Category Archives: autobiography

10 QUESTIONS FOR…”Standing Room Only” author Sarah Protzman

Standard

Author interview with Sarah Protzmanbookcoverheadshot-large

My journalism career began on a copy desk in Grand Junction, Colo., at a newspaper where I later became an A&E writer and dating columnist. I now work in Manhattan at Condé Nast Publications have written freelance pieces for New York Magazine, New York Resident and Prevention.

1. Tell us about your latest book.

“Standing Room Only” is my first book. It’s the story, written diary-style and as it unfolded, of buying a one-way ticket to NYC in early 2007 at 24, without a job or apartment. It’s about creating a life from the ground up and all the happiness and struggles that accompany starting from scratch.

2. How did you get started as a writer?

I’ve been writing since I could read. At 8, I wrote stories about two mice, Marshall and Raymond, who solved mysteries that often involved dinosaur footprints. Much later, I was a music columnist for my college paper at Mizzou, and after graduating was hired in Colorado. While on the copy desk, I became a dating blogger in the early stages of our push toward better Web content, and later replaced the A&E writer when she left.

3. What does a typical day look like for you?

I’m a copy editor at a fashion magazine, and basically I geek out on pivotal issues such as hyphenation, dangling modifiers and semicolon placement. I work from 1-8 p.m., so I use the morning for book marketing, running errands, exercising, watching Netflix, or sometimes (ok, often) sleeping in.

4. Describe your desk/workspace.

Self-adhesive corkboards, a lot of magazine dummies, and a sign my coworkers have come to love — think a NO SMOKING sign with the word drama where the cigarette would be. There are many divas in fashion journalism (the men too), and I’m just not that into that.

5. Favorite books (especially for writers)

Jhumpa Lahiri has a gift unlike any I’ve seen. Chuck Klosterman’s essays are pure hilarity and very insightful. Michael Cunningham’s  Home at the End of the World changed my life, as did many of Hemingway’s works.

6. Tell us 3 interesting/crazy things about you

• If journalism didn’t exist, I’d want to be a singer/actor/dancer.

• I hate beer.

• I have been bitten by an emu, a goose, a cat and fire ants — though not simultaneously, of course.

7. Favorite quote

“You can learn how to be you in time.” –Lennon/McCartney

8. Best and worst part of being a writer

Best: The rare times when you write something you think is really good.

Worst: That print media is disappearing and the industry as a whole is in real trouble.

9. Advice for other writers

Read as much as you can. Think critically about everything you read and hear. Listen to how people talk and what they focus on when they do. Let your words, both spoken and written, be unpretentious and authentic, clear and accessible.

10. Tell us a story about your writing experience.

I once did a story where I went undercover as an aspiring rock star. I told several psychics my goal was to be performing on stage in New York City in six months. Each said my palm/the tarot cards/their intuitive powers indicated it would definitely happen. As an aside, one of them threw in, unprompted, that I would never bear children.

Where can people learn more about you and your book?

It’s all happening at Standingroomonlybook.com.

 

Advertisements

10 QUESTIONS FOR…novelist Heather Summerhayes Cariou

Standard

Author interview with Heather Summerhayes Cariou

Heather Summerhayes Cariou is the author of “Sixtyfive Roses:  A Sister’s Memoir,” recently optioned for film by Eva Longoria and UnbeliEVAble Productions.   Born and raised in Brantford, Ontario, Canada, Heather immigrated to New York City in 1983.   She is the eldest daughter of the founders of the Canadian Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.   A former professional actress and dancer, she owes her emergence as a writer to the International Women’s Writing Guild, on whose Board she now sits as a director.   Heather’s mentors include D.M. Thomas, Ted Conover, and Sally Bingham.  An avid reader, she is also a gourmet cook, and an inveterate mother hen to both friends and strangers.  When not traveling to locations with her husband, the actor Len Cariou, she shares a home with him on the Jersey side of the Hudson River, where they enjoy a heart-stopping view of Manhattan.   Heather is currently at work on a novel.

 

Tell us about your latest book.

