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An Interview With Across The Board Lead Singer Jacqueline Auguste

Photo by Bobby Singh/@fohphoto

 

Jacqueline Auguste is the lead singer for the band Across The Board; here is a link to the band’s website:

 

https://www.google.com/url?hl=en&q=http://www.acrosstheboardband.ca&source=gmail&ust=1526963976377000&usg=AFQjCNFKVaeoUT_l2rJEQcbfHvatD7WK4w

Q:  What is the overall theme of Sonic Boom?

 

A: Sonic Boom was written on our cross-country train tour last summer and is meant to chronicle the “breaking”of a band. I pictured the listener’s journey through the album as a rock opera—with a story, a heroine, and the trials and tribulations of a musical climax and anticlimax. The story starts off in the small city of Camrose, where I grew up—a small farming community in the heart of Alberta, and moves across the country to Toronto. As a young musician, I always dreamed of taking my music to the ‘big city’ and the album echoes this journey by rail to Toronto where I eventually meet the characters who will either try to steal the dream, or help me succeed. It has highs and lows, sadness and happiness and takes the listener on a musical and hopefully emotional journey. The idea of the title for sonic boom started with the phrase “making a splash”, which eventually became “making a musical splash” and when we realized that was like a sonic boom, it just fit—a band breaking out of obscurity onto the global scene in one big sonic boom that everyone hears. I think my most favorite song from the album is “No Curtain Call”- it’s the lowest point of the rock opera when the heroine is playing in a lonely bar, by herself, no one is paying attention, the lights come on the reveal the old wood floors, the sticky old bar top and all the folks who just don’t seem to care—and the revelation that comes to her after this experience—it’s not about making a splash, or having everyone pay attention to you—it’s about the journey, the music and staying true to one’s self-not getting lost in the hype or steered off course.

 

Q: How did you guys get together?

 

A: Across The Board, as a band, started as a Youtube channel where we would get together and create weekly music videos to popular covers. It grew from there, driven by a fan base asking us if we had original music to the release of our debut album in 2016 “Jane On Fire”. It was forged initially from garage jams and basement jam sessions and landed right where we are now–with a core of four musicians and a supporting cast of musicians who come out for live shows or collaborate on Youtube videos as we have kept up a solid online offering of musical and entertainment for our fans, expanding to a musical cooking show “Kitchen Sessions”, a daily vlog “ATB 365”, as weekly acoustic jam session, a carpool Karaoke feature called “Caravan Karaoke” (we drive a Dodge Caravan) as well as a weekly Live Broadcast on Facebook, Youtube and Instagram every Sunday Morning. We even publish a weekly behind the scenes “ATB AT REHEARSAL” segment.

 

Q: How did you come up with the name of your band?

 

A: Our band is such an ecclectic group of musicians from all walks of life, across all age ranges from young to “older”–we decided we were just a group of musicians that literally represented “across the board” — and thus the name!

 

Q: What is your strangest performance story?

 

A: Funny you should ask. On May 4th we had our CD Release Party in Toronto for our newest album “SONIC BOOM”. It was a sold out show and it happended during the worst wind storm in Toronto’s recent history. People were trapped in their cars by falling poles and trees, ambulances were everywhere. There was a power outage, yet still–the venue managed to rig the entire venue and sound stage with two generators and rewire everything to work on gas! They went and bought ice for the bar and in 90 minutes transformed the venue into a fully lit, fully powered show! Folks braved the weather, the obstacles and the “apocalypse” outside to make the show!

 

Q:  How does your work as an orthopaedic surgeon effect your ability to perform and record with the band?

 

A: As with any “art” including medicine, practice makes perfect. And surgery is a performance in and of itself–with the same preoperative anxiety that a musician feels before a show. I’ve learned how to practice, to rehearse, to study to perform from being a surgeon–and it transfers perfectly to music. Music for me is my creative outlet. It can be stressful at time to look after patients–particularly those who are very ill, or very broken in our case in orthopaedics. Music is that perfect blend of creative art, and technical prowess that is so similar to what I do on a daily basis in my job as a surgeon!

