Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Andrew Greeley Interview (Lawrence Grobel)


Lawrence Grobel has been a freelance writer for thirty years, Playboy calls him "the interviewer's interviewer." In 1993 he sat down with Andrew Greeley:

Lawrence: "What's the most courageous thing you've done as a writer?"

Andrew Greeley: "The greatest risk was to turn from nonfiction to fiction. It took me a while because I wondered if I was able to do it. It was a risky business, not because I was going to put some eroticism in my books, I'm unself-conscious there, sexual attraction is part of the human condition, you can't write a story without it - I just felt telling stories was a risk."

Lawrence: "What would you say is a main theme that runs through you books?

Andrew Greeley: "Second chances. That we keep getting second chances."

Lawrence: "Would Chicago always be a subtheme"

Andrew Greeley: "Somebody once said, "Why don't you take your novels out of Chicago, it's not the center of the world." And I say, "Yeah, it is." Faulkner was comfortable in Mississippi; I'm not Faulkner, but I write about Chicago."

Endangered Species, Writer Talk About Their Craft, Their Visions, Their Lives
by Lawrence Grobel
Published by DA CAPO Press (c) 2001
page 166, 167

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Alex Haley Interview (Lawrence Grobel)


Lawrence Grobel has been a freelance writer for thirty years, Playboy calls him "the interviewer's interviewer." In 1985 he sat down with Alex Haley:

Lawrence: "At the time of its publication Roots was hailed as one of the most important books of the century, as well as the most important civil rights event since the 1965 march of Selma. Do you hold it in such esteem?"

Alex Haley: "I never would have said that in the first place. I have a much more basic view of myself. I feel myself as a conduit. Roots got born on the front porch of a pretty big house in Henning, Tennessee, where I came from. It was my grandmother's porch. After my grandfather died, my grandma invited her sisters to spend the next summer with her. I was six that summer, and after supper we would gather on the front porch, thick with honeysuckle vines, and the women would all start rocking in their rocking chairs. Then they'd run their hands down into the pocket of their aprons and come up with a can of sweet carrot snuff. They'd load their lower lips and just start talking about their family. They'd talk about their parents, about their daddy's daddy, this ha rum-scar um individual always fighting chickens, people called him Chicken George. Then they would talk about his mother, Miss Kizzy. All of this went on night after night, and that's where I first began to hear the story and why I think of myself as a conduit."

Endangered Species, Writers Talk About Their Craft, Their Visions, Their Lives
by Lawrence Grobel
Published by DA CAPO Press (c) 2001
page 211

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Joseph Heller Interview (Lawrence Grobel)


Lawrence Grobel has been a freelance writer for thirty years,Playboy calls him "the interviewer's interviewer." He sat down with Joseph Heller early in his career:

Lawrence: "Do you have an audience in mind when you're writing?"

Joseph Heller: "Yes, somebody who has a taste like my own. It's true of Catch-22 and it's true of Something Happened. Each book is the kind of book I'd enjoy reading if somebody else had written it. The books are vastly different from each other. Catch-22 was read and enjoyed by people who were much younger than I was, with less education, less interest in literature than I have. The people who buy my books are interest in serious reading, even though the works themselves are humorous and funny. Not for a reader who's interested in plot or erotic literature. There's a lot of sex in both books, but the erotic element is played down."

Endangered Species, Writers Talk About Their Craft, Their Visions, Their Lives
by Lawrence Grobel
Published by DA CAPO Press (c) 2001
page 222

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Book Signing

Drop by The Bottomless Cup on Route 40 in Havre de Grace on Sunday from 1-3 p.m. Two of the authors from Voices From The Susquehanna will be signing books. Just drop by to say hi and have a cup of coffee. No obligation to buy a book.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Elmore Leonard Interview (Lawrence Grobel)


Lawrence Grobel has been a freelance writer for thirty years, Playboy calls him "the interviewer's interviewer." In 1998 he sat down with Elmore Leonard:

Lawrence: "There are an awful lot of crime and mystery writers in America. How do you account for your popularity?"

Elmore Leonard: "I think it's based on the fact that my books are entertaining. It must be that simple. My readers like the references to what's going on in the world, to television and movies, they feel a rapport with these people. It might be just the dialogue, that the story moves very, very quickly. They like it that you can get on an airplane in the east and finish the book before you're in L.A. Maybe that's it."

Endangered Species, Writers Talk About Their Craft, Their Visions, Their Lives
by Lawrence Grobel
Published by DA CAPO Press (c) 2001
page 244

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Local Author Makes Her Third Sale To Chicken Soup

I first met Joyce Seabolt during an early Saturday morning class. I've since forgotten which writing class it was, I have however, never forgotten Joyce. I can still see her sitting there, listening intently, taking notes. She came to class fully prepared. I've also never forgotten her words. "I want to be a writer." I believed her, we all did. Over these last five plus years I've watched her make sale after sale. She's organized, determined, and giving. She cares about her work, her audience, and other writers. She's a great friend, and a cheerleader for all of us who struggle to get our ideas and thoughts onto paper.

You recently made another sale to the Chicken Soup series?
Yes. Chicken Soup just accepted my third story. Chicken Soup for Catholic Living will be out this month.
My story tells about how I reluctantly agreed to work at the Church Homeless Shelter for the midnight to 7 AM shift. I went in with preconceived notions of who I would find there...drunks, drug addicts and derelicts. What I found was people...people just like my family, my friends, and me. Spending one night in a homeless shelter taught me a valuable lesson. The only thing that makes the homeless different from me is a home!

