Month: May 2016

An Interview With Actress Penelope Lagos



Penelope Lagos is an actress who appears in the film The Jersey Devil; here is a link to her website:
Q: What is The Jersey Devil about?


A: The Jersey Devil is about the original Devil, Lucifer, whose term limits are up and must turn the reigns of Hell over to James Burnett. Burnett has a new plan for Hell that includes changing its image and relocation. He enlists the help of others and after an extensive search, they settle on New Jersey. He implements his plan to gather as many souls as possible. Meanwhile, Lucifer, with his wife Eve and Advocate Judas have arrived in Jersey to put an end to James’ plans. After several failed attempts to stop him, Lucifer turns to a higher power for help. The Jersey Devil is now available on Amazon streaming for only $1.99! (


Q:  What role do you play?


A: I play the role of Tori LaSalle, who is Burnett’s side kick Richard Cooper’s love interest. Did you catch all that? She is often mistaken as a stripper/exotic dancer but in reality she is a girl looking for love in all the wrong places.


Q:  How did you prepare for the role?


A: The role of Tori was a unique one in that she had to be likable by the audience but she was in fact in hell, so as a character she was flawed. I read the script several times, made my notes, did my usual character breakdown and spoke with the writer/director Joe Pepitone about how he imagined her. I think it’s important for any actor to bring the writer’s vision to life and having an open dialogue with Joe helped me greatly. He is truly an actor’s director and wants you to succeed which helps A LOT. I also watched some classic scenes from Married with Children, as aspects of the character Kelly Bundy reminded me of Tori. I memorize lines only before I go to sleep so you can say Joe’s script was my bed time story for many nights. I swear I have a method to my madness!


Q:  How is the movie different than other films set in Hell?


A: The Jersey Devil is not your stereotypical hell with fire/flames, crazy heat and people with horns running around. It’s also not a horror film so you don’t have any of the blood and gore you would see in that genre. It’s really a group of people who are living a fairly normal life in the afterlife. After all, normal life can in fact be hell at times (laughs).



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


A: My weekly work is shoe modeling. I do showroom, runway and fittings so that keeps me busy. It’s very similar to acting in that you are presenting yourself to an audience without using words. It’s still a show, but on a much smaller scale. I also just completed a children’s picture book called I Miss My Best Friend on pet loss, so I will be pitching to publishing companies over the next few months. My love for animals has driven me back to school, and I recently completed a certification in Canine Conditioning and Basic Massage. By next year, I plan to have my certification in Canine Hydrotherapy and will be opening up my own small business. Bonding with animals teaches you a lot about yourself and having compassion and vulnerability in my day to day and acting life.


Q: What is your strangest on set story?


A: There have been a few (laughs). So when we shot “JD” there were two blizzards within a week. I couldn’t stay overnight because of another work commitment and so everyone was placing bets that I would be a no show the next day on set. Only essential vehicles were allowed on the road, but I made it there (long story, don’t ask) and I was actually the first actor on set. That day we were shooting the end scene with the whole cast. Roy Nowlin, who plays Adam came out in a next to nothing outfit and let’s just say I was not expecting it. So there we all are in the middle of a blizzard on a random day in February pretending to be in hell. We are confronting Chris Mulkey who plays God and seeing Adam and Eve reunite for the first time while I’m protecting my latest boyfriend from being struck by the powers of God. I’d say it doesn’t get much stranger than that!



Q: Why is New Jersey a great place to film a movie?


A: I’m a Jersey girl through and through. I was born and raised here and currently live in the town I grew up in. People don’t give NJ the credit it deserves. I think there are so many facets to it and being a stone’s throw away from the hustle and bustle of Manhattan and yet easily accessible to the relaxation of the beach, we are very fortunate. NJ played its own character in this film. People always tell me I should have been a realtor because I really sell The Garden State.


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


A: When I was over at Atlantic Acting School, they emphasized the importance of treating acting as a business and being professional, on time and staying true to the writer’s written words. This has stuck with me and it’s advice I pass along to anyone interested in entering this crazy business.



Q: What famous role could you have nailed?


A: Well one of my acting idol’s is definitely Julia Roberts and I have watched Pretty Woman more times than I care to reveal in this interview. I don’t believe anyone could have topped her performance or had the chemistry she did with Richard Gere but it would have been a dream role for me.


