Interview with Joyce Mason

What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
Writing is breathing for me. The word inspire means to breathe in. Somehow at an early age, I found my connection to All That Is through writing--my ability to tap into the One Mind or collective consciousness. I love being a channel of that flow. It's often surprising, exhilarating and humorous. I wake up wondering what the universe will say through me next.

I see myself as a writer-weaver. Experiences are like colorful bits in the kaleidoscope of living. Twist the dial a little and the bits fall in a different way, tell a new story, reveal a new insight. I weave the meaning together by writing about it. There's nothing new under the Sun, only the way we remix and interpret the rays. The joy is the ongoing discovery of the meaning of life.
What do your fans mean to you?
I think of enthusiastic readers of my writing as friends and New Millennium pen-pals. I am still friends with one of my pen-pals I first met when I was 12 years old. All those letters and numerous pals honed my skills, and I had no idea I was rehearsing for the Information Age and an electronic way of connecting with so many wonderful people. Then on my typewriter, now on my keyboard: I'm still tapping out observations about life and how to live it to the fullest.

I love writing so much; I'd write if no one read my work but me ... but I'm so glad to share it with others, and I'm always honored when they choose to read my work and are inspired by what I have to say. Connection is my life's blood, and it's that connection--enjoying and "getting" each other--that means the world to me.
Who are your favorite authors?
Janet Evanovich for pure romp humor and Alexander McCall Smith for charm. I'm a diehard fan of the No. 1 Ladies' Detective series. I listen to them as audiobooks, read by the delightful actress, Lisette Lecat. What I love most about the series (and also the too-short-lived HBO mini-series) is the way Mma Ramotswe is really a social worker and problem solver as much as a detective. I see a lot of myself in her. I also love the simpler life in Botswana described in these books. It takes me back to my childhood.

I'm also a fan of memoirs and love David Sedaris. Humorous mysteries, including books about the mysteries of life, are what I both write and enjoy reading. I can enjoy a new author as much as a famous one who has been writing for years. It's all about the storytelling and the fun.
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
That's easy. My computer calling me to discover more about life through writing.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
Here's where I could almost quote Janet Evanovich and say ditto: "I'm a boring workaholic." I said almost ...

I have a loving husband and whiny cat who get most of my attention when I'm not typing ...and absolutely fabulous friends. We hang out, laugh and talk about the mysteries of life. I'm also an astrologer, and while I'm not doing readings these days to focus on my career as a novelist, I belong to a wonderful "star tribe" and attend monthly educational events. I belong to a couple of women's circles, do Jazzercise, and I am a real film lover. Don't have to leave home to enjoy those nowadays with our home theater, but I still like to see the "big" movies in that setting, such as Avatar, which I saw at the IMAX. Wow!

And did I mention reading? I love to read and write--but I've never been so hot at 'rithmetic.
How do you discover the ebooks you read?
I mostly get referrals from friends--and in the past year, a gift of an ebook from a friend. This is delightful, as I get turned onto many books I would never read otherwise. For instance, a fellow author, Cindy Sample, told me about Liz Jasper's Underdead books. I have never had any desire to read a vampire book, but Cindy said Liz and I have a similar sense of humor. She was right! They may be the only vampire books I read, but they were a romp. The book my friend gifted me was Wormwood by Susan Wittig Albert. The protagonist is an herbalist--as is my friend--and it's a mystery that takes place among the Shakers. I was fascinated, and again, this is not a book I'd have ever picked up on my own.

I'm on a lot of mailings from Amazon and other lists, I belong to GoodReads, so I have a good opportunity to see what's out there ... but, again, word of mouth is still the best advertising for this reader. Not to mention that I belong to two writing organizations that have some terrific authors. I like supporting them and discovering the writers in my own backyard.
What is your writing process?
I write down ideas. Most of them I develop in some way. I rely heavily on my over-the-top intuition. For instance, the first of my trio of short stories, Matters of Life, Death and Laughter, begins: "There was a toe in her taco." I can't tell you the faith and sense of humor it took to follow the thread of that line, given to me from out of left field, by a universe that apparently likes to use my sense of humor for its own purposes.

