Tag Archives: historical

10 QUESTIONS FOR…Mary M. Forbes, historical romance author

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Author interview with Mary M. Forbes

Mary M. Forbes is a member of the Alberta Romance Writers Association and has been writing since she was a teenager.  She is the author of two other books, Alberta Wild Rose and Hawk’s Gift, both historical romances.  An enthusiast of everything country western, Forbes also thoroughly enjoys history and crafts.  She has completed certified coursework in a wide variety of fields including writing, computers, accounting and weather observing.

Forbes currently resides with her husband in a beautiful mountain town in the Canadian province of British Columbia.

1. Tell us about your latest book.

One Dance with a Stranger is a story about Wade, a country music superstar who gains success too young and Emily, raised on the streets and now determined to follow her mind and never her heart in order to obtain the life she craves.

2. How did you get started as a writer?

I always knew I wanted to write when as a teen I avidly read all the romance books around and other stories including literature. I was the only student that put my hand up when the teacher asked who liked Shakespeare – it was embarrassing at the time, but it was the truth.   I wrote poems, short stories and won awards .  I enjoy learning and research and always ‘critique’ books and movies saying ‘what if…’ or correcting glaring errors or weak plots.

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

I need my morning coffee, then answering e-mails, writing, researching or outlining stories and sometimes playing games.  Occasionally I go on trips with my long-haul truck driver who travels all over North America.  I try to take walks along the river at least once a day.  I spend time with my grandson and my daughter most days as well.

4. Describe your workspace.

I have my desk/computer in my kitchen beside a patio door.  I have a large yard full of hills and pine trees, close to a river and usually see the deer and squirrels and birds just outside the window. Once I even saw a bear.  I am usually alone as my husband is on the road.

5. Favorite books

My favorite books are Something Wonderful – Judith McNaught,  North and South

– John Jakes and War and Peace – Leo Tolstoy.

6. Tell us 3 interesting/crazy things about you

I love ‘debating’ (some call it arguing) and will research and question everything.  I often see humor when someone gets too intense.  I don’t believe in Global Warming.

7. Favorite quote

Only God can Judge me or It’s amazing how much people believe beauty is goodness (Leo Tolstoy – maybe not exact quote)

8. Best and worst part of being a writer

Best – going into a world where I can be/do whatever I want.

Worst: – Being interrupted when everything is falling into place and then after forgetting ‘the place’ you were in.

9. Advice for other writers

Don’t take yourself or your characters too seriously.  Humor goes a long way to make stories interesting and enjoyable.

10. Tell us a story about your writing experience.

When I published my first book and was so proud of, I met with the author Bev Jones who had inspired me to do it, for lunch.  The waiter saw the book and started talking to me about his wife loving romance.  Bev Jones stepped between us and started ‘selling’ her book.  I realized I was not aggressive enough (like she was) to sell myself – and I realized sometimes when you think someone is helping you maybe they’re helping themselves?

Where can people buy your books?

My books ‘Hawk’s Gift’ and ‘Alberta Wild Rose’ are available on my website

http://www.marymforbesauthor.com (paypal) as well as contacting me directly at marymforbes@hotmail.com.

One Dance with a Stranger’ is available on my website, through Authorhouse, Amazon, Barnes & Noble as well as e-published on Kindle(Amazon), Lybrary(Authorhouse),  shortcovers (Indigo/Chapters)


10 QUESTIONS FOR… novelist Michelle Cameron

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Author interview with Michelle CameronFruit-of-Her-HandsMichelle Cameron Peter Vidor

Michelle Cameron is a historical novelist whose debut novel, THE FRUIT OF HER HANDS: THE STORY OF SHIRA OF ASHKENAZ was released by Pocket Books, a division of Simon & Schuster in September 2009.

Michelle is also a poet whose IN THE SHADOW OF THE GLOBE, a verse novel of Shakespeare’s life, was published by Lit Pot Press in 2003. Named as the Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey’s 2003-4 Winter Book Selection, IN THE SHADOW OF THE GLOBE has been performed in a variety of venues, including the Stella Adler Studio of Acting’s Shakespeare Benefit for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights Aids.

Michelle is Creative Director of Interactive Media Associates, a digital agency specializing in Internet planning, design, development and Web marketing. A creative producer, writer and editor with more than 20 years of professional experience, her clients include performing arts companies, non-profits, universities, and corporate companies. 

