Interview with Margaret O'Neill Lamont

How do you feel about Plagiarism ?
Murderous.
How is writing freeing ?
It's a joy.
What are your five favorite books, and why?
" Snow, " " The Year of The Flood, " " One Day of Life, " and " The Corrections. " " The Night Circus, " " A Constellation of Vital Phenomena, " " Craft Cookbook, " and " Baking - From My Home to Yours." That's eight. Let's not forget Bruce Chatwin or Nahguib Mahfooz. Plus " The Quiet American," Nine. " Smilla's Sense of Snow. " Ten.
I like George Sand. Maria Stone Wollencroft. I think I misspelled that.
Why Margaret Atwood ?
She went to Comic Con in S.F and emerged hours later " covered in glitter and scales," what's NOT to like ?!? Everything about her work speaks to me. It's true and I giggle uncontrollably when she skewers much venerated institutions.
What do your fans mean to you?
What fans ? Just kidding. They're the people who I write for. Their feedback is important to me as a writer and as some one whose sharing ideas and concepts publicly. If it weren't for them, we'd be on a soapbox writing for ourselves.
What's your writing process like ?
Like anything else, it gets better with practice, effort, and time. I sometimes just let the ideas flow and write badly because I know it's important to get one idea down, then the next follows, then the next, and then - " I'm getting somewhere here." I take really annoying people I've met, really amazing people, personal events and transform them. I loosen the reigns on myself, ones I've created and ones Modern America has instilled in my mind with a relentless Media onslaught that everything will be ALRIGHT if I just buy more products or accept more propaganda. I take my victories and failures and show them to the reader. I try to engage my readers senses, memory, emotions, and intellect. It's work, but it's fun work when I can tell my negative self-talk to piss off. I repeat themes from "Master" Writers - Frank Herbert, actually not repeat, but riff on or embroider. So many strange things happening to me, I often have to isolate myself for protection, for my own peace of mind. Then I miss life and trust and force myself out of my comfort zone again. A great impatience is part of writing for me. The desire for exploring concepts and being completely frustrated by things being dumbed down.
How do you approach cover design?
As a beginner ! This tactic of taking on technology I was unfamiliar with failed and I created a cover I wasn't happy with. Now I have a great e-book cover designer. Looking forward to her final product, and actually the entire creative process of design collaboration.
What happened to the rest of your answer ?
I really couldn't say. Maybe filtered for delicate readers ? I didn't think my answer was censorship material.
Why do you include descriptions of food in your writing ?
It's pleasurable to me, and also, as I said, I like 2 engage my readers senses. Also it's familiar.
Why aren't you vegan ? No, why did you choose to self-publish a novel without approval ?
I stopped asking for peoples permission. I wrote what I felt like.
Why writing at all ?
Because I can take what's in my head and put it on the page, it's much safer on the page.
What's your aim as an author ?
To take the reader somewhere better. Not worse.
What do you read for pleasure?
Everything. Amy Tan is a favorite, William Gibson, and Neil Gaimon are big hits.
Why did you create a character w/ PTSD in Mission To Cyma ?
I've experienced PTSD, and tried to help family members who suffer greatly from it. I feel compassion for War Veterans whose lives are uprooted from it. Jack Henderson is a survivor and overcomes immense odds to reintegrate.
How Did Margaret Atwood influence your writing ?
She jumped genres. From modern fiction such as " The Handsmaid's Tale " to " Cat's Eye, " and " The Robber Bride, "
to " Alias Grace. " Then there was " Oryx and Crake, " ( this isn't chronological but her Science Fiction gained immense notoriety and accolades after her Fiction did. ) She delves into the personal and political. I felt " Cat's Eye " was her most personal work, " Oryx and Crake, " and " The Year of The Flood " her most visionary.
" Alias Grace " was a novel I.Could.Not.Put.Down. She intersects class, history, and character.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
The ability to be creative and show my perspective to the world; there's a playfulness to it, not following the rules, writing about taboo ideas, events in history, etc. I like using hyperbole, dreams ( descriptions of dreams that the character is having ) - this is a writing technique that's been so fun, and narration changes. If I can make my reader laugh, I'm happy.
What is your writing process?
