Month: October 2015

An Interview With Actor Joshua Bermudez

JoshuaBermudezMM

Joshua Bermudez is an actor and former boxer who appears in the web-series Off Prospect; here is a link to his website:

http://www.joshbermudez.com/
Q: How did your boxing career prepare you for your acting career?
A:  Getting punched in the face for the first time feels like a life right of some kind. Like once it happens you go: “Ok. I’m alive, that happened, what’s next?” You get back to it, and realize that your fear of getting hit was worse than the hit itself. Most auditions, you’re the one getting knocked out – so you go in, do your best, take the hit, and hopefully learn something. But if you’re too afraid to get in the ring and mix it up, you’ll never have the opportunity to win.

 

Q:  You studied drama at Yale. What does Yale’s drama department offer that other acting schools do not?

A:  What I took away from Yale was the value of risk.  A lot of contemporary acting feels, I think, stagnant, because even well-trained actors are anxious to do everything “right” – they sort of dutifully say their lines and hit their marks with an unoffensive amount of emotion. That environment taught me to value that moment where you feel unmoored, at risk, and just as importantly, gave me the technique to navigate those moments. One thing Ron Van Lieu told me, early on, was that I wouldn’t graduate from the Yale School of Drama as a “finished” actor. He’s done it long enough to know that even the most talented actor, if he gets comfortable, becomes boring. Yale actors come out hungry and ready to work.

Q:  Who are some of your acting influences?

A:  DeNiro and Pacino. My Dad loved them, so we watched movies like The Godfather and Raging Bull together when I was a kid, stuff that was way before my time. I think everything I did as a younger actor was just a bad DeNiro impression. The actor who made me realize that I should respect what I do, and that a career as an actor could be a reality for me, was Mark Lewis. He was my teacher for years, and encouraged me to go to graduate school when I had all but decided to drop out of school and move to California. He changed my perception of acting: it stopped being a lark, and became work for a grown man, a serious craft that you continue to develop throughout your life.

 

Q:  What is Off Prospect about?

A:  Off Prospect is a comedy about a group of personal trainers who are trying to run a successful gym, but have absolutely no idea how to do it.

Q: What role do you play?

A:  I co-wrote the series and played Jay, one of the trainers.

Q:  How did you prepare for the role?

A:  Well, we sort of wrote Jay as this human puppy: he means well but he’s big and if you take your eye off of him he’ll chew up your shoes and knock over your flatscreen, so I tried to live in that energy: running around on set, eating everything in sight, just letting my attention span go slack. Our director would take all that and funnel it, have me improv these rants, so we ended up with this silly big-hearted mess of a character. It was fun, but exhausting.

Q:  To what method of acting do you ascribe?

A: Not really; I wouldn’t have a tool kit with only a hammer in it. It’s still strangely in vogue to claim one school of acting, but I think that’s a bit outdated. I’ve learned the most studying with teachers who have wildly diverse methods. Every technique has its limits, and if you’re lucky, the roles you are hungry for will force you to develop different tools to tackle them.

Q:  Do you think looks or talent are more important in Hollywood?

A:  Looks, I guess, but that’s short-term. The actors I admire, and the ones who have given me the best advice, they’re talented, yes – but they respect themselves and the people they work with. I think that long-term, respect is more important than talent and looks. Ideally, you have all three.

Q:  What kind of day jobs have you had in your life and why is acting better?

 

A: I’ve done the waiting tables thing, customer service-type stuff, passed out samples at farmer’s markets… And its strange, maybe it has to do with money, but I rarely had days in those jobs without a nasty experience. No matter how badly the show goes, or how long the shoot is, working as an actor leaves me coming home like a kid from camp. There’s something very humanizing about it. And you can’t really go on auto-pilot when you do it, you’re either present or you aren’t acting.

Q:  What is your oddest Los Angeles story?

A:  I once signed an autograph for a tourist, and to this day, have no idea who she thinks I was.

Please note; Eliza’s interviews are done by email. All answers are unedited and come right from the lovely fingertips of her subjects:)

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An Interview With Writer Marta Tandori

portraitMarta

Marta Tandori is the author of The Kate Stanton Hollywood Mysteries; here is a link to her website:

http://martatandori.com/

Q: What inspired you to write The Kate Stanton Hollywood Mysteries?