It’s my hope that readers are challenged, inspired and moved by “Sixtyfive Roses:  A Sister’s Memoir,” a true story that was written to read like a novel.   It’s for anyone on their own hero’s journey.  Reviewers have called it “provocative”, “funny” and “deeply honest.”  This book chronicles the journey of two sisters growing up in the shadow of a fatal illness, and a family fighting for a child’s life.  Fans of “Tuesdays With Morrie” by Mitch Albom and “My Sister’s Keeper” by Jodi Picoult will really appreciate “Sixtyfive Roses.” 

When I was six years old, I promised to die with my sister Pamela, who’d been diagnosed with what Pam called Sixtyfive Roses – Cystic Fibrosis.  However, Pam defied the limits of a dire prognosis, and in doing so taught me how to live. Together we discovered where to find joy and meaning in an often painful and uncertain world.   

“Sixtyfive Roses” is only about illness inasmuch as CF was the catalyst for what happened to me and my family.  It’s a story about being a warrior on behalf of your own life and never giving up.   It’s about loving fearlessly and the choices we make in the name of love.  It’s about the kind of faith, fortitude and forgiveness we tell ourselves we don’t possess, but which is present in all of us.  Ultimately, it’s about what we must all come to understand about love and loss. 

 

How did you get started as a writer?

My mother says I was a very verbal child and spoke my first word at 9 months.  I can’t remember not writing, words came to me so easily, but I was first conscious of wanting to be a writer at about age 10.  However, all the women writers I studied in school (and there were precious few of them) suffered terribly and had either killed themselves or died alone in penury.  This was not the future I envisioned for myself, so I became an actor. (ha! ha!)  I didn’t realize I could be a writer until I joined the International Women’s Writing Guild at the age of 32.  After that, I couldn’t do anything BUT write.

What does a typical day look like for you?

I’m married to an actor, and we travel frequently, so my days aren’t typical.  However, when I’ve set up a good routine for myself, I take a walk in the morning as a precursor to writing, then work anywhere from four to six hours.  I ring a chime to clear the chi in the room, perhaps read some poetry, and put on my ‘writing’ music, new age stuff that opens up the right side of my brain.  I write both on the computer and on big yellow pads.  Quite often the words connect better from my heart to my hand when I’m using a pen.  I begin by lightly editing the previous day’s work (which I have printed out), then move on, always aware of the importance of what Anne Lamott calls “shitty first drafts.”   I try not to get too caught up in self-editing unless I’m in an actual editing phase of my process.   After writing, I do errands, catch up on email, make dinner and enjoy my husband’s company.  We eat out with friends once or twice a week.  We love throwing dinner parties when we’re home.  And we have a few TV shows that are our guilty pleasures.

Describe your desk/workspace.

It’s a mess, but a sacred one.  For me chaos equals creativity.  I have a wonderful antique mahogany roll top desk in quite a large room that is piled with books – on shelves, on the floor, on the back of the couch.  The shelves are all mismatched and I long for a matched set in pine.  I work on a laptop.  In front of me or beside me on the desk are my piles of yellow pads full of scribblings and notes, current books to which I’m referring, a collection of talismen, a small fountain, a statue of Kwan Yin, and a large bulletin board filled with quotes like “Live to the point of tears,” and “If you doubt anything, doubt your limits.”  I’d actually like to thank my husband for my room; he GETS Virginia Woolf.  When we’re on location, I create a corner in our hotel room or apartment that ends up in the same organized mess at my work space at home.

 

Favorite books (For Writers)

Inventing the Truth ~ by William Zinsser

The Situation and the Story ~ by Vivian Gornick

Unreliable Truth ~ by Maureen Murdock

Bird by Bird ~ by Anne Lamott

If You Want to Write ~  by Brenda Ueland

Twelve Months to a Writing Life ~ by Susan Tiberghien

The Courage to Write ~ by Ralph Keyes

Writing from the Body ~  by John Lee

Silences ~ by Tillie Olsen

Writing the Memoir:  From Truth to Art ~ by Judith Barrington

Marry Your Muse:  Making a Lasting Commitment to Your Creativity by Jan Phillips

 

Tell us 3 interesting/crazy things about you

I can usually prescribe the right self-help book to anyone I’ve known for more than 10 minutes.