That's a good question. There was a series on NPR recently about authors different styles. I won't say the style of writer I am, just that the ideas come fast, I take some notes, and I'm off. There's no tortured writers block, for which I'm endlessly grateful. I kept telling people that " It's not Hemingway, " and " It's entertaining. " I don't have illusions that it's on par with seasoned writers work, or some very well crafted and edited modern fiction. There's so much flooding the market, it's difficult to discern what true fiction is anymore. It does tell a good story though, and the prose is precise and well-thought out. It's not hackneyed, or cliched. Usually. Lol. "Mission to Cyma" has several different perspectives; from an Asian-American family, a female Marine, a nurse, a disgruntled psychiatrist, an anthropologist, a released prisoner, a cook...I took people from my life and made them into my characters. I'm in there, if you know me, you can detect it. I bit my nails worrying that some relatives would disown me if they read it - that's why those characters are people you'd love, because I love them. I asked people's permission. I didn't want people I respect and relatives to have heart-stopping shocks like I've had. The cannibalistic usery that's out there. With some characters, I let it it slide ( my vetting and asking permission ) - those were people that crossed boundaries with me in a major way.
What is your e-reading device of choice?
The Kindle Fire I received as last years Xmass present
What book marketing techniques have been most effective for you?
I'm still new to this, but I'd say Google and Amazon Searches.
Describe your desk
An antique of my Aunt Anne's, I think it's Mahagony in early 20th Century style, it's veneered to resist scratches - so no worries there. I have a tiny blue glass whale from my twin sister perched on the base of a rose colored chinese paper lamp, pictures of interest on the wall behind my Apple Computer, and lots of papers that go into an intray and then grow wings and fly all over the desk. 3 drawers with important things in them, I went on a tear and emptied them mercilessly. It's a pretty antique, from my Aunt Anne's house in Canton, N.Y.
What's the story behind your latest book?
I'm not quite sure, but I saw a Yahoo New's story about an " Earth -Like " Planet called Keplar -186 which was discovered recently by NASA. The news story stuck in my head, and soon I was thinking about writing a Science Fiction Story about it, and for the first six months, the story just flowed out and wrote itself.
What are you working on next?
Another apocalyptic Science Fiction novel, this time with a more personalized story.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
Cooking, watching film and some of the great new series out there, eating out with friends, spending time with my family. Shopping at thrift stores, traveling, going to bookstores, looking for new Yoga clothes. I love being by the water. I like looking at Victorian style houses and dreaming of living in one...I look at photography, too. Reading. Reading a lot. Walking. Talking to friends. I find I drive A LOT. My blue beast, a beat up Nissan that was oh so gorgeous in it's youth, fresh off the lot, has seen a lot of miles. I never want to sell it ( lol ), trade it, or see it die. A gift for some very hard work. The steering wheel has gone weird and the alignments off. The hub caps look like some one put them in a blender. I spilled raw pumpkin cheescake in the back seat and my neice and nephew had to sit on my yoga mat. My family does NOT like getting rides from me, my parents tolerate it with stiff upper lips. One time my entire family was crammed into it and the silence was deadly. I think they were counting the seconds until they could flee out of it, my brother especially. My car has some olfactory ghost or something.
How do you discover the ebooks you read?
The Kindle search option or by looking on Google or Amazon
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
Yes, it was called " Karen, 120 mph. " It was about a young woman in her first relationship. Karen was actually me. My writing class HATED it, except for the guys in the class. It was slightly, IDK, racy. I was taking the class at Harvard Extension School, my classmates were just married with their first babies, and wrote about things like the Hutch in their dining rooms having a huge metaphorical significance in the style of Raymond Carver.
Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
Oddly enough it was a bible story in an illustrated Golden Books series. The letters looked like Arabic because I didn't really know how to read yet. I was four. It was the story of Joseph.
Best Advice To New Writers
Do what you love, write about what you're passionate about and know, and don't let negative people deflate your enthusiasm. Easier said than done, but taking steps in new directions requires bravery, not listening to criticism that strikes you as too stringent or coming from an unhelpful source.
What motivated you to write an E-book ?
I wanted my story read and heard, no matter if a publisher wanted to contract or not. If we stay invisible because main stream media outlets are unavailable, where does that leave an author w/ a good, well-written story ? Yes, I'm saying that about my work. I've seen E-books w/ glaring, ridiculous grammatical errors and very hackneyed prose, off-tune, like a middle school Orchestra whose trumpet section sounds like - IDK, a comedy sketch. I'm a professional ! Lol.