Q:  If you could run hell for a day, what changes would you make?


A: Well hopefully I will never be in that situation because that would mean I was down there too, God forbid. (laughs, hoping you caught that pun) So let’s say I’m visiting for the day. I think I would line up a small group of people, let’s call them the “A listers”, who have been very well behaved since they arrived. Angels in hell of sorts.  I’d give them one chance to redeem themselves. I believe in second chances if someone is truly remorseful for what he/she has done so yeah another chance at life after life.


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 Musician And Director Mikhail Tank



Mikhail Tank is the founder of Darksoul Theater, a musician and a film director; here is a link to his website:


Q: What is Darksoul Theater?


A:  Darksoul Theatre is a trademarked entity of original psychological multi-media art, which I have been in the process of developing since age 12. This has included multiple written, recorded, and audio-visual works (some of which you can find on Amazon, iTunes and other quality internet sources). I have presented live shows in Japan, Canada, California, also the first virtual show via the Edinburgh Fringe (garnering BBC coverage). Additional notable moments include a Guinness Record, and a heartfelt approach which spans art and psychology as a form of creative inspiration and as a form of subjective spiritual healing.

Q: What kind of educational background do you have?


A:  I have a strong multi-level background in performance art, having started my education at a young age with personal coaches, later a Bachelor’s degree in the field, followed by schools, seminars and training with the likes of the Stella Adler Academy and the wonderful teacher/author, Gerry Cousins. I have also studied Jungian psychology extensively and presented (in part to Jung’s family) at the Art and Psyche conference, in Sicily (in 2015).

Q: What is a common misconception Americans have about Russia?


A: As an artist, I prefer not to discuss politics, misconceptions are generalizations and I specialize in a personalized ‘Soul approach’ rather than assuming what one culture sees and thinks about another. I can attest to the supposed fact that both cultures are absolutely brilliant in their own right.

Q: How would you describe your music?


A: The music is a Soulful spoken word, with an electronic backbeat, a form of positive possession in the key of Soul. My most recent work is distributed by The Orchard Music Group (parent company, Sony). I am interested in working with record labels to further my upcoming audio projects. An upcoming Halloween album, a collaboration with the multi-talented Brett Bibles, is currently in the works (see working cover art image).

Q: Who are some of your artistic influences?


A: My music tastes range, however some of my favorite music artists are: Irina Allegrova, the Empress of Russian Dramatic Pop, the late and truly great David Bowie, his Russian counter-part Valeri Leontiev, and the original music performance artists, Laurie Anderson and Grace Jones.
Q: What was Soul Photography about?


A: Soul Photography is an original concept which I presented in Tokyo, and later though Scotland (see:, it deals with storing positive memory energy within — through a distinct process (available on iTunes and Amazon, circa 2009). This is art which can inspire the depth of the Soul and has helped me during difficult times.

How does one set a “Restore point” for one’s soul?


A: Check out the Darksoul Theatre musical art album, Soul Photography for the artistic concepts placed therein. The secret is located in the art:

What is the “Dollar Baby Film Festival”?


A: Dollar Baby Film Festivals are worldwide events which are the sole screening mechanisms for Stephen King dollar baby films. It is a way to unite fans and create beautiful old-fashioned honeycombs of non-internet film enjoyment.

Q: How did you become involved with it?


A: I am grateful to have directed three official Dollar Baby films, based on stories written by the great Stephen King (whom I consider the Shakespeare of our time). The first two films have screened in multiple countries, appeared in a book about the subject, along with the first being nominated for a German Independence Award. You can find further information about these projects via the following links:

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


A:  I’m a student in the field of Jungian psychology, along with being an author, radio host, and creative consultant/director.

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 Author Don Ollsin


Don Ollsin is the author of Pathways to Healing, a Guide to Herbs, Ayurveda, Dreambody and Shamanism; here is a link to his website:


What inspired you to write Pathways to Healing?


A: The deep incredible experiences that my students were having in my classes. I wanted to make make them available to a larger audience. To that end I have also made them available as an e-book and I offer courses based on Pathways to Healing, a Guide to Herbs, Ayurveda, Dreambody and Shamanism over the Internet.


Q: What kind of research did you do?


A: Much of the research for my book was done through direct contact with my many teachers. I have been in the herbal field for almost 5 decades. My other research was working with my wonderful students.


Q:  What evidence did you discover in the research?


A: Given the right environment and guidance my students were able to access deep levels of healing, sometimes resulting in a complete transformation of their lives.


Q:  What is Ayurveda?


A: Ayurveda is the art and science of living. It is a system system based on nature. It over 5000 years old. It is as relevant today as it was in the past.


Q: What qualifies someone to be a shaman?


A: Training under a true shaman. I have had the great good fortune of being trained by native elder Ellen White.


Q:  What makes your book different from other books about natural healing and diet?


A: My book is different from many other books on natural healing in that it brings together the traditional deep systems of ayurveda, shamanisim and modern systems like process oriented psychology which was originally known as dreambody. This truly integrates the body mind and soul.


Q: What have you done to market your book?


A: Mostly my book has been available to my students and to people who find find my web sight.


Q: What is the best advice you can give to a new vegetarian?


A: Be sensible and do not follow any of the fad diets. Over my five decades of being in this field I have watched much many people destroy their health by following fanatic diets.. Also do not put diet ahead of kindness and enjoyment of life.


Q: You were a vegetarian chef. What is the secret to tasty vegetarian cookery?


A: The secret is in the ingredients. Great ingredients and a good cookbook can provide great vegetarian dishes.

Q:  What is your strangest work story?


A: “In long training you become one with the herbs. Connect your deepest feelings with the plant, your buddy, sister, brother or elder. How do you feel in the presence of the plant, playful, respectful, full\empty, joy\sorrow?” Ellen White.


Dorothy Mclean introduced me to this incredible learning and healing tool. She was one of the three founding members of the famous community called Findhorn, in Scotland. It was her work to tune into the plant spirits to get guidance on how to grow them. She would meditate on the different plants and then write down what they communicated. Through the plants’ guidance they grew incredible vegetables that attracted attention from all over the world. She taught the importance of writing down what you received. The act of writing worked to draw the plant’s energy into this world.

This is the art of awake dreaming. First we explore dreams of the plant domain. The practice of attuning is vital to the art of dreaming. You will learn this craft quickly with practice. This way of working with plants changed my life.

The beginning of the Herbal Healing Journey was marked by a very special event. It was the last evening of a series of evening classes I had been teaching. The students were doing their projects. The last student was my dear friend Stan Tomandl. He passed around a charcoal salve that he had made from the Devils Club plant. He asked us to place it anywhere on our body that needed healing or attention. Next he began a healing dance using two deer antlers. His dance was very entrancing and the class continued late into the evening.

Stan and I left for home in my red van. We took one look at each other and knew that we wanted to go further with the wonderful state we were experiencing. I suggested that we go to see my Oak tree in Beacon Hill park (a local park in Victoria, B.C., Canada) I call it my Oak tree as I had been doing intensive attunement work with it over the last few years. It was the first plant that I did an attunement with.

It was snowing as we drove into the park and parked my van. We got out and started for the tree. It was a magical night and the snow was gently falling through the giant oaks. We came over the crest of a small hill and my heart leapt into my throat. There laying on the ground was my friend, the oak tree. I was stunned. Next I saw this beautiful blue glow coming from the base of the tree where it had snapped.

As I approached the tree, there was an incredible female deva bathed in blue light, hovering just above the broken stump. I gazed at her in wonderment. She smiled and spoke to me. ” I called you here tonight to say goodbye. I could not leave without saying goodbye. Thank you for your love and friendship. I am now finished here and ready to move on. Goodbye.”

Three weeks later the first Herbal Healing Journey was begun. I have conducted many Herbal Healing Journey Intensives since 1986 and am now expanding it to include this present work.

Plants are powerful allies that share our world with us. They are there to offer us support, guidance and healing. Plants are the foundation of all systems of herbalism. You can tune into plants anywhere in the world.

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 Billie Tekel Elias

billie publicity photo

Billie Tekel Elias is the author of “Pearl’s Party…and you’re invited,” here is a link to her website:


Q: What is Pearl‘s Party about?
A: The book chronicles eight decades of my late mother’s escapades.  She was a voluptuous young divorcee in 1959 but she didn’t let the fact that she had a five year old deter her from living life to the max. She acquired many friends, including a loyal coterie of gay men, and could party with the best of them. It’s also about the “stuff” that she left behind. Since I thought I knew her well, I was surprised that I was able to learn even more after she was gone.

Q:  What makes your mother book-worthy?
A: She was larger than life, an indomitable force who wasn’t afraid to take risks. She’s a role model and inspiration to young women, mothers, friends, entrepreneurs, dog-lovers and anyone seeking the key to making life a party.

Q:  What was unique about her parenting style?
A: As a single mom, she balanced her own happiness with making my life special, too. Kind of like an oxygen mask on an airplane, you put your own on before you attempt to help your child. She exposed me to some pretty unconventional things like running a small business and seeing dogs being mated when I was fairly young. She was my earliest playmate and best friend for the rest of her life.

Q: What famous person would you compare her to?
A: She was like Auntie Mame, the madcap character based on Marion Tanner. Mother wasn’t as
eccentric or as bohemian as Mame Dennis — whose famous motto is “Life is a banquet and most poor sons of bitches are starving to death” —  but some of Pearl’s quotes have an equally forked tongue. Like Mame, whose  life was interrupted when the young son of her late brother arrives to live with her, Pearl had to make the adjustment in her own life to being young and single with a child in tow. “Don’t call me Mommy, call me Aunt Pearl,” she once famously said to me.

Q:  Why is music so important to the story?
A: From as far back as she could remember Pearl had a beautiful singing voice. Her parents had her cut a few personal records which got her a spot singing on the radio as a child. Throughout her life, music was woven into her fiber. Sunday mornings while I was growing up, Sid Mark’s Sinatra show played on our hi-fi. Other times recordings of Bobby Darin, Mel Torme or Billie Holiday serenaded us. If a comment or situation reminded her of a lyric, she would burst into song.  During one hospitalization her nurse was named Laura. “Laura is the face in the misty light, footsteps that you hear down the hall…..”

Q: What kind of a day jobs have you had how does it influence your writing?

A: My first career after grad school was as an Industrial Engineer. I sometimes had to write memos and reports that were methodical and involved technical material, but my management summaries had to be quickly and easily understood in plain English.  Today, I try to write in the clear voice that I hear playing in my head as I’m thinking. I enjoy researching, and so you’ll often find footnotes that build out my story by adding facts or historical information.

Q: You say you went to charm school. What do they teach you at charm school?

A: I have an entire passage in the book that delineates what they taught.  I was a little girl in training to be a young lady. Manners, sitting properly with hands in my lap, walking with good posture and pivoting, were a few of the things we were taught. The next step was to pursue a career in modeling, but I begged Pearl to let me stop because the windy road that led us there made me car sick.

Q: Who are some of your writing influences and why?

A: Edmund de Waal and Lucette Lagnado because they both wrote about people in their own family and the objects that were significant to them. In both their writing you almost feel as if you know the people depicted. They both made me feel that the objects we surround ourselves with and choose to keep for a lifetime inform who we are.

Q:  What has been the most effective thing you have done to promote your book?

A: Face to face enthusiasm has worked best. When I run into Pearl’s friends (and my own) or our relatives, I share some tidbits from the book with them and encourage them to buy a copy on the spot. I always have copies on hand so they get instant gratification.

Q: If your mom were in her 20’s today, who would be some of her favorite singers?

A: Michael Buble, Adele or Lady Gaga.   Pearl’s ear was finely tuned and she didn’t like people with thin voices who screeched or didn’t use their vocal chords and breathing to produce a good quality sound.

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 Valley Speak Authors Rochelle Kopp and Steve Ganz


video-shoot-5 with Steve.jpg


Rochelle Kopp and Steve Ganz are the co-authors of the book Valley Speak: Deciphering the Jargon of Silicon Valley; here is a link to their website:


Q: What inspired you to write Valley Speak?


Rochelle:  It was originally a suggestion from someone I know in the Japanese publishing industry. I had published a general introduction to U.S. business buzzwords for Japanese businesspeople, and he thought that a Silicon Valley-specific version would be helpful for all the Japanese coming to do business here. The publisher of the first book agreed it was a great idea. I asked Steve to work on it with me, and soon into the research we realized that there wasn’t any guide to Silicon Valley jargon in English, so we thought let’s do this book in English too.


Steven: I was happy to work with Rochelle on this project, because I think there’s a real need for this sort of resource.  People have trouble learning the jargon.  Also, although the way people here talk can sometimes be humorous, there’s a lot of value in how things are done in the community here, and I’d like to see more people be part of that.



Q:  With as rapidly as technology changes, isn’t it awfully hard to keep up with valley speak?


Rochelle:  It’s very hard. Steve and I are both news junkies, we do a ton of reading to keep up on what’s going on and new words emerging. Our house has way too many piles of magazines and newspapers laying around.


Steven: What’s hard to keep up with is the technology.  Knowing the language makes following the technology as well as the culture easier.  And not knowing the language makes it harder to grasp the underlying ideas and issues.  So although learning the vocabulary may seem like an imposing task, we think it’s the easiest way to get oriented to what’s going on here.



Q:  You had a successful Kickstarter campaign for this book. What advice would you give to someone who wanted to start their own Kickstarter campaign?


Steven: Don’t underestimate the amount of work required.  It takes a lot of effort to set everything up, and much more effort to promote it.  It would be nice if merely being on their site were sufficient to get the word out, but I don’t think it usually works that way.


Rochelle:  Doing a Kickstarter was a great experience, but it was very time consuming. Be prepared to sink a lot of energy into it. Social media is very important, and looking back on it I would have gotten our social media accounts, especially Twitter, up and running much farther in advance so that we would have had more runway to get the word out about our project.



Q:  What kind of day jobs do you guys have and how does it influence your creative work?


Steven: I’m developing a technology startup called Teamifier that will provide a new way for people to work together in generating ideas.  I do consider that to be creative work—every bit as creative as the book, which is mostly documenting existing language and ideas, although doing so in our own way.


Rochelle: I’m self-employed as a management consultant, working with Japanese companies doing business in the U.S. and American firms doing business in Japan. I speak fluent Japanese and lived and worked in Tokyo for several years. I’ve always enjoyed writing, and I do a lot of writing in my work whether it’s reports or emails or books—I’ve done a bunch of books aimed at helping Japanese businesspeople do business in the U.S. This project is fun for me because it’s breaking out of my usual niche to do something that is aimed at a broader audience.



Q:  Why should I want to speak like a Silicon Valley insider?


Rochelle: You would probably only want to speak like one if you were doing business here. But since Valley Speak is creeping into business vocabulary overall, it’s helpful to know for understanding business coverage in the news media and more and more general business conversations.


Steven: There are cliques in any environment, and we all bond through common understanding and experience, so yes, speaking like an insider is most important if you’re working with people here.  But the most fundamental answer is that if you don’t know the language, you don’t get to have a voice in the relevant discussions.



Q:  You each have a very impressive educational background. (Rochelle graduated from The University of Chicago and Steven from Wharton.) What elements do you think are essential for a good business school?


Steven: Business doesn’t change as fast as technology, but it does change, and often because of technology.  For example, crowdfunding wasn’t even part of the curriculum when we were studying business, but with the advent of websites like Kickstarter and Circleup it has become an important element in the set of tools by which startups get funded and its rules are changing quickly now.  The most important things for education to provide are a basis for gathering more information, and a network of people who can help each other as you confront new challenges.  This is true in business and in other fields as well.  Schools are increasingly seeing themselves as providing value to a more diverse group over a longer time frame.  Our book covers some of the recent advances in education, including MOOCs, which allow many more people to benefit from instruction.


Rochelle: Right now there is a lot of soul-searching going on among business schools about that exact question. I got my MBA back in the time of a more “classic” curriculum, and it wasn’t as practical as I had hoped it would be. In response to these concerns, business schools have been experimenting recently with more hands-on, applied classes and other ways to make sure they are relevant. I think an ideal business school curriculum would include good grounding in the concepts of business (like marketing, accounting, financial analysis, etc.), interpersonal skills polishing, and labs for getting real-world experience. But I’m not sure whether one really needs to go to business school today in order to get those — one could probably learn a lot of the same things with a combination of some MOOCs and volunteer work, or doing a startup and going through an accelerator. It depends what your goals are. There are still some jobs that you have to have an MBA for though.



Q:  How realistic is the show Silicon Valley?


Steven: Some of the plot elements have parallels in things that have happened in real life—a VC did actually compare protests against and demonization of the rich in the U.S. to the Nazi persecution of Jews, and an Apple engineer left an iPhone prototype at a bar not far from where we live.  So sometimes, fiction really can’t do any better than fact. Dan Lyons, a Silicon Valley writer, recently wrote a non-fiction book about his experience working at a tech startup, which makes that point quite clearly.


Many of the concepts that are covered in the series are quite realistic.  Of course, the rapidity with which they are experienced on TV surpasses even Silicon Valley’s fast-moving standard.


Rochelle: Indeed, the writers do take a lot of pains to make the story reflect the things that really happen here. But the way the story lines play out is often over-the-top and exaggerated.  I loved Sex and the City, and I think that Silicon Valley has a similar kind of humor—take something realistic and then blow it out of proportion until it’s hilarious, but still has that grain of truth.


What often does seem extremely realistic though are the details. Some of the things that the guys on the show do — like correcting someone’s word usage mid-sentence or being very particular about picking just the right lemon off a tree — are not unusual for detail-oriented, logical programmers and Steve definitely tends to do things like that! Dinesh and Gilfoyle in particular really feel like people I’ve met in real life.


Steven: All of the startups I’ve been involved with have been far more professional than the one portrayed in the show, but they also had older founders.  I’d also say that some of the extreme competitiveness portrayed, although real, is only telling half the story.  Most people here really do want to make the world a better place and often do collaborate openly; I don’t think that aspect gets across in the show (probably because it wouldn’t make for as good entertainment).



Q:  What are some of the biggest mistakes you see newbies make when they first come to Silicon Valley?


Rochelle:  Silicon Valley is filled with fascinating people who have lots of interesting ideas. A newcomer can easily be bedazzled by that. The thing is, a lot of those people who sound so great are just good talkers, and might not have a lot of substance or follow-through behind the shiny exterior. You have to be careful.


Steven: Well, an obvious one is the dress.  It’s very casual here.  Knowing what to wear may be even harder than knowing what to say!


Rochelle: Maybe that will be our next book! Silicon Valley Style (or lack thereof)!


Steven: More generally, there’s a mixing of personal and professional life that may not be obvious to those from outside.  And just because something looks casual, it isn’t necessarily. It’s important for newcomers to keep in mind that meetings in coffee shops can be every bit as important as those in offices.



Q:  What is the oddest thing you have heard anyone say in a meeting?


Steven: As is common in Silicon Valley, we do various forms of work and have done other joint projects together in the past.  In a meeting with a prospective recruiting client, we were once asked how we find candidates—presumably to enable them to go around us and do it themselves!  This was clearly an attempt at the sort of “brain rape” portrayed on the TV show.


Rochelle: Needless to say, we avoided answering that one.


Q:  Please tell me how I can best promote my blog in Valley Speak.


Rochelle & Steven: is where rockstars, ninjas, gurus, and thought leaders share their game-changing artistic ideas and define their personal brands. Eliza’s interview questions are the secret sauce that help the blog reach a huge Total Addressable Market. It’s where you need to go to get the scoop on the latest content that is poised to go viral!

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 Author Gus Kearney


Gus Kearney is the author of The Education of Joey G.; here is a link to the books Amazon page:


Q:  What is The Education of Joey G. about?


A: The novel shows the growth of the protagonist, Joey Garden, as he grows from a young boy of six until he reaches young adulthood at seventeen. Joey deals with risk taking and independence as a six year old. How to differentiate himself from group mores and peer pressure at age eleven. At fourteen, Joey begins to learn how to handle his burgeoning sexuality through his infatuation with a girl three years older than himself. The final and by far the most complex section has Joey as a senior in high school, an “A” student and member of the basketball team, who confronts racism, political corruption, his dysfunctional parents, a large family secret and his own failings as a person to try to become the person he wants to be.


Q:  What inspired you to write the book?


A:  I started writing about my old hometown of Lansdowne, PA in an exercise at a writer’s workshop in Marin County, CA. Once I began, the material started to flow. The first piece was about a wooded area with a creek running through it that I spent hours and hours playing in as a child. I then expanded it into a story about a group of eleven year old boys told from Joey’s point of view. After this tale, which I called “The Jungle.” i thought it would be an interesting idea to show Joey at various ages as he grew up and I added three more sections.


Q:  What sets it apart from other 50s and 60s memoirs?


A: Firstly, the story is fictional with some autobiographical elements, but does not qualify as a memoir. I think what sets the novel apart from similar tales is the re-creation of a southeastern Pennsylvania outside of Philadelphia. I also believe that Joey G. evokes the 50s in very clear and distinct ways. Joey changes in each section in age appropriate ways. He really IS the age in which he is portrayed in each different section. Joey’s family is dysfunctional, which is not unusual, but in a very idiosyncratic ways. There is also a lot of material about the perplexities of playing on sports team and being an academically advanced student.


Q:  What makes Joey a memorable character?


A:  Joey is an extremely intelligent boy, often much more so than the people around him. He is a deep thinker who frequently muses about serious life issues throughout the novel. Beset with numerous challenges and problematic situations, Joey responds with resilience, perseverance, insight and courage. Joey is basically a good kid with many strengths as well as flaws, who becomes more and more heroic as the story evolves. Unlike Holden Caulfield, Joey finds ways to face the challenges of a corrupt and imperfect world without recoiling into isolation.


Q: What have you found is the most important way to market the book?


A:  The best way so far is by doing readings. In the beginning of October, I flew from California to Lansdowne where I did a reading in the Lansdowne Theater which is presently being refurbished, and sold fifty books. other readings were very successful as well.


Q:  What are some books you enjoyed reading and what made them enjoyable?


A: I grew up in the 50s. My family didn’t get a television until I was eight years old. By that time, I was hooked on reading. I also have a B.A. and M.A. in English. So I’ve read literally thousands of books over the years. I like books that are both intellectually stimulating and that also evoke strong emotion. Books I put in that category are: Moby Dick, Crime and Punishment, A Hundred Years of Solitude, Ulysses, The Great Gatsby and many many more.


Q:  What are some of your writing influences and how are they evidenced in your book?


A: The two major influences were Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce and The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger.  Portrait is a work of sheer genius showing the growth of Stephen Daedalus from an infant to a young man in his early twenties. Certainly this book is the template for all coming of age stories. The beauty of the language, the complex structure of the book, the knowledge of humanity, the underlying ideas make this an enduring masterpiece, I’ve drown from in many ways but mainly in showing Joey Garden go through the various stages of childhood and how a sensitive young man deals with the perplexities and corrupting influences of human society. What I most admire about Catcher is Salinger’s ability to create a totally believable and indelible boy caught in the throes of adolescence. I hope I matched Salinger’s achievement in a small way in the last section of Joey G., “Just a Game.”


Q: You were an English Teacher for many years. What was the biggest challenge about working within the California public school system?


A: The biggest challenge by far was in deal with the deterioration of the public schools after passage of Proposition 13 in 1978 to the present day. This voter’s initiative froze property taxes on structures built before 1978. As a result, California went from being third in the country for per pupil spending to forty-third. Colleges became far more expensive and out of reach for poorer students. Facilities fell into disrepair; salaries stagnated. The people of California basically abandoned their young people by passing this devastating and short-sighted bill. It was heart breaking.


Q: What was your most memorable work story?


A: By far, it was the establishment of Rooftop School, a San Francisco public elementary school, with six other teachers in 1972. Rooftop celebrated its fortieth anniversary in 2012. A very popular, highly sought after program, the school has maintained high academic standards, creative teaching methods, and a family atmosphere to provide thousands of students with great memories and a top rate education.


Q:  What literary character do you think Joey would admire and why?


A: Hamlet, as shown in the book. Joey identifies with the Hamlet’s procrastination in achieving his goals which is similar to his own emotional paralysis. He also admires Hamlet’s complex mind and philosophical ruminations.

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 Cindy Lynch




Cindy Lynch is the author of Bye For Now; here is a link to her website:


Q: What is Bye For Now about?


A:  My first novel entitled Bye For Now is the first installment in a young adult series. The story begins with Callie, the book’s main character, a woman, presently in her midyears. She is our narrator. During a quiet moment of mundane daily activity, as Callie is partially attuned to TV, a real life American tragedy begins to play out on the screen. It’s a traumatic—a horrific—event with unspeakable impacts on the human psyche. To escape the horror on the TV, Callie’s subconscious triggers the narrative and the book’s story commences to unfold, in detail.


Callie’s escape into her subconscious takes her back to her high school years. She’s on summer vacation at her grandparent’s lakeside cottage in northern Vermont, within spitting distance of the Canadian frontier. Life is slow. Life is rich. Pastoral Vermont scenes are carefully crafted with vivid imagery straight out of Callie’s memories of her youth. There’s the first hot flush of young love. There are soul nourishing family scenes of meals and recreational events. Each character is carefully painted in true-to-life brush strokes.

The character descriptions validate the youth Callie has experienced. There is special emphasis on the power of family connection to influence our future life in positive, uplifting ways. Later on, as Callie matures and the tale flows into her college years, troubling events are resolved in ways that hark back to the power and influence of her early family life. As the story proceeds, the pace picks up and the emotions conveyed take a tighter grip on the reader’s attention. Intensity grows as awkward social situations are recalled and irreconcilable adult enigmas are replayed.

Q: What makes Callista an empathetic character?


A: Callista, or Callie as her friends know her, tends to wear her heart on her sleeve. Everything in her life, whether good, bad or indifferent tend to cause tears to form. She blames her mother for that character trait but this is what I find so endearing. She truly feels emotions for other people. Being Empathetic creates strong, bonding relationships in her life.

Q: What was the most challenging thing about writing a story that had to do with repressed memory?


A: There were several challenging things about writing this story. I have had the body of the story in my head since I was 14 years old but just didn’t know how to start it. While talking with a fellow writer and friend, Sharisse Coulter, about the horrific events that occurred at Sandy Hook Elementary School, goosebumps formed on my arm. Sharisse pointed at my arm and said, “I believe you have the start to your story.” Since the beginning is an almost identical recreation of how I found out about the tragedy, it was pretty easy to write it into the story. Because it was such a sensitive subject I worried how friends in Newtown would react to my writing it into my fiction. I worry more now, because I continue this thread into my second book, Even Willows Weep.

Q: Who are some of your writing influences and why?


A: I believe V.C. Andrews somehow influenced my writing. I was a huge fan of her books when I was younger. Now as an adult I am more influenced by Nicholas Sparks. He has managed to get the formula right. Somehow he draws me into each of his stories and I become part of each scene; seeing, smelling, feeling everything he is describing.


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


A: I’m a stay at home mom of three boys. I was a teacher for 9 years but when my first son was born I retired to raise my kids. Luckily my husband, John, has a great job at Show Me Cables here in St. Louis which allows me to do what I’ve always wanted to do and that is to write fiction. I’m very lucky that he’s supportive of my passion for writing.


Q: You are from the Sandy Hook area in Connecticut, do you think the community has been portrayed fairly by the media?


A: After December 14, 2012 I was worried for the towns people of Sandy Hook. When the media invaded the beautiful town I grew up in I worried that would disrupt their lives and may show badly. I should not have worried. The first few weeks dealing with loss pulled the community together. I believe they are stronger and more committed to one another because of it, so yes, I believe they were portryaed fairly. What I saw was compassion, empathy, and love for their neighbors. Banding together to remove the media and drawing closer to collectively mourn. I’m extremely proud to say that I lived there.

Q: What is the most successful thing you have done to promote your book?


A: I think speaking to book clubs has been the most successful thing I have done to promote my book.

Q:  What makes you want to read an e-book?


A: I have my book available on Kindle but I have to say I’m not a fan of e-books. I downloaded one from Nicholas Sparks a few years back and I had a difficult time enjoying the experience. I’m one that likes the feel of the book in my hands. The tactile sensation of turning each page, the smell of the print, and viewing the images on the cover makes for a much more pleasurable experience.

Q: What are you working on now?


A: Right now I’m finishing up book two, Even Willows Weep, the second installment of this trilogy. It will be available in May, 2016 on my website,, or As mentioned above it’ll be available in Kindle form as well. I’ve also begun working on my first non-fiction book.

Q: What do you do when you nave writers block?


A: When I have writers block I tend to walk away from the computer and exercise. I do my best thinking in a spin class, swimming laps or running. Something about exercise pushes my brain into overdrive and somehow I have several ideas when I finish up. Usually having to run to my phone or a notebook to write down the ideas before they vanish.


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