen: Do you do a lot of editing of your poems or do you find that as time goes on your writing is more fully-formed?
Marguerite: I do a little editing, not much, but edit my poems shortly after they are written.
Morgen: I used to write a lot of 60-word stories and found the more I wrote the closer they came out to the word count. It’s obviously not a direct comparison but do you find your poems come out at similar lengths, or do they really vary.
Marguerite: They vary. Right now, I am writing long poems.
Morgen: You also write non-fiction, how do you decide what to write about?
Marguerite: I’m especially drawn to human rights, to subjects people would rather not know about, such as grief, chronic illness. As for human rights, I’ve written about the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo, “Revolutionizing Motherhood; The Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo,” and “Women Reshaping Human Rights; How Extraordinary Women are Changing the World.” My new book that just came out, “The Invisible Wounds of War; Coming Home from Iraq and Afghanistan,” is also a human rights book. It deals with the inadequate health care for our returning veterans and with the fact that more of them commit suicide than die in combat.
Morgen: Do you deal with publishers directly or do you have an editor / agent? Do you think they’re vital to an author’s success?
Marguerite: I deal with publishers and have no problem. I don’t think agents are vital.
Morgen: Have you had any rejections? If so, how do you deal with them?
Marguerite: Every writer has rejections. They don’t bother me because I have so many acceptances.
Morgen: Do you enter competitions?
Marguerite: My first poetry book won a competition, but I don’t enter them anymore.
Morgen: Do you write any fiction, non-fiction or short stories?
Marguerite: I’ve written 12 books of non-fiction and also short stories, lots of articles, chapters, etc.
Morgen: What / who do you read? And is it via eBooks or is it paper all the way?
Marguerite: I do read e books, but the books I really love, I prefer paper. In poetry I only read paper. I read around the world; polish poets, Palestinian poets, Turkish poets and more.
Morgen: Do you do much marketing?
Marguerite: I do marketing these days because publishers don’t do much for authors now. I get on radio shows etc. I sell my books when I give readings. I have been interviewed on TV on Democracy Now, by Amy Goodman onC-Span, on the radio in Baltimore Maryland by an NPR related station (national public radio) in Orlando by an NPR related station, on America Tonight and my book was mentioned by psychologist Joy Brown on her radio station.
Morgen: Congratulations. Did you have any say in the titles of your books? How important do you think they are?
Marguerite: I’ve had a say in all my titles. Titles are important.
Morgen: What are you working on at the moment / next?
Marguerite: I am putting together my seventh book of poems and also articles.
Morgen: Do you manage to write every day? Do you ever suffer from writer’s block?
Marguerite: I don’t write poetry every day, but I write every day. With poetry I suffer from writer’s block. Every poet does.
Morgen: You also write short fiction, are there any differences or similarities between writing non-fiction and fiction?
Marguerite: I do write short stories. But the short stories just pop out the way my poems do. I write funny stories, very different from my non-fiction.
Morgen: Do you plot your stories or do you just get an idea and run with it?
Marguerite: I just get an idea and run with it.
Morgen: Do you have a method for creating your characters, their names and what do you think makes them believable?
Marguerite: My characters are funny human beings with very recognizable traits.
Morgen: 🙂 Do you have to do much research?
Marguerite: Research is part of my life. I love it, and love keeping abreast of what is happening in the world.
Morgen: Do you have pieces of work that you think will never see light of day?
Marguerite: I do. Everyone does. It doesn’t matter.
Morgen: What’s your favourite / least favourite aspect of your writing life? Has anything surprised you?
Marguerite: I zigzag among subjects. The latest book I wrote was really a surprise. I had to learn a lot about the military culture. Every new poem is a surprise.
Morgen: What advice would you give aspiring writers?
Marguerite: Trust yourself, your voice, and don’t compare yourself to other writers. There is room in the world for every writer.
Morgen: If you could invite three people from any era to dinner, whom would you choose?