 

Q:  What is your creative process for writing songs?

 

A: Typically, songwriting for me starts as an idea. I like a beat, a riff, a lick, and suddenly a chord structure comes. I then add a melody to that and during the process of finding that melody, words just start to emerge. And something inside takes over and creates lyrics that match the mood, the melody, the current thoughts in my head about my life, the world–and bam–a song emerges. I then take that song to my cowriter or producer and we work on the beat and genre, as well as the bridge usually. I write my best work when I am procrastinating something like taxes or cleaning my house!

 

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

 

A: My biggest influences as a musician come from the music I grew up with –the music of my parents I suppose–The Doors, Pink Floyd, CCR, The Beatles and then the music I discovered as a young kid—Fleetwood Mac, Roxette, Queen. Today I relate to Broken Social Scene, Walk Off The Earth, Taylor Swift, and even Shania Twain, Meghan Trainor and so many others. I love all kinds of music! It all influences me.

 

Q:  You play a lot of different kinds of guitars. What kind of musical training have you had?

 

A: At the age of 10 I picked up my first guitar. Beyond that I learned oboe, flute and sax from stage and concert bands in school. I picked up the drums in my last years of highschool and started writing music and playing other stringed things like ukelele, mandolin and banjo in college. I’m classically trained in that I can read and write music, and I have spent so much time in front of musical scores… but I am a self-taught piano player and tend to write alot by ear. I wouldn’t say I have “perfect pitch”–but I can certainly tell when something is not right and find ways to fix a sound, a chord progression, a bridge, a key change, a harmony without much effort…that part comes naturally to me and I am grateful for that gift above all else.

 

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

 

A: We are everywhere on social media–we try to maintain a solid social media presence with creative and high quality content, and bring fans along for the journey. We are story tellers and our lives are open. I don’t hide the fact I am a surgeon, I don’t hide the fact I am a mother, I don’t hide the fact I am now a grandmother! My middle baby has two little babies! My life is open and I’m hoping to inspire other women musicians and physicians and any professional who wishes to add music or other creative art back into their lives~it’s a balance. It’s an essential balance. It’s an outlet, but it’s also a lifestyle.

 

Q: What do you hope to express through your music.

 

A: In the early writings, my songs seemed to express loss, sadness, dark moments, intertwined with the occasional breath of air to relax, unwind. “Jane On Fire” is such a collection of emotional songs from “Sad Guitar” to “Take A Minute”. This new album however, is written to chronicle my journey–and I hope to inspire our listeners by finding some common ground in our collective stories!

 

 

 

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 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 Actor Clay Cureton

clay

 

 

Clay Cureton is an actor who appears in the short film, All In; here is a link to his Facebook page:

 

https://www.facebook.com/claycali

Q: What made you interested in acting?

 

A: I’d have to give my oldest sister Anita the credit for my passion for acting because it was she who as a theater/drama club member in high school would write 2 part plays that would of course star me and her. By the way she was about 16 and I was about 6.

 

Q: What is, All In about?

 

A: ALL IN is a short film about William and 3 of his friends who go through college together running a 4 person poker card team. Anyway after college they go their separate ways and unbeknownst to the other 3 William becomes an FBI agent who’s current case tasks him to bring down a traveling casino den that is using and laundering counterfeit money. Hence the reason William gets the gang back together…

 

Q: What role do you play?

 

A:  I play the lead Agent William.

 

Q: How did you prepare for the role?

 

A:  You know its funny in preparing for any role I always read any directionals that come with the script as well as asking the writer or director what their vision for the character might be and then I usually watch any movies that I think might be closely related to the role I’m playing. For ALL IN I watched the movies 21 and Now You See Me part 1.

 

Q:  You minored in theater in college. What are some of the differences between stage acting and screen acting?