Born in New Jersey, Michelle moved to Israel at the age of 15. She completed her secondary and university education there, and served in the Israeli army. Michelle lives in Chatham, New Jersey, with her husband and two college-age sons.

1. Tell us about your latest book.

This is from the Pocket Book Spring 2009 catalog:

Based on the life of the author’s thirteenth-century ancestor, Meir ben Baruch of Rothenberg, a renowned Jewish scholar of medieval Europe, THE FRUIT OF HER HANDS: THE STORY OF SHIRA OF ASHKENAZ is the richly dramatic fictional story of Rabbi Meir’s wife, Shira, a devout but rebellious woman who preserves her religious traditions as she and her family witness the rise of anti-Semitism in Europe.

Raised by her widowed rabbi father and a Christian nursemaid in Normandy, Shira is a free-spirited, inquisitive girl whose love of learning shocks the community. Her life changes radically when her father remarries in the hope of gaining a male heir and Nicholas Donin, a handsome scholar with radical views, comes to study with her father. Donin tries to capture Shira’s heart but her father will not allow her to marry such a firebrand. When Shira’s father is arrested by the local baron intent on enforcing the Catholic Church’s strictures against heresy, Shira fights for his release and encounters two men who will influence her life profoundly – an inspiring Catholic priest and Meir ben Baruch, a brilliant scholar. In Meir, Shira finds her soulmate.

Married to Meir and living in Paris, Shira blossoms as a wife and mother, savoring the intellectual and social challenges that come with being the wife of a prominent scholar. Yet once again her life is darkened by Nicholas Donin, now an apostate Jew who has converted to Catholicism and carries the fervor of the Inquisition. After witnessing Donin’s burning of every copy of the Talmud in Paris, Shira and her family seek refuge in Germany. Yet even there they experience bloody pogroms and intensifying anti-Semitism. With no safe place for Jews in Europe, they set out for Israel only to see Meir captured and imprisoned by Rudolph I of Hapsburg. As Shira weathers heartbreak and works to find a middle ground between two warring religions, she shows her children and grandchildren how to embrace the joys of life, both secular and religious.

Vividly bringing to life a period rarely covered in historical fiction, this multi-generational novel will appeal to readers who enjoy Maggie Anton’s RASHI’S DAUGHTERS Brenda Rickman Vantrease’s THE ILLUMINATOR and Geraldine Brooks’s PEOPLE OF THE BOOK.

2. How did you get started as a writer?

I can’t remember a time when I didn’t want to be a writer. But I didn’t approach my writing seriously until after I took a hiatus from it, because I was a mother with two growing boys and a full-time job. Early after the birth of my first son, I had tried and failed to have a young adult novel published, and was feeling discouraged about ever writing professionally.    

I returned to writing when my youngest son was around six years old. He couldn’t stop himself from scribbling stories, poems, and cartoons, and watching his joy, I realized I had given up something that was precious to me. So I began to write ― poetry at first, because it was quick and, even with revisions, could be completed in a relatively short period of time.  I wrote in the dojo waiting room and the bleachers at the Little League game.

I began to attend readings, workshops, and seminars, where I would meet other writers. I was encouraged to start to submit my poetry and was published. I took the subject of my young adult novel ― Shakespeare and his compatriots at the Globe Theatre ― and started to write a poem cycle, which flowered into IN THE SHADOW OF THE GLOBE, a verse novel, which was published in 2003 by a small literary press.

When I began THE FRUIT OF HER HANDS, I started to write it, too, as a verse novel. But the book had a mind of its own and wanted to be a full-blown historical novel. When I finally listened to it, the writing just flowed.

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

When Simon & Schuster asked me to answer a series of questions for my “Author Revealed” page on their Web site, one of the hardest was to describe my life in eight words. I finally came up with the following: “4:30 AM writer, 9-5 day job, forever mom.”

My alarm goes off at 4:30 AM and I write for two hours before preparing to go to work. It’s my favorite time of the day, because there are no ringing phones and no one wants me to find something for them. It’s just me and the computer. 

I then prepare for work. The day job occupies me until around 5:30 PM. Home to dinner, family time, relaxation. Bed generally by 9 PM so I can do it all over again.

4. Describe your workspace.

I work in the study that adjoins my bedroom and overlooks our suburban street, with a huge apple tree in front. I’m surrounded on all sides by floor to ceiling bookshelves, in which just a portion of our family library fits (we have books in every room of the house).  I have a huge desk that my husband carefully constructed out of various pieces of Scandinavian modular furniture, which gives me room for the stacks of books on the topic I’m researching, my computer monitor, a printer. There’s even space for someone to face me on the other side of the desk.  It’s a cluttered and comfortable space.

