Interview with Author James Rosenberg

1) Tell us a little bit about yourself. How did you get into writing?

I am a lawyer, married and have three kids.  Those are probably the three most important areas of my life.  When my kids were small, I started telling them long, involved stories that were embellishments of my real life.  One of them, a story about a lawyer with a soccer prodigy son, will be my next book coming out.  What I found is I could tell stories that used plot as a way to develop character.  I realized I loved stories that constantly moved and disliked narrative that was bogged down with description.  My stories depict what happens when a character is faced with difficult choices, which ultimately, I believe, is incredibly revealing.

2) What inspired you to write your book?

I always wonder what is stronger, friendship or the drive for personal enrichment (money).  In my novel, one of the key plot drivers is that three long-time friends are forced to take the opposite sides of an important trial.  The three met the first day in law school but later in their careers find themselves as the attorney representing a woman suing a big company, the lawyer for the company and the judge in the trial.  I thought about all of the major conflict that could arise when each wants to do their best professionally, and how that could affect their friendship.  I have dealt in my career with some lawyers who are highly professional and others who will do virtually anything to win.  What happens if there is a mix of those types in an important case?  Every trial has enough stress.  Add in some volatile personalities and the results can be explosive.

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3) What theme or message do you hope readers will take away from your book?

With every character in the book, you will some good and some not so good.  The three main characters start in the same place ethically.  They are young and impressionable when they are in law school.  Yet just a few years later, they are in completely different places.  Mike still wants to help people and make a positive impact.  Jeri wants to avenge her feelings of rage since almost being raped.  Jack now just wants to become partner at his big law firm and make even more money. 

Sometimes a person doesn’t even realize when he is going down a path that leads towards becoming a lesser person.  Ultimately, lawyers are shaped by their environment.  The people a new lawyer works with teach them how to practice law ethically or how to cut corners.  Good often has to be nurtured and in its absence evil lurks.

4) What drew you into this particular genre?

That one is easy.  I’m a lawyer and have been one for too long.  I have been through many trials and think most people find the drama inherent in a courtroom compelling.  I certainly do.  I know I can describe what happens in a courtroom with realism—and I think in a way that brings out the conflict.

5) If you could sit down with any character in your book, what would you ask them and why?

I love Jack as a character.  He so flawed, but to me so human.  His primary motivation is success/money, and he lets the ultimate rewards dictate his actions.  I would want to ask Jack if he can see himself the way others see him and whether he would like what he saw.  He has so many good traits—He’s smart, witty, and an incredibly hard worker.  People want to be around him and he’s a leader.  But does he realize what path he’s put himself on because he has only one goal—money?

6) What social media site has been the most helpful in developing your readership?

This is my first published book and I am just learning how to market.  I am extremely unsophisticated when it comes to marketing.  I also consider myself to be one of the world’s worst self-promotors.  I am trying however.  So once I learn better how to use social medial to attract readers, I will come back and answer this question again.

7) What advice would you give to aspiring or just starting authors out there?

If you like writing, keep writing.  Write about things that interest you.  Don’t worry what other people like.  If you are moved by your writing, others will be also.

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8) What does the future hold in store for you? Any new books/projects on the horizon?

I am still working at being a lawyer, but I am trying to write every day.  I am finishing up my next book, The Jersey, about the lawyer with a son who is a soccer prodigy.  It has a significant tragedy in it, but look at it as ultimately uplifting (as much as it can be after such a tragedy).  I have also started by next novel which has a young, rebellious student who kills the president and the effect this has on his family. 

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Author Interview with Benjamin Davis

I’ve always loved stories. Eventually, I tried to write one. It was terrible. But my mother, bless her, she read it and said, “have you ever thought about being a writer?” And I laughed, and said, “psh–no. I’m still going to be an astronaut.” I was twenty-one at the time. But I have terrible vision and can’t afford lasik, so the astronaut thing still hasn’t worked out.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

My name is Benjamin Davis. I am an American writer and Journalist living in St. Petersburg. I grew up in a no-name town in Massachusetts where I was more likely to hear horse sex or a pack of wolves eating a rabbit than cars driving by or drunks fighting, as I do now. I work as a freelance editor, tech-journalist, native-speaking-content-monkey, and social media manager for English speaking markets. To cope with the sterility of corporate writing, my fiction sometimes gets a little out of hand. From 2016-2017, I wrote one story every day for a year for the project Flash-365, creating a community of people who appreciate the short-winded and the weird. To me it is where I found my voice and where most of my stories found their home. May of 2018 my first book The King of FU was published.

