I once said I should write down all the story ideas in my head so someone could write them someday. I had no idea at the time that someone was me!
Ms. Mason began writing in 1995, and after a few (dozen) (thousand) hiccups and curve balls, other life projects, including four years of college, she began working on her debut novel, Tessa in 2013. Ms. Mason has written posts as a guest blogger, and has to her credit several dozen poems, several of which are in a recent anthology. “I once said I should write down all the story ideas in my head so someone could write them someday. I had no idea at the time that someone was me! I mean, even my dollies and Barbies had backstory!”
Ms. Mason started writing as a self-prescribed therapy in 1995, and began working in earnest on her debut novel, Tessa in 2013. Meanwhile, she cranked out a few dozen poems, and made countless notes for story ideas. Ms. Mason lived with depression for many years, and the inherent feelings of worthlessness and invisibility; she didn’t want to be who she was and struggled with her own identity. Her characters face many of these same demons.
Ms. Mason has lived in the Upstate of South Carolina since 1988. She lived in Colorado for sixteen years, during which time she: went to high school, got married, had babies, got divorced and went to college. Her “babies” are now grown, two have babies of their own. She currently lives alone, with her five cats.
I write Christian-worldview--in other words, there's no salvation message, but there are plenty of characters who know the Lord and share His perspective with those who are struggling.
How to connect with Robin...
Author Interview | Robin E. Mason
You and Writing
Tell us a little bit about yourself: How did you start writing? What has kept you writing?
...I started because the stories fell out of me. I used to have character conversations play out in my head – long before I knew I was a writer. *see bio!! What I began writing 20 years ago was my story, my very unpretty story. It was a form of therapy for a difficult time in my life. I discovered two things: I love writing and I’m pretty good. That difficult season was not brief and I did not pursue writing at the time. Although I’ve had a MYRIAD of story ideas [and most are written in a journal] I still didn’t do anything with it until 2008 when the first words of Tessa came to me as I was going for a walk. I made tentative progress, then started college, and was later diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis; all energy was put toward school. Upon graduation in 2013, I naturally assumed I’d begin a fantastic career in Interior Design; I did not; job offers did not flood my inbox. I turned my attention back to my writing, and finished Tessa by the end of January 2014.
...What had kept me writing is the constant confirmation from Holy Spirit that this is, in fact, what He has for me to do. That and my passion for writing, creating worlds, people, storylines – I love it all!! I can’t imagine not writing now.
Do you have a favorite book or work that you’ve written? If so, why?
...Well, since I’ve the one published, she’s got to be my favorite. Then again, although I had no thought [pro or con] of writing a sequel, let alone a series, and the fact that there are two distinct places in Tessa that lend to the sequel, and then the third and final in the series, I might say the third story, Cissy, will have a favorite spot in my heart.
If published, what was the hardest thing about publishing? The easiest?
...The hardest: keeping my head above water!!! My first blog post last year [drowning, 041114] I talked about ALLLLLLLL the hats we Indies have to wear. A year + later, and I’m still trying to sift through what works best for me!!!
...The easiest: writing. I love it. I get seriously into the story as I go along. [ps, I’m an actress, also, and really really get into character!]
Tell us a little bit about your book. Why did you write it?
...As I said, the opening to Tessa came to me and the rest pretty much flowed out. I was naïve about anything beyond telling the story, had no deadline or timeline, no thoughts of how to get published even. Clara Bess the second book in the series, opens with her discovery, at the age of 50, that her mother was, in fact, not her mother. She finds no adoption papers, however, and – after the shock wears off – sets to an investigation to find out about the woman’s name on her birth certificate. The why is because a few people asked if I was planning a sequel to Tessa, and when I looked, I saw the story unfold.
...The series, Unsavory Heritage, digs at the heritage these women share through generations – and what set it into motion to begin with.
Do you have a favorite character in this work? If so, why?
...My main characters all have a bit of me in them, some of the struggles, mostly with identity, are some of the things I’ve dealt with. But Tessa’s husband, Howie, was loosely modeled after a friend of mine who passed away last year not long after Tessa was released for Kindle. He’s so laid back, has such an enigmatic and quirky smile, and so intelligent, and confident. If I have to pick a favorite, it’s Howie.
What is one take-away from your book that you hope readers identify with?
...We all have value. Who we are, in Christ, is where our purpose lies. Tessa is not written as Christian Fiction, although she does become a believer. I wrote without regard to genre, and there are a few PG-13 cuss words – then again, perhaps that’s part of the message. Even with careless words – or an unsavory heritage – we are His, and He can make all things new.
Where do you find inspiration for your story/characters? Are they based on real life or pure imagination or both? ...Combination. I’m totally a Pantzer, with the barest notion of the overall story arc. I sit down to write and the story tells me what’s going on. I can get inspiration from nearly anything – was reading about a gal who is a potter – now I’ve a story brewing with a character, blind no less, who is a potter! Hey, Beethoven was deaf! I can haz a blind potter!
When you write, what is your overall intention with your stories?
...All of the above! I’m an encourager, so I want that to carry over in my stories. I hope to inspire, trigger perhaps some stray thread of hope and faith. I want readers to feel what my characters feel, laughter, pain, despair. I think all good writing is a means of escape.
What advice would you give to aspiring authors for writing and/or publishing?
...Write. And balance. There is SOOOOOOO much advice available now, no one writer can possibly do all the “tricks.” It’s trial and error to find what fits, what works for you as an individual. I’ve got a good groove going with my blog, writing reviews and interviews – but I enjoy that; you might not. I love doing my research, tidbits and details that make a story shine. Find your voice, set your routine, what works for you. Attend conferences. Join writer’s groups – there are some good groups online. Follow other writers – Facebook, blog / website, Twitter. Interact, learn, read. Oh, and read some more.
What is one thing you like to do to relax when you aren’t writing?
...I go for walks. My health lately allows only little “walk-lets” but I try to get out 2 or 3 times each day – fresh air is great! Being outdoors is like a cathedral for me, the time communion with Holy Spirit. I love to draw and paint – don’t do much lately… I like to work in the yard when I have the opportunity. And I love spending time with my friends – something my flexible schedule allows more than when I was working a “regular” job. [ps, I’m on Disability for the RA, and my kids are grown so my time is pretty much what I feel like doing!]
...Also, I have five kitty babies: Shadow, Juniper, Jasper, Jake, and Penelope.
What is one thing you are looking forward to for the Summer?
...Getting Clara Bess finished and edited and published!! Also, I’m standing on the Word of God for healing! Looking forward to that any day!!!
Thanks so much for being on the blog Robin! It was great "meeting" you through my NaNoWriMo support group last year and I'm so happy the friendship has continued. And thank you so much for offering a signed copy of Tessa to one lucky U.S. reader AND entering them into a drawing for Clara Bess. Make sure you readers leave a comment for Robin so you can be entered to win a copy. I love how you say, "Who we are, in Christ, is where our purpose lies." Amen sister!