I once cooked a full Thanksgiving dinner in a hotel suite in Baltimore for the entire cast of a Broadway musical. (Teddy and Alice)

When I’m home and do my morning walk along the Hudson River, I go to the far end of a narrow pier that juts way out into the river and belt a couple of Broadway show tunes at the top of my lungs. “Before the Parade Passes By” is a favorite.

 

Favorite quote

What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us. ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Best and worst part of being a writer

The best thing about being a writer, for me, is being able to use every part of me, my thoughts, feelings, experiences and knowledge, personality, imagination, observations, adventures, spirit, all of me, my whole inventory, in the service of telling a story that might heal, comfort, enlighten or entertain another human being.  I eschew negatives, so I’m not going to give energy to any thought of a “worst part.”

 

Advice for other writers

I have a little badge on my desk that says “Trust Your Story.”  That’s the best advice I can give. 

 

Tell us a story about your writing experience.   

When I was writing the final draft of “Sixtyfive Roses” I was painstakingly changing the tense from present to past, word by word.  A friend told me about the ‘Replace’ button in Word on my computer.  Thrilled, I merrily changed verbs for about half an hour before I realized that I should have checked off ‘Whole Word’ under the Replace tab.  In changing ‘is’ to ‘was,’ Cystic Fibrosis had become Cystic Fibroswas, for instance.  The entire manuscript was now not only half in past tense and half in present, but full of wordburgers.  Wouldn’t you know, that’s exactly where I was with it when 3 agents asked to see the manuscript asap.

 Where can people buy your book?

“Sixtyfive Roses: A Sister’s Memoir” can be purchased through the Amazon link on my website www.sixtyfiverosesthebook.com , Barnes and Noble online, and at select Barnes and Noble and independent book stores.  Please visit my website to enjoy the video book short, read reviews, and find out What Readers Have to Say.   You can also check out my new blog, Shoot From The Hips, at the same site.

10 QUESTIONS FOR…memoirist Cindy Kershaw

Standard

 Author interview with Cindy Kershawbookcover2authorphoto1

My name is Cindy Kershaw. I live on a beautiful lake in Ct. I am the mother of 5
children, all grown, and 5 grandchildren. I’ve been divorced once and widowed
twice, so I’ve spent a good part of my life as a single parent. I’ve always
written, but My Good Grief is my first published book. I am very involved with my church, and spend a couple of days a week at a volunteer job. I have a very full and interesting life!

Tell us about your latest book

My book, titled, My Good Grief, is about my experiences with grief and loss, told through my stories and my poetry. It’s a book about the amazing way joy and sorrow are intertwined in this life. It demonstrates our ability to be alright no matter what life deals us. I tell about the death of two husbands and a younger brother, and my
unswerving faith in the way life unfolds. My experiences with cancer,
alcoholism and AIDS are related in the book, along with a triumph over my
sorrows, and a return to joy. 

How did you get started as a writer?

I’ve been writing since I was 14 years old. I feel that I’ve always been a writer
because I just love to write! Hundreds of journals and notebooks are a
testament to that. After the death of my husband, I met a friend from my past
who asked what I’d written. I was writing about my husband’s death at the time,
and he encouraged me to publish. He thought I should publish my poems, but
instead I wrote about the stories that surrounded and prompted the poetry.

What does a typical day look like for you?

A typical day starts with a cup of coffee, a journal and pen in hand, and then,
weather permitting, I go outside by the water (I live on a lake) or out in my
canoe, and write!  I’m a seamstress, although retired, so my day often has a sewing project. Two days a
week I go off to a very fulfilling volunteer job. I’m always knitting or
crocheting there, something I do everywhere, including outside on the deck, or
inside in the evening. I also love to visit friends or family, so when I’m out,
I include that in my day. I usually take a walk in the afternoon when I’m home.
I love to sit outside on my deck in the nice weather, until dark. Even then,
when the sky is filled with stars, I often linger longer.

Describe your desk/workspace.

My computer is on an old desk in a small room. The room has shelves and bureaus,
filled with the supplies for my many creative endeavors. The walls and shelves
contain favorite photos of my children, grandchildren, other pictures, and
memorabilia. An old braided rug, made by my mother-in-law, graces the floor. A
solitary window, with sheer flowered curtains I made, faces south and lights up
the room. I still love to sit outside with a pen and large yellow lined pad,
and see my words spill out on paper, but later I go to my little room and
transfer them to my computer to store.