Marguerite: I am not impressed with fame or success. I like everyone, the cashier at the supermarket, the gardener. Everyone has a story.
Morgen: You’re right, they do, and the best stories are often about someone just like us. If you had to choose a single day from your past to re-live over and over, what day would it be and why?
Marguerite: Every day is a good day. I’ve had a very rich life, not an easy one but a very full one. Time is a gift.
Morgen: Are you involved in anything else writing-related other than actual writing or marketing of your writing? Marguerite: I read voraciously, all topics and attend museum exhibits because art inspires me.
Morgen: What do you do when you’re not writing?
Marguerite: I am a Resident Scholar at the Women’s Studies Research Center, Brandeis University. And I volunteer, design quilts.
Morgen: I volunteer to (with the donated books for my local British Red Cross shop… I’m just off there now, actually). Are you on any forums or networking sites?
Marguerite: This is new for me. I just got on Twitter for my latest non-fiction book.
Morgen: Where can we find out about you and your work?
Marguerite: My website (http://www.brandeis.edu/centers/wsrc/scholars/profiles/Bouvard.html), Twitter and Amazon.
Morgen: Thank you, Marguerite. I look forward to spotlighting you in a couple of weeks.
I then invited Marguerite more details about her latest book ‘The Unpredictability of Light’ and this is what others have said about it…
“Marguerite Guzman Bouvard’s nourishing poems and spirit are woven carefully and with insight into all aspects of the human journey This generous poet, champion of our connectedness, helps make “our present time more bearable,” and lifts us up. This is a wonderful book.” Naomi Shihab Nye
“Full hearted and rich in spiritual insight, Marguerite Guzman Bouvard’s poems combine the everyday world with the ineffable. She writes of loss and its aftermath in ways that surprise and heal, gently and insistently urging us to accept the challenge of “being what you were meant to be.” I am grateful for the work she has produced in this new collection.” Floyd Skloot
Margaret will be back, on my main blog, as my one hundred and seventy-eighth author spotlights on Wednesday 6th March.
If you are reading this and you write, in whatever genre, and are thinking “ooh, I’d like to do this” then you can… just email me and I’ll send you the information. They do now (January 2013) carry a fee (£10 / €12.50 / $15) for the new interviews on the mixed blog but everything else (see Opportunities on the main blog) is free.
Alternatively, if you’d like a free Q&A-only interview, I now have this blog, https://morgensauthorinterviews.wordpress.com, on which I’ve rerun the original interviews posted here then posted new interviews which I then reblog here. These interviews are Q&A only, so I don’t add in my comments but they do get exposure on both sites.
If you go for the interview, it’s very simple; I send you a questionnaire (I have them for novelists, short story authors, children’s authors, non-fiction authors, and poets). You complete the questions, and I let you know when it’s going to go live. Before it does so, I add in comments as if we’re chatting, and then they get posted. When that’s done, I email you with the link so you can share it with your corner of the literary world. And if you have a writing-related blog / podcast and would like to interview me… let me know.
** NEW!! You can now subscribe to the main blog on your Kindle / Kindle app!
or http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B008E88JN0 for outside the UK **
You can sign up to receive these blog posts daily or weekly so you don’t miss anything. You can contact me and find me on the internet, view my Books (including my debut novel, which is serialised on Novel Nights In!) and I also have a blog creation / maintenance service especially for, but not limited to, writers. If you like this blog, you can help me keep it running by donating and choose an optional free eBook.
For writers / readers willing to give feedback and / or writers wanting feedback, take a look at the main blog’s Feedback page.
As I post an interview a day (amongst other things) I can’t unfortunately review books but I have a list of those who do. I welcome items for critique for the online writing groups, and their associated Facebook groups, listed below:
Morgen’s Online Non-Fiction Writing Group
Morgen’s Online Novel Writing Group
Morgen’s Online Poetry Writing Group
Morgen’s Online Script Writing Group
Morgen’s Online Short Story Writing Group
We look forward to reading your comments.