Have there been any authors who have influenced your work? If so, who?
I am a huge fan of
Ivan Doig (description of landscape and kindness to characters)
John McPhee (ability to write about almost any topic and make it comprehensible)
David Whyte (for his poetic insight and his metaphors)
E.B. White (for everything – humor, wit, delight in life)
Out of all the characters you’ve written, who is your favorite? Why?
It will be my grandfather on my father’s side, who died when my dad was 18. It will be interesting to develop his character.
Are there any types of scenes you find more difficult to write? Which ones and why.
The challenge for me, when I write my first novel, will be to make the dialogue believable and moving.
What would you say the most rewarding part of being an author is?
The most rewarding part of being an author is the connection to the reader/listener. That something I said makes a difference to readers means the world to me. I want to inspire people and move them to hope.
What advice do you have for authors just starting out in their journey?
My students really liked 5-minute free-writes. I extend that for myself to twenty minutes. It is a way to limber up the mind, get the creative juices flowing, and feel ready to settle down to writing.
Do you have a writing ritual? If so, please explain.
I write immediately after breakfast and my 6 a.m. walk. I take the weekends off. I tend to edit as I go along and make notes about what I want to research. I write thoughts down as they occur and keep them in a notebook for use later. I always have water and coffee at my side and I often stop to snack on something homemade as a reward for sticking to it.
Was being an author something you always wanted to do?
In a way, yes, in a way, no. I did always want to write a book and when I walked El Camino de Santiago de Compostela, I knew the book inside me was ready to be written. My mother was a beautiful writer and she never did write the short stories (her favorite medium) she threatened to. I thought that was a shame.
If you could have a conversation with any one person, alive or dead, who would it be and why?
I would love to have a conversation with Eleanor Roosevelt. What a powerhouse. In a man’s world, she made all the difference, and she connected to the richest of the rich and the poorest of the poor in equal measure. How did she keep her courage and compassion together?
Would you care to provide an excerpt from one of your books as a sample of your work?
There will be times when you are walking that your spirit is awakened and the universe pauses to let you be in that moment. Such was that hour that I sat in utter solitude and damp silence in the quiet dark church, Vilar de Donas, and I felt the monumental meaning of the Pilgrimage. The best you can do is be as fully in the moment as possible and keep good records – journaling, notes, photos, so that when you return and process your experience – a lifetime endeavor for sure – you can deepen your memory and be able to share it meaningfully with others. It would be impossible to see it all, understand it all, and appreciate every detail. You barely scratch the surface. When you get back, you will wish there had been more hours in each day, more energy in your tired body, and more awareness in the moment of just how extraordinary each place was. In some amazing way, we truly do become ourselves more deeply as we walk this Pilgrimage. (pp 72-73)