Favorite books

The Invitation, The Dance and The Call, by Oriah Mountain Dreamer

Writing from the Heart, by Nancy Slonim Arione

Traveling Mercies, by Anne Lamott

Your Heart’s Desire, by Sonia Choquette

Tell us 3 Interesting/crazy things about you

One of my very favorite things to do is to walk the sandbars at the shore, because it
always clears my head and reminds me of how small I am in relation to the
Universe. I’ve done this all my life. I have changed some with the years, but
it remains constant, always the same.

I love to go out in my canoe, and sit in the middle of the lake, at night when the
full moon is out, lighting up the whole sky!

At 67 years old, I still clap my hands with glee and jump in the air when I’m
extremely happy!

Favorite quote

“I want to know if you can be alone with yourself and if you truly like the
company you keep in the empty moments”.

– Oriah Mountain Dreamer, The Invitation

Best and worst part of being a writer

The best part about being a writer is that writing all the time and getting your
thoughts out of your head and down on paper, keeps you from ever having an
ulcer or being stressed!

The worst part about being a writer is the editing process, and getting rid of
words you’ve written. It’s often painful to part with them but must be done to
make your work interesting and readable to others!

Advice for other writers

Don’t worry about context or progression of passages of writing when you’re creating.
Just write without a thought about what it will eventually become or look like
as a finished product. Correct and edit later!

Tell us a story about your writing experience.

My hope in publishing my book was that it would be an inspiration to others who
were going through the grieving process. The very first e-mail I got proved to
me that I had done that. A man who had just lost his wife was given my book by
a friend who knew my son. The man wrote the friend and said if he ever met the
woman who wrote the book, to tell her it had been invaluable to him and that he
thought she was an amazing woman. The friend told my son, who forwarded the
e-mail to me. The uncanny part was that the man had worked for my son, and
didn’t know that I was his mother. My son wrote and told him so, saying also
that, “Yes, I was an amazing woman.” The man was astounded, told my
son he’d always thought he was a great person, and added that he hoped his
children thought as highly of him when they grew up.

My book is available on my website, www.cindyannek.com

Cindy Kershaw

http://www.cindyannek.com

http://www.cindyannek.blogspot.com

 

10 QUESTIONS FOR…”Off Kilter” memoirist Linda Wisniewski

Standard

Author interview with Linda C. Wisniewskitn1tn-11

Linda C. Wisniewski shares an empty nest in Bucks County, PA, with her husband, the sculptor and potter Steve Wisniewski.  She teaches memoir workshops at retirement centers, and writes features for a weekly newspaper. The Wisniewskis have two grown sons.

1. Tell us about your latest book.

Off Kilter is a memoir using scoliosis as a metaphor for my life. Many of my struggles and challenges required adjusting my attitude, just like I adjust my body to the pain of a curved spine by practicing yoga stretches.

2. How did you get started as a writer?

The editor of an information trade newsletter asked me to write articles when I was a self-employed information researcher, before the Internet. Getting paid for my words inspired me to do more creative writing, and that became my new career.

3. What does a typical day look like for you?

Morning yoga practice and journaling. Then I turn on the spiritual/Native American music station on  iTunes and work on a story for the paper, or my novel. I try not to check email or Facebook til after lunch but don’t always succeed! A walk outdoors at lunch time, then it’s back to the computer for a bit. Often I read in the afternoon as well, and edit book reviews for Story Circle Book Reviews, http://www.storycirclebookreviews.org.

4. Describe your desk/workspace.

An old, battered teacher’s desk I bought at a used furniture store 25 years ago and won’t part with. I love its gouged wood surface and deep drawers.  It faces my wooded back yard, and sits in my study at the back of my house. Nearby are my sewing machine and quilting projects.

 

5. Favorite books (especially for writers)

Unreliable Truth by Maureen Murdock.

Writing From Life by Susan Wittig Albert.

One Year to a Writing Life by Susan Tiberghien.

 

6. Tell us 3 interesting/crazy things about you

I’m a bleeding heart liberal Unitarian Universalist.

