Author Q&A, Blooper Reel

 

We fell apart so many times. I don’t know how Oprah is going to handle me on a stage. Or her backyard in Maui.

But practice we must, as I’m presenting my books in zoom Book Club meetings now.

Book Ends is a group of savvy readers in the St. Louis, Missouri area. This gorgeous group read The Great Loveda Brown and has invited me to speak at one of their monthly meetings. I’m fairly certain wine will be involved. And my cat is a non-negotiable. I can only hope we don’t dissolve into a fit of giggles.

Or maybe we will. If we aren’t having fun, why are we here? After Kid Five’s questions, I think I’m ready for just about anything you can throw at me. Including the camera. Use the comment box below and test it out. What’s a question you have for me? And while we’re at it, invite me to your Book Club this summer. Let’s talk poppycock.

Meanwhile, this video is blessedly short. This is not a coincidence. Enjoy.

Author Q&A, Round Six

 

This video short concludes our round of author interviews, held by Kid Five and thoughtfully dissected by yours truly. I had a hard time pretending only the two of us were going to watch it afterward. Thinking like that resulted in laughter and wisecracks and going wildly off-topic. The alternative was pretending that a million people were watching, and the idea made me want to run from the room in hysterics.

To find a calm middle ground, I quoted movie lines between filming.

“Do or do not. There is no try.”

“The name’s Bond. James Bond.”

“I’m just gonna have fun with it.”

Tucson. 1916.

I guess you had to be there.

“You’re killing me Smalls.”

In this final episode, we chat about how I come up with the titles for my books, when I first considered myself to be a “professional” writer, writing male characters, and hitting an emotionally charged scene that took all my nerve to write. It might not be the one you think it is.

This video is around three and a half minutes. This is how long it takes to brew a perfect cup of tea. This is not a coincidence. Enjoy.

Author Q&A, Round Five

A desperate fit of giggles sabotaged this interview by Kid Five. We cut them off of both ends of the video clip and even so,  you can hear the clothes dryer beep at the end of our author interview, sealing our fate as forever amateur fireside chatterers.

We’re going to make some new ones up in Idyllwild, outside among the pines. After the weather turns. You know my feelings about snow.

Although, now that I consider it, it’s hard to have a fit of giggles when you’re about to freeze to death.

Probably.

In this episode, Kid Five asks me about what literary success looks like. Moms everywhere will relate to my answer. Have I ever Googled myself? What is the most difficult part of my artistic process? Do I believe in writer’s block? How much content did I have to edit out of The Great Loveda Brown before publishing it?

This video was supposed to be three and a half minutes. We settled for short, sweet, and to the point. Then we went to fold laundry. Enjoy.

Author Q&A, Round Four

 

Do you remember the moment you realized you could read? It’s an intense memory I have. I remember looking around, seeing words everywhere, and understanding that they were all trying to talk to me. I imagine it was something like the time Kid Five put on his first pair of glasses and looked around at the world.

“So,” he said. “This is what the place looks like. I’ve never seen individual leaves on a tree before.”

He was twelve. And possibly he’s never forgiven me for being such a clueless mother. He held this interview like a pop quiz and enjoyed it so much more than I did.

Fair.

In this episode, Kid Five and I discuss the time I first realized I wanted to be a writer, my “absolutely must have” item or ritual when I write, where I get ideas for books, and what new and interesting parts of history I’ve discovered during research. (Hint: those go into my newsletter!)

1912 is the year the Titanic went down, the “S” corset went out, and Boston’s Fenway Park went up. The first Eagle Scout earned his rank, Theodore Roosevelt passed the presidency to Woodrow Wilson, and Harriet Quimby was the first female pilot to fly over the English Channel. Life Savers candy was invented in 1912.

Have I always known that I was a writer? Is this a trick question?

This video is around three and a half minutes. This is how long it takes to brew a perfect cup of tea. Not a coincidence. Enjoy.

Author Q&A, Round Three

 

I wonder whether other author interviews are quite this eloquent. Sophisticated. Whether the author demands to breathe into a paper sack before-hand.

One fun fact about my series is that it evolved from a previous project, an unpublished manuscript titled Horizons. In it, I follow a branch of my family tree out of Texas and into the solitary mountains of New Mexico in 1888. Their struggle for survival and the years leading up to World War I were vivid, and the year 1912 rose to the top as an incredibly interesting time to live in America. I celebrated my fascination with historical fiction by writing an article for the NaNoWriMo blog.

My family tree has enough skeletons to populate several series. Facts that inspire fiction? In the words of the great Dave Barry, “You can’t make this stuff up.” Idyllwild has a tantalizing history just begging for someone to gild it.

In this episode, Kid Five and I chat about the research behind The Great Loveda Brown, how many hours a day I sit at my desk, which character in the book I relate to the most, and a childhood author that influenced me. Kid Five follows these with wanting to know whether my written characters have historically based people beneath them and asking what I would tell younger and aspiring writers at the beginning of their writing journey.

This video is around three and a half minutes. This is how long it takes to brew a perfect cup of tea. This is not a coincidence. Enjoy.

Author Q&A, Round Two

In today’s episode, we chat about online reviews, how I stare down a book before I begin writing it, keeping characters fresh in the series, and trying to decide whether Book One was harder to write than the rest and why or why not.

