A bit about me

by Joni Abilene

I just realized that I’ve never really introduced myself here. I merely started writing in hopes the world would get a good idea of my inner workings through my outer workings.

Hi, my name is Joni.

Sometimes I have strawberry blonde hair, sometimes I have auburn hair. It goes back and forth and drives my mother crazy. But that’s not why I do it. I do it for the same reason I read two, sometimes three, books at a time: I’m restless and easy to boredom. But I do like that it drives my mother crazy.

But I don’t live with my mother. I’m an a-dult. The thing that makes me so adultish is that I have two kids. But I guess anyone could do that. What really makes me a certified grown up is that I drink coffee.

I write books. And stories. It’s fun. It’d be even more fun if I could get an agent and make money. Someday that will happen, but I’m determined to have fun now instead of waiting.

I live in Kansas. It’s hot.

Here’s a little interview that I did by myself taken from a fellow writer whose name shall remain nameless. I hope you like it. After this, I will set the blog into robot mode, so consider yourself lucky that I opened up for this brief, beautiful moment. Peace, Joni.

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When did you first start writing? I wrote many stories throughout junior high and high school, mainly for my own entertainment. There were a lot of copycat attempts, fan fiction I guess, for things like The Babysitter’s Club, Nancy Drew, Anne of Green Gables and fanciful teen writing like that. I didn’t start writing seriously until I was in my twenties, but even then I figured publication was a long way from what I could accomplish.

Who are your favorite authors? I love Jack Finney. He had the ability to write detail like no one on this earth, and he could make the impossible come to life. He was also very funny. Go read Good Neighbor Sam and tell me that that isn’t brilliant satire. Of course there was Jean Shepherd whose book of short stories about his childhood in Hammond, IN led to the movie, A Christmas Story. He was a great satirist as well, and I think it’s important to note that satire isn’t merely about being funny, true satire is about bringing the mundane everyday occurrences to life and making us look at them in a shared, sometimes painfully lighthearted way. Also, I love James Thurber. His satire was subtle yet, elegant. What I love about him was the way he captured the male-female relationship. Perhaps if he were still alive he’d be writing about same-sex relationships and finding quaint little idiosyncrasies in that. And then there’s Twain, who I need to read more of. Perhaps this summer.

For those I look up to, Carson McCullers would be top of my list. I feel close to her on an emotional level, yet I am humbled by my inability to ever reach her technical greatness. She was extraordinarily gifted with, not only writing, but an understanding of the human psyche that no one else on this world can possibly touch. At the pinnacle of my work, I’d like to be able to capture some small essence of her talent, but it isn’t likely.

Then there’s Steinbeck and McMurtry, and I have a happy glowy love for 70’s teen writers like Paul Zindel and S.E. Hinton, both of whom were (are) great at capturing voice and the human condition, with enormous amounts of epiphanies in their work.

Any difficulties being a writer in the Midwest? There probably is, but how can I make comparisons when I’m here and not somewhere else? The real difficulty is being me in the Midwest. It’s not the Midwest trying to get published, writing every day, trying to find support. It’s me.

Describe your current project—A mother and son split POV set to the 1976 Bicentennial. It’s coming–of-age by every definition: the mother has recently abandoned a bad marriage and must find a way to support herself and her son. There are events from her childhood that she’s never dealt with, and so she must do that as well as accept a new love that, by society’s standards, is immoral. As for the son, his journey is to go from boy to man without losing too much of his dignity, which I think is probably a very hard thing to do. I think a boy wants to be a man so bad and if he isn’t shown how he has to figure it out himself, but there’s a lot of risk in the process—choices that could corrupt him for life. In this case, he falls in love with his mother’s best friend, a forty-year-old mother of two. He wants so badly to be taken seriously, but I think we’d all agree that that kind of love wouldn’t be right.

What’s your most favorite character you’ve written so far? That’s a hard question, especially since I’ve quite a few with my short stories. But the one I keep coming back to as the strongest is Pepper Rollins, a housewife who wants just a bit more than she’s getting in life. There’s that fine line, you know, of wanting more. It can destroy everything. She pleads, she pushes and her husband Val tells her ‘No’ every time. I think what I like about Pepper is she maintains a sense of humor through it all; she’s the kind of woman who can survive anything because there’s a strength inside of her that is unbreakable. But you do see her get very close to losing it and it’s rather heartbreaking. No one should ever have to beg that hard for a simple human right.

Do you tell people you’re a writer? If they ask. I’m not going to volunteer the information because it usually brings the additional question of, “What do you write?” or “Have you been published?” Tell them what you write and their ears fall off from boredom. Tell them you’ve been published and they stop talking to you. And then there’s the: “I always wanted to write a book.” Everybody on this planet, apparently, has an unwritten book inside of them waiting to come out.

What goals do you have for your books? I want them to go through the wonderful, cleansing experience of being professionally edited and then published to great acclaim. Then I can sit back and tell the world to ‘suck it’ for at least ten minutes before I start working on the next one.

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