Q&A With Erica Bauermeister
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Q&A With Erica Bauermeister
Yesterday Erica Bauermeister had responded to my message and agreed to do a Q&A with me. Erica Bauermeister is the New York Times Bestselling author of “The Scent Keeper,” “The School of Essential Ingredients,” “The Lost Art of Mixing,” and in May of 2023 “No Two Persons”, which I am going to start reading on my Netgalley app tonight. Erica has also written a memoir “House Lessons Renovating A Life”.
Q: So Erica, at what point in your life did you realize that your calling was to be a writer?
A: I was one of those people who always wanted to be a writer. I love words —the musicality and rhythm of them, the prose-poetry they can create. But even more than that, I love entering the minds of fictional characters, seeing the world through their eyes. I’ll be wandering in a bookstore and see a book about free diving and find myself wondering “what kind of person DOES that?” and that turns into a character I get to spend time with. I find it fascinating.
Q: Where do you get your ideas to write all your novels? The premises for “The Scent Keeper,” and “No Two Persons”, are very unique. I especially love the idea for “No Two Persons,” because it’s a reminder that stories not only entertain but they impact us and change us too.
A: I am always hoping to help people pay more attention to something that simmers below our level of consciousness – our sense of smell, the design of our houses, the fact that people see things differently. If I can make people shift their thinking, then I feel I’ve done my job. Scent Keeper came from walking my dog and seeing how differently we perceived the world – he could smell time, which just seemed crazy to me. And it got me wondering, what would it be like for a child to grow up with smell as her dominant sense? What would our world look like to that child, and what could we learn from seeing through her eyes (or smelling through her nose, more appropriately). For No Two Persons, the idea came from working with book clubs and seeing those groups creating a space where people could openly and happily discuss differences of opinions (because no two persons ever read the same book, even if we all read the same words) I wanted to recreate that experience in a book, with the hope that people in our increasingly polarized world might take the lesson out into other parts of their lives.
Q: What advice would you tell anyone who wants to be an author? What advice do you give to anyone struggling with writer’s block?
A: Read. Read. Read. Probably my best training was doing the background research for the reader’s guide I co-authored back in the 1990s. It was called 500 Great Books by Women and we read thousands of books, good and bad. It was a fabulous education, much better than graduate school.
And when it comes to writer’s block, my best advice is to find a good question. Something that sparks your brain, makes you want to dig in and learn. It might be something as simple as “what makes two people fall in love?” or it might be “what does it feel like to be an expert salsa dancer?” or “how can someone overcome a hard childhood?” When I’m experiencing writer’s block it often means I am focusing too hard on having answers, when all I really need is a good question.
Q: If you were to collaborate with another author, who would it be with and why?
A: My son. I asked him to be my developmental editor when I got stuck on Scent Keeper and it was a truly creative experience. Because he comes from a fantasy background, he’s great at plot and world building. I tend to focus on character, so we made for a good combination. Alas, he is a software programmer now (bills must be paid, and all), so I might have to wait a bit.
Q: You wrote a memoir as well as fictional novels. If you were to write different genres which ones would they be and why?
A: I always thought I would write creative non-fiction, and it’s still a love of mine. If I ever stop having fictional people bumping around in my imagination, I could see going back to it. But in the meantime, I love my imaginary friends and it’s hard to conceive of leaving their stories untold.
Q: Are you writing a new novel now? If so can you reveal any small details?
A: I’m actually working with three different ideas and haven’t yet figured out which one I’ll land on. It’s an interesting problem to have! I suppose I should follow my own advice and figure out which one holds the most interesting question….
Q: What do you like the most about writing? What do you like least about writing if anything?
A: I love those times when I am inside the writing and the words are flowing through my fingers. At the end of those sessions, I can read the work later and almost not remember writing it. It’s magical. It’s invigorating and calming at the same time – probably a lot like meditation.
As for the parts I don’t like? I suppose it’s the days when the creativity is not flowing (because it can’t flow all the time). But I’ve learned not to panic during those times. I take a walk. Paint a wall. Cook. Something that involves repetitive physical exercise is best. With part of your mind occupied, the more creative part can find its way forward.
Q: Does Hollywood have the rights to any of your novels?
A: You know, that’s a crazy thing, and nothing you should ever count on. The rights for School of Essential Ingredients have been optioned three times and it’s yet to make it to the screen – which they tell you is completely typical. Scent Keeper is currently optioned, so we’ll just have to see.