I was invited to participate in a writer’s blog tour by the lovely and talented writer, Rebecca Pillsbury! She has a new memoir out now called Finding Ecstasy, which I will be featuring here very soon. You can read all about the book on her webpage here, and her blog tour interview answers here. Thank you for nominating me to participate, Rebecca! I am honored, and so glad we connected.
My Writer’s Blog Tour Interview (Jess Kapp)
What am I currently working on?
I am currently focused on putting the finishing edits on my memoir, The Making of a Mountain Woman, which will be out in 2015. I also spend a lot of time writing pieces for this blog, and have started a collection of short stories, one of which recently won a writing award and can be downloaded on this site. All three projects are quite different – the memoir is obviously non-fiction and strongly focused on adventure, pushing out of your comfort zone, and finding out who you really are. The blog posts are often in this same vein, but also address issues of motherhood, women in science, and womanhood in general. The short stories are completely different, in that they are fiction, and center on issues related to women in mid-life and all of the complicated things related to such an interesting and often tumultuous time.
How does my work differ from others in my genre?
There are a lot of memoirs out there right now. I love memoirs! Many of them revolve around a problem, past or present, and how the author was affected by, and ultimately dealt with, the problem. My story came out of a completely serendipitous opportunity to immerse myself in an adventure beyond my comfort zone. It is a reflection of how that experience utterly changed me as a person. It is also different in that I wrote the book more than a decade after these life changing experiences, and was able to reflect on my journey with older, wiser, more appreciative eyes. I recognized what a poignant journey that was for me, and give reverence to how much I actually accomplished. As a woman with a PhD in a male dominated science field, I bring a different perspective on what it is to be a strong, independent woman, and hopefully can inspire young women who are interested in stepping out of their comfort zone, in science or adventuring or anything else, to go for it!
Why do I write what I do?
I love how Rebecca said it feels like she doesn’t have a choice in what she writes – I completely agree! The memoir was just waiting to be written. I journaled every day in Tibet, and those memories just sat in a drawer next to my bed for years. When I would tell these stories, show photos, share reflections with people, they would inevitably tell me the stories needed to be out there. I just never felt like I was ready until I had time to really internalize what those adventures meant to me, beyond just fun, outrageous, dangerous, embarrassing adventures that made for good storytelling. In terms of the fiction and the blog, I write about what I know, what I feel, and what I care about. I write about things that set up shop in my brain and filter into the deepest crevices of my consciousness – things that I am thinking deeply about. I am compelled to write about these things, they just haunt me and have to come out.
How does my writing process work?
My short stories are usually inspired by a single line, an observation, or an event, that just strikes me as beautiful or important. For instance, the beginning of Watermelon actually happened to me – being in a grocery store and having an older woman tell me I have great legs. That was so strange and gorgeous I just had to write about it, and all of the fictitious stuff in the story just grew from that one experience. There are other nuggets of truth in the story, like the incident with the gladiolas, and they tied well together. Those were both, “You can’t make this shit up,” moments that had to be memorialized. We all have these little “slice of life” events happen to us, but for me, when they happen there is almost a heartbreaking beauty to them that makes them take hold inside me and beg to be written about. Once I have an opening line for a story, honestly I just write what comes to me. I imagine I am reading the story and picture where the story would go next. Once I have a draft, I go back through it many times and rework it, until it feels right. I probably read the stories more than I write them! With the memoir, I followed the chronology of the mini adventures and tried to tie together all of the stories with the thread of my personal journey. The blog is inspired by things I see and hear every day, and things I imagine other women are dealing with. I want my work to be relatable, and I hope women will read my stuff and laugh, thinking yeah, I have been there!
Continuing the Tour
I nominate my dear high school friend, fellow blogger and adventurous woman Kim Brown, as well as author and afterlife expert, Roberta Grimes, to continue the tour. These two women are very different, but both are fascinating women with amazing stories to tell. Be sure to check out Kim and Roberta’s websites by clicking on their names!
Kim Brown was born in Rochester, NY, growing up on Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence seaway. Though Kim enjoyed boating from a young age she preferred the speed and excitement of a motorboat to sailing. Then she met a boy who liked to sail, and the rest is history! In 2011 Kim and her sailor husband Simon bought a sailboat, Selene, and started honing their sailing skills along the south coast of England, in one of the busiest waterways in the world, the Solent! Kim’s latest adventure involved selling up and heading out on their new 56′ Oyster, Britican, to sail the world with their three year old daughter, Sienna. Kim is a true adventurer, and keeps a regular blog on her website SailingBritican.com.
Roberta Grimes is an incredibly diverse and fascinating author, as seen by her varied portfolio of published books. After spending decades studying nearly 200 years of afterlife evidence, Roberta published two non-fiction books; The Fun of Dying: Find Out What Really Happens Next, and The Fun of Staying in Touch. She has also written two mainstream fiction novels; My Thomas: A Novel of Martha Jefferson’s Life, and her latest, Rich and Famous. The first is deeply rooted in American history while the second explores the complicated life of a young businesswoman in the 1980’s. She has also published three books in her Letters From Love series. Roberta is a business attorney, wife, mother, and grandmother, and in July of this year co-chaired a conference on the afterlife in Scottsdale, AZ, about which she was interviewed on local TV.