5. Favorite books (especially for writers)

BIRD BY BIRD is probably the book I mention most when I talk about books ABOUT writing.  But I personally subscribe to the theory that you can get more out of reading good books ― both classic and contemporary ― than books about writers. Some of my favorites? Clearly, I have a deep and abiding love for Shakespeare, but also Jane Austin, George Eliot, and J.D. Salinger, among many others.

6. Tell us 3 interesting/crazy things about you

Interesting/crazy thing #1 – My parents moved to Israel when I was 15. It was 1973 and I went to a boarding school near the Lebanese border. The Yom Kippur War started for me when three Syrian MiGs were chased across the sky by a Phantom jet. We spent the next couple of weeks in the bomb shelter.

Interesting/crazy thing #2 – One of the most marvelous experiences of my life was tied to my job. We built a promotional Web site for a sponsor of a major Cezanne exhibition at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.  Because we delivered in record time, the sponsor arranged for us to attend a special showing of the exhibition ― about 10 of us in an otherwise closed museum. We were able to get up close and personal with masterpieces and it was unbelievable.

Interesting/crazy thing #3 – I was a wallflower growing up – the one in the corner who watched the party instead of taking part in it. Maybe one of the reasons I was drawn to writing was because I could be sparkling and charming there, if nowhere else. After some initial trepidation, I began to feel liberated when reading my writing to other people. I realized I had changed dramatically the day I got up and read a poem called “Penis Envy” to a group of about 100 people. And I suddenly found myself the most popular person in the room!

7. Favorite quote

This varies with the season, but it’s almost invariably one by Shakespeare. Right now it’s: “Fie upon this quiet life! I want work!”

8. Best and worst part of being a writer

The best part of being a writer are those days when the story and the characters just take over and all you’re doing is hanging onto the keyboard as they tell you what words to put in their mouths and what they want to do next. It’s generally NOT what you wanted them to do ― but so often, it’s even better than what you’d planned for them.

The worst part – aside from not having enough time – are the days when you start to suspect you can’t really write. I know I’m not the only writer who suffers from this! Generally, I can dispel this suspicion of inadequacy by reading what I’ve written before. If not, it’s time to go for a walk and clear my head.

9. Advice for other writers

Having spent years thinking that I would never be published, I know how frustrating and lonely writing can be. One of the best pieces of advice I received was to connect to other writers – join a class, a workshop, a writing group. Go to readings and support other writers. When I began to do these things, not only did I feel less alone, but I found that the best writers are a generous group who want to help you do the best writing you can.

10. Tell us a story about your writing experience. 

When I was writing THE FRUIT OF HER HANDS, I discovered Maggie Anton. At that time, the first novel in her Rashi’s Daughters trilogy was not out yet. Because we were both writing about medieval women in a Jewish setting, I pre-ordered the book and placed myself on Maggie’s email list.

I loved the first book and when Maggie came to New York for some readings, I decided to contact her. I hesitated a long time before clicking the send button, but I figured the worst she could do is say no. I asked if she’d have just a few minutes to talk to me during her stay in New York.

She wrote back and asked me to join her on a walk through Central Park on the morning before one of her readings. It was the middle of the summer and I figured we’d walk a little, then find a place to have coffee or something cold. So I dressed in cool clothes ― a light skirt and blouse, a pair of sandals.

When Maggie joined me, I realized my mistake. She was dressed for serious WALKING – in shorts, a tee-shirt, and sneakers. We walked around and around Central Park, while she generously gave me invaluable advice and insight into how to market the book when it was finished ― and I ignored the blisters forming on my feet as unimportant.

Where can people buy your book?

One of the wonderful things about publishing with a major publishing house is that the book should be available everywhere – Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Borders, Booksamillion, Costco.

If you buy in stores and don’t see the book, this debut novelist would be grateful if you’d ask the store to order a copy!

If you buy online and want a quick way to purchase the book, visit my Web site at http://www.michelle-cameron.com. You can click right from the home page.  (Though while you’re on the site, stick around awhile!)

If you want to learn more about me, visit my “Author Revealed” page at www.simonandschuster.com.

And to connect:  Join the group on Facebook or follow me on Twitter.

