Reader Views talks with Nadine Laman, author of the contemporary women’s novel “High Tide.” Nadine is being interviewed by Juanita Watson, Assistant Editor of Reader Views.
Juanita: Nadine, we are happy to have the chance to talk with you once again. You’ve been busy at work on your second novel “High Tide,” which is the follow-up to your first book, “Kathryn’s Beach.” What can readers expect in way of storyline for “High Tide”?
Nadine: Thank you, Juanita. It is good to be back. Readers can expect an upswing in Kathryn’s career. As always, Kathryn’s life is a journey filled with a tapestry of relationships. There is more tongue-in-cheek humor in “High Tide,” in addition to hard decisions, tragedy, a miracle or two, and new relationships that add richness to her life.
Juanita: How did Kathryn’s character evolve into a second novel? I understand that you’ve actually decided to turn Kathryn’s journey into a trilogy. Can you tell us about this decision and your relationship with her character?
Nadine:”High Tide” was written because my friend Terrie Berg hounded me about leaving Kathryn’s boyfriend in Europe at the end of “Kathryn’s Beach.” In my view, “Kathryn’s Beach” was never about the present, but resolving the past. However, my readers made it quite clear that Kathryn’s story was bigger than I thought. So, I wrote “High Tide” to address what the readers wanted, and to take Kathryn where I couldn’t take her in “Kathryn’s Beach.” As I wrote “High Tide” it became obvious there was another book in Kathryn’s life. The third book, “Atonement,” is four years later when Kathryn’s life takes another turn. I’d say, after three books, my relationship with Kathryn has become “complicated.”
Juanita: “Complicated” sounds intriguing! Creating characters seems to be an interesting phenomenon for authors, because as you’ve just suggested, many times they take a story places the author may never have planned. Would you comment on this aspect of character building?
Nadine: The most complicated thing about Kathryn is that she is so real. I simply love that about her. Readers and I get into conversations about her as if she is our “real” mutual friend. The funny part of having Kathryn in my life is that we get mistaken for each other. Especially when people are reading “Kathryn’s Beach,” I get called Kathryn-and it is a slip of the tongue that even my friends do.
Because of Kathryn, people think I live in California, which I don’t. Some think the books are a fictionalized biography, which they aren’t. Yet, I do see some of my characteristics in Kathryn that I didn’t see in the beginning and that is another piece that complicates our relationship–I am not writing my story, but hers.
The danger of writing extensive character bios for fiction is authors can assume readers know what the author knows about a character; therefore, there are omissions that are essential to developing the character into a real person. I write free style, that is, without drafting a story outline or writing in-depth character bios before I start writing.
The way I develop characters is to get “into character” like an actor does. With a sense of who the character is, then I write-often typing with my eyes closed-what plays out in my imagination. The lack of a pre-mapped storyline makes me write what I discover about her, much like I’m in the reader’s shoes experiencing the story development the same way they do.
Juanita: Once again, the water theme is reflected in your title. How does the ocean play a part, either realistically or metaphorically, in “High Tide”?
Nadine: Kathryn’s story is set in a fiction version of Seal Beach, California, which is a very picturesque location to set a book. It’s conveniently located near Los Angeles for the gritty drama of the city, but remote enough to pull her away from all the “noise,” and let her personal story evolve.
Water brings images of birth and cleansing; both of which are a new start. The ocean plays a role of its own in Kathryn’s story. It is a large character, a place to walk off confusion and to spend time with friends. Metaphorically, the ocean is ever changing as is Kathryn. The storms that come mirror her stormy emotions. The sounds of the waves are soothing and constant, so they add an element of safety for Kathryn, who wants things in her life she can count on when everything else goes haywire.
Juanita: What makes Kathryn such a relatable character for women?
Nadine: The thing about Kathryn that seems to reach most people is her honesty about her frailty in certain situations. Kathryn is well educated and personable. She reacts to life very much in ways real people react. Writing in first person present tense immerses readers into the heart of the story. The story unfolds right before our eyes and there really is no way to stay detached from her because we can feel her emotions as we would a best friend’s. The diary entries and knowing her thoughts make it easy to identify with her as someone more than a character in a book.
Juanita: Kathryn once again faces loss in your second novel. What did she learn in your first book that provides her the strength to move on through these new and difficult situations?
Nadine: Ah, that’s a really good question! In “High Tide” Kathryn suffers two losses back-to-back with no breathing room in between. One is a relationship she thought was something it wasn’t. The other one is the loss of a friend to AIDS. In both losses, Kathryn is able to find resolution to the relationships, which is something she wasn’t as ready for in “Kathryn’s Beach.” I don’t think Kathryn will ever allow herself to stand on the sidelines of relationships again, so she is much more willing to take risks with people in “High Tide.” Not that all the risks she takes are the best choice, but it is easy for us to see that from our vantage point, whereas, Kathryn doesn’t have that advantage–and neither do we in real life.
Juanita: So, in “High Tide,” readers will find a stronger and somewhat wiser Kathryn?
Nadine: Yes, in many ways “High Tide” is the final piece of the puzzle to prepare Kathryn for “Atonement,” her third book. In “Kathryn’s Beach,” Kathryn dealt with the past and moved to the present. In “High Tide” she is totally emerged into what is happening around her now. “High Tide” isn’t about hindsight; life plays out in present tense and she isn’t on the sidelines processing things; she is engaged. She is certainly stronger in “High Tide” because once she commits to being engaged with the present, she doesn’t run from it regardless of what happens.
Juanita: Nadine, you mentioned that you bring the issue of AIDS into “High Tide.” I know that you have a long history in the field of social work and this played out significantly in “Kathryn’s Beach.” Would you explain further why you chose to showcase AIDS in your second book, as well as your personal style of bring social awareness to your stories?
Nadine: It would be unnatural for me to avoid the themes of homelessness, child abuse, domestic violence, AIDS, corporate corruption, and others since Kathryn is cast as a very passionate, quintessential social worker. It was obvious in the early days of the AIDS epidemic that it was not treated as aggressively or thoughtfully as any other epidemic. It was as if the Administration thought ignoring it would make it go away. That is not only a non-responsive government, but an irresponsible government. To keep the issue in the public eye, I chose to give AIDS to a Latino mother who had a skilled occupation, one of the least typical victims, to remind people that AIDS is pervasive, and we still need to address the needs of people with this disease.
Juanita: I understand that a romantic interest plays a big part in Kathryn’s life in “High Tide.” Would you elaborate?
Nadine: Kathryn’s best friend introduces her to Joseph, who is tall, dark, and handsome with a ready grin and an Irish accent. I fought the story line to keep them from riding off into the sunset. Kathryn was no help, either, she fell head over heels for him. (Laughs) So, I created tension for her by opening “High Tide” with a major change in his life that she has to respond to in hers.
Juanita: Kathryn seems to always be struggling with finding true meaning in her life. What is the significance of her continuous searching?
Nadine: Static people are terribly boring; whereas, Kathryn is not boring. She cracks me up sometimes with what happens to her and what she learns from life. I have a plan for Kathryn, but I allow her some leeway to direct how she gets to where I want her to go. Sometimes, I have to create course corrections in her path to motivate her in the right direction. She is very much like real people. She isn’t exactly the super hero type of character who has all of the answers on the spot. She has a need to grasp the full essence of life, which leads her to be reflective of it.
In “High Tide” it was time to introduce the Spirit of Hope people. I let the scenes play out like improv theatre where Kathryn had to react to who came on the stage of her drama. All of that is part of her charm, I think.
To read the rest of the interview, visit link below:
Author: Juanita Watson
Article Source: EzineArticles.com
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