Author’s Corner: An Interview with Sherry Bagnato

picture Bagnato

Welcome to Author’s Corner, Sherry!

Let’s whet the interest of potential readers. Before we begin,  please share an excerpt from your novel Happy Endings.

Happy Endings cover picCHAPTER TWO (Excerpt)
Carol and Barry: A Look
Love doesn’t cure everything, does it?
“Carol? Are you there? I just heard about Barry. Please pick up.” The sound of a sob being swallowed.
Carol spit into the sink, and scrambled to the phone.
“Sadie?”
“What happened? Why didn’t you tell me? Three months you kept this to yourself?”
Why did she?
_______________
Ifs. If only it were not true.
After they’d finish speaking, Carol fled to her bed, and buried herself in the darkness and warmth of her flowered comforter. What was it Sadie said?
“Listen to me,” Sadie’s voice had been fervent and high. “He loved the edge. That was his story. To sit at the top of the building and calculate the drop down was what he lived for. It was always there, Carol. Fast forward twenty-two years later and surprise, he’s still the same. People don’t change. Did you think he would be different? Listen to me. There is NOTHING you could have done to stop what happened, and there is nothing left for you to fix. ”
Not true, she wanted to scream. If she connected the series of events, and filled in the jigsaw puzzle composed mainly of shades of black cut outs then perhaps she could surrender to the death of her brother. The demise of the man blown to bits on the beach, torturous souls left behind could be capitulated too by the act of fill in the blanks..
She pulled the comforter up to her nose. The scent of fabric softener prompted memories of him way back then. Everything back then smelt of April Fresh fabric softener. The yellow and white checkered tablecloth, dish towels, pillow cases, Barry’s denim jacket. Dolly used it like perfume. If she could, she would have misted their little bungalow with it and created a force field around it for her Barry.
You can’t tie thoughts down, and snare them to the ground. Like clouds they float here to there, and eventually the darker ones filled with weighted putrid memories descend closer, a hairs breadth from your left shoulder.

Happy Endings is a page turner. Your excerpt is an example of what I call a ‘wow factor’ common throughout your book; it compels the reader to read on. Thank you, Sherry.

Q: Tell us about yourself.

A: I am a reluctant writer who agonizes over every story I tell. I published Happy Endings in November 2014 and was  pleasantly surprised by the feedback. Recently, I won second prize for my short story Aisha Unbroken for the on-line magazine-Big Pond Rumours. I have extended myself this year by taking on the writing of two new novels simultaneously. The real story will be if I can stay awake long enough to see them published. I am a writer by night and a Communications Specialist by day to pay the bills. A mother of two, along with two dogs and three cats, I love to fund raise and hike. I also have a reputation for jumping into any body of water that’s in my way!

Q: What did you want to be when you were a child? Did you always know you wanted to be a writer?

A: When I was a child I wanted to be a lawyer, doctor and writer. Since I was not great in the sciences, I ruled out doctor. Because I had to read my stories out loud in class, I was extremely inhibited about becoming a writer, so I tried to become a lawyer and ended up in advertising. Over the years I wrote a few stories, a couple of very bad books. It was then I decided to be a real writer.

Q: Are you a pantser, a plotter or a little of both? Give us some idea how you plan the overall structure of your novel and your approach to each chapter.

A: I must admit I have no plan when it comes to writing a novel. My second novel which I am working on is a mystery, and I don’t plot it out. I let the characters talk to me, and allow their personalities to carve out the story. In my third novel, which I am writing concurrently with the second, it is more methodical because it follows a timeline. In some ways it’s a much easier novel to write, even though the subject matter is more difficult.

Q: How do you go about getting the ideas for your novel?

A: I am an idea’s writer. I may be sitting with someone having a coffee and they may be talking about a specific situation. Suddenly I have an incident that needs a story. Or, it may be a person that is experiencing something, and that person will of course need a brother or perhaps need to be killed. It’s always interesting where your imagination takes you.

