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Welcome, we are talking with Sorchia Dubois! I would like to thank you for taking time out of your busy writing schedule to answer a few questions.

First, I think it’s important for readers to get a little insight on an author that they don’t necessarily get from your professional bio. You’d be surprised at what readers connect to, and sometimes the simplest ‘I can relate to that’ grabs their interest where nothing else can. Don’t answer anything you feel uncomfortable with.

If you hadn’t decided to become a teacher, what profession would you have pursued?

I always wanted to write, but became a teacher to pay the bills.  Little did I know(being idealistic and naïve) teaching is not the best way to collect money.  If I had it to do over, I would concentrate on writing and try to make that a paying venture—yeah, I know—still idealistic and naïve, but at least I would have been doing something I love and feel good about. Teaching was wonderful experience, but it tends to wear you down.  School administrators and bureaucrats have managed to take the magic out of teaching. I see now that I should have made the dream of writing into a business long ago.

What are your favorite animal, food, movie, TV show, actor, singer, and author?

  • Animal: Cat—I have 9 and am in danger of becoming a cat lady.
  • Food: Fish—any kind of seafood. Salmon, poached, grilled, in patties, smoked, even raw!!
  • Movie: A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum—it’s an oldie but it cracks me up no matter how many times I watch it. 
  • TV show: Right now I am mesmerized by the Outlander series.  I’ve read all the books and have not been disappointed by the show at all.
  • Actor: Ewan MacGregor, David Tennant, Peter O’Toole, Maggie Smith, Emma Thompson, Judi Dench—I’ll watch anything any of these people are in!!
  • Singer: Classic Rock—particularly the Rolling Stones and the Beatles. Very fond of the Red Hot Chilli Pipers (yes, pipers) and a Scottish group called Runrig. Another couple of Celtic bands I love are Cleghorn, Pictus, and Mother Grove.  These are groups I’ve had the great pleasure of seeing live at Scottish events.
  • Author: P.G. Wodehouse, hands down.  If I am feeling low, I pick up any of the Jeeves and Woosters and depression gone. Douglas Adams is a close second. With Sir Walter Scott close behind.  Shakespeare—goes without saying.

What are your pet peeves?

I’m a grammar Nazi—I edit and taught English for a long time. While I love the diversity and flexibility of English, some things just boil my bagels. Not knowing the difference between they’re, their, there or your and you’re gets me.  After that and totally unrelated, I really, really, really hate neediness and lack of motivation.  Probably because those elements are things I fight in myself all the time.

Who’s your hero?

You know what, recently I realized how much I admire my mom. She put up with a bunch of stuff and though I disagree with many decisions she made, I see now she was doing the best she could with what was available. Her mother, my dear old Granny, is also a hero, a strong woman who managed a large family and a career at a time when that just wasn’t done.  Another woman I remember when I feel sorry for myself is an English professor I had in college. Her name was Dr. Botsford.  By many accounts she was a lesbian, and I can’t imagine how hard that was in middle America back in the day.  I knew her when she was teaching at a community college in her 80s. She drove a vintage pink Studebaker and told us about her experiences with her parents at archaeology digs all over the world. She got her degrees as a young woman in the 20s and 30s. She lived an alternate lifestyle long before it began getting good press. And she was a graceful, gracious, gloriously courageous lady. I wish I’d had the sense to get to know her better.

Give us one thing on your bucket list.

Oh, Lordy—if I don’t get to Scotland soon, I’ll wither up and blow away.  Within the next two years, I will set foot on Islay and drink Laphroaig straight from the cask. I will float in Loch Ness and I will stay in a haunted castle. Mark my words!!! (Accepting donations to my “Send a deserving author to Scotland fund through my website—just kidding—sort of—seriously, if you need a charity…)

What would readers find surprising about you?

I am shy and retiring.  I hate crowds and second guess every word I say in a conversation.  I am nearly petrified with fear just before any event I attend and every class I teach.  This is why I drink.

If you could go to heaven, who would you visit?

Well, I don’t believe in heaven—at least not in the traditional sense.  If I could have a conversation with someone who has died, it would be my dad. He died when I was 17 and I never really got to know him at all.

Any bad habits?

Plenty. The worst is procrastination.  I can find a reason to avoid anything. I think that’s the one that has cost me the most.  I don’t smoke and really I just drink moderately. I can quit any time I want to. Really. No, really. But putting things off, rationalizing my procrastination—that’s been a big problem.

What’s the funniest thing that ever happened to you?

I’m pretty sure this life is one big  practical joke.  Everything about it is hilarious—if you look at it from a certain point of view.  I think karma is messing around with me and somebody is going to get an earful the next time I die. Going at it with this perspective makes everything funny so I can’t pick just one thing. This is why I often laugh inappropriately. And another reason why I drink.

If you could change one thing about you, what would it be and why?

