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Month: May 2014

She Writes Mysteries from a Misty Perch above the San Francisco Bay, Meet JT Twissel

She Writes Mysteries from a Misty Perch above the San Francisco Bay, Meet JT Twissel

220px-Katherine_PhilipsHi I’m Jan.  I live in a village of about 15,000 souls named after Katherine Phillips, a fifteen century poet called “The Matchless Orinda.” In her day, she was considered the ideal woman writer: virtuous, proper, and chaste. She was also thought be a “sappho.” (gay)

For as a watch by art is wound
To motion, such was mine;
But never had Orinda found
A soul till she found thine;

– Matchless Orinda

fog
How many mysteries have the rolling fog inspired?

From the window where I write I can watch the fog roll in from the San Francisco Bay – a beautiful sight.  Pretty Kitty watches me as I write.  Pretty is a stray we adopted.  We were sure it was a girl but alas, the vet disagreed.  Pretty is a boy.  Still we can’t break ourselves of the habit of calling him “pretty,” could you?

Under the pseudonym JT Twissel I’ve published two books which are only alike in that the narrator is a young woman and she takes lots of road trips.  The first book (Flipka) was set in Nevada in the late 1970s.  I was raised in Reno which I always thought I could put behind me, but…you know how these things go. Nevada just keeps popping up in my writing, as a setting, a dreaded past, or even as a character. The lecherous Uncle Nevada, creeping in to dreams, like a house you can’t quite leave behind. (Do you ever wake up in the dark certain you are in a house you moved out of long ago? I do – all the time!)  I won’t bore you with the synopsis, suffice it to say – it’s wacky, zany and frightening.  The frightening part is that the despicable girls reformatory where the mystery takes place actually exists.

The second book (The Graduation Present) is based loosely on my travels through Europe.  It’s a coming of age adventure with a slight twist of romance – actually it has a lot of twists, period. I am currently working on a third, more contemporary piece based on a long and bizarre struggle I had with the IRS.  But working on a piece so full of black humor wears me down, sends me to places I don’t want to go and so I find myself instead blogging my fool head off about European adventures gone astray.

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***(Editor’s note: Follow Jan on Twitter @JTTwissel and subscribe to her blog. Jan’s sense of humor shines through, but she also features behind-the-curtain interviews of other authors. ***

The Beauty of Being Between

The Beauty of Being Between

dragon
A dragon, tethered to a bedpost with yarn. Will the Muppets’ rescue work?

She exists between two worlds, childhood and teenage-ness. Bryn, my youngest daughter, is torn between the urge to grow up and the desire to cling to the cozy, familiarity of youth.

She has a secret life now, one she would never share with her peers. The same girl that watches YouTube videos posted by cute boys from England still occasionally takes her toys out of the bin in the back of her closet and creates worlds, detailed worlds where a dragon is held captive and Muppets rally behind a duct-taped shield in a rescue effort, but fall asleep before they can free the dragon from a yarn tether. Bryn still plays, yes. But it must bring her a mix of joy and something complicated, too. Maybe a pang of guilt? Or insecurity? Or awkwardness?

But, I think that her between time is beautiful. She’s still got the bold imagination of a child, though now it’s paired with the skills of a grown up. She imagines a purse, and she crafts it out of duct tape, giving it to me for Mother’s Day. She watches a funny video on YouTube, then works quietly in her room, molding clay and tape and paper into figures, creating her own stop-action video, paired with music and animation. It’s as funny as the YouTube video, but won’t get a million hits, because she created it for her own enjoyment.

photo 3
The Muppets are dozing off on the duct-taped shield. The dragon is surely doomed.

Her time of being between inspires me. I’m inspired and at the same time, reminded to savor the in between, the pauses between projects when I can let my mind drift and reignite my creativity to make something just for me. Bryn, your in-between is beautiful.

photo 2
This dramatic scene unfolds beneath posters of hunky men and women, Catching Fire stars that Bryn admires.