Thursday, February 5, 2015
I would rather be considered smart, than pretty
I would rather be considered smart, than pretty. I was never one of the popular girls in school, blonde, athletic, with bright toothy smiles. I wasn’t a cootie kid either. I was odd, brown skinned, a fly in the cream of social acceptability in my California girls’ finishing school. But I had a secret, I knew that I was just like Peter Pan, a girl who didn’t want to grow up to be a man. I’d only ever seen Mary Martin play Peter. It was my special secret, knowing that, made me magical, even though it might not have been obvious to others.
I was finished before I’d even begun. But it was not that kind of finish, not an end, not the completion of things. Maybe the finish was a veneer? Stripped off? Or layered on? I still don’t know if I have it.
What I’ve learned about being an insider who never belongs is, that it really doesn’t matter. Fitting in is often too much personal compromise for the payoff. Just the right size, shape, and color, is for those who require symmetry. Creativity, now that’s scary, that’s flying without a net!
When I was small there were no books about me, no stories with me in them. The heros were all male and the damsels were all fair, golden haired and white skinned, the twins were all Bobbseys. Where then did I fit in, if not where I was?
The happy endings we were taught, at school, in church, on tv, all ended in trousseaus and hope chests, diamonds and Lalique. We aspired to be rescued by princes, on white steeds, whose reward was always taken in kisses, and in ownership. That ownership conferring on us some sense of prize. Now it seems too stunting a dream to hold onto, much like dogma, which often evaporates with the onset of knowledge, the way dew vanishes with the rising sun
Now that my nest is empty, I look on the world with worry and with wonder. How easy it is to guise the truth behind layers of rules. How can we throw girls away and not know it? How can we still be trading girls like cattle? How can a girl with a book be so terrifying to men with guns?
The Gold Stone Girl’s journey, Mina’s journey, is my journey, her risks are mine, and like Mina I’ve learned that fear is a useless tool.
Nicole Quinn, a WGAE member, has written scripts for HBO, Showtime, and network television. Her feature film, RACING DAYLIGHT, (starring Academy Award winner Melissa Leo and Emmy winner David Strathairn), is streaming everywhere. Her plays are published by Playscripts, Inc. In 2011 she won the Harper Audio contest to read on Neil Gaiman’s 10th anniversary full cast audiobook American Gods. She has several audiobooks to her credit.
Q. Where are you from? Does the area you live in influence you writing?
I live in a converted barn in upstate NY. I’m surrounded by meadows and trees, and a stony bottomed creek that meanders through the woods. The pond is frozen now, with deer trails dimpled across it, in the snow.
Yes, what I see outside my window in the day to day is woven into the fabric of my stories. A pair of young deer courting, frolic through tall grass, dotted with the pink blush of wildflowers. Hawks soar overhead, and foxes sip from the stream.
Q. Tell us your latest news??
Disbelief, book two of The Gold Stone Girl trilogy is out on Kindle, 2/1, and in paperback and audiobook the week after.
Soon I’ll begin the polish of book three, the final leg of this epic journey, begun 8 years ago. Then the job of scripting the mini-series will begin. I have Bubba and Dee-Dee cast,(Adam LeFevre and Melissa Leo), and that feels like a pretty great start. I imagine it will be many years to come, before I leave Mina and the Night Mare behind.
Q. When and why did you begin writing? What inspired you to write your first book?
I began writing in earnest when my daughter, now 28 (gulp), was two. I’d been an actor, of color, on the road since I left college, playing ingenues in Shakespeare and the Greeks, and auditioning for hookers and token lawyers for tv and film. Suddenly I was hip deep in diapers and leaking breast milk. I needed a creative outlet I could carry with me. I’d said a lot of bad lines, and some very good ones, and I also knew that women, and specifically women of color, on the screens, were two dimensional, stereotypic of females who had nothing to do with my reality. I figured I could do better. So I wrote my first screenplay, then I wrote another, and another, you get the idea. I’ve been a WGA writer since 1993.
I write in whatever medium the story comes. I write plays, screenplays, and prose. For me it’s always about telling the story.
This trilogy was sparked at the Women’s International Film Festival, in Miami, Florida, 2008. The winning International documentary was about baby girls being thrown into the rivers in India. It had never occurred to me that gender was a basis for worth. It never occurred to me that for many, women are not considered equally human to males, but are viewed as property, to be disposed of at the whim of the owner. Then I began to notice our own advertising, which teaches us to hate everything about ourselves. Then at the government legislations, which encourage feminizing all things to be discounted, the environment, pacifism, women. It’s unsettling to suddenly realize you’re part of a gender that’s been systemically trivialized. I need to share that information.
Q. What book(s) / author(s) have influenced your life and writing?
Too many, so many! Shakespeare, Marlowe, Jane Austen, JK Rowling, AS Byatt, JRR Tolkien, JM Barrie, JM Coetzee, obviously, people with initials, and I have a preference for the letter J.
Q. Tell us about your characters and how they came to be? Have they been in your head for a long time?
I was looking for a someone to take this hero’s journey with me. I didn’t want to go all on my own. I wanted her to be female, and not white. Mina is who arrived, she fleshes herself out daily. I can’t explain it, and sometimes I feel awkward for stating it, but it’s true, my characters create themselves. I’m just here as a conduit to push the keys, the pen. I often sit down at my desk with a plan all mapped out in my head. Hours later, I’m miles away from where I thought I’d be, and the journey has taken me where I needed to go.
When I started this epic, I thought I was writing a script. I sat down to outline it, and hundreds of hand written pages later, I had the makings of this trilogy. I try not to censor what comes. I just get it down, and fix it up later, the down draft is the most important draft for me, all the others are fixer uppers.
Q. What motivates you to write?
It’s powerful to be able to say whatever you want, without it ever having to be wrong. My world, my rules. It’s powerful. I don’t have to ask for permission to do it. If I’m not brave enough to confront something in my own life, often my characters are able to. There’s catharsis in that.
Q. What is the hardest part of writing?
Finding uninterrupted time to escape away into it. Life gets in the way, but without the life, I have nothing to write about.
Q. Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
I learned that our world, and we its mega fauna, are not thoughtful, as a whole, and that it’s time for us to change that.
Q. Where do you get your ideas?
Q. What does your family think of your writing?
I think they like knowing what’s knocking around inside my head, when my eyes get all glassy and they know that I’m a million years away. My husband, and both of my children, son and daughter, are feminists, believers in fundamental human rights. So I think what I write speaks to them.
Q. What is the best advice you would give to inspiring authors?
Don’t censor your thoughts, let you imaginations go wild. Don’t write for the marketplace, tell good stories, with characters who grow and change and forgive and… Stories that have meaning often endure longer than the ones that are just about shoe leather, (running/the chase scenes).
Q. What book are you reading now?
Rupetta, by Nike Sulway
Website – http://itsanightmare.blogspot.com/
Facebook Fanpage – https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-GOLD-STONE-GIRL/1437782523133544