Monday, February 23, 2015

Interview with Ibby Taylor Greer

              My guest this week is writer, editor and artist Ibby Taylor Greer.  I have read three of Ibby's books and have found them to be entertaining, informative and incredibly creative. Welcome, Ibby, and thank you for your insights to reading and writing.

                  1) What kinds of books do you like to read and is there one special book that is your favorite overall? 

I read classic fiction (American, British, European novels, and some poetry, mostly) and contemporary mysteries and thrillers mostly, anymore. As for one favorite, probably a book I always own or have around and read and reread, “Smiley’s People” by John LeCarre. A masterpiece of story, characterization, narrative techniques, and suspense.

2) Who are your favorite authors, past and present?

As for favorite(s), too many to list but here are some I tend to own and reread the most: two of the John Le Carre books, “Smiley’s People” and “Tinker, Tailor,” as being near perfect, well-written spy thrillers. I love the early P.D. James novels, like “Death of an Expert Witness.” I reread DuMaurier for ambiance (“Jamaica Inn”), all the Dick (and now Felix) Francis books because of their independent main characters and how the stories evolve with suspense; I love Rumer Godden’s “An Episode of Sparrows.” I enjoy books set in Britain, and Ireland. Biy I have a few favorite Scandinavian, German, and French novels and memoirs, as well, including Sigfried Lenz’s “The German Lesson,” the Dutch-setting stories for children of Meindert (sp) DeJong; “Eugenie Grandet” by Balzac, all Irish short stories by the whole cast of Irish writers, most of Ann Tyler’s novels. I read everything.

3) Are there any authors who have inspired you to write and, if so, who are they?

            Beatrix Potter, Emily Dickiinson, Mary Stewart, Ann Tyler, Jane Austen, Daphne Du Maurier,          P.D. James, “Carolyn Keene”, Chaucer, Shakespeare, Yeats. Yep, classically educated. 
          I identify especially with Mary Stewart, Daphne du Maurier and P.D. James. I wonder if anyone still reads Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier.

           4) How do you choose your characters’ names?
Each name has another meaning; once the reader gets into the book(s) they start to see what a name can mean. Example, my character Ann C. Bow, in “Moving Day, A Season of Letters,” is a name that, in French, is ‘an si beau,’ or, “such a beautiful year.” Deliberate. In “Moonshine Corner,” Lacey Brew connects things and stirs up the past and present, “brews” something new; other characters named Glass, See, and Hill all have names that fit their roles in the novel. If “every detail counts” in writing, why not let names count?

5) Are you a plotter or a “pantser”?

                ?  Do not know what that is. I plan a novel out in a loose outline, of events, and then let it      happen.   
              Then I would say you are a little bit of both. Outlining is plotting and a "pantser" is someone who lets the story or characters lead the author.

6) What kind of writing schedule do you have?

When working on my own novel, I write mostly all day. When I edit, I do it from about ten a.m. to 3 p.m. and stop. I am at my best in the mid-morning and early evening. But “life interferes

7) How do you choose your titles? Do you have a title in mind before you start writing or does something occur after you have begun to write or after you have finished?
               Choose the title first.

8) Do you base your characters on real people or are they completely from your imagination?

Both. In “Moving Day,” Ann C. Bow was very loosely based on a delightful neighbor in the apartment building. But she never saw the novel, alas, as she died in 1983 and I wrote it in 1999. In “Moonshine Corner,” I had some character types based on friends, with their permission (partly as a gimmick for selling books!), but all the characters were fictitious.
9) Have you used real life experiences in your fiction or is everything from your imagination?

                  Both, especially relationships. But most of it is pure fiction.

10) When did you realize that you wanted to be a writer ?

                 When I read my first books as a little child, of maybe 5. Beatrix Potter was read to me when I was very young; I still have the books (first editions from early 1900s, and figurines, fairy tales of all kinds, and select Little Golden Books (which I also still have)

           11) What books have you published and where can readers find them?

All my books are available on  or directly from me. Check either Ibby Greer, Elizabeth T. Greer, or Ibby Taylor Greer. Address: P.O. Box 4687, Roanoke, VA 24015. And

1. “Moving Day, A Season of Letters,” Brunswick Pub., 1999, an epistolary novel set in Boulder, CO.
2. “Paper Faces, Babyboomer Memoir,” Brunswick Pub. Free verse and photos. 2000.
3. “Moonshine Corner, Keys to Rocky Mount,” time-warp historical novel, ghost novel, and love story. Epilogue of family genealogy and history,  2014.
4. “Thomas Keister Greer: Youth, WWII Marine, Early Legal Career,” written by my late husband and edited and published by me. 2014. Memoir, photos, annotations by me.
5. “Old-Fashioned Stories and Poems, For Children and Everyone.”  2014. Small lyrical poems and art, several stories, including, “The Gingerbread Angel, An After-Christmas Story.”

Questions for fun:

12) What is your favorite color?
13) Favorite flavor of ice cream?
            Peppermint Stick
14) Favorite cookie and/or candy bar?
            Homemade chocolate-chip, Snickers
15) Favorite movie?
            “Dr. Zhivago” and “Brideshead Revisited” (the BBC series with Jeremy Irons) and "Shakespeare in Love"
16) Favorite TV show?
            “Honeymooners” for dialogue and comedy; “Who Do You Think You Are?” because I am a genealogist
17)  Favorite place to write: a coffee shop; favorite place to read: a library

Thank you, Pat!
And thank you, Ibby, for a most intriguing, interesting and entertaining interview!