Aspiring Voices is delighted to welcome Krista Quintana to the interview chair this week. I asked Krista about finding theme in her writing, dreams as story fodder, and the special role of color to her life and work.

Colorful shutters

slack12 via Creative Commons

Paul: So I noticed that color seems to play a big role in your site and in the way you organize information; even referring to your in-progress novels by a color coding. Has a colorful aesthetic always been something you’re drawn to or is this a newer development? Do you use color as a theme or motif within your writing or is it more of a trait external to the writing itself?

Krista: I think color has always been very integral in my life.  When I was younger (less so now), I classified memories and people by color.  And important memories are still to me, red, black, whatever emotions it evokes.  With people, as I got to know them, I began to think of them as a specific color.  It never really had any meaning, it just was what they ‘were.’  My mom used to be able to see people’s aura’s, and my dad had perfect pitch, assigning each note with a different color.  So I think I was really destined to think in colors.

I have used color quite often in writing, often without realizing it.  Probably the first novel that I wrote, I had a whole society separated in classes by what color they wore.  When I edit, I have to use a lot of colors, and I’ve color coded my editing as well.  Using a specific type of blue to focus on to be verbs, or a green to focus on dialogue.  By the end, my page is colored and crazy, but it makes sense to me.

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This week’s guest is the clever and articulate Noel Ashland. I talked to her about finding a creative environment, the joy of the short format, and her unexpected strategy to avoid writing the story you don’t want to tell, plus a lot more.

The Teacher's Desk

Mike Bitzenhofer via Creative Commons

Paul: Have you always thought of yourself as a writer or was it something you picked up along the way? What attracted you to writing in the first place?

Noel: I remember when I was little, I loved to make up stories. I told stories to my family and friends long before I could write. I think I’ve always thought of myself as a writer or at least a storyteller. Fifth grade was when I really started writing, and I was attracted to it because I could unleash my overactive imagination and entertain people at the same time.

Paul: Was there a particular teacher in fifth grade (or other point in school) that encouraged you or was that just the point at which it kind of solidified for you, where you realized you could express your imagination and get a positive response for it?

Noel: My 5th grade teacher made a difference. Her name was Mrs. Dorsey, and we all had a writing notebook. She always encouraged me to read my stories out loud to the class (I was pretty shy then), and my classmates would always tell me how much they enjoyed them (I wrote a lot of humor at the time). I’m sure the stories were terrible, but that’s when I remember really spending a lot of my free time writing. I wrote stories, plays, and poems. I even made comic strips (I am not an artist, but the art was funny and went with the story). If I wrote before then, I don’t really remember it. I think it was that she gave us a lot of freedom to write about what we wanted and gave us some fun prompts to try out. She would even take the time to read things I wrote outside of class and make comments.
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