Wednesday, July 13, 2011

INTERVIEW WITH JAN MARQUART


INTERVIEW WITH JAN MARQUART,
AUTHOR OF "VOICES FROM THE LAND"


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1. Tell us about your latest release.
Voices From the Land came out April 19, 2011.


It is a historical novel about a town newly forming in the Southwest around the time that President Lincoln freed the slaves (1860). The voices are the residents of this town, how they got there, what they went through and how they built the town despite the violence and struggles that ensued.

2. How did the book come about?

In 2006 an intuitive told me to sit on my newly purchased five acres in Lamy, NM with pen and paper because spirits living on the land wanted me to record their stories. Now I’ve had experiences with spirits or ghosts in the past having once lived in a 100 year old water tank, but this request seemed to put me way outside the box when it came to writing, so I kept putting the experience off. But one hot fall day in October 2008, I traipsed out to the land to a section of hundred year old pinon and juniper trees at the end of my property. This was the area that I originally discussed with the intuitive because every time I sat in the middle of the trees I felt a strong energy, spirit-like. I meditated and prayed for healing and felt renewed when I got back to the house. Not only that, every friend and visitor I took back to that section mentioned the strong spirit-energy and those who were ill called me the next morning to tell me they felt healthier after having stood in the middle of the circle of trees. In the Introduction to Voices From the Land, I explain the details about how the stories came through me. In eleven days I had 97 pages of stories from a handful of voices. Together these stories made up Voices From the Land. When I handed out the manuscript to four friends and neighbors, not one would return the manuscript. When I asked them why, they said they had to have it because it was powerful. One of my friends wrote the Foreword for the book and encouraged me to one day get it published. But because I didn’t feel as if I was the one who really wrote it I felt insecure about putting it ‘out there’.

3. Have you always lived in New Mexico? What drew you to that area?

I lived in California for 32 years but when my home was ravaged and destroyed from black mold, and an apartment flooded, and yet a third new home made me extremely ill from formaldehyde, I knew I had to leave all behind and get out of California. I rented one room in a house for 13 months trying to get well enough to travel. When I succeeded in that I closed my psychotherapy business and thought about leaving the town I loved. Financially, I didn’t have the money to buy again and I didn’t like being homeless so I headed to NM. I had been to Santa Fe and Taos before and decided to go to Santa Fe where I found an adobe home and five acres to purchase in Lamy, a small town 15 minutes southeast of Santa Fe and before Galisteo where I hoped to heal from the mold and chemical poisoning. But the energy there just wasn’t right for me to stay. Terrible things started happening to me. I was stalked and stolen from regularly for almost three years by an ex-fiancĂ©. I was sued by a neighbor I helped after she was hit by her boyfriend and too many other horror stories to tell about. It was my writing that kept me going and in many ways the transmission of Voices From the Land made me wonder if perhaps the documentation of those stories weren’t the reason for my being there. Once the book was finished, my home sold. Living in NM was by far the strangest list of experiences I’ve ever had. I also wrote four other books and two booklets there. It was the perfect writer’s life despite everything that happened to me there. Looking back on it, everything had a healing quality to it, even the horrible things that happened. I believe I have healed many aspects of myself, my writing and my life by living there for six years. I am a different woman now.

4. Describe your writing regimen for us.

My writing regimen has changed, although I never set out to have a regimen per se. I started writing daily in a notebook back in 1972 when I had first gone to college in California. I told a new friend Tammi that I was lonely for my family and friends back in Brooklyn. She told me to get a journal and write and become my own best friend. So I did. Somehow that gave a hidden part of me wings. I have wanted to be a writer since my mother bought me a Girl Scout diary when I was about 8 or so. So from 1972 until about the 80’s I wrote every morning with a cup of tea. Then I started branching out and wrote during lunch hours or before bed. In 1989, I wrote a book, Meeting the Moon, a Journal Notebook for Reclaiming Your Emotions, now out of print, for my therapy clients in recovery from substance abuse. I have written every day for decades. I don’t always know exactly what time I will write. I just know I will write. I do journal writing with a pen. I love the feel of the pen against the paper. Sometimes I set my intention to write about something to expand my ideas on that subject and sometimes I free write. Either way, I am usually amazed at what winds up flowing onto the page. Writing by hand is powerful and different than typing. My books, however, are written on the computer because I think too fast when I write books and my typing speed is 90wpm. So it is more effective for me to use the computer when I’m in the flow of a story in book form. I have to say I enjoy a typewriter more because there are fewer things to go wrong when I’m in the middle of a thought. I only bought a computer in the mid to late 90’s when friends got fed up with my cutting and pasting paragraphs spread out on my living room floor.