10 QUESTIONS FOR…Garrett Peck, author of “The Prohibition Hangover”

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Author interview with Garrett PeckGarrettPeckPeck

I’m a freelance writer for the alcoholic beverage industry in my free time, and work as a market analyst for a large telecommunications provider (“Can you hear me now?”). I went to a military college called VMI, then served four years in the U.S. Army in Germany. And I have a piece of Berlin Wall! After I left the Army, I moved to Washington, DC for graduate school and have stayed. I live in Arlington, Virginia. The Prohibition Hangover is my first book.

1. Tell us about your latest book.

The Prohibition Hangover: Alcohol in America from Demon Rum to Cult Cabernet is about how American culture shifted towards alcohol after the repeal of Prohibition in 1933. How did the United States shift over these past 75+ years from a country where abstinence was once the ideal, to one where two-thirds of adults now drink? Today alcohol is considered an important part of most social occasions. It’s also a nearly $200 billion industry that accounts for several million jobs. There is a detailed book website at http://www.prohibitionhangover.com.

2. How did you get started as a writer?

I’ve written since I was a kid, and contributed occasionally to my college newspaper. But I didn’t get serious about writing as a potential vocation until the WorldCom meltdown in 2002 (yes, that WorldCom). I was an employee at the company at the time, and began thinking what else I could do if I were laid off.

I’ve dabbled in screenwriting for awhile as a hobby, and hope to return to that someday. I mostly write period pieces (e.g. historic), as I’m a history nerd.

I had a moment of epiphany at Christmas 2003 when I noticed how differently three generations – my grandmother, mom, and myself – approached a bottle of wine. My grandmother got a little uppity about the fact that I had brought wine, which my mom and I shared. The light bulb went on: I realized that she came from a generation that stigmatized alcohol (she was born in 1913 and lived through Prohibition), but the stigma had largely fallen away by my mom’s generation. That epiphany launched me on more than four years of travel, research and interviews to write this book. I’ve been like a bulldog with a bone pursuing this story ever since.

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

I have a day job as an analyst, so most days are busy doing telecom-related work. I have to squeeze in writing whenever I can – sometimes during work breaks or evenings, but most often by dedicated Saturdays to writing. That’s the one day of the week I deliberately don’t schedule anything (except an occasional yoga class) so I can concentrate on writing. I usually find I’m productive for four to six hours, and after that, your mind gets tired of thinking.

4. Describe your desk/workspace.

I do all my writing from the home office, which doubles as the guest bedroom. Most days of the week I have two laptops up and running: a Dell for the day job, and my Apple for my writing. I can easily bounce between them. Of course I have wi-fi so I’m always connected (and a BlackBerry for when I’m not). I live in a high rise in Arlington, Virginia, surrounded by construction. It’s fun to look out the window and watch all the activity whenever I need a break. I usually have Radio Paradise, my favorite Internet radio station, running in the background on my Mac.

5. Favorite books (especially for writers)

I don’t often read fiction – I’m definitely a nonfiction kinda guy. That said, I’ve read A Confederacy of Dunces over and over again. It’s my kind of humor. Darkly subversive, ironic, and hysterically funny. The book took the Pulitzer for Fiction. I’ve often wondered why Hollywood hasn’t made this into a movie, especially after New Orleans took a direct hit from Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

6. Tell us 3 interesting/crazy things about you

1. I watch very little television (my eight years in military college and the U.S. Army were completely without a TV, so it broke me of the habit of channel surfing). If I turn the TV on, it’s almost always to watch a Netflix movie. Or an adult cartoon show like The Simpsons, Family Guy, or South Park. And gosh, I miss Beavis and Butt-Head.

2. I live three miles from the Pentagon, and heard the plane hit the building on 9/11. It was a stunning, 70-degree day, and I had all the windows open.

3. I stood on the Mall with 1.8 million other people to witness the historic inauguration of Barack Obama, the 44th president of the United States. That was inspiring.

7. Favorite quote

My favorite quote is from Henry David Thoreau’s Walden. “Simplicity, simplicity, simplicity! I say, let your affairs be as two or three, and not a hundred or a thousand; instead of a million count half a dozen, and keep your accounts on your thumb nail.”

Thoreau did his two-year experiment in self-reliance, living in a small house he built on Walden Pond, a mile from Concord, Massachusetts. He peeled back his life to the very core to see what was fundamental to living, separating need from want. I find Thoreau’s conclusion to live simply a constant reminder to focus on the things that matter most, and not to become encumbered by too many things. Appreciate what you have, enjoy what you have, love your friends and community. Don’t always strive for a bigger house or larger car or vacation house – all these things do is distract you from the better things that have far more value.

