2015 Pamlico Writers Conference and Competition
March 21, 2015 8:30am to 6pm
The Turnage Theatre
150 W. Main Street, Washington, NC 27889
Theatre Director, Set Designer & Author
Doris Schneider is a passionate member of the Pamlico Writers Conference steering committee. This is the first year she will lead a session. As a retired Professor of Theatrical Arts she will use skills learned in the theater to teach writing students how to map out crowd and fight scenes.
Doris travels between her home in the mountains and her home on the coast. She is busy finishing her second novel, the prequel to Borrowed Things and is planning her new blog site using her years of theater to aid others in writing. 2015 is shaping up to be an adventurous year for Doris and the Pamlico Writers Conference.Doris Schneider is a passionate member of the Pamlico Writers Conference steering committee. This is the first year she will lead a session. As a retired Professor of Theatrical Arts she will use skills learned in the theater to teach writing students how to map out crowd and fight scenes.
Doris travels between her home in the mountains and her home on the coast. A She is busy finishing her second novel, the prequel to “Borrowed Things “and is planning her new blog site using her years of theater to aid others in writing. 2015 is shaping up to be an adventurous year for Doris and the Pamlico Writers Conference.
Q. You classified your novel as southern women’s fiction, but it could also be romance. Why did you choose this genre?
A. I had difficulty choosing a genre because it seemed to be a mix of genres: fiction, memoir, some suspense and mystery, some romance, some action, much introspect. I also made the mistake of asking only a few women to read the first draft. They all related to Anne’s feelings and choices. Consequently, I thought it was a woman’s book. And since it took place in the south, I settled on Southern Women’s Fiction, not really a genre. Happily, some men read it after it was published and said they really enjoyed and were touched by it. Like the character, Anne Gray, I forget to give men credit for being sensitive and sensual.
Q. You say that it is part memoir and part fiction. Is this in part your own love story? Are you Anne Gray?
A. Anne’s story began as mine, the first chapter based in part on selling my own home in Durham, NC. The story she tells to the very fictional Noah about the clay sun known as La, the god of good lungs, is based on a true event. The students who brought the objet da’art to me in the hospital were not the boisterous boys I described in the book. They were quiet and concerned. The young man who purchased my gift recently found me on Facebook, and we reconnected. All of the stories about Anne’s “borrowed things” are true or based on a real person or event. The rest is fiction.
Q. You wrote this book over a period of time and in very different settings. You worked on it while living in a tent in the Blue Ridge Mountains and while directing a play in Singapore. That in itself is a story. How did you turn off one project to focus your attention on your novel?
A. I began the book nine years ago in the mountains where my husband, Jim, and I were living in a tent while building our log home. We were both professors, he in the sciences, me in the arts. We were also both experienced carpenters, hard workers, and type A personalities used to being in charge in our classrooms and labs. It was a situation rife with disagreements and opinions. To reduce arguments, I bought a laptop and focused my energies on school work when I wasn’t needed on a scaffold or chop saw. We had a temporary line of power that allowed me to keep my laptop charged. Whenever we reached an impasse, I retreated to the tent and wrote. I’m not sure when the writing changed from school-related topics to a novel.
The first draft was completed in a few months. A friend read it and said, “Why don’t you put that away and write Paul and Sissy’s story. I liked those characters. I got half way through the second novel and stopped because the busyness of life got in the way. When we moved to Washington, I began writing memoirs and short stories.
Two years ago, I was invited to direct a play at a fine arts school in Singapore. The actors were students, so rehearsals were in the evenings and my days were free. When I had done all the sight-seeing I could stand, I began rewriting Borrowed Things, making it more fictional and less an opportunity to vent.
Now, I am nearing completion of the companion novel, By Way of Water, Paul and Sissy’s story.
Q. What did you learn about yourself or your relationships from writing this novel that you did not know or took for granted before?
A. Anne came to terms with her past when she wrote her stories for Noah and Elizabeth, as did I. In the end, writing is cathartic. I also learned from my readers. At book club presentations of Borrowed Things, questions and comments have led me to fascinating revelations about myself and my characters.
Q. What do you want people to learn or feel from reading Borrowed Things?
A. I didn’t write with that in mind. I’m sure that different people will respond to the story in different ways. I had no idea where Anne’s adventures would lead her when I began her story. In fact I wrote several endings and didn’t settle on the final one until the day it was published as an e-book.
For me, the initial writing of this book was an escape from a frustrating present. What I learned from it is that you can reinvent your surroundings, but it doesn’t change who you are or the choices you are likely to make. The present as well as the past is not something to run from but something to address and, if you’re lucky, ultimately embrace. The first draft was largely an expulsion of emotions. The rewrites, which happened years later, allowed for reflective analysis and objectivity. I was able to see all of the events and relationships (fiction and non-fiction) with greater clarity and understanding.
Q. You mentioned moving a lot as a child. Were you an only child?
A. I also mentioned my brother in one of Anne’s stories. Because we moved so often and were only twenty-two months apart in age, he was my best friend and still is. I was very shy, probably a result of the moving, and that led me to be an avid reader. When I wasn’t outdoors with my brother, I was buried in a book.
Q. What advice would you give other writers who say, I’m too busy, or I can’t write because…?
A. Join a writing group. That will provide a stimulating environment, and you will make time to write something to share at the meetings. It should also be a place where you can get constructive criticism in addition to the emotional support needed by anyone in the arts. I joined the Pamlico Writers Group and the Riverwalk Writers. Each serves a different need.
Sherri L Hollister
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