Saturday, May 10, 2008

An Interview With Tristi Pinkston

I am honored to have been asked to participate in a blog tour for my internet writing buddy, Tristi Pinkston and her new book Season of Sacrifice. This book is at the top of my summer reading list. It has received very good reviews (See them here: 1 2 3 4), and I am excited to read it myself. Her other books have all been greatly enjoyed by everyone here at the Carey house. Click here to learn more about Tristi's works.

I first "met" Tristi through the October Book In A Month (BIAM) challenge she hosted on her blog last year. This has been followed by two other BIAM challenges in the last few months. Tristi, what prompted you to host these challenges on your blog?

I'm the kind of person that needs accountability in order to really succeed. When I report my progress to others, it helps me stay on track. I started the Book in a Month Challenges for myself, to give me an accountability system. When I feel tempted to slack off, I think, "yeah, but I don't want to have to tell the group that I didn't do anything." So it motivates me to forge ahead, and I believe it's been pretty helpful to the other participants. (Has it, Don?) [Absolutely!] I plan to do four challenges a year on the blog I started just for that, at

When did you realize you wanted to be a writer?

When the little voices in my head got very, very loud. I'm only sort of kidding. I've always wanted to be a writer. I don't remember a time in my whole life when I didn't want to write. But it wasn't until I was twenty-three that I realized I might ever actually write something good.

Your first published novel was "Nothing to Regret." Was that your first story, or do you have manuscripts hidden under the bed that you will never let see the light of day?

I wrote little stories and poems the whole time I was growing up, and then in my teens I went through a stage of depressing poetry and badly written fantasy. I did start one historical fiction set in WWI that I plan to resurrect someday. But that other stuff -- you'll never see it, and trust me, you'll thank me for that.

Both "Nothing to Regret" and your second novel, "Strength to Endure," were set in World War II. How is it that a nice gal like you got started writing wartime historicals?

This question has two answers to it. First, I love reading Ann Rinaldi. She's a national young adult novelist who writes historical fiction, and she brings it to life in such a way that you feel you've stepped into history yourself. She's really the author who got me started down this path. Second, both those novels came to my mind pretty much already formed. I just had to do the research and write it all down. I'm not sure why the muses chose historical fiction for me, but I've enjoyed the process so much.

Your most recent novel, "Season of Sacrifice," is based on the true story of the Hole in the Rock Pioneers. Please tell us about it.

How much blog space have you got?

In a nutshell, my great-great-grandfather was named Benjamin Perkins, and he came to Utah as a young man after being a coal miner in Wales for most of his life. He'd learned how to use blasting powder in the mines, and when President Taylor of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints decided to send some missionaries across the state of Utah to colonize the southeast corner, Benjamin and his family were called to go. The land south of Escalante drops down to the Colorado River and Lake Powell in a series of cliffs, and when the pioneers reached that area, they had to choose whether to go back or press forward. They decided to press forward, and Benjamin was called on to help design a way down that cliff. He came up with the idea of drilling holes in the cliff wall and driving staves into the holes, and then the wagons drove down on those staves. It was risky, and it was brilliant.

The novel follows Ben from Wales to Utah and details his marriage to his sweetheart Mary Ann, the subsequent immigration of Mary Ann's family, and the challenges they all face as they strive to be obedient.

While your first two books were released by Granite Publishing, you chose to self publish "Season of Sacrifice." What prompted you to make that decision?

I blame Warren Jeffs for the whole thing. Actually, my serious answer isn't too far off the mark. After reaching the Bluff area and settling, Benjamin was commanded to take a second wife. The last segment of my book deals with his internal struggles as he seeks to obey the Lord, and yet does not want to break his wife's heart. Because of all the bruhaha in the press about Warren Jeffs, the LDS market has become very careful about the subject of polygamy. "Season of Sacrifice" needed to be published, so I decided to publish it myself.

Self-published titles typically lack the editorial oversight found in traditional publishing. What, if anything, did you do differently with this book to ensure it was a quality project worthy of the Tristi Pinkston brand?

The most important thing I did was to enlist the help of a good friend, BJ Rowley. BJ owns his own publishing imprint, called Golden Wings, and he has self-published many of his own novels. He typesets professionally and is a wonderful line editor. He designed the cover and did all the work associated with this publication. We did end up with a few typos and a few minor mistakes, but no more than you'll find in a traditionally published novel.

What should readers expect to see from you in the future, both near and long-term?

You will see more historical fiction--I've got a Vietnam-era book nearly finished, a book about the Depression nearly finished, and ideas for other novels that range in time from the Civil War down through WWI and WWII. Historical fiction will always be my first love. However, I've recently started writing contemporary as well, and I'm enjoying it too. My dream would be to write both.

During the BIAM you hosted this past April, you mentioned that the book you're currently working on "is the most fun I've ever had in my life." What has made this new book so much fun?

This book, which I just finished, incidentally, is a contemporary comedy which features some off-the-wall elderly ladies who get involved in solving a crime. It's just been a delightful experience to sit down at the computer, see where the characters want to take me, and letting them have their way. I've only reined them in a couple of times--the rest of the time, I let them have their way, and they've been a wild bunch. I've made myself laugh out loud repeatedly while writing. It's been a whole new experience for me -- I wrote fully one hundred pages before I had to stop and research anything. In the end, I got it written in six weeks, over the January BIAM and the April BIAM. That's just unheard of for me.

What advice would you give to other writers and would-be authors?

First off, you need to read a lot. Pick solid authors and just read, read, read. Even if you're not aware of the techniques they're using, your subconscious will pick up on sentence construction, word choice, and so forth. Second, listen to criticism. Don't be afraid to let others see your work. Trust me, they'll save you from making silly mistakes because we all get blind to our work after a certain point. But learn which criticism to listen to and which to ignore. If you're told to do something with your story that totally doesn't fit, then don't do it. But listen to the criticism that makes sense, and don't be prideful about it.

Thank you, Tristi.

Thanks, Don!

1 comment:

Danyelle Ferguson said...

Ooh - Tristi's comedy sounds really good! Thanks for your interview!