Res Primae: A Collection of First Poems and Perigee Moon: Poems from a Pagan Summer
What kick started your craving to be creative?
Ah, that was a little seed that was always growing inside me. From my earliest days I was always making stories, drawing, crafting, sewing—and I always loved it. I don’t really remember a time when I decided to become creative, I just always was…I wrote my first story before I knew how to write, actually; it was a picture-book about how the first humans domesticated dogs and turned them into pets.
How do you get into the mindset for being creative?
I try to keep my mind open all the time to inspiration and creativity so my mind is always in that “ready to create” mindset. Reading books, going for walks outside, gardening, those are all things that help me feel creative. I try to write at least 1,000 words a day, whether or not I feel like it or feel inspired, because I view writing as my career and, well, I won’t have a career unless I finish those novels!
Do you ever suffer from writers block and if so how do you overcome it?
All the time. It happens more often than I’d like, but I think it’s part of the creative journey. When it comes there’s just not really much I can do about it—I get writer’s block worst in summer; something in the heat just stops my creative flow. Usually I just focus on editing whatever I’ve written over the cooler months until autumn comes again.
When you work to have a particular set up or can you work anywhere?
Well…I’m most comfortable at my desk, where I have everything I need within reach…pencils, pens, reference books, and I’ve arranged my desk such that I’m surrounded by inspirational pictures that help me write: postcards of the Rocky Mountains, pictures of trees and castles, and portraits of famous Romans (I’m a classics buff) but I really can do my work anywhere, especially in the spur of the moment, at a scenic or inspirational place. I carry a notebook and pen with me always. I think it’s good to be versatile.
You have quite a few strings to your bow, as an artist, writer and photographer. Do you ever find that your writing or photography inspires your drawing or vice versa?
That does indeed happen…they tend to go hand-and-hand, but for me usually only the photographs inspire my writing; being able to see a place helps me envision the world in my stories in a more realistic fashion. Sometimes I’ll get an idea for a story from a painting or illustration; though I tend to illustrate after I’ve written something.
Do you prefer to draw, write or take photos?
I definitely prefer writing. Writing is my first and forever love. I like photography and art, too, but ultimately my greatest joy comes from stringing words together.
What media do you use for your artwork?
It varies, depending on the project. I use pen-and-ink, coloured pencil, pastel, and watercolour; but my favourite medium to use is coloured pencil. It works very well for a wide range of projects and is relatively easy to use. Watercolours are the hardest to work with; they run all over the place.
You create maps for other people’s books, how easy do you find it to visualise the detail of someone else’s world?
It can be very hard; it can also be easy, depending on how much detail they’ve put into their own stories. I ask that authors help me out by describing their land as well as they can, and I try to work very closely with their wishes so the map is as accurate as possible. But a lot of it you have to imagine yourself, or invent yourself, or just take wild guesses and hope you get it right. Each person also envisions a realm differently depending on their own experiences..when someone says “mountains” to me I automatically envision mountains of aspen and conifer but that’s because those are the mountains I know—but they might actually be thinking of scraggly mountains, or snowy treeless mountains!
What do you write about?
I write fantasy stories, both novels and short stories. I love epic fantasy, the classic kind, in which you become fully immersed in a world with magic and dragons and mages and castles. Primarily I write about the adventures of magicians or the lives of people within these magic realms. I like to examine the nature of truth/falsity in my works; that has been a main focus of my own life—between peer pressure, popular media, trying to sort out what is real from what isn’t, etc—and I hope my stories will offer readers some alternate ways of thinking about what’s true and what isn’t.
Do you prefer to write poetry or stories?
It depends on my mood. I go through phases where all I write is poetry and then I’ll write only stories for a while. Right now I’m in a story phase. I haven’t written poetry in months, actually, but I know I’ll probably go back to writing it and leave my stories for a couple months, and then cycle back to stories…
Whether it be writing or drawing, do you visualise what you’re after and work from memory, or do you let the pencil guide you?
Hmmm…it largely depends on the project. If I’m drawing I’ll often start out with a basic idea of what I want it to end up looking like. It never does turn out the way I imagine but usually it looks better so that’s okay. When I write novels I plan out the plot carefully and purposefully, so that is worked largely from “memory”, if you will. Poetry is another matter—most of my poems are free-falls into imagery and imagination, so the pencil really guides me there!
On your website, you state that you like to wear renaissance dresses, how many of these do you own and do you make them yourself?
Right now I have one complete Renaissance dress, a lovely shade of blue-green. I do sew them myself, from patterns and yards and yards of velvet. They are extremely frustrating to make but the end result is worth it. I’ve been meaning to make more, but from satin this time, for warmer weather.
Can you tell us about any upcoming works?
Well, my poetry book Perigee Moon: Poems from a Pagan Summer has just been published by The Moon Publishing & Printing. It’s a collection of poetry in praise of the moon and the spirits of the heavens, and is available as both paperback and ebook. Details on how to buy it are on my website.
Are there any pieces of artwork or photography that you are particularly proud of and would like to share?
I’d love to share this one: http://belleofmountains.files.wordpress.com/2011/11/ivywall.jpg, a quick photo I took of an archway in a castle some time ago. I love the contrast between the soft green of the ivy and the solid roughness of the brick wall. When I took the photo I wasn’t writing fantasy yet and so I really wasn’t into castles all that much, but then later once I’d begun writing fantasy I looked through my old photos and found all the ones I’d taken of castles…and was very glad I’d taken the time to snap the pictures.
Is there anything you would like to add?
Well, thanks much for the interview! I do appreciate it. If anyone reading would like illustrations or maps for their fantasy novel, I am currently taking on new authors and new projects! Also, if there’s any fantasy writers/poets out there, my fantasy ezine Into the Willows is open to submissions for its Summer Solstice issue — I’d love to look over anything anyone wants to send along: www.intothewillows.wordpress.com
Where can we find/ follow you?
I’m on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/Belle-DiMont%C3%A9/207731139255644