5. You write a lot and have published many titles and articles. What motivates you to write so much?

That’s difficult to identify. I’d like to say its inspiration--and sometimes it is--but my prolific writing comes about more from an internal need, like breathing. When I write I get to know myself, my mind, my fantasies, my dreams, my wishes--all of it. I access myself much more deeply than anything else I’ve tried when I pick up my pen. I can’t imagine how anyone truly knows themselves if they don’t write. How do they listen to their thoughts and feelings because the mind can wander and get distracted too easily. Writing keeps me centered even though I allow the pen to take me wherever it wants to go. The pen leads. Most people who know me know that my desire to heal is everything. I distress greatly about pain and suffering and I assign it a purpose. I can only find out that purpose by writing. Thinking, by itself, falls short. And if I’m going to suffer, then I’m going to make my suffering count so I turn it into something of value besides just another bad experience. I write about it in my journal. I’ve been blessed in the healing department so by writing I get to pay forward the blessings I received. Each of my books, novels or memoir started out with a need to heal myself in some way. That’s why Voices From the Land makes me wonder why I was ‘picked’ if that is the right way of saying it. It is just so curious to me. The spirits treated me as if they had hired me and were waiting for me. I truly don’t know how to bring across the relationships I started having with these spirits. I am fascinated by it.

6. I understand that you enjoy coaching other writers. Tell us about that experience.

Writers are a rare breed and I just love them. What I have seen with my students and those who call me out of the blue to review and edit their manuscripts, is that everyone’s personal story is embedded in their writing in some way. I love discovering the writer in their written words. Each writer is somehow wanting to make sense and recover from something. I have worked mostly with memoirists and novelists. My heart breaks when I have students who are burning with the need and/or desire to write but are overwhelmed with fear and they don’t write. I can only hug them so much. Then I send them to the blank page and pray that my encouragement has set seeds.

7. What was the first thing you ever wrote? How old were you then?

This question makes me smile. The first thing I ever wrote was an entry in my Girl Scout diary my mother bought me, I think for my birthday. I wrote a page or two about Peter, a boy who moved onto 82nd Street in Brooklyn where I lived and how I loved his freckles. But what happened after I wrote it sent my desire to write underground until I went to college. I had rushed into the living room where my father was watching Wagon Train and peeling a MacIntosh apple with a knife. I asked him if he wanted to read what I wrote. I was hoping to then ask him what else he thought I should write about since I didn’t want to just write about boys. But when my father quipped back “I’ll read it when you’re married,” I took that to mean writing was stupid. I was close to my father so his lack of interest snuffed mine. My mother took the journal away, for some reason, and I never saw it again. I didn’t write again in a journal until I was 22 and at UCSC.

8. What was the first piece you ever published?

The first thing I had published in a Santa Cruz local newspaper was an article about my trip to Anduze, France called “The Sounds of France”. It was the only article any paper ever paid me for. I got $50.

9. What are you working on right now?

I just published on createspace.com the three books I worked on for the last three years. I never write just one thing at a time. Right now, I am letting myself settle into the realization that my three book babies have actually been born. The three publication dates were February 23, April 12 and April 19th. So now I’m busy marketing, mostly. Something is brewing though. Ideas come to me all the time. Currently, I am jotting down ideas, writing weak poems about being unemployed, and writing an online Writing Your Family Story course that I’ll be giving in July for five weeks through Story Circle. I miss not writing a book. I love having big projects to work on. Something will show up soon. I just have to wait for the gestation period to produce. And I think I might have a little post-partum depression going on from the three books being born all at once.

10. At what sites may we virtually visit with you?

www.awareliving.net
www.freethepen.wordpress.com
www.open.salon.com/blog/janet_ruth
www.filedby.com
www.goodreads.com
www.shewrites.com
www.Examiner.com

To Purchase My Books:

Kate’s Way: www.createspace.com/3498926
Voices from the Land
www.createspace.com/3552509
The Basket Weaver:
www.createspace.com/3553668
The Mindful Writer, Still the Mind, Free the Pen:
[url]www.createspace.com/3546101[/url]
Echoes from the Womb, a Book for Daughters:
www.createspace.com/3546083
The Breath of Dawn, a Journey of Everyday Blessings:
www.createspace.com/3546000
Write to Heal: www.awareliving.net
How to Write from Your Heart: www.awareliving.net
How to Write Your Own Memoir: www.awareliving.net

(Thank you to Stephanie Barko for the interview and other information.)

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