I would be more sure of myself.  I have a lot of self-doubt. I hate that and try to overcompensate.  My mom was a worrier who was concerned about public opinion.  I didn’t think I shared that, but I guess I do though I consciously work at letting it go.

What are the names of your five cats?

The population ballooned to 9—through no fault of my own. Everyone is fixed now, so no more of that. They are, in order of appearance, Tadpole, Oscar, Petunia, Kat, Kitty (these last two are the two troublemakers brought to me in an unaltered and fertile condition by my son), Zinnia, Jack, YellowKitty, GrayKitty (these last two are sort of different and don’t like the crowd. Though I would never just give them away, if I find a good solid home I would consider parting with them.) The last four are the result of debauchery on the part of Kat and Kitty.  I did find homes for four others, but these four seem to be part of the family now. We’ve lost two old timers recently, Runt and Squeak, both very old and very spoiled and very much missed.

Now that our readers know a little bit more about Sorchia Dubois, let’s get down to the business of your fiction debut novel, Just Like Gravity. Four hundred pages is nothing to sneeze at! I congratulate you on your accomplishment. Since you also have a day job, how long did it take you from beginning to end before your novel was completely finished, and how did you decide on the topic and title?

Took about a year to write it (and constant revision and editing) and then another couple of months for the last revision guided by an editor.  I got up at 4 and wrote for a couple of hours and I wrote at night until I was writing nonsense. My job is online, so I had the luxuries of avoiding the time of a commute and of working in my pjs and at odd hours.

I knew from the start it would be about reincarnation because I am fascinated by that. The title is from a line in the book—that karma is a force of nature, just like gravity, and can be an aid in some situations but can be dangerous in others. Two stars can be in orbit around each other, separated by millions of miles of emptiness, traveling in a graceful ellipsis taking them far apart, but gravity pulls them back together time and time again. That’s what happens to the characters in Just Like Gravity.

Please tell us a little bit about Just Like Gravity.

It is about the current life of Anna, a reluctant fortuneteller. She goes to Scotland as the result of bad dreams and a past life regression which indicates her problems started in Scotland. She meets a man, of course, and is angry with him from the start because he is mouthy and arrogant. As she becomes more involved with him and his current problems, she realizes they’ve been there; done that before. And it didn’t end well. In fact, it ended pretty horribly. She tries to find a way to escape the eddy of Fate they seem to be caught in. I divide the book into three stories, each dealing with a past incarnation.  It’s really three separate novellas which accounts for the length.  I scattered the chapters, interspersing lifetimes, to show how the same things happened over and over , but in different ways in each lifetime.

What was your hardest challenge writing this book?

Pacing.  Readers will have to judge for themselves if I did a good job of keeping the story moving and of keeping all the moving parts connected.  I see places where I could have done better, but I love to hear comments. I’ve been told the ending is compelling and reads very well. I love intricate, complex books and that’s what I want to write. This is my first attempt. It’s intended for people who want more than a quickie.

What in your opinion makes good chemistry between your leading characters?

They’ve known each other for a long, long time. And in this life, they are able to remember some of that. True soulmates, they are sort of picking up where they left off. I had a lot of fun with their conversations and often woke up at night with a line of dialogue in my head. I seriously believe some other force was helping me along.  I kept a notebook and pen by my bed and sometimes I had to get up in the middle of the night to type a conversation. It was great fun!! They talked to me all the time and it was hard to get them to shut up as I started a new project.

Since your story takes place in the Scottish Highlands, beginning in the 17th century, you must have had to do a lot of research in order to get the era and culture correct for the times.  Being a teacher must have helped tremendously, but what else did you do to prepare yourself?  

Yep—I learned a lot.  I already knew how to research and had lots of experience on that side of it. I’d done a lot of reading already, too, since my degree is in Romance literature. What helped was a love for the topic.  I’m afraid I immersed myself to an unhealthy degree in Scottish flora, fauna, history, geography, language, music, etc. It was truly life-changing since I don’t seem to be able to lose the fascination. I researched my own family and found my Scottish roots, joined the American version of the clan, and started going to Scottish events.  Now I can’t stop.  I’m scheduled to attend no fewer than 4 Scottish celebrations this summer and fall. I listen to Scottish music—kilt rock because I am a rock and roll kind of girl—and I’m even trying to learn Gaelic. I found that a single malt Scotch is the closest thing to heaven on this planet and that a man in a kilt is, well, a very good thing.

The past life regression research you did must have really been fascinating. When you say that you did one, what did that entail? Did you do therapy or hypnosis lessons? Did it make you a believer?

The past life regression is definitely the thing I get asked about the most.  I located a reputable hypnotist who did regressions (not easy in the Midwest) and in a couple of sessions, did the deed.  It is like a guided meditation only longer and more involved.  Once you get going, you are doing the talking and the hypnotist is just helping you focus and making sure you are ok. I’ve done yoga and meditated for years, which is great practice for a regression.

