I am thrilled to introduce you to Yvonne Erwin today, one of the sweetest gals I know. She welcomed me into our community writing group right off the bat and made me feel welcome when I didn't have clue of what I was doing. Thanks to her, I kept going.
Born in Minneapolis, Minnesota, Yvonne’s parents later moved to Chicago where a sister was born. Her father was set to attend seminary and later received his accreditation as a pastor. A move to Montana, and Wisconsin, then to eastern Pennsylvania followed where a brother was born. Yvonne then ended up in Missouri at the age of 19 because her father became pastor of two churches.
Not long after, she married, had two sons (one with a disability), and worked in a shoe factory on an assembly line.
Yvonne abandoned the desire for further education because, even with being married, being the main breadwinner in the household, fell to her. More often than not, she was the only breadwinner in the household. There just wasn't money or time to pursue any kind of degree. The marriage ended when sons were eight and six. And then, the shoe factory closed. Faced with having to reinvent not only her life but her sons, she moved to low income housing. Finally able to attend school, she received a degree as a legal assistant. With pride, she graduated #1 in her class. After working for an attorney, she made the move from Mountain Grove to Springfield. That career now has spanned 20 years.
Having read some of your background and your book, I know it sounds silly for me to ask this question. What inspired you to write this book about three women in Springfield, Missouri?
About ten years ago, I was in Barnes & Noble, looking for something to read, something outside of what I had been reading, something new. I looked down at the display table and saw my hand was resting on The Goddesses of Kitchen Avenue, by Barbara Samuel, and I knew I had to buy that book right then and there. I am a big fan of Barb, and I've taken some online writing classes from her and I read every book she writes. She inspired me to get with it and write. I wanted specifically to write like Barb does, write about women’s issues, women’s problems, ups and downs, because I understand that. I wanted to write my own version of The Goddesses. One day it hit me, You can write a book like that. You have some life experience, you've been through some tough stuff. You have the material. And so, I began to write.
You work full time. How do you find the time to write?
That’s the tough question, isn't it? When I worked at the shoe factory in Mountain Grove, I got up every day at 5:00 am to get ready for work. All these years later, I can’t kick the habit. I worked on an assembly line for thirteen years, hard to kick that routine, but, I’m an early riser by nature (have to see the sun come up), and so if I can get some writing time in early in the day, that’s great. But, I also find that an hour or so before bedtime, my book will come back to me, and I’ll be able to spend an hour or so writing before bed.
I think this book sets my path as a romance writer or a women’s fiction writer. That’s where my heart is. I believe in women’s issues, and I think they can and should be written about.
How do you go about creating characters and a story line? Do they just spring into your head or do you have to observe, ponder and research?
They pretty much spring into my head, sometimes in the middle of the night. But also, I also tend to be an observer – I eavesdrop on people in restaurants, stores, etc. Sometimes I’ll hear things that I find I can use for a character. I observe people for face, build, mannerisms, until my characters come to life with a face, personality, etc. In writing The Discovery of Joy, I had to go deep into each character, consider her age, her socio-economic status, her education, her core values. Then I let each character speak out. And it’s different with each one, because your voice at seven years old is different than at eighteen and then it’s different again at thirty-five, and so on. So, I had to be conscious of where each woman was in life and let her speak from her place, not mine. I had to let each develop. They can surprise you sometimes. For example, when I was writing the book, Julie drove me crazy. She just would not behave. If I said, “Okay, stop acting like that,” she’d just look at me and do what she wanted to. When she finally hit a wall and said, “Oh, this isn’t working for me,” and turned the corner, then I started really falling in love with her and I found out how sweet she really is, down deep.
What has been the best and worst advice you have been given about being a writer?
Well, it seems a lot of people want to tell you being a writer is hard and it’s virtually impossible to be published. Depending on how you look at that, it could be good advice (spurring you on to find an alternative and be published) or bad advice (daunting, discouraging, and so you abandon your effort). And while there may some truth to it, I don’t believe being published is an insurmountable obstacle. There are just too many options out there now for anyone who truly wants to be published. I would encourage anyone who has the dream to follow through, whatever it takes. Now, I think the best advice I’ve been given is two-fold: (1) DON’T QUIT, and (2) Hire an editor.
If your book was a movie, who would play the main characters?
This is a great question and I’m enjoying it because a friend and I were talking about this very thing the other day. When I wrote the book, I saw Lindsay Lohan as Julie. Lindsay was younger then and didn't yet have the duck lips. Physically, hair, complexion, face shape, eyes, they look similar. Now Lindsay’s had a lot of bad press for bad attitude, not being able to follow rules, being less than a lady and other things, so, Julie’s attitude can be formed from the image of Lindsay. So, let’s go to Andrea, beautiful, blond, but abandoned arm candy for a callous man, who could fit that bill. Physically, Yolanda, from “The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills” reminds me a little bit of Andrea; however, Yolanda is not an actress so…is there a younger Elke Sommers out there? When I think of Claudine, I vacillate between Holly Hunter and Amy Adams. I like both of them for different reasons but I think Holly Hunter is more Claudine than Amy Adams.
So what is next for Ms. Yvonne Erwin?
I am starting work on my next women’s fiction novel. I’m thinking of a story of sisters, tension, misunderstandings, hurt, and more food. There was a lot of food in The Discovery of Joy, sorry folks, you’re gonna gain weight with the next book too.
Let’s hear something about The Discovery of Joy by Yvonne Erwin!
How does one reinvent their life? Rebuilding a life from scrap takes courage. When three separate women, Julie, Andrea and Claudine, find themselves at their lowest point, to what lengths will they go to rediscover themselves, and in the process, discovery a spring of joy erupting from a dry rock?
Need to touch base with the fabulous Yvonne Erwin? Join the rest of us on her media outlet sites.
I am also on Goodreads, and LinkedIn.
I already have my copy of The Discovery of Joy but tell everyone else how to get their copy.
The Discovery of Joy is available on amazon and also on Barnes&Noble. The e-book version is $2.99, print version is $11.99. A read and review would be most welcome!