A: The inspiration for the first book in the series, TOO LITTLE, TOO LATE, came in a roundabout way.  One day, there was a documentary on the History channel that caught my attention.  It was based on the Lebensborn war children; children sired by Nazi soldiers and officers while their mothers were genetically-viable blonde-haired, blue-eyed women, mostly of Scandinavian descent.  It was Hitler’s intention that these Lebensborn children would be the Nazi master race of the future but that plan abruptly fell apart when the Second World War ended.  These children and their mothers were suddenly cast adrift with nowhere to go.  Germany considered them an embarrassment and didn’t want them, while the families these women had come from no longer wanted them either.  Many of the children were thrown into mental institutions while their mothers were treated as traitors and ostracized for the rest of their lives.  A few of these war children managed to overcome their adversities and grew up to become famous like the musician, Eric Clapton, as well as Ani-Frid Lyngstad, one of the singers from the Swedish pop group, ABBA.  I thought this lesser-known aspect of the Second World War would make for an interesting and powerful back story to my book.  Incidentally, Ani-Frid Lyngstad, who’s now a real-life princess, became the inspiration for the character of Kate Stanton.

When I began writing TOO LITTLE, TOO LATE, it never occurred to me that Kate Stanton would end up becoming the focal character in a series of mystery books.  It was only after receiving emails from readers asking if I was ever planning on writing more books based on Kate Stanton that I thought of developing her character into a series and that’s how the Kate Stanton Hollywood Mystery Series was eventually born.

How to best describe the series?  One reviewer recently described it as “the perfect mystery reader Cosmo – one part ‘I-didn’t-see-that-coming’ whodunit with a double shot of Hollywood glam”.  I think that’s a great way to describe it!

 

Q: What sets Kate apart from other serial fiction detectives?

I would say that it’s her age and the fact that she’s not a professional investigator.  Kate’s in her early seventies; she and her late husband were once a very successful recording duo and for the past twenty years, Kate’s owned an equally successful real estate brokerage firm in Los Angeles.  Imagine a sophisticated Jessica Fletcher from Murder, She Wrote, if you will.

Q: What are some of the cases on which Kate works?

As I mentioned earlier, Kate’s not a professional investigator so she doesn’t really work on any cases, per se.  She’s a devoted wife, mother and grandmother with a wide circle of friends and more often than not, the mysteries she works on involve her as a result of her relationships, either directly or indirectly.  For example, in the first book, TOO LITTLE, TOO LATE, a middle-aged homeless woman turns up dead and Kate is shocked to eventually learn that the woman is her first-born daughter who she had been told had died as a young girl. Kate delves into the mystery surrounding her daughter’s life and subsequent death which is deemed a homicide.  In NO HARD FEELINGS, a woman is found dead in one of the houses that Kate’s other daughter is showing to a potential buyer and in THE CROSSING AT BLAISDELL PARK, the film shoot for the sequel to the blockbuster Civil War epic Kate’s current husband is producing is rumored to be haunted by the ghost of the movie’s dead heroine, leading to Kate’s involvement.

Q: What makes Hollywood a good setting for a mystery?

A: Location, location, location!  Everyone’s heard of Hollywood and thanks to it being the epicenter for the entertainment industry, Hollywood is rich in both history and scandal, making it the perfect backdrop for a mystery – or mysteries, as the case may be.

Q: Who are some of your writing influences?

A: I would have to say hands down Tess Gerritsen, the author of the Rizzoli & Isles series of books, Jackie Collins, Mary Higgins Clark, Judy Blume and Linwood Barclay.  Tess Gerritsen is an immensely talented writer who can write about anything convincingly; Jackie Collins, because she gave us our first entrée into the glamorous world of Hollywood; Mary Higgins Clark, because she writes entertaining mysteries, Judy Blume, because she always writes with such honesty and Linwood Barclay, because he has such a great voice which come across in each of his characters.

Q: Why do you think serial fiction is so popular?

A: Readers who find characters they like in books sometime have a hard time letting go of them and once those characters become part of a series of books, they never have to say goodbye to them.  Readers eagerly follow the characters from one adventure to the other, the characters becoming as familiar as old friends.  This is why series books like the Nancy Drew Mysteries, The Hardy Boys and Trixie Belden became so popular.

For authors, it’s a no-brainer because with each book in a series, you have an immediate, built-in audience waiting for the next book.

Q: What kind of day job do you have and how does it affect your writing?

