Chatting With A Hero – A Video Interview of Therese Walsh

ThereseDefining “Hero”: So I was sitting here wondering how to title this post. I jotted the words: “Chatting With A Hero.” Then I wondered if I was overselling (I’m sure she’d humbly say as much). But a hero is someone admired for their courage or outstanding achievements. And, I would add, someone who inspires courage or the aspiration of others to strive for the outstanding. I was surprised when I googled “hero” to find the words “typically a man” in their definition. I consider quite a few women to be heroes, my wife first and foremost. So then I wondered if I should switch it to “heroine.” But that word seemed to relegate the subject to the pages of a story or the script of a movie. And Therese Walsh is definitely a real-life, flesh-and-blood person that I admire; for her courage, for her example in persevering to accomplish the outstanding, and for her inspiration. She fits the billing. So hero it is.

An “Interesting” Experiment: What (I hope) you are about to witness is an experiment. I’ve never really interviewed anyone, let alone in a video format. But when Therese and I stumbled across the idea, I thought that it would be a lot of fun, at the very least. And it was. But in hindsight, it also gave me a huge appreciation for those who interview writers they admire, and for those who do so on camera all the more. I hope you’ll forgive my inexperience but, as I said, at least it was a lot of fun. And although I’m not the most experienced moderator of such a discussion (we occasionally got a little carried away, enjoying our shared passion for writing), thankfully my subject is interesting and wise and her new book is wonderful. These things, I think, come clear throughout our occasionally rambling discussion. Besides, as I said, T inspires me. And I’m willing to bet she’ll inspire you, too.

So, without further ado, please enjoy my discussion of a new favorite book of mine, The Moon Sisters, with its author–my hero and friend, Therese Walsh.

(Side Note: The reason I’m laughing at the opening is that I couldn’t get our Skype session to record. My guest was not only gracious during my 20 minute technical struggle, she googled the problem and read the step-by-step solution to me as I fumbled to success.)

About The Moon Sisters:

“The night before the worst day of my life, I dreamed the sun went dark and ice cracked every mirror in the house, but I didn’t take it for a warning.”

After their mother’s probable suicide, sisters Olivia and Jazz are figuring out how to move on with their lives. Jazz, logical and forward-thinking, decides toThe Moon Sisters get a new job, but spirited, strong-willed Olivia, who can see sounds, taste words, and smell sights, is determined to travel to the remote setting of their mother’s unfinished novel to say her final goodbyes and lay their mother’s spirit to rest.

Already resentful of Olivia’s foolish quest and her family’s insistence upon her involvement, Jazz is further aggravated when they run into trouble along the way and Olivia latches on to a worldly train-hopper who warns he shouldn’t be trusted. As Jazz and Olivia make their way toward their destination, each hiding something from the other, their journey toward acceptance of their mother’s death becomes as important as their journey to understand each other and themselves.

Buy the book! (Yes, now, before you forget.) 

About Therese Walsh: 

Therese’s second novel, The Moon Sisters, was published in hard cover on March 4th, 2014 by Crown (Random House). Her debut, The Last Will of Moira Leahy, was named one of January Magazine’s Best Books of 2009, was nominated for a RITA award for Best First Book, and was a TARGET Breakout Book.

Therese is the co-founder of Writer Unboxed, a site that’s visited daily by thousands of writers interested in the craft and business of fiction.

Before turning to fiction, she was a researcher and writer for Prevention magazine, and then a freelance writer. She’s had hundreds of articles on nutrition and fitness published in consumer magazines and online. She has a master’s degree in psychology.

Aside from writing, her favorite things include music, art, crab legs, Whose Line is it Anyway?, dark chocolate, photography, unique movies and novels, people watching, strong Irish tea, and spending time with her husband, two kids and their Jack Russell.

Visit Therese: At Her Website, On Twitter, and On Facebook:

Your turn! What are the unique aspects of your writing process? Have you read either of Therese’s books? If not, what are you waiting for? Could there be a more gracious interview subject, or a more bumbling interviewer? Please share your thoughts in the comments. 

49 comments on “Chatting With A Hero – A Video Interview of Therese Walsh

  1. ddfalvo says:

    This awesome! Two of my favorite Tribe members captured in a RL moment. (I especially got a kick out of the pre-game Skype activity)
    Therese, you are so cute!!!
    Vaughn, great job, you always have such a great talent for bringing out the heart of the matter–whether an interview or a written scene.

    I love Moon Sisters and expect it will be a huge success.

  2. liz says:

    What a cool idea! You both look as if you were having such a good time. And great questions, Vaughn.

  3. I had a great time; I’m glad that shows! Thank you again for having me, V! And thank you to Mo, too, for helping with the sound and video checks and all of that. :-)

    • Yes, Mo was a Godsend (as usual) in setting this up. It worked perfectly before she left me alone with the setup. Not sure how I screwed it up, but thanks again for your patience and help!