8. Best and worst part of being a writer

The best part of being a writer is the chance to explore a question in depth. You go deep down the rabbit hold to find the answer. Sometimes I feel like the knight in The Seventh Seal who is looking for knowledge about god. I find it’s a wonderful intellectual challenge, one that stretches the mind.

The worst (or rather, the most difficult) part is trying to balance a day job while pursuing writing as a full-time gig. But it’s nice to have the paycheck for now.

9. Advice for other writers

All told, the publishing process for The Prohibition Hangover took nearly six years – more time than most of us spend at college. If you’re a young person, you’ll think that amount of time is endless. If you’re older, you realize that’s not so long, and it’s better to bring a quality product to market rather than rush into something half-baked. Remember that it took Truman Capote five years to research and write his masterpiece, In Cold Blood.

Realize the value of waiting. Waiting is a spiritual exercise. It reminds that you are not in control of the universe. Waiting is very difficult in our hectic culture – we all know people who will text you again if you haven’t responded to their text within two minutes! You have to realize that a book is going to take as long as it takes.

Just remember that the Israelites wandered forty years in the Wilderness before venturing into the Promised Land. Not all those who wander are lost: your time of wandering will shape and prepare you for your own Promised Land as an author. Julia Child and Michael Cunningham each took ten years to publish their first books. You need to go through the process – it’s healthy, and it will make you a far better writer. But it requires something in short supply these days: patience and perseverance. 

10. Tell us a story about your writing experience.

I had a wonderful literary agent who tried his best for four months to sell The Prohibition Hangover. We ran into an unexpected issue: publishers were saying no because they expected a crowded field of books around the 75th anniversary of Repeal on December 5, 2008. I had been using this date as a hook, but my agent told me to tone it down. We tried repositioning it as a business book, and tied it in with the longevity of Fast Food Nation, pointing out that this would be a relevant book for years to come.

After four months, he realized the book wouldn’t sell, and so he released me from our contract. We’re still friends. What was bewildering was that there were no other books published around the anniversary of Repeal – they didn’t exist! All the publishers had turned down the book in the mistaken assumption that someone else was publishing about Repeal.

I shifted my search to academic presses, and soon found a wonderful reception at Rutgers University Press (Rutgers has one of the largest alcohol studies programs in the world). I’m delighted to work with Rutgers. The editing support has been great, and I have nothing but good things to say about the people I’ve worked with there – but above all my editor, Doreen Valentine.

Where can people buy your book?

The Prohibition Hangover is available nationwide on September 1, 2009. It can be ordered at any of the major online booksellers, as well as at the Rutgers University Press website. You can find links to all of these at http://www.prohibitionhangover.com/buy.html.

 

I have a Facebook group for The Prohibition Hangover. It’s at http://ww.facebook.com/group.php?gid=127586225340. I administer the group, and keep my readers informed of news and events. Plus it’s a Web 2.0 interface, so readers can leave comments and interact with one another and me.

10 QUESTIONS FOR…Susan Rosson Spain, author of mid-grade-to-young-adult & children’s books

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Author interview with Susan Rosson Spainfinalfrontcovernospineheadshotatsigning

I’m Susan Rosson Spain, and I write mostly for kids, though young adults who will read my novel-in-progress (VEGAN RULES) in a year or two might not like to be called kids. My first novel, THE DEEP CUT, is a mid-grade-to-young adult Civil War story set in Virginia, was published in 2006. I was thrilled when ALA’s Booklist gave it a starred review. Since then I’ve been working on another young adult novel—very edgy—but recently put it aside (temporarily, of course) to write a picture book for which I already have a contract. I currently live in Conyers, Georgia, but my dream is to live in the mountains.

 

 

 

1.     Tell us about your latest book.

I’m currently writing 12 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS IN GEORGIA for Sterling Publishing. It’s a fictionalized tour-guide of sorts which follows two cousins around Georgia, visiting 12 unique and fun places. The twelve places are represented by “gifts,” just as the song does. “On the first day of Christmas, my cousin gave to me…” I’m having such fun with it!