A: During the day, I work in a boutique firm that only does intellectual property law – patents, trademarks, copyrights and integrated topography. My practice encompasses only trademarks. I do clearance searches for trademarks, I meet with clients, I prosecute trademark applications, I do oppositions and cancellation proceedings, that sort of thing.  Since I work long hours, most of my writing is done on weekends and vacations with me getting up at obscenely early hours of the morning, by most people’s standards, in order to write.  It’s not that hard since I’m a morning person by nature.

Q: What kind of educational background do you have?

A: Secondary and post-secondary education. Since my day job requires me to do a great deal of research, especially on the Internet, this segues nicely into my writing where I’m doing research all the time since many of my characters come from all walks of life and all kinds of professions.

Q: What are some of the things you have done to promote your books?

A: I’ve done various types of promotions through Amazon’s KDP Select. I’ve also done giveaways on Goodreads and LibraryThing and I’ve also done third-party blog interviews and interviews through other media like newspapers, in addition to book tours.

Q: If you need a mystery solved what famous literary detective would you enlist to help you and why?

Most definitely, I’d enlist the assistance of Sherlock Holmes.  Arguably, one of the most famous fictional detectives created by Scottish author and physician, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Sherlock Holmes was a London-based “consulting detective” whose abilities bordered on the “incredible” or “incredulous”, depending on whose opinion you happened to be partial to.  He was famous for his astute logical reasoning, his ability to adopt almost any disguise and his use of forensic science to solve the most difficult of cases.

Over the years, there have been countless discussions and essays written on the subject of Holmes’ personality and what actually made him “tick”.  Watson himself described his friend as “bohemian” in habits and lifestyle as well as an eccentric, with erratic eating habits and “no regard for contemporary standards of tidiness or good order”.  However, what appeared to others as chaos was to Holmes a logical extension of the way his mind functioned.  Sherlock Holmes was also known to have used addictive drugs, especially when there were no stimulating cases to solve.  He was of the mindset that cocaine stimulated the brain, of which he was a habitual user, as well as an occasional user of morphine.  He did, however, draw the line at visiting an opium den.  While the use of these drugs in today’s society may be indicative of someone with a drug addiction, it’s important to keep in mind that these drugs were legal in late 19th century England.

So, as you can see, Sherlock Holmes was quite the character and most definitely my go-to literary detective of choice!

Please note; Eliza’s interviews are done by email. All answers are unedited and come right from the lovely fingertips of her subjects:)

An Interview With Blogger Nahid Sultana

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Nahid Sultana runs the blog Journey Around The Globe; here is a link to her website:

http://journeyaroundtheglobe.com/

 

 

Q: What made you interested in travel blogging?

A: I used to teach basic computer skills to the middle school kids at a private school where each student created a blog as a fun project. That’s when I started my blog. But it really became a daily agenda for me when we moved to Belgium and started going to many different places. I had to note down all the information I was gathering from all these trips.

Q: What do you look for in a guest blogger?

A: I accept any kind of travel related guest posts. They have to be authentic and…oh yeh, some appealing pictures from around the world. But I also accept sponsored posts…but again, has to be travel related, like from hotels, cruise liners, airlines, or tour guide companies. So that my readers can enjoy them and get some information on particular destination.

Q: What sort of day job do you have and how does it affect your ability to travel?

A: I am a freelance photographer and a freelance blogger. So traveling really doesn’t affect anything. I used to be a teacher as I mentioned above. But after coming back from Europe, I am enjoying setting my own schedule and being my own boss J

Q: What is the biggest difference you have noticed between the American education system and that of European countries?

A: My girls used to go to a British school, St. Paul British Primary School, in Belgium. We had the option to enroll them in the local Flemish or French school. But because of the language issues, they were admitted in this English school. That’s why I am not too familiar with the overall European education system. But we were extremely satisfied with St. Paul BPS. The best part was that my elder daughter straight went to Grade 1 at the age of 5, which is unthinkable here in The States, where the children go to Kindergarten at that age.

Q: What advice would you have for people traveling with small children?