I love to knit scarves and afghans but gave up learning to make socks.

My husband does most of the cooking because he likes it more than I do.

7. Favorite quote

“Writing is one of the ways I participate in transformation.”

– Toni Cade Bambera

8. Best and worst part of being a writer

Best – Crafting words into just the right form to express what’s in my heart is one of the most fulfilling things I’ve ever done.

Worst – It’s hard to make a living doing what I love, and it can be lonely as well.

9. Advice for other writers

Write the story that wants to be told. Don’t even think about what’s popular or marketable now until you’ve made your work the best it can be. That’s all that really matters.

10. Tell us a story about your writing experience. 

While covering a story about a gas line proposal for the local paper, I attended a presentation and interviewed state officials. The outfit of one of the female dignitaries intrigued me, and before I could stop myself, I had reached out to touch the lapel of her jacket. “Chico’s?” I asked. She stepped back quickly but must have decided I was harmless.

“No, QVC,” she replied. I’ve forgotten my follow-up questions, but I’ll never forget my embarrassment at being the reporter who was so inappropriate she touched the speaker’s clothing!

 Where can people buy your book? 

Off Kilter is available on order from any bookstore, and online at Amazon, Barnes and Noble and from my publisher, http://www.pearlsong.com/offkilter.htm.

My website is http://www.lindawis.com.

 

10 QUESTIONS FOR…”Sexless in the City” author Anna Broadway

Standard

Author interview with Anna Broadwaycover1color_headshot_web

1. Tell us about your latest book.

Sexless in the City is a memoir of reluctant chastity that looks at the questions of identity raised for post-sexual revolution women — supposedly free to have sex however we please but at the same time, still often defined and valued by our sexuality. The book began as a tongue-in-cheek blog about my love life, but the longer format also gave me a chance to wrestle with the deeper theological issues. When obeying the God of the Bible in one’s sexuality means forestalling sex for a marriage that has no guarantee of happening, you pretty quickly start to either a) cheat a bit in your adherence or b) wrestle with questions like, “Is this God real? Is he good? What if marriage is not in the cards for me?” Etc.

2. How did you get started as a writer?

As a little girl, I used to whisper stories to myself in bed every night, usually about how I hoped to meet and be courted by my future husband. I never seemed to get very far with writing down that nightly saga, but around junior high, I did begin to produce a few-page monthly newsletter for my grandparents and a penpal, which I dubbed The Tardy Tribune. This led to journalism classes in high school and a two-year stint at a college daily. Under the advisement of a writing mentor, however, I chose to major in something other than writing, so drifted a bit until I moved to New York in 2002, fresh out of grad school. The city was such an overwhelming experience – and my loved ones were so concerned about my fate there, as I’d moved with no job and scant savings – so I started writing these little “update emails” with observations on my life. These little essays acquired more of structure as time went on, and set up the launch of my pseudonymous love-life blog in 2004. In 2005, I landed the book deal with Doubleday by an extraordinary stroke of providence.

3. What does a typical day look like for you?

Since I work full-time at an editing job in San Francisco (I live north of Berkeley), I usually wake up at 7:25, turn on the coffee maker, do a quick toilet, grab my coffee, a green smoothie, lunch containers, my purse and a bag for knitting and catch the 8:04 BART into the city to catch my bus up to the office. Typically I leave work between 5 and 5:30, walk to BART (sometimes stopping to grab a latte at the North Beach institution, Caffe Trieste) and get home between 6:30 and 7, later if I lingered on my walk.

On more successful days, I’ve managed to get some cooking/email/writing/editing in before going to bed around midnight, but my goal is to start going to bed closer to 10 and getting up sometime between 5 and 6 a.m. to do a little writing while I’m at my freshest. I’m the farthest thing from a morning person, but putting writing at the end of my day rather than the start just hasn’t worked well. A compromise has been to write during my commute, which has worked well, but for longer, more-intense sessions, I need to be able to concentrate longer than those little bursts allow.

