joanne Weck Author Page

Monday, December 7, 2015



So it seems appropriate to face this fact, even in fiction. But I'm a mild person who avoids even the most minor conflict in person, who yearns for a world in which armies and bombs and battles are obsolete. 

Yet novels thrive on conflict. Creating characters, especially those whose personality and goals are the very opposite of mine, always presents a challenge. Producing imaginary people who are as memorable as MacBeth or Nurse Ratched, to make them stalk the pages as believable, demands more than imagination. It demands an understanding of the effects of nature and nurture. This is where my education in psychology (the Gestalt Approach) and theater (the Stanislavski Method) become invaluable.

For a self-centered cheater in my novel DOUBLE DECEPTION I employed “the magic if.” How would I feel if I’d been abandoned by my mother at birth, left in the hospital and then adopted by demanding parents who always made me feel I was somehow lacking? If my husband lost interest in me after the birth of our child, and a suave and charming man offered me the reassurance and admiration I needed?

For a brutal criminal I contemplated the psychology of a boy who’d been raised in a series of foster homes, thrown out onto the streets at fourteen and had to make his way on the streets. Offered a "tribe" and a brotherhood of older criminals, wouldn’t it be natural to find satisfaction and success in the gang?

First I consider the forces that combine to create a certain type of individual. Then I search for quirks of personality, physical attributes, manners and morals that contribute to their individuality.I meditate and search my own soul for the emotions I feel and the emotions I suppress and deploy them as appropriate for my characters.

Writing brings into play all of the accumulated knowledge and experiences of one’s life, the ability to walk in another’s shoes, the excitement and pleasure of playing many different roles. In my real life I’m a staid, modest, law abiding, and considerate human being. But on the page I can live an adventure every day as I become a hardened killer, a wily detective, or a femme fatal.    

Friday, December 4, 2015

Can I Keep Writing Fiction When the World is in Chaos?

“I have an idea that the only thing which makes it possible to regard this world we live in without disgust is the beauty which now and then men create out of the chaos. The pictures they paint, the music they compose, the books they write, and the lives they lead. Of all these the richest in beauty is the beautiful life. That is the perfect work of art.” 
― W. Somerset MaughamThe Painted Veil

I read all the headlines--endless wars in the mideast and Africa, fire-bombings in Syria, in the United States--police shootings of unarmed young men, mass shootings by fanatics--not to mention fires and natural disasters--floods, fires, earthquakes, volcano eruptions, and the effects of our contribution to more disasters through climate change.

Chaos seems overwhelming. Makes me rethink my life of security and my escapism into worlds that I  create. Should I be writing about more important issues? Should I voice my opinions in op-ed pieces and letters to the editor instead of more subtly through the the minor themes of my fiction? Is it enough to contribute to causes I believe in, to add my name to petitions, to write to my representatives?

When I was younger I threw myself into the fray. I taught in a ghetto school in a riot torn city. I picketed against injustice. I volunteered. I worked with children at risk. Even when I taught in more comfortable towns I did my best to impart values I believed in to the young people in my care.

Now my keenest wish is to sit at my desk (before a roaring fireplace) in my Pocono Mountain cabin and disappear into a world which is under my control. In which karma ensures that characters get what they deserve. I can insinuate my ideas about issues I consider important--that abuse of the weak is always wrong, that all children are our children, that violence only leads to more violence.  But I wonder if it's enough.  Can art in all its forms create beauty out of Chaos?