Interview with Esme Oliver
Esme Oliver has worked as an attorney, a health-care lobbyist, and a legislative director for two US Senators; work which sharpened her left-brain but didn’t quite fulfill her soul. Esme eventually left DC for her native Midwest, where she now writes grants (for money) and stories (for fun). She enjoys lots of travel and a long list of other activities that pair well with a nice Pinot.
When did you first start writing?
I wrote my first book when I was in fourth grade so I was about 10 years old.
What's the story behind your latest book?
It’s a collection of stories about evil men – at work and at home!
If this is part of series, how did you come up with the idea for the series?
It is based on true stories so my personal experiences with men inspired me to write the book.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
My agent and publisher, Lori Perkins. She worked harder and smarter for me than my first agent, and she always believed in the book.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
I enjoy the solitude after meetings and con calls most days all day!
What are your favorite books, and why?
Graham Greene, The End of the Affair. Because of the passion between them, and I also like the religious part and the sadness of two people not being able to be together.
J.D. Salinger, Franny and Zoey. I love all things Salinger! Because he is sardonic and witty, and I like reading about New York City.
A Widow for One Year and A Prayer for Owen Meany. I think John Irving is truly one of the best fiction writers, and his books always make me cry at the end, which is so therapeutic.
Which other authors have most influenced or inspired your writing?
Mary Karr and Jeannette Walls – I love both of their memoirs, and their personal stories are so compelling. They both overcame great challenges in their lives and inspired me.
I also loved An Equal Music by Vikram Seth.
What drives you to keep on writing?
I think it’s just because I’m a natural storyteller or so I am told. I also like to help women, and I really try to in my books.
If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?
Don’t give up because it took me many years to get published! I had to write daily and start with a blog and not give up. You have to believe in yourself and your work.
A writer friend of mine once told me (after she got published way before me!) that the only difference between a published writer and unpublished writer is the published writer never gave up. Admittedly, this sounds trite, but I really believed in my books and myself and had a lot of resolve during the publishing process.
What is the one thing you want your readers to know about your books?
I try to help women. I try to convey a message of hope. Hope is truly the most important thing in life.
What’s your favorite under-appreciated novel?
No One Belongs Here More Than You by Miranda July.
What is the first book that made you cry?
A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving.
Do you have a muse or a “constant reader”?
I have my girlfriends! A lot of my childhood friends have read my stories and my blog for years.
Who’s your book boyfriend or secret book crush?
I would say again John Irving. He’s really handsome!
What do you read for pleasure?
Right now I’m reading a lot of memoirs and nonfiction versus fiction.
Describe your desk
It’s black and big with a big black lamp (maybe because I get sad easily!) and it’s covered with papers (unorganized) a color printer and some art history books.
Describe your writing process
I prefer writing at night. I prefer wine with writing. I do not handwrite anything anymore. I take a lot of notes and put my thoughts in paper first to reference.
Then I look at them and just write. I often read the dialogue I have written out loud to see how it sounds.
What is your writing Kryptonite?
Probably wine or bulletproof coffee. Sometimes I prefer to write in cafes.
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I grew up in Ohio and my Midwestern roots (sensibility, friendliness, loyalty) have definitely influenced my writing because I think the protagonist possesses these qualities too.
What are you currently working on?
A crime novel with a love story imbedded. It also is based on a true story and some truly insane events that could only happen to me.
What’s your vision for the future of publishing?
I am hoping we see authors free to self publish and market with ease. However, at this point, I really think you need the support and guidance of a publisher like mine.