 

A: I think some glaring differences is on stage/in theatre you play to the audience, the energy is more in your face because you know that if you make a mistake the audience is right there to catch it so your focus hyper heightened. Also in my experience I found theater directors/writers to be more in your face. As opposed to screen acting where you’re playing to and off your co star/s and camera. I also think you have to channel create and bring your own energy to any character/s roles you play…

 

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

 

A:  I am a property manager by trade and have been for about 12 years and for me my day job helps my acting by allowing to interact with different personalities which helps me hone my abilities to play off of people as well as create and develop my own character roles based on the various people I meet…

 

Q: What is your strangest Los Angeles story?

 

A: Wow, what is my strangest LA story? That’s tough… I’ll go with this one around 2010 I was in Pasadena attending a manager’s conference and it was running extremely long and I was extremely hungry. So we finally get a break so I run across the street to so I think Baja Fresh (maybe) and I get inside and its packed I mean no available seats. So finally I order and get my food and I spot a free table outside. So I race to the table get the spot only to realize I didn’t get a drink so I place my tray of food on the table and head back inside to grab a beverage. It takes maybe 10 minutes I get my drink and race back to my table only to find someone seated at my table eating my food. At that moment in my mind I had 2 choices: #1 I could get angry and cause a scene or #2 I could realize that the man probably needed the food far more than I did. I’m proud to say I chose option 2 and I thought he she have a drink with his meal so I gave him the drink as well…

 

Q: What famous theatrical role would you like to attempt?

 

A: That’s an easy one, Othello, in Othello or even Iago because I had about a year of Shakespearian training in college but I have yet to have a chance to use it. I’d just like to see what and how I’d do with the role…

 

Q:  To what method of acting do you ascribe?

 

A: You know its funny because I used to think I was more Meisner mostly because at San Diego State my professor/s mostly taught the Meisner technique. However, I realize now my style is definitely more Lee Strasberg because the first thing I look to do is find an emotional connection with a role and then I try to apply the writer’s vision of the role to my personal life. I’ve found that I’m far more authentic this way…

 

Q:  Your movie is about gambling. What movie would you bet on to win, best picture this year?

 

A:  I’m betting All the Money In the World the movie by Ridley Scott about J Paul Getty starring Christopher Plummer and Mark Wahlberg

 

 

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 Actor Mark Valeriano

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Mark Valeriano is an actor who appears in the web series #CaptchaLA; here is a link to his reel:

 

 

 

 

Q: What made you interested in acting? 

A: I had the most incredible, life changing experience when I was in school at FAU in Boca Raton FL. I had no idea what I was doing with my life, I was just going to school for a communication degree and then I found this opportunity to be a feature extra on Craigslist. When I showed up to the location they put me in basketball attire to play ball with Lil Romeo on the Miami heat court along with the rest of the cast of the reboot of Charlie’s angels. Which ended up getting cancelled, but when I was on set meeting all of them and watching this “whole thing” happening, it clicked in my brain. “This is what I am going to do the rest of my life.” And from that day until this very moment I have been working on this career non stop day after day and I absolutely love it.

 

Q: What is #CaptchaLA about? 

A: #CaptchaLA is an Instagram series that is currently in the states of being picked up so we can finish the rest of the first season. But we shot ten episodes all going to be a minute long for viewers on Instagram. Which I believe is a brilliant idea. When I got brought on to play “Mark” I was so stoked. The audition was different than many others but I loved the concept and loved my character. It follows two sets of friends living in LA and how they end up coming together. I don’t want to release too much now as we have so much planned for the future! Kareem Cox (Director) in my opinion has struck gold with this idea.

 

Q: What role do you play? 

A: So I play, ironically, “Mark” which was a perfect fit. I honestly like when my character name is my own name. I play the goof who thinks he’s too cool for school. He thinks he has a ton of game and in some ways I think he does. At least the confidence is there. But it isn’t always received well. But that doesn’t bother him. If one thing or move doesn’t work there’s ten more where that came from. Kind of douche but in a way that you still root for. Or at least I do. Definitely a character I connect with when I’m in my zone.

Q: What common characteristics do you share with the character? 

A: The common characteristics I share with my character are almost a mirror image. I am pretty much a comic relief character, always messing around thinking I’m cooler than I actually am but do have confidence in myself. It’s so fun because I get to goof around on set which is “in character” the whole time. And Kareem allows us to improv which I wish I could do all day long!