I've been to one of your book signings. How important is it for a writer to help market their work?
Marketing is crucial to the success of a book. Writers are expected to participate in generating a "buzz" the first three months after the book comes out. A buzz is simply people talking about your book. Writers do this by posting reviews on Amazon, doing book signings, and going out to meet the public. I've met with religious groups, ladies groups, Toastmasters groups, Book Club groups and nursing groups. Since I am a nurse and one books was for the nurses, I went to a different health care facility ever day during Nurse's Week.

How would you describe the moment you found out that your first manuscript was going to be published? How did you celebrate?
I was ecstatic! I called my family and my writer friends. My best writer friend and I did the "Happy Dance" together even though she lives in New York. We knew when we met at a Writer's Conference that we would be published someday. (I did the "Happy Dance" with her when she was published a short time later.)

I know you work full-time. How do you find time to write and market your writing? Can you describe a typical day?
I work evening shift, so I set time from 10 AM to NOON each day to write. During that time I write or do something directly connected to writing. I may schedule book signings or do research for my next project. Since I am planning to get into the "SLICKS" (magazines) I'm doing a lot of e-mail query letters to women's magazines.

Can you tell us what your are currently working on?
Around the holidays I avoid deadlines...too much stress. I'm researching my latest article idea about how to determine if you have winter blues or Seasonal Affective Disorder. I'm also working on my book signing schedule.

What writing advice do you have for the beginning writer?
Don't get discouraged by rejections, they are part of a writer's life. If you absolutely can't handle rejection, don't submit your writing for publication! Keep writing family, friends, and the fun of writing. You don't have to be published to be a writer. A writer's life is interesting and rewarding even if you never publish a thing. But for me, getting published was soooo worth the rejections!

Finally, have you always wanted to be a writer?
No, I always wanted to be a nurse and I've been one for forty-five years. When planning for something to do in retirement, I read an article that said to look back into your past for things you really enjoyed and rekindle that spark of interest. I remembered that I loved English, especially writing (and editing) my poetry assignments. I decided to go back to college and learn how to do it right. Apparently, I learned to write right.

Joyce has been published in Reader's Digest, Guidepost, and numerous nursing magazines. Her work has also been published in three Chicken Soup for the Soul Books and two Gettin' Old Ain't for Wimps Books. She is looking forward to retirement when she can devote all her time to writing.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Meet Lesa

A Reader’s Viewpoint

I am a librarian and a book reviewer, but, most of all, a reader. Since I wear all of those hats, I have a world of options open to me when I’m looking for something to read. Do you want to know how to capture my attention?

Give me a good character. Introduce me to a character that is lively and interesting, someone who I’ll want to follow for two or three hundred pages. I don’t care if the book is a mystery or romance, historical fiction or women’s fiction. If I don’t like the lead character, I won’t read the book. I’ve been known to stop reading after 100 pages if I realize I don’t care what happens to any of the characters. And, if I’m reviewing the book, it won’t receive a good review without a strong central character.

And, capture my attention in the first thirty pages. Those of us who are avid readers often share a fifty page test. If you don’t hook me in the first fifty pages, I won’t read any further. And, I’m going to let you in on a publishing secret. I screen mystery manuscripts for a well-known independent publisher. I receive a synopsis and the first thirty pages. If those thirty pages do not present me with a quality story with an exciting opening and an interesting character, my instructions are to reject the manuscript. So, you have thirty pages to entice me, and no more than fifty pages for many readers.

This is just one reader’s slant on what to do to catch my attention. I share my opinions regularly on my blog, www.lesasbookcritiques.blogspot.com if you’d like to see other comments from a reader.

Good luck with your writing. Just give us good characters, please, and hook us early.


Lesa is more than just a reader. Her website is one of my favorite blogs and I visit it a couple of times a week. She is a contributing Book Reviewer for Library Journal. Her Book Critiques is syndicated through Bloghurst, and her reviewers have been picked up by Reuters, USA Today, and other news distributors. Thanks for stopping by Lesa!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Joyce Carol Oates Interview (Lawrence Grobel)


Lawrence Grobel has been a freelance writer for thirty years, Playboy calls him "the interviewer's interviewer." In 1992 he sat down with Joyce Carol Oates:

Lawrence: "Since you seem to be a compulsive writer, what is it that most excites you about putting words on paper?"

Joyce Carol Oates: "The challenge of making an internal vision external. Getting the inner vision out. I love to write. I feel I have something to say. It's exhilarating once in a while, but most of my experiences are fraught with frustration because I always feel dissatisfied. A whole day can go by and I feel I haven't accomplished anything. My husband was asking me about this. He said, "You get a lot done in a day." I guess I do, but I don't feel that I have. I have a feeling always, which is subterranean of being profoundly dissatisfied with what I'm working at."

Lawrence: "How important are names for your characters?"

Joyce Carol Oates: "Absolutely important. I spend a long time naming names. If I can't get a name right, I can't write, I can't begin. I have a lot of people's names that begin with J, especially men. It's like my alter ego. I always go for the J if I can get away with it."

Endangered Species, Writers Talk About Their Craft, Their Visions, Their Lives
by Lawrence Grobel
Published by DA CAPO Press (c) 2001
pages 324,362