A: I can actually write a whole book on this topic…hahaha. But plan, plan, and plan…this is the most important thing when you are traveling with children. First thing, start packing ahead of time for a fun and smooth journey. If you pack night before the trip, you will definitely forget to put some necessary things in your suitcase. What I mean by that, other than just clothes, shoes and diapers, you need to have something that they will enjoy during the plane/train/car journey. Something like books, toys (that won’t make sounds), their favorite treats, or their favorite cup where they like to drink their milk from. I usually don’t give candies to my kids, but during trips, I buy their favorite candies/chocolates to keep them happy and energized from time to time (make sure not too many a day). When you have reached your destination, remember to have some snacks/fruits/drinks in your backpack to give them in between meals. Kids get hungry really quickly. They would want to munch on something if they are walking a lot, under the sun for too long, getting bored, or not enjoying visiting lots of museums. Also don’t forget your sunscreens, hats, and sunglasses. Another thing to make sure is that they get enough rest. If you are on a long vacation, the children get tired after just few days from waking up early or going to bed late, going to different places…sometimes may be with a tour guide, hiking/walking, and etc. Their bodies aren’t like their parents. They need certain amount of sleep everyday. Make sure they get plenty of that. Last thing I would say that when you are in a certain city or place try to do or see at least one thing that your kids will enjoy. Visiting history, museums, ancient ruins are fun for adults, but may be not for a 5 years old. Research and see if there is any bug museum or miniature display or just a nice park which kids would love to go and believe me every city has at least couple things for kids of all age.

 

Q: What European city is most like Portland?

 

A: We lived in Tervuren, a small Flemish city in Belgium, very close to Brussels. And weather-wise, this was very similar to Portland…short summer, gloomy winter mornings, no extreme heat in summer or freezing condition in winter, rare snow in the cold weather, and finally lots of rainy days. I really didn’t miss Portland much…well, other than the English language.

Q: What country was the most surprising to you?

A: I would say the whole region of Eastern Europe surprised me the most. When it comes to Europe, tourists usually go to the western part. But Eastern European countries, like Bosnia & Herzegovina, Albania, Macedonia, Croatia, Russia, Estonia, and other smaller countries in that part of Europe are just as good as the other big countries. These places have so much to offer to their visitors despite the recent wars and economic conditions. They have some stunning natural beauties, many historical sites, good museums, unique cultures, and finally you can’t go wrong with the Eastern European food. The best part is, spending few days in some of these places are much cheaper than most of the other parts of Europe.

Q: What sets you apart from other travel bloggers?

A: My blog is more like a guide for the future travelers where I also share my personal experiences. Though I hate to write negative things about any places, I do share my honest opinions when it comes to any specific things, like food or must-sees. I try to take my readers to a virtual journey with my blog where they not only get the feelings of the city, but also know how much money we are spending on food, souvenirs, transportations, and etc. Another thing I always mention is the sites or the tour guides that we’ve used in any particular city along with their contact information and rates for my readers. And lastly, since we have traveled as a family with 2 small children, I always try to mention the kid-friendly things to do or see in the places we’ve visited.

Q: You have won a lot of blogging awards; how did you get nominated for them?

A: Thanks to my fellow bloggers, readers, and followers for those lovely awards. The way these awards work is that once they are nominated by their friends, they have to nominate a certain numbers of people to keep this chain going. I was fortunate enough to be nominated by some of my wonderful blogger friends.

Q: What is your weirdest airplane story?

A: I don’t really have any weird airplane story to share. But every plane or road trip we took was a memorable one and that could be either beginning or end of a journey. I am always excited about a visiting a new place and even more excited when I come back home ready to share the story and the pictures of the places I’ve just visited to my readers.

Please note; Eliza’s interviews are done by email. All answers are unedited and come right from the lovely fingertips of her subjects:)

An Interview With Writer Stephanie Carlisi

FATHER F-CKER! profile pic (1)

Stephanie Carlisi is the author of the upcoming book Father F*cker! Here is a link to Ms. Carlisi’s website:

http://stephaniecarlisi.com/?cat=15 

 

 

Q: What is “Father F*cker!” about?

