My guest today, on Rainne’s Ramblings, is Phyllis Staton Campbell.
Phyllis, who was born blind, writes about the world she knows best. She calls on her experience as teacher of the blind, peer counselor and youth transition coordinator. She says that she lives the lives of her characters: lives of sorrow and joy; triumph and failure; hope and despair. That she and her characters sometimes see the world in a different way, adds depth to the story. She sees color in the warmth of the sun on her face, the smell of rain, the call of a cardinal, and God, in a rainbow of love and grace.
Although she was born in Amherst County, Virginia, she has lived most of her life in Staunton, Virginia, where she serves as organist at historic Faith Lutheran church, not far from the home she shared with her husband, Chuck, who waits beyond that door called death.
Hi Phyllis, welcome to Rainne’s Ramblings.
Would you like to start by telling us how your journey as a writer began…?
I think my journey as a writer began before I could actually write. My sister and I made up stories, and acted them out before I even started to school
… So have you always been a creative soul?
Yes, I have.
What is your top writing tip?
Set realistic goals, and stick to them, raising the bar for yourself, as those goals are reached.
Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer just to see where an idea takes you?
It depends on what I’m doing. I completely outline an article. When working on a book-length project, I do a beginning, decide where the conflict at the beginning is taking the end, and then often the middle, the how we get to the end sort of finds itself.
Do I stick to this beginning end middle method? Not always, sometimes things become clearer as I work.
Which, if any, of your personality traits did you write into your characters?
Probably my determination. Kate, for instance, in Who Will Hear Them Cry, once she gets started, so to speak, is determined to get to the bottom of the deaths at the school, and protect the children.
Which writers inspire you?
That’s really hard to say. For my recent title, Where Sheep May Safely Graze was definitely inspired by Jan Karon.
You write columns for the National Braille Press, and for The Blind Post. What subjects do you cover?
I do a crafts column for both The Blind Post, and NBP. and a sort of general column for NBP. It covers hobbies, interesting people, book reviews, origins of holiday customs, almost anything.
How many books have you written? Which is your favorite?
I’ve written six books, with both traditional and self-publishers. I’ve also done a true-crime book, under contract to the victim’s family. I’m not sure that I actually have a favorite.
Which of your books was the most fun to write… ?
I think probably Out Of The Night.
…And which of was the hardest?
Friendships in the Dark, my memoir. It took me back to walk in memory with many whose voices I’ll never hear again on this earth.
When you consider your future, what would you like to make happen for you?
In a general sort of way, to live out the rest of my life with dignity and peace. As a writer, I’m not foolish enough to wish for a bestseller, but I wish for a really successful book.
What advice would you give to your younger self?
Don’t take life, and myself so seriously.
As a child, what did you want to do when you grew up?
I wanted to teach, becoming a writer came later, although I think it was lurking there in the background.
What would constitute a “perfect” day for you?
To be able to talk again to those afore mentioned people who walk in my memory, to tell them again that I love them, and ask forgiveness for hasty words or things not done.
If you could be any age again for a week, which would you choose?
Not so much a particular age, but the time between adolescence and adulthood. A time when life stretched before me with its hopes and dreams untarnished by life; a time when to a degree, life is ruled by passions; a time when the senses are sharper, the taste of wild strawberries, the scent of lilac and honeysuckle, sweeter; and a time when friendship and love rule one’s life.
Is there anything else you’d like to share with us?
Only to thank you for giving me the chance to do this interview, as well as to say thanks to those who read what I’ve said. You and the readers are among the best.
Thank you very much, Phyllis, and thanks for dropping in to talk with us today.