After reading and reviewing The Fear Principle, I could not wait to interview the author. I wanted to learn as much as possible about the inspiration behind such a well written and suspenseful book about people who must learn to face their fears. Please join me in welcoming B.A. Chepaitis.
1. Can you please tell me about your background?
I was born and raised in a small town in upstate New York, in a house full of Lithuanian and Italian immigrants. My parents believed that the mind was the best toy in the world, and they encouraged me and all my siblings to read, to explore science, to always ask questions. Our house was also filled with music, which probably explains why my writing often works with sound as much as sense.
2. How long did it take you to finish writing The Fear Principle?
This novel was a short story first, and when I had an editor’s interest in seeing it as a novel I had to finish it rather quickly. Within two weeks, with lots of all-nighters. But then my first draft process is always fast, and my editing is always slow.
3. I love your style of writing, how did you develop this prolific way of writing?
As I said, a lot of my writing style comes from playing and listening to so much music. I can clearly remember sitting at the piano and thinking that I wanted to make words do what music does — give readers a direct experience of emotion. The characters, such as Jaguar Addams, come from growing up with strong-minded people who said what they thought out loud. In particular, the women in my family were very outspoken. In fact, my Italian grandmother marched with the Suffragettes.
4. There is so much detail in the plot of The Fear Principle — how did you come up with these ideas?
I don’t think I ‘come up’ with the ideas so much as I ‘listen’ for them. Sometimes that listening is internal. There’s an image or idea bubbling up inside me that suddenly makes itself known. That’s how Jaguar appeared. Other times there’s situations in the world that grab my attention, such as our culture’s fascination with serial killers, and our overcrowded prisons. When two such ideas meet, you have a novel!
5. Do you write from an outline?
Outlines are way too linear for me. I spend a lot of pre-writing time daydreaming about my characters and their situation, and making notes on random pieces of paper. Often I lose the notes, but once I’ve written them down they stay with me. By the time I’m ready to write, instead of an outline I have the book inside me, as a sort of movie of the mind.
6. Thank you for allowing me to interview you, is there anything else you would like to share? What are you currently working on?
I’m continuing with Jaguar’s series, writing the sixth one — A Strangled Cry of Fear. I’m also shopping this in script form, because I think this series is suited to that medium. I’m also writing an unrelated book of nonfiction and an unrelated fantasy novel. As you can see, I like to keep busy.
If anyone would like to know more about my work, I hope you’ll visit me and Jaguar on Facebook, or stop by and check out my website. Information for that is below!
You can follow Barbara on her virtual book tour with Pump Up Your Book.
Barbara Chepaitis is the author of eight published books, including The Fear Principle, the critically praised Feeding Christine and These Dreams. Feathers of Hope, her first nonfiction book, is about Berkshire Bird Paradise and the human interaction with birds. She’s working on a sequel about Eagle Mitch, a bird she helped our U.S. troops rescue from Afghanistan. Barbara is founder of The Snickering Witches, a storytelling trio, and faculty coordinator for the fiction component of Western Colorado’s MFA program in creative writing.
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