A: Father F*cker! is the coming-of-age story of a young woman struggling to find her artistic voice. Sicily Terrentini lost her father when she was five-years-old and has been attempting to suppress the trauma ever since. At the age of 27, she adopts a devotional yoga practice, in which she chants to Hindu Gods, and experiences a heart opening. As she is flooded with crippling memories from her childhood, a deep desire is triggered to communicate with her father and to explore her voice, which has been blocked for years. Sicily writes her father a letter, burns it and releases the ashes into the Pacific Ocean, where his ashes were scattered. As if in response to her letter, a synchronistic chain of events leads her to a dream job, working as a “songwriter’s assistant” for Jake Easton, a legendary songwriter, who, at 58, is older than her father would be had he lived. Due to their thirty-year age gap, Sicily is unaware of Jake’s reputation in music history as a notorious heartbreaker who infamously used his ladies as muses, while cavorting with and penning hits for the Troubadours, the most famous band to emerge from the seventies Laurel Canyon scene. Sicily is hit hard with her “daddy issues” as she is drawn in by Jake’s charisma. She tries to combat their chemistry, but falls in love with him against her will. She cannot deny that her craving for Jake bears similarity to a lifelong yearning for her father. Maybe Jake can fill her void? Sicily senses that Jake is using her as a muse, but turns the tables on him and uses him as a muse in the surprising passion she finds for the craft of songwriting. Father F*cker! opens a window into the worlds of songwriting and working as a Hollywood assistant, while posing the questions: Can a girl overcome her “daddy issues?” and Does age matter when it comes to love?

Q:  What inspired you to write it?

 

A: I had just experienced a tornado of creative inspiration, working as an assistant for a legendary songwriter. When my job abruptly ended (due to occurrences detailed in the book), I was left with an immense void. I had been washed over and wrung-out, and was now sitting in the quiet after the storm.  I fell asleep on a Greyhound Bus heading from Los Angeles to Palm Springs to visit my parents for Thanksgiving. When I awoke, still miles from my destination, the start of the story poured from my pen and I’m still writing.

 

Q:  How much of the story is biographical and how much is fiction?

A: Father F*cker! is a work of fiction, inspired by real events. I would estimate that seventy-five-percent of the story is biographical. That said, even the truth is simply my perception; therefore it is 100% fiction. Perhaps if another person were asked to recall the events, it would be a different story, if a story at all.

The novel was titled “Signs in the Night,” for years while I developed it. Recently I was given insightful feedback from CAA (Creative Artists Agency), which I am using to revise the book. I have retitled it and I am modifying it from third-person to first-person. When I first started writing, I was afraid to put the story in first-person and use my authentic voice. It felt too close for comfort. I think I fell back on my influence from Danielle Steel novels I read when I was younger, writing it more like a flowery romance novel than a gritty coming-of-age story. Now, with healthy distance from the events and my subject matter, I am ready to use my voice to tell the story. This story is important to me because it ties in with how music found its way back to me, when I least expected it, and helped me to heal. As always, my hope is that my writing inspires others to find their voice and follow their passion, if they have a desire to do so. That desire has a purpose.

As I revise my manuscript, I plan to publish it, chapter-by-chapter, as a serial on a website called: channillo.com. 100% of my profits, while it is up on the site, will go to the charity of my choice, which is the MusiCares Foundation. This is a total experiment and I have no idea where it may lead.

Q:  What other kinds of day jobs have you had and what made them better or worse than being an assistant?

 

A: For a spell I worked as a substitute teacher and a tutor for middle school students. I believe wholeheartedly that to teach is to learn. I loved teaching kids and it was fulfilling in a way that being an assistant certainly was not; but I couldn’t give my all to it because I heard a calling from the arts that I needed to answer. It didn’t feel fair to the kids that I was only halfway present with them, so I quit and dove headfirst into the entertainment industry. I would like to teach again one day.

Working as a personal/executive entertainment assistant was challenging because I felt like a kid in a candy store who wasn’t allowed to eat the candy. I was addicted to my unrequited aspirations. I always had the sense that I was laboring to bring other artists’ visions to fruition while putting my own on the back burner. However, I got a lot of writing done during down time in those offices. I wrote (and re-wrote) much of my novel at Paramount Pictures, where I worked all over the lot, as an assistant, for the bulk of ten years. I also gained valuable knowledge about how the industry works and met a lot of wonderful people. I wrote my first song in the music department at Paramount. That place really was a creative playground for me.

 

My last gig in entertainment advanced me from executive assistant to a (temporary) director of development at a production pod at CBS Studio. I was working directly with creative writing, reading tons of scripts and writing coverage, preparing pitch materials, etc. At first I thought I might like to be a development executive, but by the time the gig was coming to an end, I was going crazy working on other people’s projects, yearning to focus on my own writing. I am now writing full-time and diligently working to further monetize my craft.

Q:  What are some of the differences between the way Hollywood portrays itself in movies and on TV and real life Hollywood?

