“I had never taken a real writing course in my life, and the Writers’ League classes introduced me to a world I always wanted to enter, but never had the time to do so. “
— Joan Moran
A member of the Writers’ League since 2016, Joan lives in Austin, TX.
Scribe: In what genre(s) do you write?
Joan Moran: I usually write non-fiction, memoir, screenplays, and I’m a compulsive blogger. However, I had secret thoughts that to be a real writer, I would have to settle down and write fiction. I wrote my first book of fiction in 1986, Women Obsessed, and that was an afterthought in order to enhance the prospects of selling the screenplay by the same name. It was written in the form of letters exchanged between two women. After writing this work, I scared myself and didn’t tackle fiction again until two years ago.
Scribe: What author would you most like to have a drink with, and what’s the first question you would ask them?
JM: Toni Morrison. I read her book, Beloved, and was captivated by the deep emotional connection she had with her characters, in particular, Beloved — her sorrow, resilience, her ability to love and exist in a world of duality. Since I was a young girl of 11, I invaded my mother’s extensive library of classic literature. My favorite writers were Russian: Dostoevsky and Tolstoy. I devoured their books for years during the summers before high school, then began to read Chekov and Nabokov. When Morrison’s Beloved came out in 1987, I went to the bookstore and bought it immediately. I was curious about her writing, her challenge to the ‘old school’ novelists, which included poetry and the use of creative language in an attempt to restructure the way we think about how fiction is assessed. I’ve seen her interviews throughout the years, and I felt a compelling urge to hug her, perhaps because of her passion and understanding of the deep recesses of human nature. If I could talk to Ms. Morrison, maybe I could breathe in that essence.
Scribe: If you were stranded on a deserted island, what book would you want to have with you to keep you sane?
JM: I’m conflicted between two choices: Leo Tolstoy’s War and Peace and Margaret Mitchell’s Gone with the Wind. I read both before I entered high school and they both reflected my love for very long books — sagas, if you will — interwoven with multiple characters dealing with life on multiple levels with complicated story lines woven throughout the novel. Colorful sagas go on forever, which I adore. I can tell you exactly the moment I finished Gone with the Wind: the summer before I entered seventh grade, sitting on a diving board stretched out over the pool in my backyard. I finished War and Peace the cold winter of eighth grade huddled in a corner of my living room catching the rays of the sun.
Scribe: What have you learned from your association with the Writers’ League?
JM: It’s axiomatic to say that I have learned how to write. I had never taken a real writing course in my life, and the Writers’ League classes introduced me to a world I always wanted to enter, but never had the time to do so. Thanks to retirement and my love for writing and books, I migrated into the positive and energetic world of the community of writers and teachers who have guided me into another level of artistic passion.
Scribe: Where do you see your writing taking you (or you taking it) in the future?
JM: Writing will take me into a future of knowing and learning more about the nuances of how fiction is structured. More classes are ahead of me and a re-reading of Michael Noll’s book on how to write fiction: The Writer’s Field Guide to the Craft of Fiction. After completing my new book, An Accidental Cuban, and managing its launch, I am going back to writing my next book, The Homecoming Queen.
Scribe: Here at the Writers’ League, we love sharing book recommendations. What’s one Texas-related book that has come out within the past year that you couldn’t put down?
JM: Empire of the Summer Moon. I believe this terrific book by S. C. Gwynne came out several years ago, but this is my favorite book about how the territory of Texas struggled for almost a hundred years with the Apache Tribes. It was vivid, compulsive reading.
Scribe: Is there anything else about you that you would like to share with the world? An opportunity for blatant self-promotion!
JM: Blatant self-promotion: An Accidental Cuban, now on Amazon and Goodreads. I traveled to Cuba several years ago and discovered the beginnings of a story about a young man I met in Cienfuegos, a Cuban national, who wanted to get off the island and find his freedom in America. The fictionalized story began after our introduction and hours of conversation in the Plaza Marti. Harry, the protagonist, goes to Havana and unwittingly gets embroiled into the Cuban underground economy, controlled by nefarious non-Cuban businessmen. His work for his employers compromises his moral compass. Harry’s journey sends him down a rabbit hole that creates a Faustian bargain that dramatically changes the direction of his life.
Thank you, Joan!
If you’re a Writers’ League member and you’d be interested in being interviewed for our Meet the Members feature, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information. It’s a great way for other members to get to know you and for you to share a bit about what you’re working on!