Thursday, May 14, 2015

Heritage Publishing, 2015

BB: Hello, Sylvia! Welcome to The Borrowed Book. Do you ever read your dialogue aloud to see how it sounds? And have you ever performed an action you want one of your characters to carry out in order to help you visualize or describe it?

Bambola: I actually read the entire manuscript out loud. It’s amazing how those awkward words or phrases will jump off the page! And yes, especially the dialogue. Hearing it lets me know, in short order, if it’s stilted, awkward, fake, or doesn’t resonate with my particular character. I rarely perform the actions of my characters. But what I do is visualize each scene as though I’m watching a movie. I literally see it in my mind’s eye, how my characters move, their facial expressions, their emotions. If it all seems realistic and possible, then I go ahead and put this vision to paper. If not, I rework the scene in my mind.

BB: What aspect of being a writer is the most challenging for you? What steps have you taken to overcome this hurdle?

Bambola: Hands down, the most difficult aspect of being a writer is the marketing—a problem since marketing is a big part of a writer’s life. It’s absolutely necessary if we want to sell books. And traditional publishers expect this from their authors. Only problem, most writers want to write not participate in the business end of things. So what to do?  For me, overcoming this problem meant I had to get over myself and realize that both writing and marketing are “all as unto the Lord.”

BB: If you felt the Holy Spirit urging you to quit writing, would you do it?

Bambola: Without a doubt, “yes.” For me, writing is a ministry and would have very little meaning if God were not in it.

BB: If you’re a plotter, have you ever tried pantsing it? If you’re a pantser, have you ever given plotting a try?

Bambola: I’m definitely a pantser but I have tried plotting as well and found it too restricting. I want to be surprised by the story line and by my characters, and for me pantsing works best. That’s not to say I don’t have some idea where the story is going, because I do, especially when writing historical fiction since research of the times and events will dictate where you go. My recent novel, The Salt Covenants, takes place in 1493 Spain when the Inquisition is in full swing. What would happen if a young Jewess, who had converted to Christianity, suddenly came under the scrutiny of an inquisitor? Would she flee? Would she go to a new land with someone like Christopher Columbus, and could she reasonably go by herself or would she have to be accompanied by a man? And if yes, would that man be a husband? A brother? A father? The answer to these questions, and others, restricted where I could go in my novel. But even when writing historicals I’m a paster and generally am surprised by some of my plot twists. And I hope my readers are too. 

BB: Does your best writing flow? Or are you most satisfied with the work that you’ve labored over, sweating and groaning?

Bambola: I’d love to say that inspiration carries the day, when words flow so beautifully and freely that my fingers can’t type them fast enough, but for me this doesn’t happen often. In reality, my writing feels more like pushing wet concrete hill, very labor intensive and often frustrating. So I’d have to say usually my best work comes only after hours of much labor and groaning and sometimes even sweating.

BB: Do you prefer writing the initial draft, or do you enjoy the revision process more? Do you revise as you write, or do you first produce a big mess that you later have to fix? If your first draft is rough, do you have to cut out a lot of dead wood, or add flesh to the bare bones?

Bambola: I don’t think there’s anything more intimidating to a writer than that dreaded blank page. The purpose of my first draft is to fill pages, get my characters from point A to point B, and make sure that where they are going and where the plot is going are rational and believable. Is it a big mess? Actually, it’s more like some nasty thing you’d scrape off your shoe. Usually I have very little dead wood to cut, just a lot of flesh to add. But that’s the process I really LOVE. For me it’s a joy to see my characters come alive, to begin breathing on their own and to see the plot actually develop in a way that carries the story smoothly from scene to scene. 

Author Bio:

Sylvia Bambola
Sylvia Bambola is the award winning authored of seven novels, has two grown children, teaches women’s Bible studies, and is learning the guitar. Born in Romania, Bambola lived her early years in Germany. At seven she relocated with her adopted family and saw the Statue of Liberty and America for the first time. But the memory of those years in post World War Germany inspired her to write Refiner’s Fire, which won a Silver Angel Award, and was a Christy Finalist. Publishers Weekly, in their starred review, called Bambola’s latest novel, The Salt Covenants, “transcendent” and “beautifully written” while Library Journal says it “adeptly depicts a time and place not often explored in Christian historical fiction.”

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