When we were actually doing it, though, I kept thinking “this is not working” because  I didn’t really feel any dramatic change like the movies tell you will happen.  The guided meditation she started with walked me through a quiet place and down steps. The next setting she told me to imagine was an old fashioned movie theater with a blank screen.  When the lights dim, the picture starts. She asked what I saw on the screen.  I didn’t think I saw anything. No one was more surprised than I when my voice began describing a battle. It was a very weird experience, quite like a vivid dream. The images are still with me and the outcome was quite unexpected.

I was a believer but I was also skeptical. The regression changed the way I look at the Universe. Long after the event, I still find new meanings in the experience.  My hypnotist also showed me I can do it on my own and I’ve tried it since then with varied success—some wonderful and some just frustrating.  You have to have a block of time when no one is around or when no one will disturb you.  I have trouble getting that, but each try nets me some new bit of interesting information.

Whether our spirits migrate from body to body, or whether we tap into the collective unconscious, or whether it’s just the product of an active imagination I could not say with certainty.  Whatever it is, it is illuminating. However it works, the experience we are having right now in this physical world is only a fraction of the truth.

Can you share anything about the outcome of your past life regression? Readers will really be interested in this!

When you do one of these, you should have a focus question or you just go blundering about willynilly. My question was why am I obsessed with Britain. Why do I feel like I must go there or die?

Ok—this was seriously weird. The first scene I saw was a battlefield.  A man on a white horse is giving us the pre-battle pep talk.  I don’t like him much and I’m thinking what a pretentious prick he is.  I look down and I am wearing a uniform—a red jacket with a white sash and a few gold buttons. I am an officer (a low-level officer) in the British Army during the Revolutionary war.  The instructions the Captain is giving involve charging down a hill and killing everyone in sight. The mist is very thick and I can’t see what lies down the hill.  I am not a happy camper.

The hypnotist asked me to go to another scene so we could learn about this boy—his name was John. The next scene is a ballroom. New York, I think, during the same war. Pretty girls in luminous dresses dance and I am drinking punch and watching them. She asked why I was there, and I said “to see the girls, that’s all. No one special. Just a nice party.”

Then we go back to the battle. This time I can see the target. It is a small settlement, just a few houses. Other soldiers pull the parson out of the church. I remember his gray shirt and collar. Somebody kills him—I am nearby and see it clearly.  I’ve been in battles before. I have no problem killing when the need arises. But I’ve never seen this level of brutality.  My job is to chase down the ones who are running away. I look toward the woods and see three girls (in luminous dresses again) running into the trees. I take off after them, but not to kill them. I wasn’t going to be able to do that.  I’m not sure what happens to them, but I desert right then and there.

The next scene, I’m getting a job on a blockade runner. They are sailing to England to pick up contraband and I am desperate to get home. It’s been months and I’ve been hiding and trying to find just such a chance. I have to be careful though because they hang deserters. I know my family has gotten word that I have been killed or that I’ve deserted. I have no doubt my father will welcome me and be glad to see me alive.  I am a spoiled only son with an inflated opinion of myself—or I was. I’d begged for a commission in the army. He’d been against it since he had been a soldier and didn’t think I’d like it and I was his only son and he preferred I stay alive. He bought my commission and used up several favors to get me in. Then the war broke out and I was sent to America. Our family is an old one and respected. Not rich, but well-to-do. He is ill. I hope he’s still alive.  My mother died several years ago. I know that if I can get home, he will know what to do.

Months later, we land on the west coast of England—it might be Cornwall. I look up the cliffs and see my home. I am so very relieved to be there. I make my way home and bang on the door.  My father answers. I can see the door open, his face—relief gives way to worry.  He takes me into the library without a word. I see him close the sliding doors—through them I see my sisters peeking at us—three girls in luminous dresses.

I’ve ruined the family, you see.  At this time, reputation is everything. The girls will have a hard time finding suitable husbands. My father, already ill, is worse and it’s because of me. All the hopes he had for me are gone.  The only way to keep me alive is to send me away. He has an interest in a textile business in India.  I go there.  I am so wracked with guilt that I drink myself to death within a few years. The last image is of my death on the warehouse floor in India, drunk and sick and remorseful and longing for home.

I was warned at the beginning of the regression that I would see my death so I was ready for it. That was then and this is now. It answered my question perfectly and explained other things.  I always hated the Revolutionary War in school and got the worst grades ever on tests and assignments over that—avoided stories and movies about it like the plague. You know the Mel Gibson movie The Patriot?  Watched it once and cried like a baby the whole way through. Was so uncomfortable I can’t even describe it. Have not watched it again. Even now, when I even see the title on the guide on the TV, I tighten up and scroll past it as fast as I can.