2. How did you get started as a writer?

I have always loved writing, keeping journals and writing long letters to friends and family (yes, people really used to do that). But one day, I read the first sentence of John Irving’s A PRAYER FOR OWEN MEANEY and was absolutely mesmerized. It’s the best first sentence I’ve ever read. “I am doomed to remember a boy with a wrecked voice—not because of his voice, or because he was the smallest person I ever knew, or even because he was the instrument of my mother’s death, but because he is the reason I believe in God; I am a Christian because of Owen Meany.” That sentence said so much so well and pulled me in so completely—it states one fact after another while raising yet more questions! Why was Owen’s voice wrecked? Why was he so small? How was he the instrument of the narrator’s mother’s death? What was it that Owen Meany did that made the narrator so sure of his beliefs? I wanted to figure out how Irving did so much so quickly. So I began taking writing courses and going to writer’s workshops and retreats, and I’ve been hooked ever since. I write particularly for children, I think, because I don’t want to lose touch with that child I used to be. There are things one “unlearns” as they grow up—good things—and I think that’s sad.

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

I get up, have coffee and read the newspaper, eat a little breakfast, check email, and play my move in the Lexulous game I’ve always got going with a friend or two (I’m sooo hooked!). When all those rituals are done, I get to work writing. I like to write in long stretches of time. In fact, whenever I have the house to myself for a few days, I hold writing marathons. I put the word out to my writers’ groups that if they want a quiet place to come write for the day, with numerous other writers setting a good “butt-in-chair” example, then to come on over. We call out for pizza to simplify things, and they go home in time for dinner. It works! And you’ve got the input of other writers if you need quick advice, though the rule is to talk minimally.

4. Describe your desk/workspace.

I have an office but it is also a workroom for my many hobbies, so I usually don’t wind up writing there. Rather, I’ll sit in the den or the kitchen to write. I do have lots of little mementos on my office desk—things other writers have given me that honor the craft—but I work best with only the things around me having to do with my current work-in-progress. For instance, while writing VEGAN RULES, which is set in the Florida Keys at a dive shop, I have photos of me scuba diving, and seashells, and other related things nearby. It keeps me in that world.

5. Favorite books (especially for writers)

I very much enjoyed STORY SPARKERS, from Marcia Thornton Jones and Debbie Dadey. I found the exercise called THE BIG IDEA incredibly helpful for characterization and plotting in both of my novels. BIRD BY BIRD made me laugh out loud, and I very much enjoyed Stephen King’s ON WRITING. I was never much on writing books where you have to work your way through by doing one exercise after another in a prescribed order, but changed my mind with Elizabeth Berg’s ESCAPE INTO THE OPEN: THE ART OF WRITING TRUE.

6. Tell us 3 interesting/crazy things about you

One: when I die, I want to be cremated and then have my ashes mixed with cement and made into one of those hollow balls with holes in it, then placed in an artificial reef.  Two: I ran a half-marathon last March to bond with two of my four daughters. Shortly before the race, one daughter dropped out. On the day of the race, I couldn’t find the other daughter. But I ran the race, and I’m still glad I did it. (I beat my daughter’s time, too. Ha!) Three: My hobbies are astronomy (looking upwards) and SCUBA diving (exploring the deep), and I’m not sure what this says about me—but through writing VEGAN RULES I think I’m finding out!

7. Favorite quote

“If we listened to our intellect, we’d never have a love affair. We’d never have a friendship. We’d never go into business, because we’d be cynical. Well, that’s nonsense. You’ve got to jump off cliffs all the time and build your wings on the way down.” –Ray Bradbury

8. Best and worst part of being a writer

Best: You can do it in your pajamas? Maybe. Or finding that you can see yourself more clearly through your writing. Worst: There’s not much I don’t like except the pay scale.

 

9. Advice for other writers

Trust what it is that you want to say, then learn how to say it well.

10. Tell us a story about your writing experience. 

 Someone made a big point at a conference once that as the writer, you are your characters—especially your protagonist, and especially in your first novel. At the time, I had just published my first novel in the voice of a “slow” 13-year-old boy. I was confused all day.

 Where can people buy your books?

 You can buy THE DEEP CUT  online at Booksense (yay for independents!), Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or Borders. These links are available on my website, www.susanspain.com, where I’ll soon be adding a whole new look, including a blog. I love to do author visits at schools to talk about anything from the writing life to historical fiction.