How has Smashwords contributed to your success?
Getting the novel out there on on the web, making it public was a huge, huge positive step in the right direction.
Are you a feminist and does that affect your writing ?
Yes. To be clear, that doesn't mean I hate men. On the contrary. I feel men are equally expected to fit themselves into narrow roles that they're taught. Think of the pain of fighting in a war you don't believe in - Vietnam. Then being arrested if you go awol because you know the chances of killing or being killed are so high.
Do you approach race or racism in the novel ?
I tried to. From my first hand experiences of being judged for being white, blue-eyed, and blond. I think there is " reverse racism ." Also from my knowledge that I'd internalized racist points of view through osmosis, despite my Liberal upbringing and education. I always felt that I was color blind, that I saw people for who they were, not how they looked. Yet my holding my purse tighter when alone & passing a black man on the street told me differently. A slight, almost unconcious movement.
The media often portrays black criminals, so the shabbily dressed young black man tapping on my window was frightening when in fact he was informing me that there was twenty minutes still on the metered spot in front of my car. My embarassment and shame about that experience is still with me. Even though I was reacting in part to having the window of my car tapped by a stranger. Taking my seat belt off, look up and there's a man tapping on the window. As a woman that's somewhat intimidating.
Some of the kindest, smartest people I've met have been " People of color." Though I've also encountered those who hated me because of what I represent, just because I was white. Political correctness at times muzzles people, then we have art that encourages us to express ourselves.
What is your favorite type of book and why ?
That's a hard question to answer. I read constantly. Cookbooks, Fiction, Mystery -Thrillers like Dennis Lehane's work, Science Fiction ( both vintage and modern), newspapers such as the Boston Globe, New York Times, and Washington Post. I read fashion magazines occasionally, People or Star once in awhile, and comic books when the mood strikes. I've started reading E-books more and more & just finished " The Heart Goes Last, " by Margaret Atwood. Brilliant, hilarious, depiction of a Utopian/ Dystopian U.S and an eerily nefarious community set up by entrepreneurs who capitalize off of a near-future economic collapse. She portrays a frightening future in a similar way that George Orwell reveals a tyranny in the novel "1984. " I think Orwell was drawing from corrupt Communist regimes history, a Big Brother State.
How far are we from that now ? As a wage-slave, have you noticed that you're on camera most of the time at work ?
Whose watching ? And why ? What are they looking for ? The obvious answers are theft, sabotage, workers shirking duties, and infractions of the established rules of a particular business. Yet, despite the need to monitor those specific actions - does it have to be on camera ? What's the effect of being under surveillance, from your place of work, from an abusive person in your personal life, during incarceration, or from the state - long-term ? These are questions Atwood addresses brilliantly in the novel. The humor is searingly apt. I discovered a cynicism in " The Heart Goes Last, " that I hadn't noticed so much before; a deeper, harder kind of cynicism. The kind that reveals the basest human flaws. It ain't pretty, when she pulls out the stops. Watch out ! Man-o-war. Or should I say Woman-O-War ? Foot long, trailing, blistering tentacles that stun the prey, in this case, the reader.
Published 2016-07-26.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

Serious Times
Price: $7.99 USD. Words: 80,740. Language: English. Published: April 25, 2016. Categories: Fiction » Science fiction » Apocalyptic, Fiction » Adventure » Action
Another apocalyptic, post - millenial gem from two-time author Margaret Lamont. Science Fiction, fantasy, adventure, romance, the paranormal, religious ritual, and a Black Ops mission all intersect in this smooth flowing read. Serious Times is the story of redemption for a young Latina woman who commits muder to protect herself, resilience for a family struck by death and illness, and survival.
Mission To Cyma
Price: $7.99 USD. Words: 90,210. Language: English. Published: April 30, 2015. Categories: Fiction » Science fiction » Hard sci-fi
Mission To Cyma is a Science-Fiction 'Novella' with elegant prose, the tale of an adventurous race across the Universe to preserve Earth's failing culture after WWIII. Two worlds collide, that of the Marines and Scientists aboard the Survey Ship ' The Magic, ' and the Psi dissident colony that developed over two hundred years on Planet Cyma. Spell-binding plot twists.