Thursday, January 5, 2012

INTERVIEW: Joy Argento (author of Emily's Art and Soul)

Good morning, all! I am absolutely delighted this morning to introduce you to Joy Argento, author of the lesbian romance Emily's Art and Soul, who has stopped by for our first interview of the new year.

Before we get into the interview, let's take a quick look at her newest release:

Emily's life's "to do" list never included having her mentally challenged sister move in with her. Then again getting a divorce or moving to a different town for a new teaching job wasn't on her list either. But a lot of things change when your mother dies. Sometimes these unexpected changes can bring new self revelations and unexpected turns. Emily's best friend, Andi stands patiently by while Emily discovers her new found sexuality and sets out to explores the world of loving women. But, will Emily see what's right in front of her before it's too late?


♥ Thanks so much for stopping by, Joy! For those who may be new to your writing, and who haven't yet checked out your latest release, please tell us a little about yourself.

I have spent the last 15 years of my life as a freelance artist. A friend suggested that I try my hand at writing because she liked the way I “told stories”. I thought she was crazy until I decided one day to take her advice and wrote a really bad biography. Just the act of writing it stirred something in me and created an urge to write a lesbian romance. That led to another and I have just completed the first draft of my third novel.

♥ The journey from 'aspiring' to 'accomplished' can be a long one, even in the era of small presses and digital publishing. When did you begin writing, and how did you feel when you first saw your work in print?

I started writing about two years ago. Before that the last serious things I wrote were in high school and a college course…a good many years ago. It was surreal when I saw my first book in print.

♥ Did you deliberately choose lesbian romance as a genre because there's something specific that draws you to it, something you feel it offers that other genres don't, or was it just 'right' for the story you wanted to tell?

I choose lesbian romance because it’s what I enjoy reading the most. No matter how my life is going, I love being transported into a new love story with a well written book.

♥ How does your past influence your writing? Are you conscious of relating the story to your own experiences?

Whether I set out intentionally using my own experiences or not, that is what comes through in the characters. My own emotions and weakness seem to become my characters traits. My second book, Emily's Art and Soul, features a character with Down syndrome. That character was based on my younger brother Charlie. So yes my past definitely influences my writing.

♥ Do you have a schedule or a routine to your writing? Is there a time and place that you must write, or do you let the words flow as they demand?

Occasionally the words come when I am not expecting them. If I can get to my computer at that time, I do. If not, I try to write it down on whatever is available. Other than that, I write on my laptop in the family room, surrounded by my partner, the dog, and four cats. Often the television is on…usually blaring. For the most part I am able to tune everything out and write. Once in a while I have to put my ear buds in and play music to get the rest of the world to go away.

♥ How about a soundtrack? Do you have a particular style of music or other background noise that keeps you in the mood, or do you require quiet solitude?

When I do play music it is usually songs from Glee. I only use music to drown out other sounds.

♥ For some authors, it's coming up with a title, and for others it's writing that first paragraph - what do you find is the most difficult aspect of writing?

Once I start a book, I come up with a title. I don’t usually stick with that title and trying to come up with the “real” title is very hard for me. Writing the blurb for a book is equally as difficult.

♥ Is there a favourite quote or scene from your work that you feel particularly fond of? Something that reminds you of why writing is important to you?

Sami swallowed hard. She didn’t want to have this discussion, but she knew there was no chance of a future with Faith without it. “Are you afraid of going to hell?”

She felt Faith nod her head against her shoulder. “I am. Aren’t you?”

“No,” Sami hesitated. Her fingers tips continued to stroke Faith’s back. “I’m afraid of displeasing God and what that might mean. But I don’t think I’m going to hell. If you remember, I don’t really believe in hell. But Faith, if I did believe in hell, I don’t think us loving each other would cause God to send us to there. But if it did, I would go to hell if it meant I could be with you.”

Faith sat upright in bed, her hand holding the sheet to her chest. “Don’t say that. Oh my gosh. Don’t say that. Don’t you see I could never let you risk your immortal soul for me? I could never let that happen.” Faith slipped out of Sami’s arm and out of the bed.