10 QUESTIONS FOR…C.M. Mayo, author of travel memoir & historical novel

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Author interview with C.M. Mayolast-prince-cover-smallercmmayo-head-shot-green-small-72dpi

Short bio: C.M. Mayo is the author of the forthcoming The Last Prince of the Mexican Empire, as well as the widely-lauded travel memoir, Miraculous Air: Journey of a Thousand Miles through Baja California, the Other Mexico, and Sky Over El Nido, which won the Flannery O’Connor Award for Short Fiction.

Founding editor of Tameme, the bilingual (Spanish/English) chapbook press,

Mayo is also a translator of contemporary Mexican poetry and fiction. Her anthology of Mexican fiction in translation, Mexico: A Traveler’s Literary Companion, was published by Whereabouts Press in March 2006. Mayo’s stories, essays and poems have appeared in numerous U.S. literary magazines including Chelsea, Creative Nonfiction, Fourth Genre, Kenyon Review, The North American Review, The Paris Review, Southwest Review, Tin House and Witness.

She also blogs on books, creative writing, lit-blogging, and other subjects on her blog, “Madam Mayo”.  Currently she divides her time between Mexico City, where she offers workshops via Dancing Chiva, and Washington DC, where she is on the faculty of The Writers Center . Her website is http://www.cmmayo.com

1. Tell us about your latest book.

The Last Prince of the Mexican Empire is a historical novel of 19th century based on the true but never before completely told story. It’s a strange one: Even as the American Civil War raged north of the border, a clique of Mexican conservative exiles and clergy convinced Louis Napoleon to invade Mexico and install the Archduke of Austria, Maximilian von Habsburg, as Emperor of Mexico. A year later, the childless Maximilian took custody of the two year old, half-American, Agustin de Iturbide y Green, making the toddler his Heir Presumptive. Maximilian’s reluctance to return the child to his distraught parents, even as his empire began to fall, and the Empress Carlota descended into madness, ignited an international scandal. It will be published by Unbridled Books this May. Read an excerpt and more about the prince here:

http://www.cmmayo.com/last-prince-of-the-mexican-empire.html

2. How did you get started as a writer?

As a voracious reader of everything from Frances Hodgson Burnett’s A Little Princess to the whole library of Nancy Drew mysteries. When I was in college I discovered Flannery O’Connor, Chekhov, Tolstoy, Richard Yates, Yukio Mishima, Paul Bowles… Even now, so many years later, I find that the more I read the stronger and sharper the impulse to write. For me, reading is integral part of the writing process.

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

Walk. Read. Computer. Walk dog. Read. Computer. Read. Computer. Walk dog.

Computer. Read.

4. Describe your desk / workspace.

Stunning view. Snoozing pug. Cup of tea. Flurries of little yellow post-its.

Desperate need for large corkboard.

5. Favorite books (especially for writers)

Robert Olen Butler: From Where You Dream: The Process of Writing Fiction

Audrey Flack’s Art & Soul: Notes on Creating

Mary Oliver’s A Poetry Handbook

Steven Pressfield’s The War of Art: Winning the Creative Battle

Gabriele Lusser Ricco’s Writing the Natural Way

Carolyn See’s Making a Literary Life

I maintain longer lists of recommended reading for my writing students here:

http://www.cmmayo.com/workshop-recommended-reading.html

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

I once wrote almost all the articles (some under pseudonyms) for one issue of a Mexican magazine called El Inversionista. As I recall. It was 20 years ago.

I collect jars of exotic honey (Tasmanian leatherwood is the best, by the way).

I live in Mexico City and Washington DC. Believe me, this is crazy.

7. Favorite quote.

Edgar Allen Poe, “All that we see or seem if but a dream within a dream.”

8. Best and worst part of being a writer.

Best: Freedom

Worst: Irregular income (which plays sneaky-snarky games with one’s mind).

9. Advice for other writers

Work on your first chakra. I am not kidding.

10. Tell us a story about your writing experience.

When I got stuck on my novel, I made a phone appointment with a medium so I could ask my characters (who were all based on real but long-dead people) what in blazes they were thinking to do the things they did! Well, they told me, and in shining detail. And yes, I incorprated a lot of this into the novel.

Where can people buy your books?

C.M. Mayo’s books are available from fine bookstores throughout the United States and all manjor on-line booksellers. Her latest book, The Last Prince of the Mexican Empire, will be published by Unbridled Books  http://www.unbridledbooks.com in May 2009. It can be pre-ordered at amazon.com  http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/193296164X/cmmay

 

Read more at www.cmmayo.com