      And thanks for being such a great interview subject, T! I know our writer friends will appreciate your wisdom, and I hope it puts a deserving spotlight on The Moon Sisters for more readers! :-)

  4. Thea says:

    Solid, lean in interview, Vaughn. I enjoyed listening to Ter read an excerpt from her unpublished work. Oh yes. There I once again heard her unique and clever voice. Lots of writerly advice here. Thanks t

  5. Vaughn, what fun to see and hear you guys talking about literature and life stuff (not that there’s much difference between the two). I thought you were a dandy interviewer. Of course, it always helps to have a literary goddess as your subject. Thanks to the both of you.

    • Hi Tom, Coincidentally, I was just smiling as I digested your “salty” comment over on WU. I always look forward to your observations, so this is much appreciated. And I agree, on both counts: not much difference, and having a literary goddess is always a big plus. Thanks so much for watching and commenting!

  6. <3 This interview made me so delighted to watch. Two of my favorite writers discussing craft. I've got a week of vacation that kicked off this morning, and what a kick off!

    The Moon Sisters is a lovely and heart-wrenching book that made me smile and also cry (in a good way), and V- all the tales in The Severing Son cut me to the quick in the same way. Good stories take you on a journey that leave an imprint forever on your soul… so thank you both of you.

    About the synesthesia, I got to thinking… one of my favorite writers Philip K. Dick was a diagnosed schizophrenic. I learned in psych. class that schizophrenics can have up to five dopamine receptors (dopamine in my understanding of it, is part of a neurotransmitter and chemical interplay that enhances the brain's ability to conjure pictures among other things) to an average person's one, is synesthesia perhaps also something to do with dopamine receptors? I wonder… What I do know is that PKD could transmit some amazing visions to the page.

    Thank you for sharing this interview guys. It's a catalyst for so much creative thought.

    • What a perfect comment, B! You always know how to make my day. “A catalyst for creative thought” is exactly what I’d hoped for in doing this with T, and I knew it was possible because she so often provides that for me!

      I’m not sure about the possible links between the two mental conditions, or to dopamine receptors, but I wonder if T has any ideas. I know she’s become somewhat of an expert on the subject of synesthesia. Maybe she’ll find some time to chime in later.

      You are certainly someone who’s inspired me with your courage and your dedication to the outstanding, B. And your encouragement really means the world to me. Which makes you another one of my heroes. Thank you! I feel blessed today, indeed.

    • Thank you, Bernadette, for your comment about The Moon Sisters! I’m glad it made you smile and cry in a good way. (And I eagerly look forward to seeing The Severing Son in print!)

      As for synesthesia and your question… I just snagged this from Boston U’s website:

      “[S]ynesthesia is not a disease. In fact, several researchers have shown that synesthetes can perform better on certain tests of memory and intelligence. Synesthetes as a group are not mentally ill. They test negative on scales that check for schizophrenia, psychosis, delusions, and other disorders.” Link: http://www.bu.edu/synesthesia/faq/

      That said, a recent correlation between synesthesia and autism was recently identified: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/11/131119193908.htm

      Interesting stuff, no?

  7. Loved it. It was fun, natural and T sounded just like I thought she would!

  8. I loved this blog interview! Therese, I feel like we’ve had a second gab-fest at The Lost Dog, and Vaughn, fun to get to know you better as well! I am 2/3 done with then oval and enjoying it—just “pimped” it on Writers In The Storm blog—reading slow because of my ridiculous schedule of late, but happily savoring, so not sad about the need to go slow. This interview only confirms to me how much we have in common as writers, Therese.

    And while I have no other symptoms of synesthesia, I want to tell you an oddity that has always been clear to me, my whole life long:

    1 = white
    2 = orange
    3 = green
    4 = yellow
    5 = blue
    6 = brown
    7 = purple
    8 = red
    9 = black

    !!!

    • I totally understand about the savoring, almost wishing TMS didn’t have to end, Kathryn. And, wow, that’s !!! indeed! A numerical correlation for color could really come in handy. If only we all had that built in.

      Great getting to know you, as well! Thanks so much for watching and enhancing the conversation!

    • I love it, Kathryn! That is unquestionably synesthesia! (Now you know you’re special — though, really, we already knew that!)

      You know, I’m a fan of slow readers. These books can take such a long time to write, after all. :-)

      Thanks for commenting, for reading The Moon Sisters and talking it up on Writers in the Storm (which was just listed on WD’s top sites for writers, no??), and for that aforementioned gab fest. I wish you lived closer so we might make a habit of it.

  9. “The writer who can gut their story, those are the ones who are going to succeed.” ~ Mama T.

    Oh, the little thrill of hope and joy this and the ensuing conversation gave me. There is so much in this interview that meant a lot for me to hear, and I want other writers to hear, to know- for that hope and the reality of the “onion” that telling a story and revising a story are.

    I wondered somewhere in the back of my head if meeting the two of you would be daunting, but really you both are compelling, earthy people whose share one of those rare qualities of willingness to open up to others about who you are, not only as writers, but what you learn and struggle with as well. Also, that you both are as surprised and mystified by your characters and where your stories go as I am, yes! But that’s part of the fun, what baits me to keep coming back to the story.

