Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Staci Greason: Author, Actress and All Around Cool Chick!

Staci Greason starred on the hit daytime soap opera Days of Our Lives, as the late Isabella Toscano-Black. She created the weekly food column "Dishing" for MODE magazine and is the author of the popular blog Anxiety: a Love Story. She lives in Southern California and is currently at work on her fourth novel.

Her novel The Last Great American Housewife is available on Amazon.

Kate Miller, the heroine of The Last Great American Housewife, finds her greatness, like a reverse Isabel Archer, by going into the wild. And also completely unlike Henry James, Staci Greason gives us endangered trees, men of nature, light drug-taking, plus sweetly wry humor, all served up in this redemptive and completely charming novel. -- Jim Krusoe, Toward You

Why do you write?

I’ve always turned everything into a story. It’s the way my mind works. (Ask my poor friends who get stuck with me on the phone!) Also, when I’m very sad or life isn’t going well, I write. I find I can move forward in my life in spite of circumstances if I’m focused on a writing project.

For example, I finished my first novel while suffering from a serious illness and working full-time at a grinding, low-paying job. I came home every night (and on the weekend), sat down and worked on my story. That novel Job’s Daughter landed me my first literary agent. Last year I built my blog Anxiety: a Love Story, fueled mostly by a bad relationship and more illness and humor. (In Buddhism we call this turning poison into medicine.)

When I was a kid I wrote love songs on my guitar and some fairly awful poetry. In my teens and twenties I studied singing and acting and wound up working on television. Just before I turned thirty, my artistic desire morphed back into writing. I couldn’t wait to stop being in front of the camera and spend all day locked in a room getting to know my characters.

Fast forward twenty years, I’ve written three novels (most recent The Last Great American Housewife, several screenplays and two television pilots. I also work as a ghost writer helping clients turn their ideas into marketable book proposals that get publishing deals. And then I write their books. I love learning how people think and live.

My next adventure is to get up on stage and do storytelling.

Describe the thrills, the frustrations and how you feel when you’re on a roll.

When I’m not writing, I’m crabby, I complain, I’m horrible to date and I feel like my life is going nowhere. Then, I start writing again.

There have been times in my writing career when I haven’t written anything worth a damn for a year. Or several years. Sometimes, the right partner makes the burden of finishing a script easier. Writing is hard work. Projects that start out great sometimes end up going nowhere. And then it’s like “oh my God, I can’t get those five years back.” Neglected children hidden in drawers make a lot of noise. I miss them. Novels nobody wants break my heart. It’s horrible.

There is no secret to writing except for rewriting. And little tricks you can play to get yourself writing again. Usually, I only feel better about writing when I’m done.

Last November, I had an amazing first as a writer: I sat down with a friend and created a treatment for a television pilot in one week. Bam. Done. And then I wrote the pilot script in under a month. It’s crazy when it happens like that.

Perhaps that’s what years of training have taught me: do the work.

What authors/genres do you read?

Many! When I was a kid my mom took us to the library every week. It was my favorite thing. I wanted to be a librarian. I loved Nancy Drew, Laura Ingalls Wilder and romance novels, of course.
Shortlisted: I love gritty, salt-of-the-earth writers. My favorite books are: Ask the Dust, All the Names, The Shipping News, and All the Pretty Horses. I love those “life is rugged, tough and people are raw and beautiful” writers.

Jhumpa Lahiri’s short stories are gorgeous. The poets: Mary Oliver, Naomi Shihab Nye, Bukowski and Merwin.

I also love the fantastic mind of the writer Jim Krusoe. (Who, thankfully, also happens to be my teacher.) More people should read his books. Check out Blood Lake & Other Stories.
And for a curve ball: Bridget Jones’ Diary is one of the funniest, laugh-out-loud, smartest books I’ve ever had the pleasure of reading aloud to man in bed.

What is your next project?

No talking about it while writing because it will change anyway.

What is the best part of being an author?

Telling the truth through fiction. There is no one way to live a life. I always hope to shine a light on what it means to be a human being. We are all the same. We could help each other a lot more.

The worst part of beiing a writer?

Cash flow.

Why are books important to you?

They are the many worlds I can travel within our world. And the way to expand myself as a person.

What advice do you have for new authors?

This is the advice I was given by a fairly successful writer friend:
Just sit down and write it. Don’t read any books on how to write. Don’t go to college to learn how to write a story. Just write. Then put it in a drawer and start your next story or book. You get to where you’re going by going there.

Looking back I am happy that I followed his advice. At first I could only type five sentences before I needed to leave the house for the day. Over time, I learned to stay inside and write for hours. If I had pursued an MFA writing program I might have more connections and possibly be making a hell of a lot more money - but I’m not certain I would have retained my own style and voice. My confidence was too shaky. I thought writers were people who were way smarter than me.

I once took a storytelling class at UCLA. We had to show up with a piece already written to perform for the first class. I was pretty sure my piece was fairly awful. Eight weeks later, I was asked to perform that piece in the final class show- not any of the pieces I had written during the class. So, it was money well-spent to learn an important lesson.

Trust your own voice.  I do like being in my writers’ class now because it gives me a deadline. (Trick your writer.)

You have to decide how you work best for yourself.

Fun Fact: Once a soap opera star, Staci Greason turned 40 in her parents’ unfinished basement. Someday, she’ll finish a story about it.

Life Philosophy: Do what you love. Be prepared to fight really hard for it. Don’t give into your own inner negativity. Work harder than everyone else. Nobody really cares about whether or not you accomplish your dreams but you. Maybe one day people will pay you well for your work. If it never happens, at least you can die knowing, “I have done my best.”

Follow Staci on Twitter: @stacigreason

From Kimberley:
I was so pleased that Staci agreed to let me interview her. I never had the pleasure of working with or even meeting her in the seven years I appeared on Days but I was a fan of the show from the age of nine. Isabella was one of my favorite characters. Staci and I met via Twitter and I wish to thank her for being a part of my blog. Now, go buy her book! :) 

1 comment:

  1. Oh my Gosh!!! I had no idea that Staci wrote books! I absolutely loved her on Days and I can't wait to get a copy of her books! Thanks so much for bringing this oversight to my attention! I loved the interview :)