4. Describe your desk/workspace.

Golly, which one? At work, I have a big U-shaped desk strewn with papers, plastic bags from snacks, old bus transfers and other such odds-n-ends. The walls of my cubes are dotted with postcards from friends, art my cousin’s kids and other children have sent me, all but two of the Starbucks “song of the day” series when they were doing that promotion, and a couple posters from shows at a local gallery. Oh, and a picture of Mr. Rogers from a sweater party on his birthday last year, a calendar, and a little wall hanging from India with painted birds on it.

At home, there’s little usable work space, but the piles are more organized than at work. I also have more upright organizers for stationery, pens, sewing supplies and the like. That desk also has various pieces of half-eaten chocolate sitting on wrappers, since my taste for chocolate seems to go in and out like a radio signal during a storm.

5. Favorite books (especially for writers)

I haven’t been as good as I ought to be about reading seriously, but I’ve been enjoying the short stories of John Cheever lately and very slowly reading through Flannery O’Connor’s Mystery and Manners. One of the most thought-provoking books I’ve read about the life of the writer is Cyril Connolly’s Enemies of Promise, which a friend sent me. A really fascinating read, even 80 years later.

6. Tell us 3 interesting/crazy things about you.

I was homeschooled through eighth grade, I once temped at a truck-driver training school (the only office I’ve been in that didn’t have a computer!) and I did most of the work to change my own brake pads on my first car, which was a red Geo Metro I called the Eunuch.

7. Favorite quote

The only one I can ever remember is Mark Twain: “Clothes make the man. Naked people have little or no influence in society.”

8. Best and worst part of being a writer

The worst part, I think, is how easily you can succumb to laziness if you’re not careful. Deadlines provide some accountability, of course, but I think the harder thing is when you’re between projects. If the writing isn’t your income, it becomes easy to keep on living out of your last project too long, rather than continuing to grow and try things. The best part of being a writer is when those rare and wonderful sentences come to you that make music each time you say them. That and when some other wonderfully serendipitous thing happens in the process, like a description that works on both a literal and figurative level. Those are moments of real joy.

9. Advice for other writers

Find other people who will give you painful feedback when you need it, help you get unstuck when you can’t seem to find your way out of a scene, and generally help you be the writer you want to be but aren’t yet and maybe even lack the courage to become. Community is huge. At the same time, though, pick your influences carefully. Try to find people who will help you become strong where you’re weak, rather than encouraging or enabling you to continue in mediocrity.

10. Tell us a story about your writing experience.

Recently I was going through some old papers and came across copies of the newsletter I’d created in junior high – The Tardy Tribune. I was writing it at the same time as a massive immersion in romance novels – Silhouette, Harlequin, that sort of thing. Because of that habit, the novels made occasional appearances in my newsletter – sometimes in book reviews and, in the particular issue I found, a sample vignette I’d penned myself. It was just one scene, but to read it now, I was surprised how well I’d captured the genre. Maybe I could pitch it to Stephen Colbert, for next time he wants to do a romance novel read-off …

Where can people buy your book?

Sexless in the City is available at all major bookstores, online and offline, but it’s probably more likely to be in stock online. If you buy it through my website, www.sexlessinthecity.net, you can also hear samples of all the songs I quote in the book, and buy part or all of the soundtrack through iTunes. The artists who let me quote them were really amazing about the terms of the use, so I really want to encourage people to explore their music. So much great stuff!

10 QUESTIONS FOR…Fred Wendorf, a memoirist who sold movie rights

Standard

Author interview with Fred Wendorfwendorf-book-coverwendorf-photo

Fred Wendorf is a retired Professor of Archeology from Southern Methodist University currently living in Dallas, Texas. Fred has promoted and advanced the field of archeology through his work as a college professor, field archeologist and noted author in his field. He spends his time between Taos, New Mexico and Dallas with his wife Cindy, six children and seven grandchildren. The movie rights to Fred’s autobiography have been purchased.

