Seattle Wrote with Norelle Done
After she began working with the homeless in Chicago, local author Debra Borys was determined to “humanize the homeless” as she says. “From that point on, I had an interest in seeing the homeless as people, because for the most part they’re invisible.” She began writing novels about them from a “combination of my interest in them, and my frustration with people who don’t take the time to hear their stories … I wanted to tell the stories in an interesting way, and maybe it will make a difference,” Borys said.
Crazy Lady with a Pen with Darian Wilk
I’m hoping that while my readers are all wrapped up in the suspenseful story of Painted Black, they will subtly have their eyes opened enough see street people are individuals as deserving of respect as anyone. If they can walk in the shoes of my characters, they will hopefully find it easier to walk in the shoes of the homeless man they walk past on their way to the coffee shop. If they can do that, then they will find it easier to drop a quarter in his cup, or at least say good morning to him as they would to anyone they saw on a regular basis.
It is sometimes difficult to tell which comes first, the reality or the fiction. I moved to Chicago from small town Illinois specifically with the idea in mind of having an opportunity to volunteer with the homeless. I know I had already begun writing my Jo Sullivan series before the move, but can’t remember now when I decided to center each book around the life of a homeless character. Does the writer write what she dreams and then find herself living it, or does the act of writing spark change in the life of the writer?
Cities of the Mind with Connor Rickett
So many people, even people I know, slap a label on ALL of them and think they are all junkies and alcoholics and/or mentally ill. Yes, some of the people on the streets ARE those things. But so are some people who have jobs and a place to live. I would love my readers to start saying hi to that homeless guy on the corner. You don’t have to give him money, just treat him with respect like you would any other human being. And I can say from my own experience that, just like anyone else, most of the time they start treating you with respect as well.
It started as just another step in my career, you know? In addition to covering the cop beat and other stories assigned to me, they wanted me to continue a column they had called Street Stories. The purpose of the column was to make street people visible as human beings, instead of the scourge of society like so many people think. Each story focuses on one individual person, and I found that by writing them, I started focusing on the individual person. They weren’t just stories anymore; they were the vet who got brain damaged by an IED, or the teenager who got kicked out because the family couldn’t afford to feed her anymore.
Helen Ross Writes with Helen Ross
Painted Black has gone through several major revisions and was put away in a drawer several times thinking that was it. I belonged to a writers’ group for eleven years during that process and their input was invaluable to me. I honestly don’t think it would be this good without them, which is why I give them a special thanks in the book.
Literature and Fiction with Shelagh Watkins
While Jo Sullivan is the “main” character and the one I plan to carry the series, it is graffiti artist Chris (known by CRY as his tag) who seems to capture everyone’s heart. He’s a sixteen-year-old kid just trying to survive on the streets as best he can. While he may resort to questionable methods sometimes, his caring nature and loyalty to his friends tug at your heartstrings. He is a perfect example of so many real life homeless kids I’ve met.
Thoughtful Reflections with Sylvia Ramsey
The street kids I write about are examples of what you call “throw away youth’” kids who were either kicked out or ran away because life at home was so terrible anything seems better than what they left behind. When there is no one who cares where you are or what happens to you, you end up treated like garbage someone just tossed out on the curb.
One of my favorite scenes is when Jo meets Lexie. When I read it, I can actually see the Chicago Street they are standing on. The image of Lexie sitting in a booth wolfing down a burrito because she’s so hungry was inspired by a similar scene I experienced one of my first nights of volunteering in Chicago. I was with one of the Emmaus Ministries’ staff members and we bought a late night supper for a young homeless man we met.
The original idea for the suspense plot for Painted Black came from a news article I read years ago in the Chicago Tribune. It was about a new method of preservation being used by taxidermists who freeze dry people’s pets to produce lifelike replicas that would last indefinitely. One person they interviewed stated that freeze drying could be used on people as well, and compared the process to cooking pizzas in an oven. He sounded so bizarre and unconcerned that it immediately sparked an idea for a character based on him and became the premise for my story. In my research, I actually found an article in a mortuary magazine about a firm that did preserve a man in this manner.
Paper Dragon Ink with Douglas Lentes
I’ve been writing since I was a kid. I remember even binding a small book using cardboard, construction paper and a typewriter when I was in junior high. I even chose not to go to college because I knew I wanted to be a writer and what did a writer need with a college degree? I know better, now, but to my 17-year-old mind it made sense at the time. I wrote all through my marriage and that was when I started submitting things. I concentrated on novels at first, but nothing worked until I started writing and submitting a few short stories. Getting a few of those accepted–for pay even!–gave me the confidence I needed to keep working on my novels.