 

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

A: My day job is cashier/food prep for a vegan cafe called Fala Bar. We have two locations at the moment and I bounce in between both: one on Abbot Kinney the other on Melrose. Both locations are so dope and have different customers, but it is the regulars that I love. So many characters so much life and when you meet around food everyone is in a great mood! Our food I will say hands down is amazing. Nearly everything is made in house and I do believe we make it with love. If you get a chance please stop in. Look out for me and I’ll make sure to give you that neighborhood discount! My job influences my acting in that I am constantly interacting with people. All day long. And how their experience is relies on me being able to adapt to whatever they are feeling. It allows me to examine and explore different types of people every shift. I am constantly learning new things from our customers and from the people I work with, which I believe is important just in life. Always being open to learning and growing as a person.

 

Q: Are vegans better or worse tippers than meat eaters?

A:  I can say, AT THE MOMENT, that from my experience meat eaters tip better0_o I use to work at a different cafe, which went out of business, but tips were boomin there. Here not so much. Just being honest. But the free food offer makes up for it for sure;_)

 

Q: Of all the characters you have played with whom do you have the least in common?

A: Of every character I have ever played I am not sure I can say any have really been of least in commonality. I believe every character that I’ve played has slightly been similar to myself. I am still very young but have experienced so much in my life and that allows me to explore those things and feelings over and over again and relive them in a new light. Which is amazing. I believe the reason I book the roles that I do is because I can make them all very personal and can feel what they are going through. Which allows me to tell their story with real honesty. And I love as well. I have come to terms with the fact that any experience you have good or “bad” is ultimately great and very necessary to our growth not only as an actor but as a human being.

 

Q: What is your strangest Los Angeles story?

A:  Strangest LA story… Wow, this is tough. I have been out here for two and a half years now and it feels like a lifetime. So many first times, so many new things but the strangest would have to be a dream I had at my old apartment. I was sleeping on my stomach when I felt someone grab my shoulder and pull me over out of bed and when I opened my eyes to see the person it was Phillip Seymour Hoffman. I physically felt the grab and pull and he was standing in the middle of my room, and then I woke up. I didn’t really know how to react besides getting up to turn the light off then falling back asleep. Then I woke up just opening my eyes and noticed a dark shadow in the corner of my room. I tried not to look at it as I could feel it’s presence and thought if I locked eyes it would consume me. Out of my periferials I saw it move to the bottom of my bed in which I began to pray hard until I fell back asleep. Only to later waking up standing in the middle of my room arms out to the sides and my head looking straight up at the ceiling. I was so scared and freaked out for two days I felt so out of it. I didn’t even know who to tell until I finally talked with a best friend from home that really brought me out of my funk. I have very intense dreams every night but this was by far the most intense and physical as well.

 

Q: If you could change one thing about the film industry, what would it be?

 A: If I could change one thing about the film industry it would have to be that we should focus more on character driven movies for the theatre. It feels as if there has been this shift or change to mainly focus on the effects or the so out of the ordinary or fantasy instead of grounding these characters. Because I believe every single person goes through so much in their life and to not touch on many of these things or to leave out so much emotion it just seems too simple. Every one is so complex I guess I just think we should explore that more, instead of some of the storylines or plots that we see hit the theater every Friday. That seems very generalized but movies like “Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead” or “A Guide to Knowing Your Saints” or even “127 Hours” are just real people going through real life situations. And I love to watch and try to connect with that.

 

Q: What makes for a compelling web series?

 

 

A: To me, what makes a compelling web series is one that has strong characters. You need to dig deep with each character because again, watching someone that is real do nearly anything can be entertainment. If we follow a character that knows exactly who they are then it allows us to go on a journey with them or almost as them. Great actors I believe can pull this off. And that’s why we watch them. For me at the moment, “Peaky Blinders” does this impeccably. You get to know who these characters are from the immediate beginning and we want to see what they go through without taking a break…#bingewatchtilltheend

 

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

Tony Headshot2 (1)

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.