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Author Interview:

1) Tell us a little bit about yourself. How did you get into writing?

I’ve always loved stories. Eventually, I tried to write one. It was terrible. But my mother, bless her, she read it and said, “have you ever thought about being a writer?” And I laughed, and said, “psh–no. I’m still going to be an astronaut.” I was twenty-one at the time. But I have terrible vision and can’t afford lasik, so the astronaut thing still hasn’t worked out.

2) What inspired you to write your book?

I couldn’t remember my childhood very well, so I just started asking family members and writing down the bits I could remember myself. It was more of a mental exercise to try and track what the hell happened along the way to turn me into such a dysfunctional adult. At first it was only thirty pages, then as the years went by, I would go back to it again and again with whatever new memory I had or new story I heard. In the end the whole process was on and off for about seven years. I didn’t set out to write a book originally, I was just hunting for some traumatic experience, some explanation–but no, just another privileged middle-class white kid with a lot of embarrassing childhood habits and an overactive imagination.

3) What theme or message do you hope readers will take away from your book?

It depends who is reading it. A lot of the book focuses on those weird embarrassing situations and feelings that we all have as children that we desperately shove into dark corners of our mind as adults. I always felt like I had no one to talk to about these sorts of things as a kid because all adults were pretending like they never happened to them. But really, everyone still has an embarrassing dirty child inside their head, and in their past.  I just hope that readers will walk away from my book and think, “well–I guess it’s okay that I still pick my nose after my wife falls asleep.”

4) What drew you into this particular genre?

I enjoy magical realism because it gives you the ability to make a statement about something without spending ten pages on exposition to do it. If the main character has horns and fur, you probably get that he feels different, there is no need for me to go all Holden Caufield on people to get my point across.

5) What authors or poets were a source of inspiration for you when writing these poems and this book overall?

To be honest, I never saw it as poetry. Or–well, I never intended it that way. I wrote it how it felt to think about it, if that makes any sense. I do have poets I’ve idolized over the years; Sylvia Plath, Charles Baudelaire, T.S. Eliot. But I was more inspired by writers who used a lot of honesty and humor to shape their real-life stories like Bill Bryson and David Sedaris.

6) What social media site has been the most helpful in developing your readership?

Much of our audience came from our website Flash-365. I wrote a story every day for a year and Nikita drew a picture to match each story. It was an arduous process for sure, but some of that audience translated over. I live in Russia and here everyone uses Telegram. I have a channel on there where we post stories and updates and it is a direct messenger notification for readers, so it works really well for directing traffic to new stories and engaging people on a more personal level. My girlfriend is an SMM goddess, so she manages my Instagram and Facebook and all of that. Without her I am pretty hopeless.

7) What advice would you give to aspiring or just starting authors out there?

Be prepared and patient. It isn’t like in the movies where the main character is a writer and by the end everyone is like, “OMG I read your story in the New Yorker!” or the long-lost lovers bump into each other as one or the other walks out of a stylish and well-publicized reading. It’s a load of crap, Hollywood is full of lies, beautiful lies–but lies none the less. I would say, if someone is serious, save money. Pay to get your work well edited, once, twice, three times. Take a few weeks off after all of that, burn the book, cry, start over and then pay for another round of edits. Then, if you want to publish traditionally, get ready. It is a damn process. This means finding, and sometimes paying for services and memberships to get access to agents, educating yourself, figuring out what the f*ck a query letter is supposed to say and then waiting, waiting, waiting, then eventually you die and hopefully your grandchildren know how to write a query letter.

8) What does the future hold in store for you? Any new books/projects on the horizon?

We’ve just released a bilingual (Russian-English) novelette titled “The Babushka Society.” (http://a.co/d/h4L5unT

) It is illustrated by the same artist as The King of FU and we worked in collaboration with a podcast She’s In Russia (S.I.R.) to turn it into a radio drama which is available for free on their podcast (https://soundcloud.com/shes-in-russia/73-the-babushka-society). That was the past couple of months, I have recently created a Patreon page to showcase my projects and collaborations where each month I plan to collaborate with someone to create something new; radio dramas, short films, audiobooks, comics, tickle-porn. Who knows. (https://www.patreon.com/benjamindavis)

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The Babushka Society

The King of FU

Interview with Author Maria Thompson Corley

Interview Questions for Maria Thompson Corley

1) First off, tell us a little bit about yourself. How did you find yourself drawn to the world of writing?