Q: What is your favorite part of writing? Is there a least favorite part?

A: My favorite part of writing is to see it in print or the beginning of each chapter. Sometimes, when I am experiencing a Zen moment with one of my characters, I absolutely love writing. For the most part, I find it excruciating.

Q: When you are in the midst of writing a novel, what does a typical day look like for you?

A: When I am in the midst of writing, I do all the chores around the house or go for a run, before I can sit down and put fingers to keyboard. Depending on how well the words come I will work from an hour to three hours a day. Three quarters of the way through, I will step it up and spend 5 hours a day on it.

Q: Do you prefer to read in the same genres you write in or do you prefer to mix your readings with other genres? Why?

A: My reading choices are very eclectic. I enjoy a variety of genres depending on my mood and the topic. For me, it is truly about how engaging the story is, rather than the genre.

Q: What is most difficult for you to write? Characters, conflict or emotions? Or is there something else? Why? And how do you overcome it?

A: I think the most difficult part for me to write is characters. I am a visual person and the challenge is to ensure your characters are real and not television versions of themselves.

Q: Sometimes the manuscript for a first novel never sees the light of day. Do you have any manuscript(s) hidden away? If you do, what keeps the manuscript(s) in the drawer?

A: I have two novels sitting on my laptop that will never see the light of day. They lacked depth, and I lacked the experience to give it the require complexity and beauty it needed to tell the story well.

Q: Having achieved your goal to be a published author, what is the most rewarding thing? Is there a downside? If so, what was it for you?

A: The most exciting thing about being a published writer is to see your story or novel in print. After that, it is a great privilege to listen to readers’ feedback. I sell many books through book talks, and I love to hear what characters the readers identify with and why. I get great constructive criticism from readers.

Q: Have you ever suffered from writer’s block?

A: I always suffer from writer’s block. The way I get around it is to exercise or meet up with people; anything that will revitalize my spirit. Writing is an incredibly difficult process, and it is important to keep positive.

Q: What inspired you (Where did you get the idea from?) to write Happy Endings?

A: I am always attracted to flawed characters. Happy Endings is a reflection of that. For me, it is a story of what people do to create excitement in their lives and to just survive. Hidden behind a single act of murder, are lives that are skewed, flawed, and not representative of people we know.

Q: How likely are people you meet or know to end up in one of your novels?

A: Guaranteed someone will end up in my novel with or without knowing it.

Q: What was the most difficult thing you found in the writing Happy Endings? For example, in order to capture the realism for the characters and the situations, writing sometimes involves research and preparation before the novel is written. Did you go through any special preparation to write Happy Endings?

A: The most difficult thing in writing Happy Endings was agonizing over whether I was telling a good enough story. It is a complicated novel that jumps around and I wasn’t sure if I could make it work. I researched the character Aisha quite extensively to give her a life of her own. She was my favourite character as a result.

Q:  What is next for you? In other words, what are you presently working on?

A: I am currently working on two novels. The first one is titled “Blessed Are The Peacemakers”, a mystery about a serial rapist. The second novel is a fictitious memoir. It’s really exciting to be working on two very different pieces of work.

Q: What is the most valuable lesson you learned on your road to publication? And, what advice do you have for future novelists?

A: Work. Work. Work. It is a difficult process, and it is so important to gain skills to sell your work as well as write it. So many writers who have self published have great novels that go unnoticed. Use social media to your advantage!

Q: Is there anything you would like to add that I may have missed?

A: Writing is a joy and a curse. Stick with it.

Q: Where can readers find your books?

A: Happy Endings is found at:

Amazon.com;
Blurb.ca;

And by ordering directly from the author: sherry.bagnato@rogers.com.

Thank you again, Sherry, for taking valuable time away from your very busy schedule. It has been a pleasure meeting you and I look forward to your next novels.

