Friday, March 24, 2017

Interview with literary writer Rea Nolan Martin

Literary writer Rea Nolan Martin is here today to chat about her new visionary fiction novel, The Anesthesia Game.

Rea Nolan Martin is the award-winning author of three novels: The Sublime Transformation of Vera Wright (2009)Mystic Tea (2014), and The Anesthesia Game (2015), as well as a collection of essays: Walking on Water (2016).

Mystic Tea is the recipient of the 2014 IPPY Gold Medallion and US BEST BOOK Award for Visionary Fiction; the 2014 PINNACLE Gold Medallion in the category of Literary Fiction; and Finalist in the 2015 International Book Awards.

The Anesthesia Game is the recipient of the 5 Star Readers’ Favorite insignia; 5 Star Clarion Review insignia; 2016 IPPY Gold Medallion for Visionary Fiction; 2016 PINNACLE Gold Medallion in the category of Best Noveland most recently, Book Viral’s first Crimson Quill Award.

A collection of her most inspirational essays, Walking on Water, was released in the spring of 2016.

Rea is the author of numerous short stories and poetry, most of which can be found in national literary magazines and anthologies. She is a regular Huffpo blogger, former literary magazine editor and MAW adjunct professor.

Welcome, Rea. Please tell us a little bit about your newest release.
The story behind The Anesthesia Game is very close to my heart. The fifteen-year-old protagonist, Sydney, suffers a life-threatening illness that requires frequent spinal procedures for which she undergoes regular anesthesia. Having spent years accompanying my own child through such procedures, I understood from page one the spectrum of courage (or cowardice) my characters would likely exhibit, patient and family members alike. Having said that, this story is far from a memoir. The personalities of my characters vary greatly from those of my own family. I constructed the characters from scratch, asking myself—what if not one, but all of them suffered some kind of affliction, real or imagined? What if, in order to manage their afflictions, each one of them was also under the influence of her own version of anesthesia? How would they manage to help each other? How would they progress? Or would they? Who would lose a life and who would find one? After the first 100 pages or so, the characters showed me the way.

As a writer of Visionary Fiction, I imagined the child’s disease and the resulting anesthesia, not as a means of sedating her life, so much as awakening it. After all, what value do negative experiences contain if not to hone us and/or those around us? The problem is, at what price the experience? The risks in this story are as high as they can be. Lives hang in the balance.
Circumstances surrounding childhood cancers are tragic from anyone’s perspective, but much is to be gained if we have the courage to tread consciously through such toxic waters. The patient is of course the central concern, but the peripheral damage to family and friends can also be acute and widespread. If they’re paying attention, almost everyone involved ends up learning something powerful about him or herself in the process. Coincidentally, the essential component of Visionary Fiction is the awakening of the deep self to greater purpose.

I first learned about Visionary Fiction (VF) when my previous novel, Mystic Tea, was awarded several literary prizes in that genre. Exploring it on Google, I discovered the VFA (Visionary Fiction Alliance) with a mention of my name as one of its contemporary authors. VF, as it turns out, is the oldest new genre there is. Myth is VF; fairy tales are VF; even ancient sacred texts contain all the consciousness awakening components of this powerful genre. I wrote Visionary Fiction decades before I knew what it was, as has been the case with most of my peers in that sector. It was simply the truth as we knew it. VF authors tend to be highly intuitive and imaginative believers in infinite possibility. Unlike other genres, its literary DNA emerges not from the demands of plot or even the growth of its characters, although those are important, but from the authenticity of the writing as an expression of the soul.

In writing The Anesthesia Game, I did my best to honor that tradition.

What exciting story are you working on next?
Right now I’m working on a novel about two quirky elderly sisters who run a generations-old family funeral home in the foothills of West Virginia. 

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I have always been a writer. I wrote plays as a child, hilariously acted out by legions of neighborhood kids in front of our parents, cocktails in hand. I continued to write plays and other genres in grammar school and high school. In college, I majored in writing and graphic arts. Post college, I worked as copywriter, then creative director of a Chicago advertising firm. Years later, while consulting, I pursued a Master of Arts in Writing degree, eventually becoming an adjunct professor in the same program, teaching the Art of Fiction. I also edited a prominent literary journal, contributed stories and poetry to many more journals, and eventually settled into a full-time writer’s life. 

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
My quirkiest habit is sniffing a box of 96 crayons whenever I’m stuck on a scene. I didn’t realize it was a habit until a friend pointed it out. Apparently, I’m addicted to the smell of crayons.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
Well, I read voraciously, so the only job I could even imagine was a novelist. It still is.

Thanks for being here today, Rea. Happy writing!


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