I always liked to write. When I was young, I was much more secure expressing myself in writing than in speech. Not that I never spoke, but I was always more self-revelatory in writing. I would write my parents notes, sometimes, instead of speaking to them about things that bothered me. I wrote my first novel at 14 (no worries—I have no intention of inflicting it on anyone!). My first published novel was Choices, which I wrote on a whim. I had the rather confident attitude that I could come up with something as good as a lot of the books I was reading, so I sent my manuscript to Ballantine and received a letter back from an editor. She said her list was full, but recommended that I get in touch with someone at Kensington, since they were starting a line of books aimed at African American women. I was kind of in the right place at the right time.

 

That was in 1996! My book was published as a romance, and my follow up didn’t fit the genre, since I had a prominent gay character who was in a relationship. I didn’t want to get rid of him, deciding instead to focus on being a pianist (I have Master of Music and Doctor of Musical Arts degrees from Juilliard, and have played since I was 4). I had married by then, and my daughter was born in 1997, followed in 1999 by my son, who is on the autism spectrum. It took me a while to get back to writing, with all of that on my plate. When my marriage broke up, I found writing very cathartic, and I can truly say that the written word has turned out to be as much a part of me as music.

I’ve even started writing a bit of poetry. One poem was published by New York Literary Magazine, having come in second in a contest, and I presented one about my son, the first one I’d written since middle school, at the National Autism Conference last summer. We’ll see where that goes. I have ambitions of writing a few more and trying to set them to music. Some of my songs and solo/choral arrangements have been performed nationally and, in one case, internationally, and one choral piece was published by Walton. That said, I can’t do everything. Can I? Either way, I feel like an emerging composer. We’ll see.

2) What inspired you to write Letting Go?

The inspiration was a who, not a what. My mother suggested that I write something a bit closer to home, shall we say. As mentioned in my acknowledgments, she isn’t a big fan of the four-letter words and occasional sex, but she is a huge supporter of everything I do. I am so blessed to have been given wonderful parents.

What’s fun about the book is that people who know me can see similarities to my life, but most of the book is fiction. Which is which? You’ll have to guess (hint: I made up the first chapter. That said, I definitely want to be present at the auditions for casting Devonte Jones).

3) What message or theme do you hope to convey to your readers when they read this book?

I hope readers will look at love, in all its manifestations, through fresh eyes. While people call my book a romance, to me, the cliché is true—the greatest love of all is between you and yourself.


4) If you could sit down for a cup of coffee with one of your characters, who would it be and what would you say to them/ask them?

Tough question! I think I’d sit down with Langston, ideally with him supplying the coffee and another treat of his choice, hopefully something he’d made himself (selfish reasons! I love good coffee and treats!). I’d ask him if he had any regrets about the way his path went, as in, if he wished he’d done some things sooner, or felt they happened at the right time.

The thing is, I think we all do the best we can with what we have, even if what we’re doing is destructive. We have to get better, internally, to do better.

5) When writing Letting Go, what was more important to you: plot development or character development?

Hopefully, both! That said, I love to get into people’s heads, and to create imaginary friends or foes) for the reader. Humans are endlessly complex, and thus (at least to me), endlessly fascinating.

6) What social media site would you say has been the most helpful developing your readership?

I’m not sure! I’d say a toss-up between Facebook and Twitter. Then again, I basically use only Facebook and Twitter, so…

7) What’s one piece of advice you would give to new authors out there?

Be an educated, ruthlessly critical author. Learn the grammar, read books and articles by respected writers, analyze the way they use words. Strive to write good sentences, so that your ideas truly come to life. Find beta readers who are honest and skilled in the craft (I know this isn’t always easy), and then listen to them. Opinion is just that, but I at least try to consider every suggestion, so that if I don’t take it, the reason isn’t my own defensiveness or insecurity. That said, I’m so used to critique, these days, I have a very thick skin.

8) What are your future plans? Any new books in the works?

I just finished a revision of the New Adult book I mentioned earlier, with the gay character. When my beta readers have weighed in, I’ll revise some more and see where that goes. After that (or while I wait for my betas), I hope to write a book from the point of view of a very famous animal. I have barely started (last summer). I know that will be shorter, but also harder because I have to stick to the historical facts. Oh yeah, and because I’m choosing to write from the point of view of an animal!