Sarah is someone who has come up in other pieces that we’ve read. She had a story in the anthology. We can’t help it if we’re from Florida. And she also has a story in Tampa Bay no are both books that we talked about on other episodes. So she’s a Florida writer who’s been in the conversation this summer. I’ll give a little bit of synopsis about what the book is about. And then we can we can go from there. And true love. The book follows Nina, who is a writer, a kind of struggling writer, a definitely a struggling writer, leaving New York, going to rehab and coming to Florida. So a lot of it takes place in Florida where she has some tumultuous relationships with some guys and some some gals.
I like that part because I recognize the places she mentioned, you know, like St. Petersburg, Kissimmee. And different places that you know, it’s always great to read a book that you are familiar with the towns in the area. She mentioned Ybor City, she probably mentioned at least six or eight places that just get me all interested.
Right. So Sarah is a Florida native, and she grew up in Largo, which is where we grew up as well.
I thought it was interesting that she talked about a lot of different musical groups. And the only name I recognize, since I’m older, was Sam Cooke. She said that his voice was alto and Claire like Sam books, but she mentioned probably 10 or 12. It’s sometimes like one was Tree Service. So I asked my grandson, is that a tree service? Or is that a you know, musical group? So I got a real education reading this book. in more ways than one. I found she had a great way of writing she wrote like she made up her own. I think dash words like wake and bake. Abbott.
Did you know what that was?
All it means you wake up and you’re in the mood to bake and you want some really good drink with your coffee? Like some sweet like..
God, I really well and what is it called a scone?
Yes. Yes, yes. That’s what it means. I can’t have scones. Actually, I actually, I would think of a peanut butter cookie. And one day this past week, I had a cup of black coffee.
They’re not necessarily awakened bake, but awake and chalk. Better than really awaken chocolate. No. Chocolate. No, I don’t think anything.
Let me tell you. Black Coffee goes with something really sweet.
Really good. You don’t need anything in your coffee. Because the two combinations is just just great. Okay, I had a favorite word. And they’re my favorite word was unbeknownst. I like that word. And that’s three different words with no hyphens. And then I also had a couple of favorite I had a favorite paragraph, which I thought was real, real sweet and poignant. One of the characters said to the main character, I want you to be with me the breath, my child, and she said, You are the closest person to me in the world. Besides my mama, my grandma and my grandma, you are like my sister. And I thought that was that’s a big honor and somebody asked you to be with them when they had their baby. And I like that paragraph.
She used words about the inside I think the encyclopedia like dark web, in the web soap by in chemicals he and his friends mixed into drugs. Now that wasn’t about. But I mean, there was a lot of words she used about. Like I say that computer which you computer nerds out there would probably have a blast here. And all of those words, she said half the tome to me with a CD ROM, and all this invoke words now that even though I’ve taken about four years of computer, I didn’t know what they meant. But I kind of know what they mean now and thank you for that. Remember, when you like to do things with this Sim City? As soon people?
Tyler Gillespie 5:49
Yeah, I kind of want to start playing the Sims again. So I can go to a party during quarantine. So the main character Nina, she has a lot of toxic relationships. And something that kind of parallels is that she was also mentioning red tide. So I saw a connection between these toxic relationships and the toxic red tide. She didn’t go heavily into these kind of links about she kind of mentioned red tide. And I think Nina may have been writing a story or someone is writing a story about it. So they weren’t like heavy connections. But I saw there being a connection to environment, environmental devastation, as well as human relationship, devastation, because Nina had a lot of that going on,
And a lot of red died.
This is definitely not a hallmark book. There were some, you know, sex scenes in there. So there were some moments where I was like thinking, oh, wow, you know, I’m reading this, my grandma’s going to be reading this. I think though, what the sex scenes were doing. I like I’m more prudish about talking about this stuff with you than you are with me. But anyway, I think how I was reading it was that Nina’s very codependent. So I think it was showing us how Nina acted in her relationships and what relationships meant to her.
I kind of think she had a list in our mind of things she was going to do, you know, on this line of thinking, to make them want her more. Because sometimes it was like, rote.
And I think too, you know, she is struggling with addiction, or she was in rehab. And so I think that this had to be coming up some kind of another way of using for her right another way to get high another way to get what she wanted, which was companionship, and so she would do anything she could to not be alone.
