IndieView with Virginia Arthur, author of Treed

The community wanted to make it into a park. The CA Board of Supervisors type of government has to be replaced by something else, a form of governing that would be truly democratic, like community councils but the idea of letting people actually vote on developments terrifies the powers that be in CA so it is highly unlikely the BOS type of government will ever be abolished in CA. Until I make it on to the New York Times best seller list (ha ha), I still have to get up in the morning and go do something that makes me money. As I was showing her the cards, I mentioned that amphibians are going extinct globally to which she replied, with a wave of her hand, “I don’t really care about all that. Appropriate considering the first novel was Birdbrain. Ours was a new street surrounded by vast wildness, an old abandoned farm. That just blew my mind. I once worked in a store that pegged itself a “nature store” in that everything it sold had a nature theme but most of the stuff came from China. Make sure it is not spaced any more than 1.5 line spacing. No. Explore every and anything in the landscape be it wild orchids, ponds, orchards, wildflower meadows, giant old oaks, the amazing abandoned white farmhouse with the grand white pillars. What made you decide to go Indie, whether self-publishing or with an indie publisher? Are there any particular authors that have influenced how you write and, if so, how have they influenced you? About the book
What is the book about? Pretty much covered that one. When I started writing my first what turned out to be eco-novel, Birdbrain, the anger and rage just poured out of me that this was my experience growing up, watching the land around us get destroyed. Fall 2017
How long did it take you to write it? Publishing as an Indie is heaven. All these experiences are woven into the main character, Maybelline. Set aside at least $1000 for initial release marketing (yes, $1000). What would you like readers to know about you? Virginia Arthur – 25 April 2019
The Back Flap
A consequence of getting older is current experiences inevitably get threaded to memories as Maybelline Emmons learns when she embarks on what she thinks will be a simple road trip to find a tree. By the time I was 18, it was a suburban hell and I couldn’t wait to get the hell out of it. Joni and Maybelline. This passionate yet comic story revolves around efforts to save an old-growth tree but things go off the rails in a compelling, edge-of-your-seat way. Leave. It’s eco-fiction. We did. When you have only so much time and you know it, this is bound to make you selfish. Nothing nobody hasn’t already said: show some damn courage, put your ego aside, settle down, slow down, and get someone you trust to read your book then suck it up and listen to their honest assessment and make the needed edits/changes so your story works. Maybe I am still resolving my anger from childhood but to this day, I still try to save places and in California at least, we lose most of the time because there is nothing democratic about land use decisions in California where a small number of people have tremendous power, too much power, to vote in developments of any size, in any place…often these people are put into these positions on purpose, with intent to vote the developments in. My husband just likes things with frogs on it.” Wow. A restless lonely aging widow takes a road trip to Santa Rosa, CA to find an old friend that happens to be a tree. We took care of everything from frogs and toads, snakes, to raccoons, foxes, birds…we were always caring for some refugee of the slaughter until one year, we weren’t because there was nothing left. The stupid submission process. Half-assed marketing doesn’t really work and if you hate doing the marketing (like I do) plan on hiring someone with your thousand dollars to get the momentum going. There is a parking lot there now. I remember some knock-down, drag-outs with my parents who thought they were doing right by their kids, moving us to this new suburban “paradise” but in the end, both my father and mother admitted to me they never anticipated the level of destruction we all witnessed over that time. This is the kind of story I write because this is the kind of story that writes me, yes, it writes me–the characters show up and I dictate their story. All my characters are based on myself, consciously, unconsciously, my own life experiences, and people I have met, including Tamara and Terrence, not real names. Did you get your book cover professionally done or did you do it yourself? She has no expectation the tree will still be there. I struggled with building this transformation into the story so it evolves on its own terms, in its own time. The title page must be 14 pt font and double spaced, do not…Please include a self-addressed stamped envelope. We were part of the new experiment called the American Dream and this version required complete destruction of the land. Mostly, we were trying to save the grove from our own Board of Supervisor who chastised us all publicly for having the audacity to try and save a grove of oaks he played in as a kid. Do you have a writing process? There is no redemption for a place like that. Per Virginia Arthur’s two previous novels, Treed will curl the tendrils of your heart and blow your leaves off. Some place is always being trashed in California. A book of short stories I hope to release Fall 2019. After that’s over, run an ad or tweet every now and then to keep the book in the public eye. I offer one of many examples. A year