A: Much of it is on target. In regard to working as an assistant in Hollywood, the movie Swimming With Sharks has always stuck in my head, although the story is exaggerated. I have seen some downright crazy behavior from strong personality types in Hollywood. I’ve worked for my fair share of “screamers” and the term “high-maintenance” doesn’t begin to cover it. I think maybe that behavior is less en vogue today than it used to be; at least I hope it is. I do not believe that acquiring success, power, wealth or fame is an excuse to act shitty toward people, especially people trying to help you. One would think that having all that would make someone nicer, not meaner.

Sometimes (in film and television) the hard work is downplayed while the glamour is played-up. An executive at Paramount once told me that someone asked him if he “hangs out on yachts with Brad Pitt.” The executive laughed and said, “If only they could see me in my office under a pile of contracts.” I once met the lovely Catherine Zeta-Jones at an event at the Motion Picture and Television Home, where both my maternal grandparents lived out the last chapters of their lives. My grandmother introduced me to Catherine and said, “Stephanie is an actress, too.” I felt insecure and added, “A struggling actress.” Catherine looked at me squarely and said, “We’re all struggling, honey. I finally did my close-up at 4am and I am exhausted.” Her statement had an impact on me. I realized that celebrities are human, too. They have to go through (some of) the tedious steps of life like the rest of us do. It’s not all glamour and partying. It takes a lot of hard work to make it to the top, and maybe even more to stay there. The Mailroom: Hollywood History From The Bottom Up is a great read to gain an inside glimpse.

 

Q:  Who are some of your writing influences?

 

A: Ayn Rand, Jack Kerouac, Charles Bukowski, Pat Conroy, Anais Nin, Herman Hesse, Patti Smith, Stevie Nicks, Lucinda Williams, Leonard Cohen, Bob Dylan.

 

Q:  Why do you think people are fascinated by celebrities?

A: I think people find fascination in celebrities as a means of deflection from their own greatness. It’s a way to not focus on oneself, which can be challenging and confronting. It is also a means of escape from boredom, tedium, loneliness, sorrow, etc. When, in reality, I believe that facing oneself is a more sustainable escape from those conditions. We are all fascinating creatures. People project a fantasy onto celebrities that they do not deal with the same human conditions, feelings and emotions with which “average people” have to deal, but that is not true. I used to want to be famous so badly. I believed that grand success, wealth and accolades would make me happy, but then I realized that so many people who have all that still seem miserable. We have to become happy first, because all that will not provide happiness. Once we’re happy, we probably won’t even want that anymore, and our fascination with celebrity might lessen. Our own lives are precious.

 

Q: What is your strangest Los Angeles story?

 

A: I was born in Hollywood, into a showbiz family, at Cedars of Lebanon Hospital, which was purchased shortly thereafter by the Church of Scientology and became their headquarters. It’s been a long, strange trip ever since, so it would be impossible to choose my strangest Los Angeles story; I could go on for days. One comes to mind, though:

My mom’s best friend introduced me to a business manager to the stars. He kindly promised to help me find a job in the entertainment industry. At the time I was a wannabe movie star, with stars in my eyes, so I really wanted to be a personal assistant to a movie star. Mr. Business Manager hooked me up with Val Kilmer, but the job fell through. (Perhaps it was divine intervention.) My grandparents then set up a random meeting for me with a longtime family friend who had been a songwriter/music producer for years, but had not enjoyed the level of success for which she had hoped. My grandparents were attempting to manipulate me into going to law school instead of trying to “make it” in show business. I think they thought that meeting with someone slightly disgruntled, after struggling for years, might dissuade me; but Hollywood was in my blood. While I was meeting with this family friend, listening in her home recording studio to songs that had never seen the light of day, I got the idea that maybe I should try my hand at songwriting! (Mind you, I had never been a musician, nor had I ever before dreamed of writing a song.) After the meeting, I stopped at a red light on Wilshire and Sepulveda and said aloud to God, “Songwriting, that’s what I’m going to do next.” I had no clue how I was going to go about my new plan, but, when I arrived home that evening, there was a voicemail on my landline from Mr. Business Manager: “Call me, I have a client sitting in front of me who is looking for an assistant. He’s a songwriter who needs his journals transcribed for an upcoming album. I told him how good you are with words and I think you two could be a perfect fit.” It was as if God had answered my declaration. The rest is history.

 

Q:  What other kinds of writing do you do?

 

A: I write and co-write songs—endless songs. I have co-written three television pilots and a feature sci-fi screenplay. I write blogs and short stories. Lately I have been submitting stories to online publications and have been published by Elephant Journal and The Fix, so far. I dabble in poetry and erotica.

