Rene Denfeld is another writer I’ve met online, and I think you’ll find her as fascinating as I do – just read the first question below to get intrigued by her life. Enjoy, all.
The Enchanted is my first novel. I had written a few non-fiction books before I got into my day job, which inspired this novel. I work as a death penalty investigator. Like the character called the lady, I spend time with men and women facing the death penalty. I investigated their histories. I find out what made them the way they are—why they did such terrible things. It is an amazing job, because I get to learn the truth of a person.
2. What role, if any, did books, writing, and reading play in your childhood?
Books saved me. I grew up quite poor, with a very difficult childhood. The public library was my sanctuary. Through books I discovered that there were other places, other lives—visions of hope and morality. I love books!
3. What is your writing practice, your writing routine?
I’m a single mom to three wonderful kids I adopted from foster care, and I juggle my day job, too. I have to be disciplined about writing. I also have learned to let go of other things, including trying to be the perfect mom! If the dishes stack up, if the laundry goes undone, that is okay. I try to commit to an hour a day, at least. It’s surprising how much can get done in an hour a day.
4. Who are you reading now?
I recently read memoir by Ariel Gore called The End of Eve. It is a funny, sad story of coming to terms with her mentally ill mother. I adored it.
5. What are three of your all-time favorite books? Why do you love those?
It is so hard to choose only three! As an Oregonian, I would say Sometimes A Great Notion by Ken Kesey is a favorite. I loved A Thousand Acres by Jane Smiley. She’s tremendous. And Geek Love by Katherine Dunn is a classic. I was very lucky she blurbed The Enchanted.
6. How do you balance “building a writing platform” and the actual writing to set on that platform?
For better or worse, I’ve never thought of it like that. I love Facebook and Twitter because they allow me to connect with readers. I’ve even gotten to Skype book launches in Australia. I think social media is actually a wonderful democratic tool that erases false distinctions between writers and readers.
7.What is a typical day like for you?
I get up early to get kids off to school or camps. I work out and start drinking lots of coffee. Lots! I often go out interviewing witnesses for my cases. I travel to some of the worst parts of our state and the country, finding witnesses in trailers, tenements, ghettos, and prisons. Or I go visit one of my clients on the row. If it is a day off, I write and do chores. I take care of the kids in the evening and try to squeeze in that writing time. Then I collapse!
8. Describe your dream writing space?
I have a wonderful roll-top desk I am sitting at right now. It is in my bedroom, in our lovely huge home with old fir trees outside. It is perfect.
9. What is the hardest writing critique you ever received? How did you respond?
I’ve had my share of rejection letters. One was for a novel I tried to write years ago. I was told it was beautifully written but the plot did not work. It was hard to hear, but it was true. I try to claim my own emotions. If I feel disappointed, I acknowledge it in myself, and move on.
10. What is the best wisdom you have to share with other writers?
Anyone can be a writer. And one of the best ways to learn to write is to read—voraciously. Everything you need to know about writing is in books. Read your favorites and try new ones. It is amazing what you will absorb just from reading. Take joy in language. Learn the rules and then forget them!
Rene Denfeld has written for many esteemed publications including The New York Times Magazine, The Oregonian, and the Philadelphia Inquirer. She is a published author of three non-fiction books including the international bestseller The New Victorians: A Young Woman’s Challenge to the Old Feminist Order, Kill The Body, The Head Will Fall, and All God’s Children: Inside the Dark and Violent World of Street Families. Her first novel, The Enchanted, was published by HarperCollins in March 2014. You can read more about her work at her website – http://www.renedenfeld.com.