Most writers connect themselves with other wordsmiths whom they find inspirational and important. We construct a literary web filled with cool chums who each celebrate literature in their own creative ways. One such literary peep I’m honored to say I’ve connected with is Bakersfield’s impressive artist Diana Campbell Rice, a true literary diva in her own fashion. I wanted to know what novels she is currently reading, and how literature has in some ways inspired her tremendous and diverse art. I found, though, that rather enter into an “interview” type of setting that it may be best if I let her do the talking. As you’ll soon see, I made the right choice:
Diana Campbell Rice: “These days, I’m a big fan of the mystery story, developed with strong characters. James Patterson’s Alex Cross series and Patricia Cornwell’s Kay Scarpetta books are my favorites. The characters in these particular books have become old friends — Nana Mama, Sugar, Kay, Benton, Lucy and Marino — they feel familiar and comfortable, we’re on a first-name basis.
“How am I inspired by these mystery writers? Besides the character development and connection, they write intelligently on well-researched topics. I usually learn something from each book I read. They help remind me that life is unpredictable and creativity isn’t specific to a formula. We are all free as artists to create, grow and develop in our own individual visions. And that is the whole deal — artists get to throw a little tiny chunk of who they are out into the universe. I view writing as creative art . . . the art of expression and communication, critical and important.
“I have had quite a few years to enjoy good books and read all the works of Dick Francis, Agatha Christie, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, J.R.R. Tolkien, Rex Stout, John D. McDonald, Jonathan Kellerman, John Sandford, Janet Evanovich and the late Swedish writer Stieg Larsson’s Girl with the Dragon Tattoo series — and so many more.
“Suspense grabs me every time — it is that particular writing style that will keep me reading until 2 a.m.
“The classics were introduced to me at an early age. My first serious reading experience was my grandmother’s leather-bound set of the works of Greek philosopher, Plato — at age 13, go figure. Of course, she also had Edgar Allen Poe and Emily Dickinson, plus she was pretty big on the Apostles, i.e. the King James version.
“I have stumbled across Jack Kerouac and Hunter S. Thompson — “There he goes. One of God’s own prototypes. Some kind of high powered mutant never even considered for mass production. Too weird to live, and too rare to die.” —Hunter S. Thompson (You gotta love it, seriously.)
“Siddhartha, by Herman Hesse, gave me a new view — still does. Ok, then we have the Russian classics by Leo Tolstoy, Fyodor Dostoyevsky and short stories by Anton Chekhov. I won’t even go into eastern religions. Yes, reading is a huge love and has contributed to my personal development – the knowledge that books have given to me is part of the fabric of who I have grown to be. I can’t imagine not having that global exposure — books gave us that global vision long before it became a current buzz word.
“I mentioned J.R.R. Tolkien — oh, man . . . The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings trilogy, still captures my sense of adventure. I have read those books at least 10 times and if I am in need of Gandalf-esque inspiration, I head for them again.
“As for creating jewelry — it gives me that same sense of adventure as a mystery story — pulling together just the right parts to complete my expression or vision for a piece — and I can tell you I never really know until it is finished. It is a mystery to me — smiling. One day I might be working on a sweet, intricate piece and the next, something bold and structural. The inspiration comes and just like reading — it is a requirement to my happiness, not a luxury — that it finds its way into a finished creation.”
Copyright 2011, Tony R. Rodriguez, lodeplus.com