Tina Boscha is author of River in the Sea, the first indie book that I have ever given 5 stars to. After I reviewed her book, Tina graciously allowed me to interview her. Here is the fun that transpired:
1. Tina, I want to jump right in and ask you the question that was bouncing around in my head the whole time I was reading. As the inspiration for River in the Sea, how does your mother feel about the book? What does she think about how you’ve portrayed her?
My mother is easily my biggest fan and champion. (Phew!) She often calls me to tell me of the latest reader reaction, usually someone in her church, or to remind me that the book is in the church library. She also posts on my Facebook wall a lot, often stating that she hopes I sell a ton of books. (I do too!) But while she was supportive of the book for years, it took her a few months to work up the nerve to read the final, finished product. My dad had to read it first and vet it for her, so to speak. I can’t really blame her, though, as it would be weird to have a book based on your life, even if it was fictionalized.
2. Is there anything she wishes you didn’t include?
She’ll be the first to tell you that she didn’t do anything of the sort with a boy named Jakob. Ha! But I don’t think there’s anything that she wishes I didn’t put in there. If anything, that’s the opposite.
3. Out of curiosity, why did you decide to include words and phrases in Leen’s native tongue?
This is a fascinating question because I am not sure there was ever a moment when I consciously decided. I have read a lot of books that do this, from Hegy’s Stones from the River (my all-time favorite book) to Junot Diaz’s Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, and I think it’s always rang more authentic to me as a reader. Friesian/Frysk is also a rare language, with only about 400,000 speakers, and that was important to me to have that represented.
4. Speaking of Friesland, did you travel there before, during, or after writing River in the Sea? Your descriptions are so clear, I felt like I was there.
I used to go to Friesland every four years as a kid, as most of my extended family is there. I was last there in 2001, right before I started writing the book. I would LOVE to go back. It’s a special place, obviously, and I have over 30 first cousins there who I rarely get to see.
5) Wow, and I thought that my 15 cousins were a lot! Your book follows your mother’s family during such a turbulent time in history, writing about those experiences must have been intense for you. How did it change how you view your family?
It was intense. Very, very intense. It made me understand my parents so much more, what makes them tick, why my dad used to be angry at seatbelt laws, things that seemed weird to me. When you grow up with an occupying government dictating that you have to turn your clocks ahead by 40 minutes, surrender your family’s horses and worse, young men for conscription, you don’t like anyone interfering with your personal liberty.
On a small scale, it made me understand why my mom couldn’t pronounce certain names initially, because I finally got to know the Frisian language. On the largest scale, it made me understand just how monumental some of her decision-making was as a young woman. She tells me now that so much of what she did was instinctual, and that she can hardly believe it herself.
6) She’s amazing and so are you for deciding to write this book (and might I add, for doing it so well). How has writing River in the Sea changed you as a person?
More than anything writing this book taught me to trust myself. I could write pages on this, but in short, I learned that when I was emotional when writing it, that I was on the right track and not to shy away from it. It’s funny to say this, but I wanted to make readers cry. I love books that make me that emotionally connected that I’ll weep, and there were times that I cried during the drafting. That’s when I knew I had to give in to that emotion and let it onto the page. There’s no other way.
7) What’s your “writing vice” AKA the thing that gets you through those long hours?
Online spider solitaire. I can’t draft for hours at a time – I often spit out 1,000 words in a half hour – but revision and editing is another story. I actually prefer revision to drafting. But I find that even if I work on a chunk of writing for hours, I often have to take mini breaks before I tackle the next passage or scene. Which is where Spider Solitaire comes in. It’s quick, a minor challenge, and gives me enough of a break to dive back into the writing. I totally cop to it as being a distraction and tool of procrastination, but if I don’t indulge I’ll probably decide to rearrange the pantry or go out and pull weeds. You know, procrastination through productivity.
I had to delete Minesweeper and Tetris – the old school games – when they were available on laptops. Those were too addicting and I refuse to download or even play online versions. Words with Friends is bad enough!
Blue cheese spread on crostini is a lovely writing snack.
8) You must have played a lot of spider solitaire because editing your book must have taken forever! River in the Sea is expertly edited and, for me, that was really a game changer. What was the editing process like? It’s obvious that it was very important to you.
Thank you for mentioning this. I often tell my students that you want your work to be so clean that others don’t compliment you on it. You want someone to comment on the content, not the fact that you don’t have comma splices or typos, etc. As a self-published writer, you want the same thing, but it’s a lot of work – far more than I realized going in – to put out a professionally edited and formatted book, and it’s nice to hear it!
I should say that I had a lot of help over the years, from beta readers and my literary agent. However, this past summer I devoted every single day (weekends included) to revising, editing, and polishing River. I pored over every line on paper, on screen, and on my Kindle. At the end I found editing and proofing on my Kindle to work really well – I spotted things I wouldn’t normally. I also read my work out loud a lot. As someone who has written as part of my work for years, plus as a writing instructor, I think I have some advantages. But yet it’s the same for anyone – you have to go everything eighteen billion times and then you have to go through it again.
9) Totally! Since historical fiction is one of my favorite genres, if you had to recommend another book, what would it be?
As I’ve mentioned, Stones From the River by Ursula Hegy. I think the best historical fiction is less about the history and more about the story, with the added bonus of another time and place. This book is golden in that regard.
10) Last but not least, what’s on your horizon? What can we expect to see from you and when?
I am drafting a YA novel right now. Technically it’s paranormal – there’s a ghost – but really I’m trying to write an “answer” to Twilight. Something where the protagonist questions her decisions based on love a bit more. I would love to release it by the end of this calendar year. That’s a tall order, as I work full-time (overtime, actually) but I’m still working towards that goal.
A short essay of mine is appearing in NPR’s This I Believe: On Motherhood, out in a few days! It’s about stepparenting and I am absolutely thrilled to be part of that anthology.
That’s wonderful, congratulations! Also, an “answer” to Twilight? Count me in! Thank you so much for letting me interview you!
No, thank you! I love interacting with readers and am HUGELY grateful for every review posted online.