Questions that should have been asked, but weren’t, include:

Q: Mom, did you seriously put bad words in your books? Mom…(utterly aghast)
A: Yes. Beginning on page one. Three different ones in here. You can read them to yourself, silently. But you aren’t allowed to say them.

Q: But…
A: These are grown-up books.

Q: (muttering) I’m twenty years old, Mom.
A: Potatoes, Pu-tah-toes.

Q: Are there other things in there…that are strictly for grown-ups?
A: It’s the Wild West. Everybody has guns. There’s violence and murders because—follow me here—these are murder mysteries. Political correctness is just called ‘manners’, and good luck with that. They cuss when it’s called for. They will drink when they want because prohibition hasn’t been invented yet. And babies are made in the usual way because storks haven’t been invented yet. Maybe you should simmer down.

When Kid Five agreed to host my author interviews about my book, The Great Loveda Brown, he told me we had to set up in front of the fireplace.

“Fireside chats, Mom. It’s all the rage.”

“For presidents, maybe. Can I hold the cat in my lap?”

“You have to hold your book.” Eye roll. “Mom.”

If I ever have to do this in public, you’d better believe I’m bringing the cat for moral support. I will wear him around my neck like an airplane pillow.

This video is just over three and a half minutes. This is how long it takes to brew a perfect cup of tea. This is not a coincidence. Enjoy.

Author Q&A, Round One

 

Some day, I will hold readings in cozy San Diego bookstores and sign my books in front of Bubba’s Books up in gorgeous Idyllwild, California. Some day, I will land a book on Reese Witherspoon’s Book Club List, Hello Sunshine. Some day, I will interview and be interviewed with grace and clarity, and exude an innate sense of curiosity that skims the edge of wild enthusiasm.

But this is not that day.

If we are reduced to little chatting boxes for now, so be it. After all, I can fit an entire world into a little paper book. It’s no substitute for living in 3D, but it is a place to get you dreaming about “some day”.

It’s a start.

My dashingly handsome Kid Five held a series of interviews in our living room last week and the results wobble between, “Oh, I really wanted to talk about that!” to “How would I know?” He pulled questions from his phone and threw them at me then laughed as he watched me squirm in the hot seat, trying to explain things verbally that are so much easier to explain in Times New Roman.

In today’s episode, we chat about the book blurb, the book cover, and choosing three words to describe The Great Loveda Brown herself.

Each video is around three and a half minutes. This is how long it takes to brew a perfect cup of tea. This is not a coincidence. Enjoy.

Ghostwriter

Ghostwriter: a writer who authors books, manuscripts, blog posts, stories, texts, music, memoirs, political speeches, cookbooks, hip-hop lyrics, college term papers, wedding invitations, drug prescriptions, and generally anything at all – but will never get the credit for it – because you were hired by a big fat cheater cheater pumpkin eater.

Who are these cheaters you ask?

I’ll tell you who: “VC Andrews” and Wolfgang A. Mozart. Politicians and medical professionals. Comedians and comic book artists and college kids.

It means that if I’m Hillary Clinton and want to write my memoirs but I just can’t find the time because, darn it all, I’m trying to be president and stuff, then I can hire someone else to throw it together and pay them $500,000.00.

All the ghostwriter has to do is everything, and sign a teensy little anonymous contract:

“I, someone who can write with Hillary Clinton’s accent, promise to deliver a whole book on time and never, ever, ever, tell a soul about it. I won’t tell anyone what is in her closet, even the color of her socks….I will just pocket the money and disappear into the dark alley where ghosts hang out. Rich ghosts.”

Except Hillary, of course, will pocket her EIGHT MILLION DOLLAR advance royalties and “write” more books later that say “By Hillary Clinton” on the cover.

Not only have I lost my faith in humanity, but they just put the “lie” in “library”.

The last holdout for limitless paper imagination, and beacon of hope for starving wanna-be authors everywhere.

I mean, maybe I raised my eyebrows a tad when Janet Evanovich put out her twenty-first book in as many years. I want to believe the woman has it in her. That her comedy runs true and deep, and when it fumbled around in the first couple, it was her genius taking hold of the concept, and when it fumbled around in the last couple, it was her genius saying, “Kid, take a break, I’m exhausted from being witty.”

God forbid she calls in a ghostwriter when her own plots begin to wane, so that she can keep cranking out books every year and making mad money.

I mean, not that I can’t wait for “her” next book to show up. But still.

For all I know, the whole public library was filled by ten writers, tops. And they’re ventriloquists.

I really should have suspected the Nancy Drew series, now that I know what I’m looking for. Carolyn Keene does not exist except in the ghostly pens of mysterious contributors. I will miss your titian hair, Nancy.

Great Scott. Was Titian a lie too? Do you suppose he retired like a king in Cagliari at twenty and paid someone else to keep going for him?

“Just throw some red in there,” I can hear him say to his ghost-painter, “everyone will assume my style is evolving,” as he takes a swig from his cabernet, “People will believe anything.”

And so it ends, another day, lying face down on the ground of disillusionment.

How the mighty have fallen.

And as long as I’m down here, just let me know if there’s any Oscar acceptance speeches you need written.

If you have the money, I have the time.

Maybe I should drop Janet a line…