Author of the Month
Joyce Faulkner [april 2006]
Chosen by reviewer & author Carolyn Howard Johnson, MyShelf.Com
Author Explores Subject that -- Unfortunately -- Will Not Go Away
Last year I watched Joyce Faulkner stand on the sidewalk near the Authors' Coalition booth at the LA Times Festival of Books. It was an amazing thing to watch. She stood as people passed by, her red hair in a pony tail, her book Losing Patience in her hands, the red and orange cover facing out.
She looked like a color-coordinated ad and, without saying a word, the fair goers gravitated to her. No hard sell here. She'd smile and tell them her book included war stories, mini-mysteries, gentle horror and lots of memorable characters. Sometimes she'd tell them a little story that wasn't in the book--sort of a bonus gift. Nearly every one of them bought a copy.
She enchanted me, too, and I determined that I would introduce her to MyShelf readers when her next book, In the Shadow of Suribachi, was released. It, too, seems color-coded to her personality and is just as unique--in the plot, the research and the writing--as her first.
Carolyn: I may not have read all of your books, Joyce, but I
loved the stories in Losing Patience and now in In the Shadow of Suribachi.
There is a theme that threads its way through both of them but they do
not lecture, do not tie things up into a firm knot as many do. All writers
have a passion. When you sit down and your fingers start tapping the keys,
what are your writing goals?
Carolyn: I find much in both books that I remember -- some rather
vague, like a song carried on the wind. What do you attribute that to?
Carolyn: The editor here at MyShelf and I both are interested
in literary works. That is one reason that Brenda Weeaks, allows me to
expound on all things literary in my column, "Back to Literature."
Some define "literary" as writing that explores the human condition.
Why does your writing fit within its parameters?
Carolyn: Suribachi is a group of short stories but feels more like a literary approach to a novel once one has read the entire book. How did you achieve that and what made you choose that approach to structure?
Joyce: One of the early "stories" is a study of an older man's obsession with finding and protecting innocence -- a younger man's innocence. Combat veterans search for their lost innocence. "Paulina" is simple, mute, beautiful, vulnerable...the type of person who needs protection most. It also introduces Emil Kroner -- who becomes the strong non-commissioned officer who the others admire and respect late in the book when all the early stories begin to meld into a cohesive story about the struggles of our Marines at Suribachi.
Another, "Brothers and Arms" -- sets the stage for another soldier's sense of loneliness, guilt and responsibility. He's forever trying to make up for being small and human and thus, in the later part of the novel, is more sympathetic than he might have otherwise been.
Carolyn: So you introduce the young men in their own stories and then bring them together as the story progresses?
Joyce: Yes. One by one, the boys are introduced and given a history, a perspective, a reality that's related to some big event in their lives such as the 1935 Hurricane on the Florida Keys, the banishment of the Jews in Mannheim, the 1942 Circus Fire in Cleveland, Ohio, Marines training for some unknown battle at Camp Tarawa in Hawaii, the idealistic one, the thief, the golden boy, the musician, the lonely young man trying to figure out where he belonged in life.
Carolyn: And the battle of Iwo Jima brings them together and tears them apart, right?
Joyce: Exactly. Then, years later -- the troubled relationship these same men have with their children rooted in the horrors that they experienced on Iwo. The Kent State tragedy forms the background for Bill's love for and frustration with his daughter. We see Bill's guilt and anger and grief for his lost friends -- and the irony that death took the young and innocent leaving the flawed to live with it.
Carolyn: So, if you could boil this down to one theme, one message, what would you say that is?
Joyce: The story is about the cost of war -- win or lose -- the human toll goes on and on.
Carolyn: You are also a publisher and have published other books about wars, including poetry (See http://redenginepress.com.) You seem to choose works for your press that will help others. I like how The Complete Writer and The Complete Writer Journal are designed to help other writers.
Joyce: Yes. Karma. A lot of it is about Karma.
Joyce Faulkner has been many things. Author is the latest in a long string of accomplishments that include a Bachelor of Science Degree in Chemical Engineering and a Master of Business Administration. She has been a wife, mother, world traveler, underground gas storage engineer, quality trainer, facilities manager, manager of information services, director of ecommerce and consultant.
Her writing credentials include speech writing, technical manuals, features,
reviews, travel, humor and history. She has written a series of articles
on how to use technology to sharpen writing skills that have appeared
in magazines like "The Writer" and in ezines like "Scribe
& Quill" and "Inkwell Newswatch". She writes a regular
humor column for www.thecelebritycafe.com called "The Weekly Shriek".
2006's Honorary List