Q:  What kind of educational background do you have?

A: I obtained my BA from Pepperdine University in Malibu, CA. I majored in Telecommunications Management with an emphasis in creative writing. Post grad I took acting, screenwriting and music classes. Throughout my school years, my extracurricular activities always involved writing and drama.

Please note; Eliza’s interviews are done by email. All answers are unedited and come right from the lovely fingertips of her subjects:)

An Interview With Writer Manuel Fernandez

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Manuel Fernandez is the author of The Rocky Approach to Life; here is a link to his Amazon page:

 

Q: What inspired you to write The Rocky Approach to Life?

A: About three years ago I went through a terrible breakup. I was depressed and frankly did not care if I lived or died. Watching the Rocky movies was the only thing that got me out of my funk. The more I watched the more I identified with the Rocky character, the trials and tribulations he went through. I realized life is no different than a boxing ring. You win some, you lose some but you never stop fighting.

Q: Why should someone read your book instead of just seeing the film?

A: The book goes in depth about self-worth. What does one want from life? Just because you’re a certain age do you stop dreaming? Do you stop pursuing goals? I think a lot of people become content with life instead of going after what makes one happy.

Q: What are some of the personal experiences you draw from the book?

A: One of my favorite chapters in the book is called Halftime. I talk about how it’s never too late to look in the rearview and start fresh. You just have to want it.

Q: What kind of day job do you have? And how has it influenced your approach to life?

A: I work in Access Control for the Clorox Company in Pleasanton Ca. I talk to a lot of people who are highly educated and good people but some of them want more from life. I think that’s great. I don’t believe in being complacent.

Q: What are some of your favorite self-help books and why?

A: I like Joel Osteen’s book- Become a Better You. It goes into the soul and makes you want the best life you could possibly have.

Q: What are some of your least favorite self-help books? And why?

A: I don’t remember the name off hand but I read this self-help book a few years ago and I felt like the author was preaching, almost nagging me to make a change. People don’t respond to that kind of volume. What I do is give examples of my own peaks and valleys and ask the reader questions about themselves.

Q: What are the ingredients for a really good underdog movie?

A: Where the character is broken down. He or she has nothing left in the soul tank. The worlds against them. They stop caring about other people’s perception of them. That’s when people really start to live. Southpaw, with Jake Gyllenhall is one of the best underdog movies I have ever seen. The writing is fantastic. The acting really sucks the audience in.

Q: What are some things you have done to publicize your book?

A: I have done a few radio interviews, promoted my book on various blogs and websites. I plan on having a book signing next month.

Q: Do you have a background in boxing?

A: I do not. I do have a background in martial arts. I studied Kajukenbo Kung-Fu, Jujitsu, for fifteen years.

Q: What was your first book about?

A: My first book was called First Day of School. I talk about a confluence of things happening in the United States; The need for a single payer system for Health Care, the state of politics in this country, how we need to look after our youth and make sure they have places to go after school so they don’t end up in trouble or joining a gang like I did as a kid.

Please note; Eliza’s interviews are done by email. All answers are unedited and come right from the lovely fingertips of her subjects:)

An Interview With Writer P. Wish

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P. Wish is the author of, Into the Light: A collection of short stories; here is a link to her Twitter page:

Q: What is the overall theme of, Into the Light?

A: The central theme of Into the Light is the relationship between humanity and society. The stories in this anthology fall into three genres- science fiction, comedy and human interest. Through the lens of each of these genres, I examine this theme in a different story and setting.

Q:  What inspired you to write it?

A: My range of inspiration is as diverse as the stories themselves. I will be doing a series called ‘Story behind the stories’ on my blog in October discussing the inspiration for each story in detail. In general, I would say that the collection is inspired by mundane events. The inspiration ranges from calling up my grandmother to exercising and doing laundry.

Q:  What kind of a day job (or income source) do you have and how does it influence you writing?

 

A: I am currently in education so, I don’t work. My experiences are definitely a huge part of my stories. What I go through everyday is translated directly on the page (with a lot of fantasy and fiction thrown in).

Q:  Who are some of your writing influences and what are some examples of how they have influenced your work?

 

A: My writing style is influenced by historical romance writers like Lisa Kleypas, Judith McNaught and Barbara Cartland. This is perhaps most evident in ‘How to Lose a Fortune in 10 Weeks’, a historical comedy from Into the Light. Besides romance, I read a lot of non-fiction (self help, reference books) these days which is why I construct long sentences. That has had an impact on my overall writing style.

Q:  What are the advantages of self-publishing?

 

A: There are quite a few of them. The first is of course, the speed. You upload the cover and the manuscript on Amazon and you’re done. In twenty four hours, the book goes live. Compare this with traditional publishing which takes around a year.

Self publishing also saves authors a lot of time and money. It is free to publish a book online (some sites charge a small fee).

The self publishing process is also more democratic and transparent compared to the traditional publishing process.

Q:  What are some of the disadvantages of self-publishing?

 

A: The most glaring disadvantage is probably the lack of marketing and media coverage. When it comes to marketing your book, you’re on your own. Writers are not necessarily good marketers. Also, an individual writer doesn’t have the same amount of connections that a large publisher does.

Many writers published by major publishers complain that they don’t market the book enough. I can’t say that problem is exclusive to self publishing.

Another disadvantage is the variation in quality of self published manuscripts. Some are professionally edited while others are not. Therefore, self publishing as a whole is not considered at par with traditional publishing. Many reviewers and bloggers are skeptical to accept self published works for review.

Q: What are you working on now?

A: I am currently serializing a chick lit novel titled ‘Confessions’ on my blog. Besides that, I am working on a mystery/thriller novel that will release next year.

Q: What trends in literature annoy you?

 

A: The uncertainty. The publishing industry is in a state of flux. I don’t know which way to lean because it is transforming at such a rapid pace. The other day, I saw an article in NYT that said ebooks sales are plummeting. Then, there was another article saying they are rising, the very next day!

I guess you gotta wait and see.

Q:  If you could spend the day with one of the characters from one of your short stories who would you chose?

A: I would choose Detective Adams, a time travelling detective who is the protagonist of the the ninth story in the book. I’ve always wanted to be a detective. He has a dry sense of humour and a mysterious past. I think I would like to spend the day working with him.

Q:  What is the best advice anyone has ever given you about writing?

A: Write. I know, that sounds really simple but it is profound. Other useful pieces of advice are ‘get an editor’ and ‘re-write’.

Please note; Eliza’s interviews are done by email. All answers are unedited and come right from the lovely fingertips of her subjects:)

An Interview with Country Singer Billy Grima

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Billy Grima is a country singer who recently released the album, Sugar and Cream; here is a link to his website:

http://www.billygrima.com/

Q: When did you start playing guitar?

A: I started playing guitar at the age of 11.

Q: What do you hope to express though your music?

A: I want to express my message to the listeners so they can feel what I write.

 

Q: Who are some of your musical influences?

A: Sarah MacLachlan, Billy Joel, Joe Cocker, Tim McGraw, Jason Mraz.

Q: What is the song Sugar and Cream about?

A: The song Sugar & Cream is about me and the boys hanging out at a local restaurant/bar on a Saturday night talking about nothing and having a good time.  Then I see a lady walk in and we strike up a conversation over a cup of tea with Sugar & Cream. I talk about my rockin’ band and how I am a simple man and then she talks to me about the birds and the bees as she believes we belong together.

Q: What kind of day jobs have you had and how do they influence your music?

A: I have worked in transport, the baking industry, I have worked in management. I have always liked working with different people and I have met people from all walks of life, as it makes things very interesting when it comes to writing as I try to put myself in their shoes.

Q: What sets you apart from other country singers?

A: I think my singing has more of a rock edge to it with a Motown flavour which sets me apart from the traditional country sound.

Q: What trends in country music annoy you ?

A: I don’t prefer so much the “twangy” sound I hear in some country songs because that sound does not sit well with me.

Q: What is your oddest show biz story?

A: One gig I was playing at, we had a blackout and we had to switch our music from electric to acoustic to keep the audience listening and it actually turned out to be really cool.

Q: What are some of the differences between the Canadian country music scene and the one in the United States?

A: I would say the country music scene is much bigger in the United States than in Canada. I think the country music scene in Canada is growing more now than ever as more artists are emerging.

Q: If you could perform with Bob Dylan or Dolly Parton, who would you pick?

 

A: I would say Dolly Parton because I have always wanted to do a duet with her.

Please note; Eliza’s interviews are done by email. All answers are unedited and come right from the lovely fingertips of her subjects:)