That’s, that’s one way of looking at it. Yes.
I think that Nina, as a complicated character, she is lying a lot. She’s cheating on her partners, I really felt like, anxious for her. You know, because I recognize that kind of behavior. I’ve seen that kind of behavior and people that I know. So I thought that it was a really true to some people to life. So I thought it was a very honest character, for that kind of person. And a lot of those folks in our early 20s, or exists and are probably going through similar situations, or maybe not similar, but maybe comparable situations.
And she would totally forgive her partner for whatever wrongly he had done. That always surprised me because they had gone over the line period. But that I know, I was with one relationship all my life, and I would forgive but somewhere down the line, I stopped forgiving. Because you there’s just certain things that’s over the line. I just wouldn’t know that this was the end with somebody and then the next page, they were together still.
And I think that relationships are complicated, especially when you’re a young artist who is struggling with maybe some addiction issues and stuff like that. So I think that it’s complicated. And it’s always hard to be like, Oh, well if I was in your shoes, I would do this because you don’t you can never know what you would actually I mean, I guess you can know what you would do.
Well, like I say, sometimes if I never walked in your shoes, I’m not going to judge you. And I only walk in my shoes. I felt very sorry for then I get aggravated at her. And then I you know, she had good point she had a lot of good points. She was generous to a fault. She was a hard worker. Yes, she had a great work ethic and would do any piddling little job she needed to do to make a little money to pay her bills, she could do it, she had a great work ethic.
By doing those kind of things, she stayed well away from being able to do the writing. I’m sure she found a balance. You know, this character. I think Nina is a really modern character. She’s going through a lot of contemporary issues. She’s dealing with a lot of things with the gig economy. She’s going from gig to get to sustain herself and her writing practice.
You know, some of the latest, newsworthy, she mentioned that Trump won the last the Iowa caucus and like you said, that went red tide and different things. So it was a it was a book that kept you in, you know, interested in it. She touched on a lot of different things that make up a relationship with her father, a mother, and so forth.
Tyler Gillespie 11:09
That the story takes place in Florida, like we were saying, and then in New York, so there were it’s very a lot of sensory details. Like you were saying a lot of mentions of Florida, and then going to the beach that made me want to go to the beach again, like made me really want to be out on the beach.
She mentioned karaoke, and that made me want to go you know, because I love karaoke. There’s no way we can social distance and do that anymore. Right? So and then she did this she loved the sun and she loved the way she entertained, be, you know, earn her friends entertain themselves. And my daughter does that a lot by going to the beach. His mom is a self proclaimed beach bum. Yes. And that’s why she gets her entertainment or relaxation, and it’s been good for the beaches, kind of a healthy place to go. Very restorative restorative, that’s a good word.
Those are some of our thoughts on True Love by Sarah Gerard. In the next segment, we’re actually going to get to talk to Sarah and we’re going to talk to her about some of her favorite places in Florida. Her writing practice writing about love her new hobbies in quarantine, lots of great stuff. So stick around you don’t want to miss that.
In this segment, we are going to talk to Sarah we’re going to talk to her about our hometown about her new love of gardening, about writing about love and Florida. We get into a lot of great topics. So I’m just going to get us right into it.
Hashtag relatives. Yeah. She by Margot from Largo.
Oh, cute. Yeah. So we have Largo we have these Largo in common for sure.
Since you’re back in Florida. You and I went to Skyway Jack’s together. Once this quarantine is over, where are you looking forward to going to like your top three places.
Loaded grits. First Choice.
What is their loaded grits like?
Oh, it’s got it all. It’s got cheese, chives, bacon, all of it. Onions, all of it all the good stuff. And they’re just and sour cream and just yeah, everything you need. Yeah. It’s basically a meal. But I would get probably some eggs inside. And yeah, I don’t know any number of other things on the side. Everything on the menu there probably. I miss the taco bus, St. Pete to miss the taco bus. And I know I’m forgetting because you already mentioned Skyway Jacks. That’s one of my favorite places when you think of someplace down closer to here. Maybe Crabby Bills. Yeah, so probably Bills right now. Because I’ve driven by a number of times and no, nobody’s wearing masks and the place is packed. And the last thing I want is to get COVID-19 over my alligator bites. And in a seafood restaurant of all places, you know? Yeah, except must be like a special strain of COVID. And I also I mean, there there’s a place there’s a there’s a barbecue truck near us on Ulmerton
They have the absolute best smoked chicken and barbecue. Just Like all around barbecue with all the fixings and macaroni and cheese, the collard greens, the corn bread, the yellow cake, all of it and, and we’ve gone there a couple of times because there’s always only maybe one person standing outside. You know. So that’s something that’s been sustaining me. We were actually going to go there today.
