You guys, there is this author, Sybil Watters who I have followed for years. She has written short stories and has published articles on various topics all of which I have loved. Now she has written her very first, definitely not last, novel titled Dixie which is set to be released September 22, 2014. The novel details the deeply haunting and troubled life of a young man in the Deep South in the 1960s-70s, constantly at war with his own demons and promoted by a sinister man in the ways of running shine, driving fast cars, cavorting with loose women and inadvertently gaining sole insight into a secret, southern-style organized crime network. The "redneck revolution" certainly started here, in Dixie.
Now that you know a little about Dixie please enjoy my interview with Ms. Sybil Watters. (Spoiler: We play Bang, Marry, Kill and discuss IBS.)
Describe Dixie in 5 words.
Gritty, painful, endearing, southern, reality.
What was your inspiration for Dixie?
Life. Human beings I have met along the way. Pain. Stories I have heard in my travels. The plus side of having traveled a ton in my twenties and thirties is that I have a wealth of human experience from which to draw. I wouldn't change those encounters/ experiences for anything- they broaden my base for wisdom and let's face it, make it easy for me to create characters that are opposite myself.
There is a quote, that I’m sure you are familiar with, “Write drunk, edit sober.” What helps get your creative juices flowing?
I can't say that there is any one thing that gets my "creative juices" flowing any more than the constant ramblings of my over-active mind. I am constantly on go- mentally. If I am not thinking, I am observing, re-enacting, over-analyzing, creating or sorting information. I am anxious and mentally stimulated at all hours and if we can dub my neurosis "creative juices"- I'm down.
Juice is a word I hate using because it sounds dirty even when it's not. What's your least favorite word or a word that you try to avoid in your writings?
I was just loathing the word "juice" as I heard this question! Least favorite is a tough one. I am a word sleuth so I LOVE words and I HATE words. Mostly I hate when people use words in the wrong context. I'll take a stab (stab is one) at a list of some words I find loathsome in their own right: scab, fork, ashy, noodle, hairball.....my skin is crawling.
Now that your skin is crawling, who is the most loathe worthy character in Dixie?
On its face, the story presents Jimmy "Dixie" Bates, hands down, no question, as entirely worthy of human hatred at its darkest depths. And the reader would be O.K. to feel that way about him. I would be happy with that, because I created him to be: antagonistic, violent, anti-moral, anti-God, self-loving, criminal minded with ulterior motives and dark secrets at every turn.
Again, though, the creation of "Dixie," as he is nick-named, came from knowing certain types of people coupled with my long time psychological interest in serial killers. Historically, you will find that most of them were charming, handsome and had a magnetic quality of some sort that ultimately made committing their crimes easy. And they weren't entirely terrible people, sans the murdering of innocent people.....
My hope is that I have created him to be hated by the reader at their core, but that they are left with a nagging feeling they can't explain that they want more of him, to know more, to read more, to know him at a deeper level so they can explain him to themselves.
Murdering innocent people does make it difficult to like a person. Maybe not the most likable but who is your favorite character in Dixie?
I love them all- as characters. They are not all good people, some are downright evil, but I created them and if I did not love everything about how they convey themselves to me as I read the pages, I would consider it a FAIL.
HOWEVER, choosing the one I can relate to most as a human being- Kathleen Wright is closest to my heart as someone I would actually choose to be around and to know on a personal level. Kathleen is a young, spirited, naive, loving and consciously aware girl who becomes a woman throughout the course of the story. She has a lust for learning and a lust for loving and being loved in return. She is an "all-in" type of character who only does things with her whole heart and that is how I personally prefer to live life, ALL-IN, no matter what.
I want to get back to the nasty stuff so let's play a game. Bang, Marry, Kill. Your options are Jimmy “Dixie” Bates, Justin Bieber and Kanye West. Go!
Whoa. I was not expecting this one. First off- are people still saying "bang"?
My easiest and instant inclination is to kill Kanye West. I find him entirely insufferable. My least favorite people in life are self-lovers. He is openly and proudly the UBER self-loving....d-bag. D-bag is really what I want to say.
That leaves me with options that would require enormous amounts of booze and drugs....
Okay quick like a band-aid- I would marry Justin Bieber via internet so he would not have to be present and we would live bi-coastal (and by bi-coastal I mean everywhere he would be, I would not be). Let me just say that this makes me as sick to my stomach as accidentally seeing his fleshy selfies because I am old enough to be his mother. Oooohhh- fleshy- hate that word.
So now its Jimmy Dixie Bates left to bed. Then (book era, when he was a young man)- not now. Enter the drugs and booze. Man this question makes me uncomfortable!
Now that I’ve made you completely uncomfortable and have successfully made you admit you would marry Justin Bieber, let’s get back to the book. How does it feel to be a legit published author?
Until I hand the first copy to the person for whom I wrote it, I will feel nothing extraordinary. Even now I am tearing up thinking of that moment.
I don't gauge writing the book as legit, or not legit, or even too legit to quit....I gauge the book by three words only- I did it. No matter who publishes it, who buys it, who criticizes it, who adores it, I did something I have always wanted to do that scared the shiest out of me.
Anyone can do that, if they jump over their own shadow.
You have a big launch party coming up. What are you most excited and nervous about?
Excited ALWAYS equals nervous for me. I do not like the focus/attention landing squarely on my shoulders. This launch party, for instance, is all about this book I wrote. Which means ME. Which, let's face it, means I have IBS. I might hire someone to follow me around and tell ridiculous stories and jokes to ease my mind. Are you available?
Until now, it has just been a dream for me, a looming thing that became part of my person. For others around me- an annoying series of seemingly endless questions and fact checking inquiries. It will be wonderful to celebrate that journey with the people I love and tortured...and a bunch of people I have never met.
What we all want to know is WHEN can we get it?
DIXIE Book One: Open Roads will be available nationwide on all major electronic outlets, i.e. Kindle, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Nook, Smashwords on September 22! It will be available in hard copy in select bookstores as well. Sadly, nobody seems to like real, live books anymore! I LOVE them. I smell the pages prior to reading....maybe I should have kept that to myself.
.....AND you heard it here first: You can pre-order DIXIE beginning next week! Details to follow on my website, facebook and twitter pages.
WEBSITE: www.dixiebookseries.com (live next week!)
One final question because I just have to know. Who did you write Dixie for?
While I choose not to publicly divulge the identity of the person who lit the Dixie fire inside of me, I will tell you it is inspired by true events. Not based on....inspired by. There is a distinct difference.
Sybil Watters it has been a huge honor to chat with you! I am so looking forward to the release of Dixie Book One and of course the books that will follow. I wish you all the best at the launch party and hope that the paparazzi don’t catch you in an unfortunate bout of IBS.