The regression also explained some relationships I have now.  For instance, my father in that life is someone I know in this one—someone I owed a karmic debt to.  It cleared up some aspects of the relationship I have with this person now.

Every time I’ve tried this, I’ve learned something useful. I’ve been male, female, gay.  I’ve had happy lives, sad ones, useful ones, lost ones.  Each one has helped bring me to this point right now. And what I do now will take me to the next one. Life is much more than what we experience with the traditional 5 senses.

It sounds like you have the perfect setting for when you sit down to write with the Ozarks pine forest, and woodland creatures right outside their window. So, what is your writing process? Do you sit and stare outside waiting for inspiration while sipping Scotch, or do you just dig right in? Do you only write on the weekends?

I try to leave the Scotch alone until the end of a writing session—or even until the book is published and in my hands. Do you know that a scientific study proved that a blood alcohol level of .08 is conducive to creativity?  Unfortunately, the window between being creative and being drunk is very narrow and somewhere along the way you lose the ability to tell one from the other. I’m no good for writing after more than one little drink.

I find I am most productive if I write at the same time every day and don’t let myself get distracted from that. I also set an alarm for 60 minutes. When it rings, I get up and do what I call a 15-minute job.  Dust mop a room, clean the sink, straighten the closet, weed part of the herb garden--something like that. Sitting for too long is bad for you.  My morning ritual is to walk 2 miles, do yoga, meditate, shower, have a snack and a cup of tea, and write. I try to do that at least 4 times per week—everyday if I can.  I write all I can. My day-job is online and I can get to it on my own time.  I schedule my writing time in the morning—working for myself first. This took a bit of discipline at first because it’s not how I lived for a very long time. When I am on schedule, I take Sunday off.  Rest the brain. I usually make notes through the day though since it is hard to stop thinking about the WIP.

I do have to have seclusion.  I have to shut off the email and sometimes the phone altogether.  I do like to have the Internet on since I look up stuff all the time, but I try not to get sucked into social media during the morning writing time. I’m just now learning that writing is a job and if your family and friends don’t understand, you have to tell them repeatedly and not let them infringe. What would they think if you burst into their workplace and said something like “well, since you aren’t really doing anything important. . .”?

Just Like Gravity is the first of three books that you have planned. Can you give us a little preview of what’s to come?

JLG is a stand-alone book, but the next project is a three-book series.  Zoraida Grey and the Family Stones is again about a fortune teller, but this one is very happy in her profession. Raised as a witch in Arkansas by her crazy Granny, Zoraida  has the world on a string until Granny gets sick.  According to Granny, the only thing that will keep her alive is a healing crystal stolen centuries before.  Granny tasks Zoraida with going to (where else) Scotland to steal it back. But Granny doesn’t tell Zoraida everything and Zoraida soon discovers the Scottish branch of the family keeps secrets, too. Witches, ghosts, murder, lust, and love and a healthy dose of crystal magic are on tap for the first book, Zoraida Grey and the Family Stones. The second book, Zoraida Grey and the Voodoo King, will take Zoraida to the Caribbean to locate a long-lost uncle and the last book, Zoraida Grey and the Black Tower, sees her back in Scotland with a chance to save Granny —if only she can find the strength.

Any other works in progress?

I’m working on a number of short stories for magazines and contests. They are in the magic realism genre and often deal with Scotland, Celtic mythology, Scotch, witches, dragons, and magic in one form or another. I haven’t thought too far beyond Zoraida yet, but I’ll have something going after that.  I’d like to put out 1 or 2 books a year forever. I also do a blog regularly about those same topics.

Any advice for aspiring authors?

For the love of God, write!  And Read.  If you don’t like to read, learn to like to read. This is a law. If you can’t learn to like to read, find something else to do besides writing.

Don’t make the mistake I did of putting off your writing for another time—get on with it. Apply your butt to the chair, and type out that story. Get help. Seek input. Listen to it. Revise. Edit. Read. Learn. Revise again. Everybody goes through draft after draft after draft. Everybody despairs, quits, cries, curses God or the deity of your choice,  and then goes back to work. You won’t be any different. But your story will be.

Final words?

Thanks so much for having me here.  I can talk about myself for hours J and it is nice to have a captive audience.  I truly do love to read comments––good, bad or indifferent–– about my books.  I crave real suggestions and comments aimed at helping make the next book better. I’m interested in meeting people who read my books and stories and learning what they like and how I can entertain them.  I approach writing as if I’m preparing a present for my ideal reader—I try to add all the bells and whistles and trimmings to make it pleasurable and fun and useful. Of course, I am amusing myself, too, so some things will always be there just for me, but I want to know all I can about these people I’m writing for. Please take a look at my blog and don’t hesitate to add comments. And many thanks!

 

 

 

 

 

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