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Massey Hall 1971 by B. B. Wright

Massey Hall Doors TorontoMassey Hall 1971

A Short Story

by

B. B. Wright

“It’s not like them,” I said, perturbed by their tardiness. I sank into my jacket like a tortoise into its shell. “It’s so freaking cold my face feels like one huge boil.”

“Huh?” Mark replied, embracing himself and flapping his hands against his shoulders and stamping his feet to keep warm.

I shook my head and turned away. “Ah…forget it.”

“You should have dressed warmer,” he retorted, restlessly surveying the mass of people who filtered through the Massey Hall doors opposite us on Shuter Street. “Anyway, whose smart idea was it not to pick up our tickets when we had a chance?”

My mouth swung open about to propel words I knew I would regret but I thought better of it. Quietly I counted to ten. And, then, took in a few deep breaths. Slowly, I bit off my next words through my snout encrusted moustache. “We did, Mark.”

Somewhat flummoxed by what I had just said, his eyes shifted upwards as he massaged his chin in a thoughtful pose. “Uh-huh! I guess you’re right. Well, kinda right. But, only because you convinced me.”

“I con con-vinced you?” If I could have wiped off his silly smug expression right then and there I would have done it, but I was too damn cold. “Con-vinced you! How?” My enunciation was somewhat hampered by a mouthful of chattering teeth.

“Jeanne,” he blurted out.

“Jeanne?”

“Oooo mysterious benefactor,” he replied, air quoting his remark with his fingers. “If I’m recollecting correctly, it had something or other to do with her dad knowing someone and obtaining free tickets.” His right eyebrow shot up. “So who was it? Someone he knew at The Telegram?” He drew closer and peered down at me. “She does have them? Her father did get them? We’re not standing here on a maybe? Are we?”

“No.” I insisted. “She’s got them.” I could feel the seams in my jacket pockets begin to give way as I forced my hands in further.

He thrust his wrist watch in front of my face. “She’s half an hour late. The concert begins in less than ten minutes.”

“I know. I know. Get your arm out of my face,” I demanded, pushing it away.

I, too, was concerned but more for selfish reasons than for their safety and wellbeing. I should have felt a twinge or even a prick of guilt but I didn’t. The forlorn expression on Mark’s face mirrored how I felt at that moment. Tonight was a big deal. Neil Young was doing a live performance. It was being recorded for his upcoming album. And, here we were. Without tickets. Freezing our buns off.

Our eyes shifted to the doors opposite as another set of patrons entered. Some sort of strange sounding chant began to erupt from Mark’s lips. I surmised he was praying for a miracle. Whatever he hoped to achieve worked. The center doors suddenly swung open, Jeanne holding one, Jill the other. Jeanne waved the tickets high in the air while Jill motioned for us to join them.

Stunned, Mark and I stared at each other in astonishment.

“Well! Are you coming or not?” Jill yelled out.

Heedless to traffic, we quickly joined them.

Still dumbfounded by what had just happened, neither Mark nor I pressed for an explanation or an apology. Our time was at a premium. We followed the girls to our seats in the orchestra section. Middle seats, third row, right in front of the stage. At that point, even if I had wanted to say something, I could not have. Simply put, I was speechless.

We had barely taken our seats when a gentleman in the seat in front of us stood up and turned around with an outstretched hand.

Jeanne introduced both Mark and I as we shook hands.

“Don’t be too hard on the girls,” Scott Young said, addressing both Mark and I. “It was my fault or rather my son, Neil’s fault. We got caught up backstage learning about tonight’s performance; we lost all sense of time. So apologies all round. Jeanne, I still hope you and your friends will be joining Neil and I for supper after the show?”

Jeanne was about to reply, when, in unison, Mark and I rejoined: “We sure will.”

Scott Young smiled and regained his seat as his son, Neil, took to center stage.

I took Jeanne’s hand and we settled in to what we knew would be a great concert and an unforgettable evening.