1. Tell us about your latest book.

 My recent book, “Desert Days, My Life as a Field Archaeologist,” published by SMU Press, follows my life from my early years in Terrell, TX, my enlistment in the army (September 1942) shortly after my 18th birthday (July 31, 1924), and my life as a prehistorian, at first in the American Southwest, but after 1962 in Northeast Africa, in Sudan, Egypt, and Ethiopia. My book is full of humor, and some archaeology stories. I think I succeeded in my goal of writing a book that would be of interest to any intelligent reader. There are about 40+ pages about my army life as 20-year-old Second Lieutenant fighting in northern Italy until I was wounded on March 3, 1945. I spent two years in an army hospital. My right arm was paralyzed, and still is. I went back to the University of Arizona in Tucson, then to Harvard for my MA and PhD. Through luck, and the support of several senior prehistorian friends, I became involved in the effort to save the archaeological sites being destroyed by pipelines, highways, and river basins. As a pioneer in this effort my professional career was greatly enhanced. Over the years I received many awards, two of which are my election to the U. S. National Academy of Sciences, and the Lucy Wharton Medal given once every five years. I was elected President of each of the three major American archaeological societies, and President Regan appointed me to the Secretary of Interior’s Advisory Board for the National Park Service.

I have written, assembled, or edited more than 30 books, and more than a hundred articles in professional journals. All of these are technical descriptive reports and records of archeological history.

 2. How did you get started as a writer?

My first book was written while still an undergraduate after returning from the army 6 months earlier. It is a report on the excavation of a small pueblo and 15 underlying pithouses located at a place called Point of Pines, in east central Arizona. The book was published by University of Arizona Press.

3. What does a typical day look like for you?

I have just finished a two and half year writing project about my life, and now I am becoming involved in giving talks about the book and holding book signings. Three more signing events are scheduled, two in Dallas and a third in Atlanta.

4. Describe your desk/workspace.

 I have two workspaces, my home office and my office at SMU. The top of both desks are covered with letters, manuscripts, dictionaries, and sticky notes of various colors. My walls in both offices are covered with photos taken in the field and of my six children. My home office also has one wall covered with my awards and appointments, ie. National Academy of Sciences, etc.

5. Favorite books (especially for writers).

I read murder and spy novels and the Economist.

6. Tell us 3 interesting/crazy things about you.

I am a hard worker. I like people. I spent forty-four field seasons, each 8 to 10 weeks long, in Egypt and Sudan, mostly in the Western Sahara.

7. Favorite quote.

None

8. Best and worst part of being a writer.

It is hard work, but produces great pleasure when my book or my article is published and I read the publication for the first time.

9. Advice for other writers.

Stay with it IF you enjoy it and like the results!

10. Tell us a story about your writing experience.  

My recent book “Desert Days: My Life as a Field Archaeologist” has the wrong dates for the deaths of both my mother and my father. I will correct this goof if we have a second printing.

 

Where can people buy your book?

Copies are available through Amazon, http://www.amazon.com/Desert-Days-Life-Field-Archaeologist/dp/0870745247/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1233954915&sr=1-1

 

 Barnes & Noble, http://search.barnesandnoble.com/Desert-Days/Fred-Wendorf/e/9780870745249/?itm=4

 

Borders, http://www.borders.com/online/store/TitleDetail?sku=0870745247

 

10 QUESTIONS FOR…Robert Prondzinski, who writes about 45 years living as a quadriplegic

Standard

Author interview with Robert Prondzinski, author ofprondzinski_backcoverphotofinal9780967029122

Another Fine Mess You’ve Gotten Us Into: The Life and Adventures of a Quad 

 

1. Tell us about your latest book.

 

Besides the many bizarre and strange stories about the situations I managed to get my friends into, Another Fine Mess You’ve Gotten Us Into: The Life and Adventures of a Quad is about my 45 years living as a quadriplegic after a severe spinal cord injury at the age of 17. The book is serious, humorous, informational and, many say, inspirational. I take the reader behind the scenes as I describe what it physically and emotionally feels like to be quadriplegic, and navigating my way through rehab, school (I have two masters degrees), living independently, dating, marriage, my professional career, and retirement.

2. How did you get started as a writer?

I was pressured to do so by many of my friends who told me I should write down many of the crazy situations I got them into over the years.  As a very active quadriplegic who never learned his limitations, I frequently manage to get my friends into weird situations that an able-bodied person could not even comprehend.  Hence the title of my book:  Another fine mess you’ve gotten us into.

3. What does a typical day look like for you?

When not traveling around the country in my 32’ RV (which is more than half the year), I am enjoying my model electric train hobby at home and the many great restaurants in the Chicago and Milwaukee area, where many of the stories in the book took place.

