Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Author Interview: Christa Polkinhorn

Today I welcome author Christa Polkinhorn for an interview.  I will be reviewing her book Love of a Stonemason tomorrow.  So grab your favorite cuppa and see what she has to say.

How did you celebrate when you found out Love of a Stonemason would be published?
When I saw the cover and the book on Amazon and held the first copy of the paperback edition in my hands, I was overjoyed. I had worked on the book for a long time and put my whole heart and mind into it and seeing it finally come to fruition was really exciting.

How would you describe Love of a Stonemason to others?
Love of a Stonemason is a story about the struggle of two artists with their past, their family, their creativity, and their love for each other. Told from the point of view of Karla, a young painter, it depicts the world through her painter’s sensibility. It takes the reader on a journey full of sights, smells, tastes, and sounds from the south of Switzerland to Italy and the Peruvian Andes.
Blurb on the back cover: The young painter, Karla Bocelli, is no stranger to loss. When she was five years old, her mother died in a car crash in the south of Switzerland. Her Peruvian father lives at the other end of the world, and a year ago, her aunt and guardian passed away. Now, at age twenty-four, Karla almost gets hit by a speeding car. As if this wasn’t fateful enough, Andreas, the driver, turns out to be a sculptor and carver of tombstones. In spite of his profession, Andreas is anything but morbid. Quick-tempered and intense, he exudes a rough-and-tumble energy. After a tumultuous start of their relationship, Karla comes to see in Andreas the "rock in her life," the perfect antidote to her fears of abandonment and bouts of depression. Andreas, however, wrestles with his own ghosts: an alcoholic father who abused him as a child and his own fits of anger. Together, the two artists must confront the demons that haunt them.
Love of a Stonemason

Where did the idea for Love of a Stonemason come from?
The initial trigger was a personal experience. At the end of 2005, I lost my mother and found myself to be the sole survivor of our immediate family in Switzerland. Death and its impact—the pain of loss and loneliness—plays an important in the life of the main character in the novel. Although there are elements from my personal life in the story, such as the places I lived as well as my travels to Peru and Italy, the final product was a completely fictional story. While writing Love of a Stonemason, I was rarely conscious of any one particular person, incidence, or experience, which influenced me. Some of it came to me much later. One of the most fascinating aspects of the creative process is the way consciousness and the unconscious work together to produce something unique and new.

You are from Switzerland and they say to write what you know so you definitely did. Are you familiar with Peru as well? How much research did you have to put into this book with it taking place overseas?
I was in Peru twice for a few weeks. My niece is married to a Peruvian from Cusco. Because of these connections, I got a more personal impression of the life of a Peruvian family than if I had been there just as a tourist. I have been to Italy many times. When I wrote the book, however, I realized that I needed to go back to get a feeling for those places again. Besides, I forgot a lot of the details that were important to the story. Since I love to travel, that part of the research was the most fun. I also found a lot of information on the internet and in books.

Since both main characters in Love of a Stonemason are artists, are you an artist in addition to being a writer?
My father was a painter when he was a young man. I have several friends who are artists. As a child, I loved to paint and draw. I still do and I take art courses occasionally. My real passion, however, is writing.

Did you plan this book out or do you just write and see where it took you?
I began to write without an outline or even a firm grasp of how the novel was going to turn out. To my surprise, once I started, the novel took off almost by itself. I have always admired authors who were able to write novels. I was used to shorter pieces. I wrote poetry for many years but shied away from long pieces of prose. Ironically, my first draft turned out to be too long. I had to cut quite a lot and I did many revisions. Fortunately, I had an excellent editor, Scott Nicholson, who was very helpful. In fact, I found your blog by following his recent blog tour.

Do you get time to read? What are your favorite types of books to read?
I love to read and I read all kinds of fiction and poetry. I enjoy reading the classics as well as contemporary and experimental fiction. I gravitate toward books that deal with love and relationships. Lately, however, in part as a result of publishing my book independently and doing research on the indie movement in literature, I have discovered many new authors in genres such as paranormal romances, thrillers, ghost stories, and mysteries. The indie movement and the availability of inexpensive ebooks make it very convenient to try new genres and new authors.

What is your favorite room in your house?
Right now, I’m in my family home in Switzerland and my favorite room here is the living room because it has a wood stove. I love to watch the fire and smell the scent of burning wood. It’s very comforting and cozy.

What is your favorite spot to read in?
On the sofa or in bed.

What is your favorite snack food?
Swiss chocolate, apples, peanuts, corn or potato chips

What is your favorite season?
I love the times of transition, in other words spring and fall.

Do you have a schedule for writing each day or do you just do it when you can?
I try to write every day but it doesn’t always happen. My favorite time is early morning when the snatches of dreams are still fresh and before the everyday hustle and bustle begins.

Any book signings/conferences/public/blog appearances in the near future?
So far I have been promoting my book mainly on the internet, on my blog, on Twitter and Facebook, by word of mouth, and through interviews such as these.

Do you have a new book in the works?
Yes, I finished the first draft of a new novel. It is actually the precursor so to speak of “Love of a Stonemason.” I couldn’t let go of my main character Karla yet, so I wanted to go back in time and see what made Karla become the artist and the human being she is in my current novel. An Uncommon Family (the working title) deals with Karla as a child, with her aunt and guardian and with her first painting teacher. Both novels are independent from each other and can be read in any order.

Anything else you would like to say?
I am grateful to have found your blog My Reading Room. Thank you for the opportunity of being interviewed and featured here.

Here are some links, where readers can find out more about me and my book:
My author’s page on Amazon with the ebook for Kindle and the trade paperback version
My page on Smashwords with a variety of ebook versions

Thank you so much for joining us today Christa!  We look forward to hearing more from you in the future.