Where did you get the idea from? Maybe because the human primate is narcissistic and has to be? Do you listen to music while you write? Winging it. Indeed, living in what was becoming a suburban hell while the American conservation movement was getting off the ground? When did you start writing the book? Get out. She experiences something so confounding, painful, transformational–none of which she signed on for; her evenings drinking Pinot, watching her hummingbirds…this was always enough. I was heartbroken and enraged. By default, our house became a wildlife rehab center at a time when this concept did not exist. I am unfortunately very familiar with loss and grief, so this is easily accessed from a permanent well deep in my soul; and now I am familiar with the bizarre experience of being an aging woman. So we all did. Make sure the envelope is no bigger than blah, blah, blah, blah.” Forget it. If someone wants to give me a lot of money to flush them out, get in touch. Thank you too for this interview. Were there any parts of the book where you struggled? I met ‘Tamara and Terrence’ when I attended a public hearing to save an empty lot next to their apartment building. I have been through it so many times, again, most of the time we lose, ‘we’ being the community and in fact, while I was writing Treed, I was recruited to help save a grove of old-growth oaks from a Dollar General store. I think about this a lot. One day a woman asked me if we had any cards with frogs on them. If having an idea then being seized by it to the point of marginal insanity is a writing process than this would be mine. Do you outline? Was it a particular event or a gradual process? Where do you live now? So far I have been successful victimizing a few friends into reading my drafts as long as alcohol is involved. Inside my head, I am still a young woman but this isn’t what the world sees and this is very strange. My entire childhood was spent watching this paradise get destroyed and God Bless my mother and father who tried to care for all the wildlife that poured into the one part of the land not getting destroyed, our street. The battles to save it are endless and exhausting. I actually have to turn it off, not think about my writing, ideas, so I can earn a real living, function. End of Interview:
Get your copy of   Treed from Amazon US or Amazon UK. Treed is dedicated to my mother who bought a sugar maple that we planted in the stark front yard, and as if to put the nail in the coffin of that experience, the past, when she sold the house after we all graduated from high school and left, the new owners stupidly, pointlessly, cut that beautiful little maple tree down. What came easily? For me, reading Abbey was like putting gasoline on an already very hot fire. “Please submit the first two chapters of your book using 12 pt font and 1 inch margins. Both. In fact, I was banned from reading Ed Abbey by my parents who said when I read “that guy”, I got out of hand, angry. Joni was raised in an activist family in SF, has been an activist her whole young life while Maybelline, a boomer, has lived a comfortable, in the opinion of Joni anyway, oblivious life…Neither one of them gets it completely right about the other. Place your name on the last page only. If so can you please describe it? Pretty much covered that one too. Depends on where in the process I am and how many beers into it I am. We are surrounded by this every minute of every day but it’s left out of our stories. We all know how important it is for writers to read. What is that? It is very corrupt. Are your characters entirely fictitious or have you borrowed from real world people you know? For some that have emailed me, it’s been about managing grief and despair in the face of growing older, facing death. She finds a lot more than she ever could have imagined…
The story is multi-dimensional and multi-generational (with tension between the generations) so each reader’s experience will be different. It was bliss for the little pod of kids on our new street. We would leave in the morning, return at dark. About Publishing