4. Describe your desk/workspace.

My workspace is a bit unusual.  I do all my computer work and writing from my bed while I’m lying on my back. There is a computer screen mounted and positioned above me.  I use a voice-recognition software package called Dragon NaturallySpeaking to talk to my computer and have it perform anything that can be done by a keyboard or mouse.  As a retired computer professional I am able to create my own NaturallySpeaking commands to accommodate any software I install on my computer.

5. Favorite books (especially for writers)

J.R.R. Tolkien (Author): Lord of the Rings

Frank Herbert (Author): Dune

Orson Scott Card (Author): Ender’s Game, Ender’s Shadow, Shadow of the Hegemon

David Eddings (Author): The Belgariad Series

Robert Jordan (Author): Wheel of Time Series

6. Tell us 3 interesting/crazy things about you

1.     My buddy and I once went to a boat show just to see what was there. By the time we left, we owned a 28-foot pontoon boat and leased a slip on a local chain of lakes. The only hitch was that when we both got home we would have to tell our respective wives what we had done. Needless to say, we will never be doing that again without their consultation. We did manage to keep the boat, but never heard the end of it.

2.     After a year or so of watching others pilot the 28-foot pontoon boat, I decided it was time for me to try, even though I do not have the use of my hands or legs. As I steered the boat with one wrist and controlled the throttle with the other wrist, my body lurched forward, shoving the throttle to maximum speed. As the boat shot forward uncontrollably and swung into the marsh I found myself and my wheelchair lying on the floor of the boat, which was now landlocked 15 feet into the marsh. When we finally got the boat back into the water seven hours later, and with a lot of help from others, I decided that from that day forward I should probably let others pilot the boat.

3.     While I was laid up for awhile due to medical reasons, a friend of mine convinced my wife and I that it would probably be a nice hobby to have a small model train layout while I was recuperating. We decided to build a small 3×6-foot layout and each of us purchase one steam engine and one diesel engine along with a few freight cars and a few passenger cars. Unfortunately, this little hobby became an obsession, which resulted in turning my office into a massive train layout with an inventory of more than 250 train engines and thousands of freight and passenger cars. Currently the layouts have taken over three rooms of our house and the entire patio. My wife is cursing the day my friend talked us into this new endeavor.

7. Favorite quote

“God does not roll dice.” Albert Einstein

I believe Einstein’s actual quote was, “God does not play dice with the universe.”

8. Best and worst part of being a writer

The best part of being a writer is that I leave a legacy of some part of myself in the world after I am gone.  Having no children to carry on my family name this is of greater importance than one might think.  Because this book is an autobiography of sorts it also lets my audience know that a person named Robert Prondzinski lived and enjoyed life to the fullest.

The worst part of being a writer is that, as you all know, it can be a slow process for a book to reach a broad audience. This is extremely discouraging for me because I feel this book can help people who are afflicted with a serious injury, as well as their families and loved ones. However, the feedback I get from others who have read this book does express how it helped them cope and provided hope for their futures.

9. Advice for other writers

I have found that writing down many of my experiences was very cathartic in its own right.  No matter who you are or what you are writing about just keep writing.  Every word, sentence, or idea you write down is a creation from your mind and is something that is uniquely part of you.  You create the stories and ideas that others will remember throughout their lives.  To create something tangible from pure/conscious thought is remarkable.  No other species living on this planet can do so.

10. Tell us a story about your writing experience. 

As mentioned above, I felt pressured into writing this book.  I thought that writing down a couple of the crazy stories I told at gatherings with my friends would put their harebrained thoughts about my writing a book to rest once and for all.  Little did I know that, after the first two stories, they would ask for more.  Two stories turned into 27.  Then the 27 stories needed some “before and after” context so, by the time I was done, I had pretty much written a 272-page autobiography.  I guess I hoisted myself onto my own petard, but now I would not trade that experience for the world.  Life is stranger than fiction.

Where can people buy your book?  Another Fine Mess You’ve Gotten Us Into: The Life and Adventures of a Quad is available in select bookstores, on Amazon and from my www.FineMessAdventure.com  website, where you can download free sample chapters.