♥ Sometimes, characters can take on a life of their own, pulling the story in directions you hadn't originally anticipated. Has a twist or turn in your writing ever surprised you, or really challenged your original plans?

I’ve had characters say things that I didn’t expect them to. In the story I’m writing now, Faith tells the best friend of Sami, that she still has feelings for Sami. I expected the friend to just sort of nod and listen. Instead she went on a rampage telling Faith to stay away from Sami. It wasn’t what I had planned on writing, but it made total sense that the character would do that.

♥ When you're not writing (or reading), what are some of the hobbies and passions that keep you happy?

I am an artist when I’m not writing. I do oil painting, drawing, pastel and color pencil. I also do “How to” art DVDs, using my own lessons and videotaping other artist’s lessons.

♥ Is there a particular author who has influenced or inspired your writing? Somebody who either made you want to write in the first place, or who refreshes your literary batteries?

Georgia Beers is my personal hero. I’ve loved her books since I read her first one years ago. I fall in love with her characters and always miss them when I finish the story. I look to her work as a model for what I want to do with my writing.

♥ When writing, do you ever consider how a reader or reviewer will react, or do you write solely for your own satisfaction?

I always have the reader in mind as I write, but it is important for me to be personally satisfied with a story. If I enjoy writing it and then rereading it for edit, then I know I’ve done my job.

♥ What first compelled you to begin writing, and what is it that keeps you motivated?

My friend, Chris first compelled me to write. I stay motivated because I have so many story ideas in my head, and I am interested to find out what these stories are about and who is living the stories. I love getting to know the characters and being surprised and amused by them.

♥ Just for fun, who would you single out as your number one celebrity crush, and what would you like most to do with/to them?

I am absolutely in love with Sandra Bullock. She is beautiful, funny and smart. I’m thinking that having breakfast, that stretches in to lunch, that stretches into dinner, that continues on to drinks in the evening, would be nice. (Is that asking too much?) Of course she discovers how interesting and funny I am and decides that she wants me to be her new best friend.

♥ If your book were being made into a movie, and you had total control over the production, who would you cast for the leading roles?

The first book I wrote (but it was the second one published)  Emily's Art and Soul would have Anna Silk playing Andi. Anna stars in the Canadian series, Lost Girls. Emily is still being cast in my head. I am holding auditions if anyone would like to try out. Mindy (Emily’s sister) would be played by Lauren Potter, who plays Becky on Glee.

♥ If you could live a day in the world of someone else's story, whose would you choose, and why?

I would be Jennifer in Georgia Beer’s book Thy Neighbor’s Wife. She’s beautiful, rich and she gets the girl.

♥ Is there a particular theme or message you're expecting readers to take away from your work?

Each of my books has a theme. Carrie and Hope is about letting fear rule your life.  Emily's Art and Soul is about missing what’s right in front of you. My next book, Holding on to Faith is about overcoming beliefs that were pounding in your head to be true to yourself.

♥ Okay, I think you've already spilled the beans, but what can we look forward to from you next? Is there a project on the horizon that you're really excited about?

I am really hoping to release my next book, Holding on to Faith in late January. It is in the hands of my first readers right now and I am awaiting feedback. I should have it to my editor in early January. The cover is designed and ready to go. The book can be summed up in one line. What would you do if the one thing standing between you and the woman you love is God?


About Joy:Joy Argento spent most of her life creating visual art. Her award winning paintings and drawings have found their way into countless public and private collections around the world. The same gift of observation that gives her art such a feeling of depth and reality is also very evident in her writing. Dealing with such serious subjects as death, teen pregnancy, and religious beliefs, she still manages to inject a good amount of humor in each story. Her characters are people you would like to know, to have lunch with, to fall in love with.

Joy was born and raised in Syracuse, New York and currently lives in Rochester, New York with her partner, four cats and a dog. She is the proud mom of three grown children.

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