    Great interview. Warm, professional, and down-to-earth. Loved this.

    • Isn’t she an inspiration? I loved that part of her talk, too. I’ve been mulling over our conversation since we had it (and, lucky me, she gave me some fabulous gems–really specific to my work and situation–after we stopped recording).

      You know, one of the things I’ve noticed about everyone I’ve met from WU is how down-to-earth they are, and the opposite of daunting to talk to in person. I think there’s something very special that drew us all together there, and it’s a testament to the founders. It’s one of the reasons I can’t wait until we are all together in one place in November. Not to get all woo-woo, but there are going to be some very special and kindred auras gathered there. It’s bound to be a totally unique experience. :-)

      Thanks for your kind praise and lovely sentiments, Tonia! I’m so glad that the talk resonated with you!

    • Thank you, Tonia! Does your comment mean you’re planning to be at the WU Event in November? I hope so!

  10. Nicole L. Bates says:

    What a fantastic idea! I really enjoyed the interview, Vaughn and Therese. Thanks for sharing both the video and bits of yourselves. It’s great to hear about the process from different perspectives. I can’t wait to read The Moon Sisters!

  11. Heather Reid says:

    Thank you so much for filming this interview! I loved hearing more about your process and getting a deeper glimpse into your inspirational mind, T. I want to echo what Vaughn said about Beth’s letters to her father. I LOVED this aspect of The Moon Sisters. To me, the letters added a depth to Beth we wouldn’t have otherwise seen and fit like a perfect puzzle piece with Olivia and Jazz’s struggle. I thought it was brilliant! Thank you, Vaughn, for experimenting. Great success!

    • It was a blast exploring the many layers of T’s work with her. After reading TMS I was just in awe. It’s so interesting to see how such a complex and yet incisive work came into being. I’m so glad it was interesting for others, too. Thanks for your kind praise, Heather!

    • Thank you, Heather! I’m so glad you enjoyed those letters. (I’m glad they made it back into the story, too!)

  12. Reblogged this on BKNOVELIST and commented:
    Two awesome people from the Writer Unboxed community chatting it up. Wow, it is nice to hear their voices. Momma Tee is so articulate (listen to the way she says “Moira”) and Roooooycoft sounds rather gentle and approachable. I likes.

  13. I love the chance to see you both in action! Well, I’ve had the privilege with T, but V, I’ve been dying of curiosity to hear your voice. It’s different than I thought, yet not. (A soft accent, pitch different than I’d imagined.)

    Well done interview by two of my favorite people in the world.

    • I think I was telling you once how I’m not keen on an idea T mentions here: recording yourself reading your own work. I really dislike my own voice. I’m definitely a product of the upper Midwestern states (nasal vowels and all). Believe it or not, when I go to Chicago, folks sound extreme even to ME! ;-)

      T was just about exactly what I expected, sound, mannerisms and all. We’ll see how close I am with you. Much appreciated praise from one of my favorite people about my interview with another favorite! Looking forward to seeing you both together!

      • Thank you, Jan!

        I always dislike hearing my own voice, too, and think it’s too nasally.

        V, I like your voice, but you could have someone else read it for you! The idea is to hear it with ears and not with eyes, if you know what I mean. :-)

      • That’s an idea–someone else reading. And I do get hearing it with ears and not eyes. It makes a ton of sense. Now, to find a sucker, I mean, ‘volunteer’ to read for the recording. I have a feeling this is going to cost me. ;-)

  14. M.L. Swift says:

    What an absolute thrill this morning, to finally see and hear (and taste!—j/k—I’m no Olivia) two of my favorite people in earthy conversation about my favorite subject. I’ve already messaged you about your wonderful voices, and as I sat here drinking my coffee, felt as if I were up in Yankee territory. Brr…it even looks cold.

    T, wonderful thoughts on the writing process. It was encouraging to see how it all came together; the genesis of The Moon Sisters and the obstacles (and self-doubt) that even you encountered. And, having a Russian ancestry, I also had a Babka.

    V, I thought you held your own quite well. I think (no, I know) I would have been stuttering and stammering all the way through it…with either of you. You’re both inspirations.

    Thanks for having coffee with me this morning. It may have been at OhDarkHundred, but there was still a full Moon.

    • The great thing about appearing on tape? I’m much better at OhDarkHundred that way! :-) I’m glad it’s here for folks to find in their own time, and that you were able to take it in when you had the space. It shouldn’t surprise me, but this post has legs! It’s steadily drawing viewers day in and day out, for a week now. T’s got that kind of magnetism. It was such an honor to (somewhat clumsily) moderate (I’m glad you can identify with how difficult this was–I really wanted to give my hero her proper due).

      Thanks again, Mike! Looking forward to experiencing your charming southern drawl in person!

    • Thanks for commenting, Mike, and at OhDarkHundred, too!

      I could write a book about self-doubt. Maybe I will some day.

      Cheers!

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