You have to get early get together earlier also that arcades gone. But
OK, so insider tip get there early.
Yeah, yeah. Yeah. And I mean, it’s a it’s a to go window, there’s nowhere to set, you know, and you’re out there in the sun Anyway, you wouldn’t want to sit there in the sun anyway, so it’s only to go. Yeah. And there’s like one person standing outside and it’s so cheap. You know, it’s like some lady in a window has just said always the same lady.
I’m hungry. So how, how are you as everything on your end,
I, you know, I’m taking it day by day, I feel fortunate to be living with family right now. Because I have friends who are, you know, who aren’t able to see their family right now. And they’re in far flung places and concerned for one another. And I have friends and you know, who are just alone, and they’ve been alone for a long time. So I feel grateful that I’m not alone. And Patty and I are living not far from you guys. And safe and healthy. So but you know, it’s been a huge adjustment. Our life plans were interrupted. Everyone’s we’re so and we have friends who are sick or whose family members have been sick. And that’s really scary. We’re inching ever closer to November. So there’s like this sort of Damascus hanging over everything that I’m able to write.
I’m like, how am I going to keep myself from going crazy and my dad likes gardening too. And he is very concerned about the pollinators. So we so today we’re going to plant some pollinator plants. And we have we started a vegetable garden. So we’re growing some peppers or pepper plants are going crazy. Right now our bean plants are going crazy right now. They have some tomatoes who are flowering, but they haven’t been fruited yet, but that might not happen until later in the summer. And, yeah, I mean, we’re learning a lot and moving plants around. And you know, I’m out there every day with them. And it’s a good way to get away from my phone and reflect and get outside, you know, without endangering myself or others.
Yeah. I love that. My mom just went to Wilcox the other day. Have y’all been? Yeah.
Yeah, yeah. Actually, my were I was there yesterday. And my dad is running for Largo city commission seat three right now, Eric Gerard, Wilcox has one of his signs outside. So yeah, so but for Eric Gerard in November, because he’s been working really hard. I hear him on the phone all day, every day. He’s been involved in politics for a long time via my mother and his own. He was the vice president, or President, I think of the bargain library Foundation Board and is on the city planning committee now and has been, you know, really involved in the city for as long as he’s lived here. I mean, over 30 years, he’s really concerned about the environment to the housing and solar energy, and my dad drives an electric car, and he plants milkweed to attract butterflies and you know, as vegetarian and you know, cares a lot about the environment. That’s a big part of his ticket, as you know, as he’s running, because you can make a lot of difference. Especially in Florida, you know, if you encourage people to plant native, that’s great.
Who is he running against?
Commissioner Curtis Holmes? He’s the opponent. Do you know Curtis?
Would you like to put a sign in my yard?
Yes. Yes. Good. Thank you.
Tell me, do your parents be in politics? Does that does that ever come into play in your writing?
With my mom? Yeah, it has. I mean, because I’ve written about my parents. And not any my nonfiction in Sunshine State. I was writing about my parents’ religion. And, you know, that’s, definitely something that comes up in politics. So I, you know, I was, I was careful about how I wrote about that. And I shared the piece with my parents before I published it, you know, because I don’t want them to be. I don’t want anything I write to ever harm myself. an election or something, you know, if you’re, you know, if you have a close relationship with someone, you know, to the extent that you can be transparent in your work with them, you should be why why would you not be? Otherwise? No, I mean that I’ve never, they’ve never told me not to write about something. And I know that they’re very open about their own pasts. My mom worked the nonprofit sector for a long time helping women who were escaping domestic violence and, and children and families helping them, you know, connect with services. And you know, so her own past isn’t that and I know she’s very open about that and cares a lot about those issues. So
Oh, we read True Love. We also read, We Can’t Help it If We’re from Florida, and then interviewed Ryan, so we read your story.