I'm a composite writer when it comes to outlining versus seat-of-the-pants creation. I usually get a skeletal idea (especially around Halloween), which I write down. I continue to work and play with it until it has flesh. I often find whole arms and legs (scenes) and write them--sometimes even a toe. Then I weave them together as I go. I often don't know whodunnit till I'm at least a quarter or more into it, and sometimes it changes during the course of the story. I really feel the story tells itself to me. It took me many years to turn my sensitivity and psychic nature into an asset. Now I believe in it totally and just follow the hints until the story is whole. It's like having a Divine Mother that still reads me stories. I wake up every morning wondering what I'll "hear" today.
How do you approach cover design?
I get very explicit ideas of what I want to see on my covers. I often find most of the art. Fortunately, I have discovered a cover artist who likes to co-create with me and sew it all together. We have developed a wonderful synergy. The cover of The Crystal Ball exceeded my expectations, which is tough, because I'm a hard grader! And, I admit, a perfectionist.

The cover of a book is its most important marketing piece. I think it has to show what the book is about in a nutshell, like a five-second visual trailer. I like working with artists that understand that the book has to reflect my vision and the book's main messages ... but I definitely want his or her opinion, expertise and additional ideas. Sometimes an artist can understand my vision better than I do. I need flexibility.

Here's the test. A man I know, another indie publisher, is very particular. He took one look at the cover of The Crystal Ball and said, "I will buy and read this book." That's what I'm going for. And something that conveys the main components of the story. In the case of The Crystal Ball: a costume party, futuristic, a mystery and humor.
What are your five favorite books, and why?
1. The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint Exupery. It's an adult fairy tale about what really matters in life, namely love and friendship. Nothing quite like it. Used a reading from it at my first wedding/marriage.

2. Illusions by Richard Bach. It's another fable about a modern-day mechanic and reluctant Messiah. Tons of wisdom and quotable bits of it. I have worn out my copy typing those quotes to friends in emails.

3. The Pagan Christ by Tom Harpur. The most important spiritual book I've ever read. It explains why the metaphorical Jesus is even more powerful and "true" than the literal Jesus, who was probably not quite like he has been described by his authors. Written by a Biblical scholar, this book verified all I've learned about spirituality by making a scholarly case for how the metaphors and parables are what can really unite rather than divide when it comes to religion.

4. Every Goy's Guide to Common Jewish Expressions by Arthur Naiman. Oy, I know it's an odd choice. I grew up Catholic in a Jewish neighborhood. All my friends spoke in Yiddishisms. I consider these words among the pithiest and most wonderful I know. I forget how to spell them, and every time I look one up, I get such a delight, especially from the author's comparisons of what is Jewish and what is "goyish." Example: "Computers are Jewish. Rifles are goyish. California is goyish. France is Jewish." Who knew?

5. The MIchael Handbook by Jose Stevens, Ph.D. and Simon Warwick-Smith. These teachings are "a channeled system for self-understanding" and contain my favorite creation myth ever. Those who channel the MIchael oversoul say that the Tao got lonely and created sparks of itself for company. The sparks (that's you and me) would be cast out without memory of who they are, and the game is to use their creativity to come back to the Tao or the ultimate bonfire of Creative Oneness. Strongly paraphrased but greatly synthesized. If you're spirited, spiritual and/or creative, what's not to love?

What a telling exercise. I read a lot, and my faves certainly share a theme that's laughably like what I write about.
What do you read for pleasure?
People magazine and as many humorous mysteries as my Kindle can hold and my eyeballs can absorb.
Published 2013-10-24.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

Matters of Life, Death and Laughter
Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 8,340. Language: English. Published: October 14, 2013. Categories: Fiction » Anthologies » Short stories - single author, Fiction » Themes & motifs » Spiritual & metaphysical
Matters of Life, Death and Laughter is a trio of Joyce Mason's most popular short stories and a sampler of her fiction. "Digital" tells a bizarre and darkly humorous tale about something that turns up where it doesn’t belong. "The Training Tape" asks you to think about what you say repeatedly and its effects. "Zoe's Hair" examines the depth of friendship and how it transcends time.