Did you submit your work to Agents? I was spending a lot of time and money preparing the submission packages then getting rejected or not even hearing back. For who? I have to watch it, actually. The apartment building in the story was based on the sea of apartment buildings in El Cajon, California, an area where many non-empowered low-income people live. In one sense, uncanny, but in the other, in greedy California, entirely predictable. This also coincided with the passing of the United State’s major environmental laws, an astounding achievement and shuttled in by of all people, Richard Nixon. It is this way for many fiction authors for which writing is a serious affair, a spiritual affair, a fascinating experience. It is this way for many fiction authors for which writing is a serious affair, a spiritual affair, a fascinating experience. Like I said, the BOS form of government is corrupt and by the way, we lost. You see, the person that owned the grove was a friend of his so of course, he had to vote to destroy something supposedly protected by a COUNTY ORDINANCE. The basis   for the tension, the struggle, goes back to my childhood. If so, do you do so extensively or just chapter headings and a couple of sentences? I think I got it right. I’m sure we can work something out. I met them when I was living in San Diego. About You
Where did you grow up? To stem the despair, this is why I put some ‘wacky’ in my stories because it can really get to you. What nobody told us was that ours was the first street of what would become a massive mini-city, classic sprawl. After this, I have a lot of other ideas. If yes, what gets the fingers tapping? My contempt for the human species, the human primate, was born early in me while the adults around me called it “progress.”   A nuclear bomb taking a decade to go off and destroy everything around it is progress? It was a big deal when my parents announced to us we were moving to a new house, a new neighborhood. This is the kind of story I write because this is the kind of story that writes me, yes, it writes me–the characters show up and I dictate their story. We are in nature every day and I want my stories to reflect this in a way that goes beyond just the setting, be it the spider on my keyboard, the lint ball I bend down to pick up that turns out to be a dead butterfly, the tree I never noticed until it flowered, the conversation between two wrens going on just off my deck. I have never been able to understand and in fact, am intrigued by how the human primate can psychologically cleave itself off from nature. While I had complete power as the author of this book that is about saving a tree, I had next to none in the real world, during the so-called “democratic process”. Did you hire a professional editor? I think all fiction writers consciously or unconsciously include a little bit of themselves in the story (they can’t help it). Share this:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window) I write from the very depths of my soul and sometimes it hurts. I cannot deny that I am in the story, have aspects of all the characters, and I believe the reader also has aspects of all the characters. He voted to put that horrible box on top of an old-growth oak woodland, our tax dollars at work.     Of course, they lost. Truly, someone explain this to me because I don’t get it. I read the classics (re-reading Sinclair Lewis right now) and just list what we were all reading in the 70’s: Carlos Castaneda (especially living a suburban hell in Ohio; boy did his writings influence me speaking of wanting to get the hell out), Rachel Carson, Thoreau, Emerson, Williams Carlos Williams, Theodore Roethke, Walt Whitman, and probably the biggest influence at the time, Ed Abbey. About Writing. I think aspects of my writing may appeal to just about anyone but my target reader is the person that loves the earth, is aware of what we are doing to it, and is heartbroken by it. Maybe we cannot help it due to our life spans and the knowledge of our own deaths which likely dooms us as a species. Casually with no expectations of ever hearing back. I easily default into that insane writer, you know the one that hasn’t bathed in a few days with the pizza boxes around her, beer bottles, “two for a dollar” candy bags from the 7-11? For others, it’s about protecting the little we have left, taking a stand, and some readers just find it damn funny. What are you working on now? James Watt was Secretary of the Interior then too. Do you edit as you go or wait until you’ve finished? Do you have a target reader? The theme of saving the tree, the regulatory rigmarole of trying to save a place. So frogs are appealing on some level, as ornament, decoration, but if the real thing is going extinct, you don’t care? Do you have a marketing plan for the book or are you just winging it? Any advice that you would like to give to other newbies considering becoming Indie authors? I am a product of that time and I threw myself into the new so-called “American environmental movement”, completed two degrees in field biology/botany (B.S., M.S.). It’s the marketing that’s a bitch. I use an aggregator service that provided professional services including preparing the cover.