Yeah. Awesome. Ryan is the best.
Tyler Gillespie 20:55
He’s awesome. And then we also read Tampa Bay Noir,
It was cool to write in that genre, because I don’t usually think of it that way. I think of my writing that way, you know, but like you’re drawing on certain tropes and themes. And, you know, I mean, certainly, it was a way to get something off. It was a fun exercise.
And I like the title of yours and the “Midnight Preacher.”
Yeah, I actually became fascinated with a real person who I base that character on, and he was one of those people who preached at midnight, you know, when you’re falling asleep on the couch. And he and he did get in trouble for I think, tax evasion. And I mean, he was always contrarian and always conservative, but he just became radicalized after Trump was elected. Yeah, and, and I wanted to write a story about him, I kind of started snooping around. And I had found him because he was listed as a hate group on the Southern Poverty Law Center website. And, but it seemed to be just one guy, and he seemed to be, he seemed to have fallen from grace. And there was something really satisfying about that, for me, you know, to see this person who was so terrible doing badly. And I don’t know, yeah, I just started to get in touch with myself. It was easy for me to write in the north genre when I was asked to because one of the tropes is this gumshoe reporter, you know, and then that was me is like, trying to pursue this guy who was like evading me because he was ashamed of himself. And I don’t know, yeah, I was, I became this, like, I was like, kind of terrorizing him. And I became really disaffected with him and or just kind of like, I, I just liked him too much. I think I couldn’t find anything redeeming about his character and in real life, so I just decided to, you know, abandon the project. But I was able to take all that research and like, turn it into fiction.
He was just as awful as you expect him to be.
My question is, do they mind you, listing them as hate groups?
He didn’t like being listed as a hate group. Yeah, he, I remember, because he would post like, almost every day on his website, even though nobody seemed to read it. And he would complain about being listed and how that had. That was like, the beginning of the end for him. Basically, it was being identified as such, because he one of the ways that he had been evading taxes was, was hadn’t been listed as a religious group, actually. Right. So yeah. And then that was called into question and how he was using funds to fund his so called church was called into question. So yeah, he I think he owes a few million dollars to IRS now.
Money probably. How’d you come up with this nickname?
Well, the real person’s name is Bill Keller. So it was just something that kind of sounded like Oh, okay. Yeah. But also, I mean, obvious connotation having to do with greed and that deadly sin. Yeah, there’s something about the fact that the real midnight pretty That I was in touch with Bill color. His name also means money and also color sounds something like killer and there’s something about that, that as a writer I’m really drawn to stuff like that it’s almost like a sign from the universe that this this is this should be turned into fiction you know it because it already seems to be. Yeah, it was fun piece in that puzzle together as a piece of Noir, because I had to think about like, well, what is the role of the pen fake towel or there was something about the gun that like I knew that had to be the end of the story that there had to be some threat to the narrator’s life or some, some way in which it was made real.
So your book True Love. So you started writing it in 2016?
In the end of 2016, I wrote a short story that became this novel, sent it to a friend got some feedback, a lot of questions that needed answering. Yeah, I was going through a divorce, I was reading a lot about love trying to figure out where I fucked up. And where are they? You know, where did I go along? And what is a model of, you know, what is my ideal arrangement, love arrangement? And what do I expect? And what am I expected to give? And three years later, you know, I completed the last draft of it, it’s been a journey.
Well, I mean, thinking about models for love and everything, like way, you know, what does that even look like? It’s hard.
It was something like, we’re only compatible, because he doesn’t really know me. And I think that’s a thread among quite a few of your relationships can be like, that isn’t real. You they, you know, they might not, you know, I have a temper. You know, I, like I talked too much. Most people know that. I can’t keep that in, you know, my husband used to say, You’re nicer to other people than you are me. And I’d say, Yeah, well, why do you think that is? You know, but I mean, so I thought that was a pretty simple, but deep revelation that you came up with.
Yeah, one of the things that we, I mean, learn through love is who we are, because our lover reflects us back to ourselves, too. And I think a large part of Nina is obscure, even to her. And she is attempting to discover it, while avoiding certain unsavory aspects of it, that actually, in the end proved to be unavoidable. I mean, it’s true that we are, in some ways, our worst selves, the people closest to us, because it’s safe to be because I fruit, you know, that I mean, our worst selves, I mean, our most flawed self. And in a way, we’re kind of asking this person to love us, despite our with our flaws. For instance, I have to be a certain person when they go to work, even if I’m having a really shitty day, and like, don’t give a fuck about teaching, because like, I just found out somebody died, I have to make it through that class and be my best self. So that I can go home and fall apart in front of my partner, and scream and cry and say, really irrational things. Because I’m angry and sad. And I know she’ll hold me. You know, and when I’m having a bad day or something, and I’m feeling cranky, I mean, she’s the one closest to me, and she’s the one I’m going to be cranky yet. I know. I know. She’s going to forgive me. And I’m going to try not to be cranky, cranky, but I’m not going to be somehow I managed not to be cranky to my boss or my casual friend. You know, I’m cranky at her because I know she’s going to forgive me now. Or because I just I feel as if I don’t have to perform for her. So yeah. So that’s something that I you know, Nina is saying in that vault while also not in so she knows that there’s a part of her that she has to hide for this person. Otherwise, he won’t love her. I think failing to realize that it’s not really love and less health, love her with all of those things. But it’s really hard to be vulnerable with somebody that way and to show them that you’re not perfect.
I’m wondering how Nina changed in your writing of Nina’s from 2016 to when you finished the manuscript because you did go through a kind of transition yourself. So how did that writing of the character change?
Yeah, well, I mean, a lot that. Well, in the beginning, I mean, Nina was and a writer, foolishly I was trying to give her an occupation that I don’t, that I’m not very familiar with. So what if I had to do a bunch of research about, you know, how, you know, a person’s occupation would dictate how they talk, and the kinds of metaphors they use in everyday speech, and how they even think about the world, like, in the beginning, you know, was a seamstress. And so, I mean, all kinds of metaphors come out of that, like, tearing and weaving, you know, whatever, making a pattern, and, you know, so, but it was too clunky for me to write in that way. Because I don’t really know that language fluently. So in the end, I just made a writer, it’s like, I can think about, it’s really easy for me to just make her a writer to think about fantasy, and what is fact and fiction and how would she, what would she be writing? And how would she be working through her issues through her writing? And what kind of story does she want to tell herself? And what kind of story is she telling someone else? And truth and lying and all that we know, honesty? And so it’s just much easier? So that was one thing? You might guess that because I’m a writer, it was the first thing I get I decided to make her but that’s not true. So yeah, and her voice changed a lot over time.
I think in the beginning, I thought that this, that there would be a way to make the story somehow, somehow romantic. But in the end, it’s not it wasn’t, I thought it would actually turn out to be some kind of love story. But it didn’t. In the end turned out to be it was more of an anti love story. It was satirizing mother’s love story is more than it was itself a story about finding love, because she doesn’t really. Except maybe in the very last paragraph, she takes that first step towards it. But I think in the end, I wanted to leave the reader with some kind of hope that maybe she’s learned something or somebody learned something. But yeah, her voice really came together in the last draft. I think it got a lot. I think because her voice is kind of quippy. And she’s a little bit critical and defensive. It needed to be her sentences need to be really short and almost impatient. And the story needed to feel very claustrophobic. And a lot of that came out, came through just combing through the sentences and taking out unnecessary verbiage and just rewriting things on a sentence level to get the voice right.
Nina is someone that we feel for and we want her to make some choices. And it’s like she’s trying to make choices, but like you said, you know, doesn’t sometimes make the choices that we hope she would make.
I want to know like, where was the moment where you hoped she would make a different choice. I’m interviewing you now.
The one that really kind of sticks out to me that, I guess just with her choice in men period. I mean, she falls for them, and I get why. But then it’s like, Come On Girl, like, why are you doing this?
Yeah. Oh, do you understand what she’s doing? I do. But that’s where
I’m like, I see her work ethic being strong like that something she’s gigging she’s got a strong work ethic. She’s really into her writing and her art. And it’s like, you know, sometimes she’s not surrounding herself with men that are supporting that. So that’s kind of where I was, like, wanting because I add that out of the sense of care.
Well, yeah, it’s interesting, because Nina would, I think, described herself as a generous person. And she’d probably be used that as a form of generosity, and she’s supporting her partner, and his ambitions.
And if she would keep us accepting these characteristics and still be there for them and not walk away.
Yeah, it’s kind of like remember what we were saying earlier about loving somebody with their flaws. And she sees that these are flawed people, but, you know, loves and accepts them. And here’s them asking for help, I think and because she either because she wants to think of herself as a generous person or because she is truly generous in a twisted way she helps them when they ask for help.
And that’s something that makes us really real character to me, like, you know, thinking that to focus I’ve done in similar situations in their early 20s. It’s like, you know, yeah, they do make these choices. And this is kind of a thought. So it, it made her really real to me. Mm hmm. Because of the choices that she was making.
Yeah. And I mean, I think certain readers, I mean, like you just said, Well, you know, I wanted me to make different choices. And by the end, she’s taking care of her husband financially. And an example of a different choice, I guess, would be that she left him right. But would you do that?
You know, choices that I needed to make in the past and how long it took me to get to that that moment.
Right, exactly. We put up a lot in relationships for long periods of time. And arrangements that could be seen as exploitative, or abusive, or, you know, but because we’re hoping that they will change, or because we want to extend compassion or forgiveness and, or patience, and we love this patient, right? So maybe she maybe this is a form of love. And maybe her choice not to leave him is actually a loving one in a way.
And I think when he was initially seeing her, he was really supporting her creativity, and they were collaborating and all of these things, and it’s like, you want to hold on to that moment? And how you felt in that moment?
And yeah, exactly. Yeah, exactly. Why do you think we look at our wedding photos, or celebrate our anniversary? You know, it’s good to remember. It’s because we have to reflect on our journey together. From the beginning. And yeah, hold on to that original Spark. I think it’s heartbreaking for Nina when that when they’re, that spark begins to dim. I think it’s really disappointing for her. Yeah, she even says, you know, we haven’t worked on them the movie for a few months, already, you know? Yeah. Because if there’s no separation anymore between the fantasy in reality, the fantasy of the fiction they were making together, you know, on in more than one way.
I got to know. Why do you refer to music so much?
Tyler Gillespie 37:27
playlist for a website.
And I one time I asked Tyler, is Tree Service a tree service? Is that, you know, because I didn’t know I had no clue. And I’m not up with the bands that I’m still loving.
That I referenced was a real one. Yeah.
Which was the fictional one.
It kind of reminds me of Postal Service.
Yeah. But because you love gardening.
Yeah. And also just seemed kind of twee, you know, the tree thing. Like, I don’t know, I have. I had a friend in college who was in a band called tree wolf. So I don’t know cliche. And I was loving it. And I say that with love, you know,
After a while I started list listing how many musical groups and unless they’re listed, like 10, or 12, but I didn’t do it right at the beginning. Yeah, I know, music must be important to you.
I was listening to a lot of music while I was writing. And yeah, I put together that true love playlist that has like 100 songs on it now. And listening to it, like each of the songs just gave me a different entry point into Nina’s subjectivity or another or it was playing over a particular scene in the book and my imagination, or the lyrics were speaking to me in a certain way, kind of about the story and but I mean, in general, yeah, I think of writings, music and I think about the sounds of my sentences a lot and the particular tone that word lends a scene or But then I also think about, you know, the characters in the book as having that same relationship with music, I think or they, you know, they listen to it because it gives them a window on their own mind for you know, tells a story about their family or there’s one of the bands I mentioned, the Beach Boys and Seth in a relationship with that band. It may reminds him of his father, because music carries that emotional messaging. For us. Yeah, I mean, the sound of the sound of a particular song can make the emotion of the song. So it’s a direct experience for me that way, you know? Yeah, he tried to enter a particular mood through a song rather than going directly there with language. I think it’s helpful. Yeah. puts me in a particular world. headspace.
I love music, and I sing karaoke. I go out and sing it when I can, which now I haven’t been out since the middle of March. But I sing it at home too. I had a friend that was a Kj that said, Margie, when you can’t come on, set, you know, sing at home. And I mean, you could sit down with maybe troubles on your mind and saying, I try to sing five songs a day. Hmm. And get up after those five songs. And be in a totally different mood, maybe ready for bed, you know, which I don’t always get. I don’t always have a good night’s sleep. But that low almost, you know, make sure I do. And then I like to saying, you know, all different kinds of songs like, one of my favorites now is Lady Gaga. You know, sidetrack, but then, of course, my favorite is Patsy Cline. So, you know, I think music is a great big help to get through life. It’s kind of like, having a sense of humor is a big help.
I think actually, music and having a sense of humor are similar in a way. I mean, it’s all about timing, right? Yeah, it’s, it’s funny. I mean, yeah, I studied singing when I was a kid, I took voice lessons. And I was in choir, and it was really important part of my upbringing. And a lot of fi I think I became a writer too, you know, because I had that really mode of expression. You know, I realized very early in my life, how important it was to express yourself and be verbal and heard right? out Yeah, yeah. So yeah, I, I don’t listen to music as much as I used to. And I don’t seek it out as much as I used to. But it’s, it’s still a really important part of how I write. I’m working on the short story, which might be in the Vela right now to about a friend of mine who passed away and this past January, and I have a playlist for that to then listen to songs that we listened to when we were growing up and songs that speak to like a particular part of our life where I think we were closest. Yeah, so yeah, it’s a it’s a really important part of the process. Do you listen to music while you write to?
I listened to this channel lo fi hip hop on YouTube with my students. They love it. It’s kind of like weird at first but then at the end they like.
please send me a link to be Yeah, I want to hear this.
It doesn’t have any lyrics or anything but it just is like good background. It was making me think to like, how you know certain smells really can trigger memories for you certain songs can really trigger absolutely, absolutely feeling.
Oh my god, and it’s not always the song that you would think either. There’s um, this song by called better off alone. It’s like this techno song that I get really emotional hearing now because it just reminds me so much of my friend who passed away in January and then and yeah, when I listened to it the first time. I mean, after she died, I just Yeah, I was surprised that it was that song because it wasn’t the her favorite techno song necessarily and it wasn’t one that I ever thought very deeply about. It was just kind of a background song. But then something about the lyrics I think the lyrics are so you think you’re better off alone, and it’s just like, ah, like hit me right in the chest when I you know, when I listened to the first EP for some reason that was that was the first one that popped into my head when I heard that she died. So yeah, music is some. Yeah, it’s, I think as an artist to like, well as a writer, like having access to other disciplines. Working in other disciplines, is, is really necessary and can teach you a lot about writing to like visual art. I have a lot of friends who draw or painters or make collages and working in those other modes to like, I think their writing is very symbiotic with their writing. You know, I have a friend who makes collages and like collage poems, and yeah,
you had a book of collages, right?
Yeah, that was a thing that I was doing. I haven’t done it recently, very much. Actually, this thing makes me want to go do it now. But, uh, yeah, I mean, it’s just another way of storytelling and telling the story, right.
I think that’s something with me is like, I’ll get really into doing some other medium, like, sketching or something like that. And then I’ll just, I’ll do that and be really into it for a while, and then I’ll just kind of fall off, and I’ll go to something else. Because I think for me, I need something creative, that I don’t have to necessarily be good at. Actually, you know, like, sometimes I feel like I need to be good. But then it’s drying. That’s not my thing. I can just do that for fun. And,
With collage I was like, it’s almost like I became, I felt like too many people knew about, you know, it’s like, eyes on me and I got scared or something. But then also, it’s just not, you know, you don’t have to do everything all the time. You can go in and out of gardening, for instance, you know, I mean, I wasn’t able to do that much in New Jersey, and I loved it when I was living in Florida. And then I moved to New Jersey, and I couldn’t do it, and then back here and doing it again. And it’s not like it went anywhere. I can still play with it when I want to. And get something out of it. And like Yeah, same with like learning, I think learning to do anything new. It’s good for reading anyway. Yeah, you know, yeah, you’re learning vocabulary. You’re learning skills, you know, that you can use even get to your characters. Yeah. On your phones.
Are you gonna write a new book with your care is into gardening and maybe maybe bear a body out in her garden or something?
There’s an idea. Can I have that? That’s mine.
I’m stealing. Oh, yes. Yes, yes. Yes.
I had a I wanted to ask a couple questions before I forget. One, because we were talking about the political aspects in your novel. And I know that it seems like a lot of folks in fiction, maybe are having the conversation about how to write about the current president and stuff like that. What are your thoughts on that, since you it’s something that you take on in the book,
I was interested in the personal, and the interpersonal ramifications of 2016 election, because I noticed that it caused a ruckus. People got divorced people’s block their friends on Facebook. And, and when, you know, looking at something like toxic masculinity, or whiteness, or gentrification, you know, how do I not think about it? You know, in the current time, how can I not also think about our government? And what’s happening there, and the kind of message that it’s sending to people about how they can treat one another? So, yeah, I mean, there are writers who can write brilliantly about him as a character, and you know, about someone very Trump, like, as a character, you know, I don’t know if I can write about him directly as a character have him as a character in my book. Or even write very intelligently or knowledgeably about what has happened in the White House, you know, in a nonfiction way, that would require a lot of research for me, even though I read the news, like, so, you know, but what I can write about is how it’s made me think about love and relationships. And, like, choices that I make, day to day in a personal level. I remember I mean, I was married at the time. And my partner and I, my, my former partner and I, Patty, and I do not argue about well, thank God we have, you know, we have identical views about Trump. But, my, my ex and I didn’t have identical views about the election and I was livid. We really argue I mean, it was a huge rupture in our relationship and probably one of the precipitating events and relationships stem Paul. So
And then I know the character in the book collaborates. And I know that you started collaborating with Patty, there was a piece around recently. Yeah. Can you maybe talk about collaboration? Because I think it’s something people may want to try. But you know, what’s your experience been like with the collaboration?
Well, with Patty, we take turns contributing to a piece. And then we don’t go back and edit what we’ve written. Or that was in the case of that Burrow piece. And we’re working on other pieces in that same format. And we would take turns contributing. But we’re working on a buckling work together. And have been basically, since we started dating, that we will probably go back and edit in some fashion, although I’m not sure what that will look like, because we haven’t reached the complete end of it yet. Although we’re very close. So. Yeah, but similarly, we would contribute a piece and then Shem contributed in our, I would contribute a piece and then Patty would contribute a piece and then I would and then they wouldn’t. So then we would go back and, you know, read through the whole thing together and decide together what would need to be done. But not everybody can collaborate. Or at least, it’s important to find the right partner, somebody that you can actually work with. Yeah.
You should both be in agreement about what you’re doing and what the end goal is.
Yeah, I love that.
Yeah. Well, I look forward to you writing more and me. I want to get the sunshine book. Yeah. It was the last day. Mm hmm.
Yeah. I know.
You said you’re working on. And you said you were getting some writing done recently.
Yeah. Well, I’ve been working in. Yeah, it’s a short story. That might be a novella. Yeah. And otherwise, just reading a lot right now. in quarantine. So many good books coming out right now. I just read it in cold blood. And yes, yeah, classic. Yeah, so many conversations to be had about that book, too. Yeah, I’ve mixed. I’ve been really mixed feelings about it. As everyone should. What are you reading?
Tyler Gillespie 53:04
We are reading. So we’ve been focusing on Florida authors. We read. I have them right here. We read the Girl from Blind River. Yeah. Yeah. We read this one is really good. It’s called the changing south of Jean Patterson. It was edited by Roy Peter Clark and Raymond Arsenault. He was a journalism and civil rights writer in the south. Jean Patterson was just really interesting to read that now. Yeah.
Yeah. Yeah, it was really outstanding. It took you on every emotion. I think you have Sarah between political shows, and reading and doing karaoke. I take my dog out 15 times a day. And cooking gourmet meals for my grandson. Now that was not true.
I journal also and I start my day, saying five things I’m grateful for. And then I tried to end my night by reading the Proverbs. Or my favorite scriptures. In the Proverbs this, if you’re stable is clean. You don’t do good business. In other words, if you don’t have a newer and you’re stable, you’re not busy. In other words, if you’re playing football in your uniform stage playing you’re not in the game right now. And I think what that means.
God knows my stables messy.