03 October 2012 ~ 1 Comment

Guest Post by Richard J. O’Brien, author of Little Flower of Luzon

Where did you come up with the idea for Little Flower of Luzon?

The initial idea for Little Flower of Luzon came to me when I was apart from my son and how I had been estranged from him for years. Fortunately, we came together again and my life has been made richer for it. My novel started in essence when I thought about that, and someone I knew whose daughter never knew her father. In essence, this book came from those two separate circumstances.

What was the biggest hurdle in writing this book?

My biggest hurdle was getting it down. As I wrote this book I moved around, packing and unpacking until I began to think I might not ever stay in one place for long. I was also pursuing an MFA in Creative Writing, but my concentration was in poetry. Fortunately, I finished my novel and I received my degree.

What kind of books would you like to write that seem to be out of your grasp?

Self-help because I’m so screwed up. I’m kidding, of course. Actually, I have always wanted to write some great big sweeping epic with several generations depicted in one family. So, my answer would be this: a long, complicated saga that cashes in at a thousand pages or so. That’s out of my grasp right now, but not beyond the realm of possibilities.

Tell us about your writing process. Do you keep a rigid schedule?

I am not good with schedules, itineraries, or anything of that sort. When I was a younger man this attitude got me into trouble; especially when I was in the army. I do, however, try to write every day. A long time ago I read some advice by a famous writer, maybe it was Hemingway, maybe not, that went something like this: when it’s going well that’s when you should stop. If there’s any schedule at all that I do keep I would say I like to write at night. This is not out of necessity or any other reason. I’ve always found the creative juices flow better during those hours.

Longhand or computer for first draft?

Believe it or not, it has to be longhand for me. I have a pen that I value above all others. Nothing fancy or expensive, but it’s like my talisman, or, to be more accurate, perhaps a divining rod to channel whatever moves through me. The flow of pen against paper has a different effect for me than composing prose at a computer. At least, for me it does. Too often people say it’s so time-consuming, writing first drafts in longhand. My response is “what’s the rush?” Once my work is complete in longhand I revise on the computer. My second draft rarely looks anything like the handwritten first draft because I edit as I go. Then I print it all out, and go back to my trusty pen. It’s a cycle that repeats itself numerous times—the printing and revising—but that is the beauty of this gift.

Do you consider yourself an organic writer?

I don’t particular care for outlines. I do keep notes. That’s important. When I sit down to write I let a story take me where the characters want to go. If you trust your intuition then you won’t go wrong. Characters, well-plotted fleshed-out characters, I mean, never fail a writer. When I’m writing I hear voices in my head. Often I let my characters play out whole scenes that never appear in my stories. I think it lends them more weight. It gives them a chance to vent.

Have you ever suffered writer’s block? If so, how did you overcome it?

Yes, I have had dry spells. The best advice I ever came across the subject of writer’s block was from Charles Bukowski who said when you can’t write then write about not being able to write. I can’t remember the exact quote, but it was good medicine. For any writer to keep writing I think it’s important that he or she utilizes other avenues—keep a blog, a journal, etc.

Where do you get your inspiration?

My inspiration comes from everywhere. I know that sounds strange. Mostly, it comes from dreams. Sure, it sounds clichéd but it’s true for me. In this age people don’t pay attention to dreams. I think the place where our dreams come from is in the same neighborhood as the inspiration that graces a writer.

When did you first know you wanted to be a writer?

I used to make up stories when I was a child. This was before the advent of video games or even Atari. And that other one? Pong? I don’t remember. In my old neighborhood, we didn’t have much in the way of material things, but we had our imaginations. Anyway, when I was eleven years old my father brought home an old manual typewriter from work and put it in the bedroom I shared with my brother. I used to handwrite little stories and transcribe them on the typewriter. For me there was no better feeling in the world than creating a story out of nothing. The truth is, however, a writer never creates something from nothing. There is a process, a mystery, a complex string of events going on that I for one am hardly aware of. This has followed me ever since I was a child. And for that I am grateful.

What’s next for you as a writer?

I am researching the history of my current neighborhood now for a new novel I am working on now. It’s a story about a father and daughter, their estranged relationship, and a book that the father has been consumed by his entire life. The tale will slip back and forth between present day and post World War I. The writing is going well. I have my trusted pen, my divining rod, and plenty of paper.

In Little Flower of Luzon, Felix Hart always maintained troublesome relationships with women. So when he meets Malaya “Memeng” Cortazar, a beautiful Filipina teen, he thinks his relationship problems are solved. Felix becomes consumed by Memeng who is half his age.

As he courts the young Filipina, Felix encounters several obstacles, including his overbearing mother, his pop-psychology-spouting older brother, and his meddlesome ex-girlfriend.

Memeng and Felix are sure of the connection they share, but their bond is threatened when they discover her late mother’s family secret.

One Response to “Guest Post by Richard J. O’Brien, author of Little Flower of Luzon”

  1. Candy 3 October 2012 at 10:04 am Permalink

    Thanks so much for doing this interview! I enjoyed it!

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