Dramatis Personae: YOU (Gentle Reader), ME (Christine Plouvier)
Setting: A gathering for readers and writers, on a summer evening in the garden of Chris, The Story Reading Ape (TSRA). Colorful lanterns are strung between the trees. Conversation groups of hammocks, tree bole benches and stools, and wicker seating crafted by the great Ape himself, stand near braziers of glowing coals and tables holding punch bowls, carafes, and thermos flasks. Pots of flowers, bowls of nuts, baskets of fruits, platters of vegetables, boards of cheese, plates of piled pastries and towers of chocolate truffles stand everywhere. As the moon rises, its image walks on the rippling surface of a large pond. A speaker with a microphone finishes a reading – a recitation of poetry – and after the applause dies away, a band of chimps on a raft in the pond play gentle percussion music, which blends with the peeping of frogs in the rushes that ring the shore. The crowd disperses for refreshments, and you and I introduce ourselves when we meet at a table where I’m topping up my mug of cocoa.
ME: TSRA warned me the breeze off the water can be chilly. Would you like some cocoa, too?
YOU: Yes, please. I left my jacket in the car, but every time I thought of going to get it, another writer got up to read.
ME: I’m from Indiana, so I’m always dragging around a sweater or an umbrella. Let’s park ourselves where it’s warm, before somebody else picks up the mike. If you’ll lead the way with our drinks, I’ll wheel myself after you.
YOU: Will do. How’s this? (We sit between a brazier and a table of snacks.) It’s marvelous how TSRA knows how to gather so many talented people together.
ME: This is fine. Yes, TSRA has a talent for talent. I was quite carried away by the imagery of that last poet’s verses.
YOU: Do you write poetry?
ME: Not often, but when I do publish some on my blog, it seems to be popular. How about you?
YOU: I’ve scribbled a little – free verse, mostly. I’ve never shown it to anyone. What kind do you write?
ME: My favorite is concrete verse. My reinterpretations of Chinese poems usually come out that way, but I also write in quatrains. I put some limericks in my first novel, too.
YOU: Limericks? In a novel? What were they about?
ME: Queen Medb of Connacht, a mythical Irish queen. A character recites the poems in a scene about a talent show.
YOU: Kind of like tonight. So, is your book about Irish people?
ME: Mostly. It’s also about an American. When the Library of Congress added the book to their collection, they catalogued it as American Literature.
YOU: Those book genres aren’t always very helpful. Sometimes I have trouble finding good books to read.
ME: Me, too. My novel crosses genre lines, so it’s been difficult to put it in a category that helps people find it.
YOU: When I’m commuting on the bus, I like to bring a short book I can carry easily, but to relax in the evenings, I’m partial to bigger, more complex stories. What genres does your book mix?
ME: Let’s see … supernatural … romantic … psychological … inspirational … contemporary women … Boomer lit, too.
YOU: What a combination! It must keep your readers hopping!
ME: I hope they like reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it. The research on the setting and characters was fascinating.
YOU: To me, a book has to be a likely story – something plausible – even if it’s supernatural. What’s yours called?
ME: Irish Firebrands. Readers have said nice things about the authenticity – one especially liked the Irish phrases, although another reported skipping over them. But everything’s translated, too, so nobody misses anything important.
YOU: Sounds unique. I’ll look for it. These pastries are delicious. I can’t believe they’re gluten-free. Do you want some?
ME: Yes, please. TSRA’s a real gourmet. When he learned that I have to eat gluten-free, he said he knew of a great gluten-free baker, and he phoned in an order, right then. He takes good care of his guests.
YOU: That reminds me. I’ve got celery sticks in my pocket that I need to finish. They’re so fresh and crispy, I put them away, so my crunching wouldn’t drown out the poet’s voice! I hope you don’t mind the noise.
ME: Not at all! I squirreled away a handful of those big cashews before that reading began. I’d better eat them now, before they leave a grease stain on my pocket.
YOU: So, what are you doing, in this neighborhood?
ME: I’m researching my work-in-progress, and when I stopped by TSRA’s nest, to say hello, he invited me to the soiree.
YOU: That’s TSRA, for you. One big-hearted ape. So, you’re writing another book? Is it set in Ireland, again?
ME: Yes, during the Rising, Anglo-Irish War, and Civil War, but it’s also about the Great War, and Weimar Germany.
YOU: That covers a lot of ground! I enjoy historical novels. They make me feel like I’m learning something. Will your new book be finished soon? Has it a name?
ME: It’s called The Passions of Patriots. But it’s a long story, and I’m a slow writer, so it won’t be out for a while, yet.
YOU: I guess I’ll read your first book, while I’m waiting. Listen to those chimps! I wonder where TSRA found them.
ME: He’s a great patron of all the arts – and he’s an artist, himself. If you decide to publish your poems, and don’t do your own book cover and trailer, TSRA does those kinds of things.
YOU: You know, you’ve almost convinced me to do it!
ME: Hey, don’t hide your light. There’s always room for more art – especially for good books.
YOU: You’ve got a point. I’ll open that poetry file again tomorrow, and see what I’ve got ready to publish.
ME: I used a print-on-demand outfit for paperbacks, and an aggregator to distribute e-books. The formatting wasn’t hard to do, but if you have questions, I’ll be glad to share my experience.
YOU: Thanks. Here’s my card. Do you have one?
ME: Here you go. When you’re online, if you visit any of my blogs, I’d be glad to have your comments.
YOU: Wow, three blogs and a book in progress. You’re busy.
ME: I’m not too busy to talk with friends about reading or writing.
The best way to find out more about me is to explore my Blogs:
Irish Firebrands (articles about the book, the writing process, and pep talks for writers)
The Passions of Patriots (articles about the writing process, things learned from research for the novel, book reviews)
Fusion Fiction (an author promotion site, for writers of mixed-genre fiction)
I’m also on: