Category: writers

An Interview With Singer Tia McGraff

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Tia McGraff is a singer who recently released the album Stubborn In My Blood; here is a link to her website:

https://www.tiamcgraff.com/

 

 

Q:  When did you know you wanted to be a singer?

A: I won the Canadian Country Singing Contest Female Open Category when I was 19 years old. The prize included cash (used it to buy my first guitar) and free recording time at a studio in Niagara Falls, ON. I  wrote my first song, Mister with my new guitar and recorded it in the studio. We decided to release it to Canadian country radio and soon I was getting noticed. I even got a call from a CBC tv show in Toronto and was on the show with Johnny Cash and June Carter. I was hooked on the music industry and knew that’s what I wanted to do with my life.

Q:  Which of your songs is the most personal?

A: Let ‘Em See Your Strong is a song of courage and inner strength. Overcoming toxic relationships. Something I’ve had to do in my life.

Q:  What do most people not understand about the Nashville music scene?

A: you need to  be patient and consistant. Stay true to your talent and find a way to set yourself apart.

Q: What is your weirdest back stage story?

A: I really don’t have one. I have always tried to keep things back stage clear and drama free. No one who shouldn’t be there. I also learned early in my career, from being in theatre I suppose, that you get on and off stage without lingering back stage.

 

Q: What kinds of day jobs have you had in your life and how did they influence your music?

A: I worked at the Country Music Hall of Fame in Nashville. It was great listening and learning about all the history and stories behind the stars fame. It helped me see that everyone of them came from a beginning in their career and worked hard for their success.

Q: How did you and your partner Tommy Parham meet?

A: In Nashville. I had moved there from Canada and he had moved there from L.A. We were introduced by his music publisher to write together. The rest is history.

Q: What is the overall theme of the album “Stubborn In My Blood?”

A: Stubborn In My Blood The title track is about my family/where they came from/diversity/strength/dreams/etc. Sums up the message of the album

Q: What are some successful things you have done to promote yourself?

A: Social Networking is so important in today’s music scene. In fact, I have tried to keep up with it myself, but due to our touring schedule and writing appointments, I have found it necessary to hire a social media person to handle my gig posts etc. She is amazing, and it helps me keep up with the things I need to take care of, while my fans feel they are in the loop of everything.

Q: What are some of the pitfalls you have experienced in the music business?

A: rejection, being too unique…….

Q: If you had the chance to perform with any music legend, who would it be?

A: Dolly Parton. I am involved with donating a portion of my book sales to our local chapter of the Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library. She is just an incredible aritst, business person and human being

 

 

 

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 Author Mitchell Thompson

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Mitchell Thompson is the author of “Introspective Rationale: The Odyssey of Theodicy; here is a link to his website:

 

 

https://www.irot.me

 

Q: What is “Introspective Rationale.”  about?

 

A: Introspective Rationale is a nonfiction historical narrative that journeys the reader on a quest in understanding the deeper connection between major worldly religions and their historical context. These intimate connections, once revealed, display certain commonalities in both ethics and ideology. Such ideological parallels can be further understood in their application within modern science and mathematics – namely quantum mechanics. For example, there exists many numerological significance in ancient scripture; numbers of meaning that translate within modern fields of scientific study. One must first understand the history of both religion and science before gaining a deeper insight on their dualistic partnership.

 

Q: What made you want to write a book about individual subjectivity versus the objectivity of the universe?

 

A: For much of our lives, societal individuals are plagued with a yearning for instant gratification. Before I began writing my book, I was helping my mother take care of her bed-ridden father who was dying of dementia. This man, though my grandfather, was estranged to me and my family. He had not approved of my mother marrying a man of color. In taking care of him, we inevitably grew to bond. It was during this bonding that I began to realize how my subjective perception of our relationship (or lack thereof) was irrelevant in the face of our objective kinship. I began to notice certain traits of myself within him – even at the height of his dementia. I had never had a grandfather; for my Dad’s father had passed before I was born. However, the wisdom I learned from my estranged grandfather granted me new insight within the nature of myself. This experience inspired me to write about the concept of dissolving the ego: to differentiate the importance of both individual objectivity and subjectivity.

 

Q: What kind of educational background do you have?

 

A: I went to public school, and finished in the top percent of my high school class. Upon graduating, I began to attend a prestigious college in William Jewell College where I sought to triple major in Engineering, Physics, and Mathematics. Because I attained many college credit hours in high school, I developed a keen understanding for higher level mathematics and dimensional reasoning as only a college freshman. As it pertains to writing, I have always loved doing so but more as a hobby. I took many advanced placement literature classes in high school, as well as college English, so my informal writing has some formal foundations.

 

Q: What kind of research did you do for your book?

 

A: Comparing and contrasting hours of work in studying between my own research in writing IROT and that of obtaining a doctorate in philosophy:

 

Undergrad

120 credit hours required

16 week semester

15 credit hours per semester

30 hours of work a week (6 hours a day)

16 x 30 = 480 hours of work per semester

8 semesters of schooling (BA/BS)

8 x 480 = 3,840 hours of total work

2 years of Masters (MA)

15 credit hours

30 hours of work a week (6 hours a day)

4 semesters of schooling

4 x 480 = 1920 hours of work total

(1920 + 3840 = 5,760 hours of total work between BA/BS and MA)

PhD

120 credit hours (generally required)

16 week semester

15 credit hours a week

30 hours of work a week (6 hours a day)

16 x 30 = 480 hours of work per semester

8 semesters of schooling (PhD)

8 x 480 = 3,840 hours of work total

3,840 + 5,760 = 9,600 hours of total work to obtain PhD

 

Research/writing for IROT

41 months total

14 months of stagnant

27 months “hardcore”

14 months of stagnant

4 hours a day (maximum)

5 days a week

20 hours of work a week

14 months = 61 weeks

61 x 20 = 1,220 hours of total stagnant work

27 months “hardcore

“Hardcore”: 12 hours a day, 6 day’s a week (minimum), 72 hours a week

12 hours of work a day

6 days a week

72 hours of work a week

27 months =  117 weeks of hardcore work

117 x 72 = 8,424 hours of “hardcore” work

41 months total

1,220 + 8,424 = 9,644 total hours of work for writing IROT

 
Q: How would you define elevated consciousness?

 

A: Elevated consciousness is the state of being that exists ahead of the ego. When one dissolves the ego, they are able to attain an elevated state of awareness. A conscientious state that can differentiate between objective requirements and subjective desirements.

 

Q: How does one attain this consciousness?

 

A: One attains elevated consciousness by dissolving the ego. The ego is the subjective sense of self. In rationalizing the introspective process, one is able to step away from the ego’s deceptive perception and see reality in an objective light.

 

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

 

A: I have made both a website and a Facebook author profile page.

 

https://www.facebook.com/mitchellgthompson

 

https://www.irot.me

 

 

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

 

A: I work two jobs: a morning gig and an afternoon gig. The morning job is at a supply warehouse, while the afternoon job is as a kickboxing instructor. The morning job forces me to wake up at 4 AM everyday, which gives me the discipline needed to write on days I don’t feel like writing. The kickboxing instructor position has allowed me to work with a myriad of different people – allowing me insight into many minds of varying beliefs. Such insight influences the way I write in appealing to a general audience.

 

Q: What philosophers have had the most influence on your work?

 

A: I know very little on many different philosophers. I am a master of some and an expert of none. However, of all that I’ve adopted from, Friedrich Nietzsche and Baruch Spinoza were perhaps the most influential.

 

Q: If you could elevate the consciousness of any famous person, who would it be and why?

 

A: Hmm… perhaps Kanye West. Mainly because he seems to have the right idea in certain ideals, but is lost in translating most of his thoughts through an egocentric lens of insanity. Most people of social and monetary affluence attain such fame due to their evolving of the ego rather than dissolving.

 

 

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 Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg

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Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg is a former Poet Laureate of Kansas and the author of the novel, Miriam’s Well; here is a link to her website:

 

http://www.carynmirriamgoldberg.com/

 

 

Q: When did you know you were a poet?

A: As a child, I was hard-wired to make things, and I started out as a visual artist, drawing and painting all the time. When I was 14, and my parents were in the middle of a long-winded and horrendous divorce, I found I needed words, so I switched on a dime from art to poetry. Luckily, I soon found a great mentor in my high school English teacher, who took me under her wing and guided me to great poets. She also encouraged my poetry and my life as a poet. We recently reconnected, and I’m so grateful to her. Over the years, I expanded to writing fiction, memoir, non-fiction, songs, and much more.

Q: What is Miriam’s Well about?

A: Miriam’s Well is  a novel that traces a modern day Exodus of Miriam, somewhat from biblical fame (she was Moses’ sister), but set in America from 1965 onward as she searches for her people and place. She is very purpose-driven, knowing she’s alive to feed, help, reach out, and making joy with people, particularly people facing big challenges, so it’s no wonder that she keeps finding herself at the center of major events that shape our country, such as People’s Park in 1969, Wounded Knee in 1973, the AIDS crisis in San Francisco in the 1980s, the Oklahoma City bombing, 9/11, and so many other events. She also, through her wandering the desert of our times, finds bits and pieces of the promised land, sometimes in places at the edge of America, literally in the case of an island she lives on off the coast of Maine and earlier on, her days in Key West, but also in communities on the edge. She lives in an ecovillage in North Carolina, in the middle of a very rural area in extreme west Texas, and in a small town in Idaho along the way. Her calling is continually make meals, music, and miracles.

Q: What made you chose “Exodus” as the model for your story?

A: I was always drawn to the story of the Exodus, especially Miriam’s role. She saves her brother Moses’ life by putting him a basket and sending him down the Nile, and she’s credited with leading the women singing and dancing through the desert. There’s also a biblical story about Miriam’s well, a mythical well that springs up from something Miriam does with a stone whenever the wandering Jews land some place new. That well allows the people to feed themselves, so it’s no wonder that my Miriam is both a singer and a cook. Mostly, I wanted to explore how we are always searching for the promised land in ourselves and our communities, and in many ways, we are always wandering too.

Q:  You teach writing at Goddard College. What are some of the things you want your students to take away from the classes that you teach?

A: I teach in the Goddard Graduate Institute, and it’s a low-residency program in which students self-design their own studies. So there are no classes per se, and I work with students — after they attend an 8-day residency to plan our their semester’s studies — long-distance, reading their work, and helping them go deeper into their best ways of learning and applying their learning to the real world. I teach writing, but much more since we’re an interdisciplinary program in which students study what calls to them most. For example, I have one student now studying spiritual memoir, another writing a thesis about how good health is related to the gut, and another planning a school on mindful outdoor leadership. I love the variety. What I want for my students is what I want for everyone: that we find our callings and also coalesce strong communities around us to help us move toward what’s most meaningful in our lives.

Q: What are some pitfalls that writers should avoid?

A: I think there’s a fallacy that writers need to suffer, especially from writer’s block, which I don’t believe in. If you’re stuck as a writer on a particular project, it just means you need more time or new perspective or that there’s something else calling for you to write. If writers can reframe the torturous myths that they must grapple with writer’s block into a much more life-giving story that, to quote poet Theodore Roethke, “we learning by going where we have to go,” then writers can open their art and lives up to new possibilities and likely far more strong writing.

Q: What are your feelings about the latest trend of open mic story telling?

A: I think story slams and the rise of lots of story podcasts are wonderful! They get us looking for meaningful moments in our lives, then finding the language to convey the power of those moments. I listen to This American Life, The Moth, and other podcasts regularly, and I’ve been running with professional storytellers for many years, so I’m delighted to see this trend taking off. Then again, this may be a trend, but storytelling is at the very root of language and the oral tradition.

Q:  You were the Poet Laureate of Kansas. How were you selected for the honor?

A: I was both nominated and applied, and it ended up that while I was poet laureate, the governor eliminated the Kansas Arts Commission, which held the poet laureate program, so I was suddenly floating. Then again, the governor’s office didn’t ask me to step down, so I organized my own projects, did crowd-sourcing to raise funds for my travel, and had the privilege of working with writers around our state to hold readings and publish books. The whole experience allowed us all to speak out and up for the arts. In the end, I was able to find a new home for our poet laureate program with our humanities council, and the program has been going strong there every since.
Q: What are some of the key elements of a good poem?

A: Strong imagery and compelling rhythm are at the root of good poetry as well as strong fiction and memoir.

Q: Who are some of your writing influences and how is this evidenced in your writing?

A: I love a wide variety of writers — poets like Adrienne Rich and William Stafford, the novelist Toni Morrison, non-fiction writers like James McBride and Terry Tempest Williams. I’m not sure how my influences are reflected in my writing, but I believe writers need to read widely and deeply in many genres.

Q: How has your writing style evolved over the years?

A:  I started out as a very mediocre poet in my teens, and hopefully, I learned more since then. I have moved to speaking more directly, focusing more on my images rather than telling the reader what something means, and letting the writing lead me — and hopefully readers too — toward its own vitality that can speak to our lives.

 

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 Chris Hoover

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Chris Hoover is the co-author of the book, How We Got Trumped; here is a link to the Amazon page:

 

https://www.amazon.com/dp/1983873772/ref=cm_sw_r_fa_awdo_t1_VU0xAbCDS60JN

 

Q: What made you want to write a book about Donald Trump?

 

A: He needed to be exposed for the terrible corrupt, things he has done in his life, and during his Presidency.

 

Q: What sets your book apart from all the other books about him?

 

A: Ours is a historical rendering that layers his life in unison with the past 60 years of American History.

 

Q: What kind of research did you do for the book?

 

A: There was about 200 hours of research done between Brad Lockwood and myself, and we have over 400 verifiable sources in the book as a result.

 

Q: What are some of the facts in the book that you think will shock even the most avid trump hater?

 

A: The fact that he and his father were gifted favor’s by the New York City that amounted to over 100 Million dollars, spanning over three decades of time, between 1970 and 2000.

 

Q: What kind of day job do you have and how did it effect your ability to write a book?

 

A: I am a remodeling contractor and I was out of work, evacuated due to the massive fires in California during the writing of this book. I was not able to work, on my scheduled construction projects and so I put all my energy into the finishing of this book over the Holiday Season of 2017.  Typically, I would have been working 8 to ten hour days, on my construction projects, and then another 6-8 hours each night.  However, because of the fires, I was able to focus my attention on the completion of this book for the final 6 weeks of 2017.

 

Q: What do you think the mainstream media is overlooking in their coverage of the Trump administration?

 

A: The amount of days he actually works, Vs the days he is spending on the Golf Course.

 

Q: Why do you think anyone would vote for Trump?

 

A: Not a Clue in the World!

 

Q: How do you think Trump got into Wharton and how was he able to graduate?

 

A: Donald J Trump got into Wharton because of the contacts his father had on the board of directors at Wharton, and it was also this favoritism that surely helped him to graduate.

 

Q: Do you think the Democrats should compromise and give Trump his wall to save DACA?

 

A:  I believe that DACA is a beneficial Policy that should not be sacrificed under any circumstances.  I also believe the wall, would only bring more extremely negative attention to America, and that the building of it should be avoided at all costs.

 

Q: What do you think will be Trump’s ultimate downfall?

 

A:  He will most likely be impeached, based on his recent actions spanning over his first year as the President of the USA.

 

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 M.T. Bass

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M.T. Bass is the author of Murder by Munchausen; here is a link to his website:

 

http://www.mtbass.net/

 

Q: What is Murder by Munchausen about?

 

A: Technology run amuck—but what’s new about that, right? Well, in the near future, artificial intelligence and robotics have converged. Siri, Alexa and Cortana are not just voices in pods that sit on the coffee table eavesdropping on your life and fetching stuff from the Internet. They have extremely human like bodies – in fact, they are called synthetic humanoids, synthoids for short – and act as “Personal Services Assistants” to free us from dirty jobs and menial chores out in “meatspace.” Of course, mankind being mankind, there are those among us who hijack that technology for ill intent and profit, turning synthoids into contract killers. The police unit that tracks down the hackers and repos the murderous ‘bots is the Artificial Crimes Unit.

 

Q: What inspired you to write the book?

 

A: It’s never just one thing with me. Zombie stories being done to death – so to speak – gave me pause to ponder what other incarnate form evil could take. At the same time, guys like Elon Musk and Bill Gates are warning us that artificial intelligence will be the end of life as we know it. Suddenly, I had a vision in my head of the police take down of an android assassin which opens the book. And from there the story started writing itself. The first two installments of the opening trilogy are done.  Murder by Munchausen came out in April of this year and number two, The Darknet, will be released February 2, 2018.  I’m working on the “compelling conclusion” now.

 

Q: There have been a lot of novels based on Jack the Ripper; what makes your book different?

 

A: I’m not trying to retell the story of Jack the Ripper so much as I am using it to tell my story. Spoiler alert – Jack might not be the only serial killer involved in the series.

 

Q: What makes Jake worth reading about?

 

A: Jake is a good cop, but not a do-gooder. His willingness to bend the rules to save his partner Maddie’s career got him reassigned—in his mind, exiled—to the Artificial Crimes Unit. So he’s not a techno-wiz, but just a regular guy stuck in a strange new world and trying to make the best of it.

 

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

 

A: I’m a self-employed sales rep for electro-mechanical component manufacturers who sell into the aerospace, medical and industrial automation markets.  It doesn’t so much influence my writing as it feeds the beast by getting me out from behind my desk and into the real world with lots of impressions of people, places and (yawn) corporate drama. At one point, I managed twenty-five states and five Canadian provinces.  I got a lot of writing done sitting in a United Airlines aluminum tube at thirty-five thousand feet on my way from here to there and back again.

 

 

Q: What is the biggest difference between your books and those of Philip K. Dick?

 

A: I might be admitting blasphemy, but I’ve not read Philip K. Dick. I may have seen the original  Blade Runner when it came out, but it’s a far faded memory. Once I got into writing the Munchausen series, I didn’t want to bring similar stories into my head.  There’s probably more Elmore Leonard or Michael Connelly in the books than the usual Sci-Fi suspects.

 

Q: What kind of formal training have you had?

 

A: I was an English major and a Philosophy major at Ohio Wesleyan University. My focus of study in the English Department was creative writing under novelist and poet Robert Flanagan (http://www.robertflanagan.com).  My senior thesis for my Philosophy major was on the metaphysical aspects of language – like why Eskimos have so many more words for snow than anybody else.  After I got out of school, I just wrote and wrote and wrote and kept writing to this day.

 

With regards to self-publishing, though, my first job out of college was supervising the Text Editing Center at the phone company where we prepared all of the internal manuals and technical documentation for publication.  It was a lot of typesetting and formatting, which has definitely come in handy in pushing my books out into the world.

 

Q: What have you done to promote your book?

 

A: The second installment of the opening trilogy for the series, The Darknet, is being released February 2, 2018.  I’ve discounted the eBook fifty percent for pre-orders and I’ve priced Murder by Munchausen at $.99 for readers.  I’m promoting those deals in as many places as I can.  If the Bookbubbas smile kindly on me, the first book will be free for a limited time in January.

 

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

 

A: “Write what people want to read.” Every time I tried that, it was crap and I hated what I wrote. So, how could I expect a reader to like it?

 

Q: If you could program an android to kill someone, who would it be and why?

 

A: “I hereby invoke and refuse to waive all of the following rights and privileges afforded to me by the United States Constitution. I invoke and refuse to waive my 5th Amendment right to Remain Silent. I invoke and refuse to waive my 6th Amendment right to an attorney of my choice. I invoke and refuse to waive my 4th Amendment right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures. If I am not presently under arrest, or under investigatory detention, please allow me to leave.”

 

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 Alexander M Zoltai

Alexander M Zoltai

 

 

Alexander M Zoltai is the author of the novel, Notes From an Alien; here is a link to his website:

 

https://nfaa.wordpress.com/

 

Q: What is Notes From an Alien about?

A: Notes is the history of an alien family and the role they play in their worlds’ struggles to attain lasting peace and tranquility. It’s also about the final stages of a 500 year war between two planets that are in sharp contrast with each other; one a drippingly greedy Corporate world; one a completely superstitious Religious world. It’s also about a third planet that is, in its structure and function an Alien Being. So, there’s the ending of war, the beginning of peace, and the interaction of a number of different aliens. Ultimately, Notes is about what people can stand, how long they can stand it, and what they’d really rather have…

Q: What inspired you to write the book?

A: Well, I actually tried to write it four different times over an eleven year period—each time was a different way to deal with the major themes of corporate greed, religious fanaticism, justice, and peace. The first three attempts died of swift stillbirths; number four turned into the novel. My deeper desires for writing the book were all tied up in how people relate to each other—the power-grabbing types, the overly-passive types, the rational types, and the mad-as-a-hatter types—how they interact and what might be necessary for them to achieve some form of unity…

Q: What makes Sena a character worth writing about?

A: Well, her ancestors—who appear in the story well ahead of her—are part of what makes Sena a worthy character. The other thing is she’s my “co-author”. She wrote the Prologue for the novel and she gives folks the option to believe she’s real, or not… Within the confines of the book’s reality she’s the character who reaches out—in “electro-mental” ways—with us folks on Earth. The connection to Earth is my way of letting readers know, for sure, that what’s happened in their worlds clearly applies in our world…

Q: What made you interested in interviewing authors?

A: My blog’s primarily about writing; but, also about reading and publishing. I began the interviews because some of my early readers left such interesting comments on posts that I thought they deserved a spotlight post, so other readers could get to know them and their way of working. After the first five or so, I began to range wider—folks I’d met on Twitter, people I’d blogged about, friends I’d made in the Virtual World I visit every evening… I have, as of right now, 84 interviews—people with many books to their credit, many not yet published, many struggling with how to best publish, a few who seem to have figured it all out—the whole enterprise is totally fascinating…

Q: Who was your most memorable interview subject?

A: That has to be Jane Watson. There are two interviews now and I’m hoping to have a third, soon. The best way to indicate why I think her interviews are memorable is to quote just a few of her comments — On why she writes: “To find out, to access an inner world, to explore the possibilities of an image (because I think am a very visual writer), to process my experience.” — On her source of inspiration: “I find inspiration everywhere. Someone once said that a writer’s own life experience is like the piece of grit in an oyster, which the writer’s art and skill then transforms into a completely different and wonderful pearl.” — On what blocks many writers: “It’s my experience that many writers have a wonderful story that they could tell but they go out of their way NOT to tell that story. I believe this is because we are often fearful of recognising our own true authentic self that the story contains; i.e., we are fearful of accessing our own Inner Worlds.”

Q: Who are some of your writing influences and how is this evidenced in your writing?

A: My main “writing influence” comes from C. J. Cherry, Hugo award winner of over 60 Sci-Fi and Fantasy novels. This is “evidenced” in my writing by the way the experience of reading her has bolstered my commitment to write—not “like” her; but with the same devoted attention to character, theme, and plot she exhibits. Also, reading her helped set my mind free of the many misconceptions about writing that the Internet “Experts” poison minds with—she showed me how to write from “vistas” that aren’t derived from what other people are doing. Then, there are John C. Gardner, Robert Heinlein, and Ursula K. Le Guin. They “influence” me by the integrity and passion they exhibit in their work; which, I hope, is noticeable in my own work…

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

A: Stopping the production of the print version through FastPencil (which stopped the book’s appearance on Amazon {except for a very few copies that are selling for exorbitant prices—prices set by God-knows-who…}) and publishing it on Smashwords for free; which is in concert with making it freely available on my blog and on Wattpad. Then, tweeting about it, in amongst all my other tweets that are about interesting Writerly things…

Q: What kind of formal training have you had?

A: I assume the “training” is about writing? If so, my training (which is “formal” to me but probably not others) is a life-time of reading everything I could get my hands on; plus, years of actually sitting down at the computer and writing, every day…

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

A: My day job is writing; and, it influences my writing because writing, if pursued faithfully and regularly, will always positively influence one’s writing; but, I live on a small military pension…

Q: If you had a close encounter with an alien, what questions would you ask him or her?

A: Well, I feel like I’ve had a “close encounter” with an alien in my novel; but, that’s another story… A “real” alien? Hmmm… Assuming we could communicate, I would have to ask them for any advice they could share about writing. Then, I’d want to know their opinions on what could help Earth attain lasting peace and tranquillity. Then, ask if I could have a ride in their spaceship…

 

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 Tony Jerris

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Tony Jerris is the author of Marilyn Monroe: My Little Secret; here is a link to the books Amazon page:

 

https://www.amazon.com/Marilyn-Monroe-My-Little-Secret/dp/1475101406

 

Q: What made you want to write about Marilyn Monroe?

 

A: As a former New Yorker, I’ve always had a fascination with “all things Hollywood.” Actually, one of my first term papers in college was on the conspiracy theory surrounding Marilyn Monroe’s death and the Kennedy’s. So, when I was introduced to Jane Lawrence, who started Marilyn Monroe’s first fan club, I thought, “Okay, this is kismet.” I always found Marilyn to be groundbreaking in so many ways, including one of the few actresses of her time to start her own production company.

 

Q: How is your book different from other stories about Ms. Monroe?

 

A: The story of Marilyn Monroe has been told many, many times and from many different angles. This is not what “Marilyn Monroe: My Little Secret” is about. The book is twofold, in the sense, that it’s a human interest story about two kids from the same orphanage, thirteen years apart, who would become friends, and grow to love each other. When Marilyn died, it took a failed marriage, and many years for Jane to come to terms with her feelings for Marilyn, their relationship, and the big question about Jane’s own sexuality. The book also debunks the Marilyn that the public knew, you know; unpredictable, flighty, talented, ambitious and naughty. Instead, “Jane’s Marilyn” is soft, attentive, gentle, fiercely protective, and loving. That was the Marilyn Jane wanted people to meet, her Marilyn. The Marilyn who used to call her “my little secret.”

 

Q: What makes Jane an interesting narrator?

 

A: I think it’s important to first say how I met Jane Lawrence. I was introduced to her to assess her collection of Marilyn Monroe memorabilia and help her get it on eBay because she needed money to buy a new pacemaker. In the first few weeks of our relationship we spent a lot of time sifting through various items, with me guessing what they might go for. Jane had what Sotheby’s or Christie’s would characterize as a “collection” because it was so extensive. Some of the stuff, through years of neglect, wasn’t in the best of shape, jammed into boxes or what-have-you, but some of Jane’s items were pristine and, perhaps, priceless. She also had the most bizarre collection of little odds and ends of Marilyn discards: tissues, napkins (with lipstick and not), notes, matchbooks, and other such dreck that had real value because of the provenance. And as we took our journey through this detritus of memory, I was treated to all of the stories that went with it. Memory can be cruel, but for Jane her recall was spot on, and as her story poured forth about her Marilyn, I began to visualize her story in a bigger context. She always wanted to tell her relationship with Marilyn, only never trusted anyone to tell it “her way.” So, who better to have as a narrator than Jane.

 

Q: What kind of research did you do for the book?

 

A: A lot! You know, one of the biggest challenges I faced when writing “Marilyn Monroe: My Little Secret” was to never second guess myself as I delved into the life of probably the most celebrated of all actresses. But I’m only human and, at times, feared how some people might react to the book, especially the diehard Marilyn fans. I knew what I was up against, and knew I had to verify everything Jane told me so they wouldn’t tar-and-feather me! (Upon the book’s release, I did receive a few death threats from a couple of “those fans.”)  Jane struggled with her sexuality growing up, and claims how Marilyn taught her “how to make love to a woman.” But that is not the core of the story. These two women had a special bond for ten years, and I have hours of audio-tape with Jane telling her story, and contacted those – who were still living – to verify what she said, including actress Polly Bergen, Patrick Miller, who headed FOX’s archive department, archivists at RKO, just to name a few.

 

Q: Several actresses have played Marilyn in plays, movies and biopics; who do you think did the best job?

 

A: I think we can all agree that there’s only one Marilyn, but Michelle Williams did a decent job playing her in “My Week With Marilyn.” There was also a 1980 TV movie titled “Marilyn: The Untold Story” starring Catherine Hicks. I thought Hicks did an amazing portrayal of Marilyn. I also think Charlize Theron would be a perfect choice to play Marilyn.

 

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

 

A: I’ve been lucky enough to be a work-for-hire on a couple films, which are finally going into production, and also a ghostwriter for a couple stand-up comics. I did start my own catering company a few years back called called Mangia, Mangia! That means Eat, Eat! in Italian. Growing up, my family owned an Italian restaurant in Upstate New York, where my mother was the head chef. Over the years, I’ve been mastering her recipes, which includes her homemade bread dough recipe. In my spare time, I’m working on a cookbook called “If You Can Make Bread, You Can Make Dough!”  Mama’s words, so you can’t steal it! I’m also the in-house caterer for AMIA’s (Association of Moving Image Archivists) annual events at The Mary Pickford Building. I’ve always said, if I wasn’t a writer, I’d be the Next Food Network Star! As far as how this influences my writing, I believe you write what you know from experience. I’ve drawn upon a lot of my “survival jobs” to create characters that represent “me.” Especially the early years when I bartended, waited tables, or worked as the “dreaded telemarketer!” But I never followed a pitch, and actually developed a loyal client base who looked forward to my calls, which is rare for a telemarketer!

 

Q: What was the most surprising thing you learned in the course of your research?

 

A: One of the most surprising things I learned over the course of my research was, “Old age can be cruel.” It’s actually a chapter in the book, where Marilyn tells Jane how hard it is for a woman in Hollywood to find work as she gets older, and Marilyn was only 36 upon her timely death. The same held true for Jane. I would discover that Jane, at 61 years old, had few friends and lived a guarded life. She had learned that in Hollywood many people will befriend you for what they think they can get from you or what you can do for them. There’s a real cynicism that informs many relationships in this town. Jane knew that all too well, and while she knew a lot of people, they were mostly just acquaintances and not true friends you could confide in or lean on when things got tough, especially as she got older. In other words, she was very lonely, but when I entered her life, she had a new reason for living.

 

Q: There has been a lot of talk about sexual harassment in the news recently. Do you think being a woman in Hollywood is better, worse or basically the same as it was in the 1950s?

 

A: I think sexual harassment in Hollywood back in the 1950s is similar to today – for both sexes – only, nowadays with Social media, it’s like a flood gate for both genders to spill their stories of sexual harassment to entertainment and cable shows. It’s like everyone wants to jump on the bandwagon and have their fifteen minutes of fame. Back in the ‘50s, stars didn’t reveal these things in fear of being blacklisted.

 

 

Q: Why do you think Marilyn is still interesting to so many people?

 

A: Marilyn is still so interesting to many people because she was one of the cultural linchpins between the simpler, naïve world of the first half of the 20th century, and the loss of innocence in the second half. She wasn’t as “shocking” as some celebrities of today, as she was a breath of fresh air with a naughty streak. There’s a mystery about both her personal life and death that people will always find intriguing.

 

Q: What is your personal theory about Marilyn’s death?

A: I’ve always had my suspicions that there may have been a cover-up surrounding her death, however, after what Jane’s told me, I tend to believe that Marilyn accidentally overdosed. Jane said Marilyn used to break capsules of Nembutal (a short-acting barbiturate) into her champagne because it would digest in her bloodstream quicker. Leading up to her death, Marilyn was very lonely and in a fragile state. She had just purchased her first home in Brentwood (which I had the privilege of actually going through), and had a lot of time to think. She was fired from “Something’s Got To Give” and wasn’t sure what the future held for her because she had a reputation of not being reliable. The four special tiles in the walkway leading to her front door might have foreshadowed things to come. They read: Cursum Perficio. It’s Latin for, “My journey ends here.”

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