Author Interview: Linda DeFruscio

Welcome to the Tuesday Author Interview series at The Writing Life. Writing books is a solitary endeavor, so it’s a pleasure to meet fellow writers through these interviews. By interviewing authors across genres, I discover new books and authors, and I’m happy to bring their talents to my readers.

We are nearing the end of the 2017 Author Interview series at The Writing Life, so enjoy the few remaining interviews as I focus on finishing my second book, The Laments of Forgotten Souls. If you’ve missed a few interviews, or are just now “tuning in”, we had a great year! Happy Spring to you.

linda-defruscio

Today’s author is Linda DeFruscio, the founder and president of A & A Laser, Electrolysis & Skin Care Associates in Newtonville, MA. Her writing career began years ago, when she was invited to write a series of skincare articles for a national magazine. Linda’s fascinating memoir, Cornered: Dr. Richard J. Sharpe As I Knew Him, was published in 2015 by Twilight Times Books.

NOTE: A week before Linda’s scheduled interview, I stumbled upon a YouTube video of a Harvard-educated, millionaire, cross-dressing doctor who’d shot and killed his wife. As I put this interview together, I realized it was the same Dr. Sharpe we would be speaking about today. Talk about a strange case of synchronicity.

linda-df-book

Welcome, Linda. Please tell us how you met Dr. Richard J. Sharpe, and what inspired you to write this memoir.

Richard Sharpe was my business mentor, long before he committed his crime. He was a dermatologist and I was (and am) an electrologist, so we had in common that we were both interested in people’s skin. When lasers for hair removal came out in 1998, he was one of the first to realize their potential. He bought two (they were absurdly expensive back then) and “leased” them to me and other electrologists and skincare professionals he knew. I started taking notes about my interactions with him almost from the day I met him, because I am a compulsive note taker and he was unique in so many ways. And he only became more notable (and not always in a good way) over time. By the time I decided to write about him, I had boxes of notes. And because of the notoriety surrounding his trial, eventually I had boxes of newspaper clippings and Court TV tapes and tapes from various TV interview shows as well.

I find it fascinating that you listened to your gut and began taking notes on Richard Sharpe from day one. I can imagine how incredibly difficult it was to write about your friend and business associate, but to find yourself in the middle of this murder case must have been harrowing.

In the year 2000, I was forced to make an unthinkable decision. Dr. Richard Sharpe, a man who was my business associate and friend, committed a terrible crime. I went through many stages of emotion when I learned about it, beginning with shock, then grief, then a kind of numbness. I was in the numb stage when he reached out to me, from prison, asking me to remain his friend. I knew being his friend would cost me dearly; I would lose friends, clients, and some peace of mind. But I agreed to maintain some kind of relationship with him, because someone had to. He was utterly broken and very sorry for what he did. My memoir tells his story—how he went from being a medical and business genius, and, it goes without saying, a millionaire, to being a broken man in a prison cell—within the context of my own.

Writing Cornered must have required a lot of courage, stamina, and self-reflection. What did you learn and ultimately, sacrifice in the process of writing this memoir?

Since I appear as the narrator, I sacrificed anonymity in order to tell the truest story I could. In Cornered it required much more of me. I had to really reveal myself—all my many warts included—so that the reader would understand how I came to make the decisions I did. But it was worth it. A lot of people who read the book commented on my “unfailing honesty.” I think their trust in me enabled them to better see Richard Sharpe through my eyes. Yes, he was a despicable criminal, but he was also a man who tried, and ultimately failed, to deal with his physical, emotional and spiritual burdens.

How did you come up with the title? I think it’s perfect for this book.

I was adding to my list of possible titles the entire time I was working on my memoir. But in the end Cornered, with its subtitle, seemed the most appropriate. Richard Sharpe liked to be in the limelight—and often he was, because of the many contributions he made in the medical field. But when he felt himself threatened in any way he drifted into the corner, both literally and figuratively. And frankly, I felt cornered by him sometimes, because he was so needy. So the word worked on several levels.

After watching one video about this troubled, brilliant man and the murder of his wife, I would have felt cornered by him, as well as torn by the idea of remaining friends. Human nature is fascinating.

My decision to remain friends with Richard Sharpe impacted my life in ways that were unimaginable to me at the time. I learned a lot about myself and about human nature generally because of our association. I suffered a great deal of loss too. I think any reader who has experienced shifts in their life as a result of an association with a difficult or strong-willed or mentally-ill person—whether it is a child or a spouse or a friend—will identify with Cornered.

You’ve published children’s books and this memoir. How did you come to writing?

I came to writing more or less by accident. Years ago a magazine publisher asked me if I would write some skincare articles for her. And, a doctor asked me to contribute an article to a publication called the Annals of Dermatology. I found that writing is an engaging process. If it requires research, so much the better. Now I’m working on my third book, and I’m collecting notes for a fourth book. I’m so glad I discovered writing. It has become my way of exploring the world.

Has the writing process uncovered surprises or learning experiences for you?

Yes! I learned so much about myself through the writing of books. Loyalty is not something I ever gave much thought to before, but as it happens, it became a major theme in Cornered. I am a loyal person; I didn’t even know that before. And that’s just one example. Writing is a way of living; for all that it seems like such a passive activity, it results in lots of experiences and insights.

Linda, what do you find is the most challenging aspect of writing?

Great thoughts sometimes find their way to me when I’m in an environment that is not conducive to writing them down. I have been known to scribble on Post-its, paper napkins, and even checkbook registers. I have also been known to run out of my office, ostensibly to use the ladies’ room but really to have a moment’s privacy to write down a thought before it slips away. The worst is when great thoughts come to me late at night. Since I have a day job, I need to get a good night’s sleep. But I know I will forget all about the great idea if I don’t get up and write it down right away. So I get up, which leads to challenges the next day.

I can fully relate to getting out of bed in the middle of the night to jot down great thoughts! What was the last book you read? What did you think of it?

No! Maybe? Yes! Living My Truth by Grace Anne Stevens may be one of the best memoirs I’ve ever read about what it means to be a woman. The ironic thing here is that Grace started out as a man. Another title I loved was Joan Heartwell’s memoir Hamster Island, which is about growing up dirt poor with two disabled siblings. You can see I gravitate towards memoirs, mostly about people overcoming great emotional obstacles. I also read a lot of spiritual books.

Who are some of your favorite authors?

Besides Grace Stevens and Joan Heartwell, and off the top of my head, I enjoy Jennifer Boylan, Keith Ablow, and Jeanette Walls.

Who influenced you as a writer?

Marissa Lynn is the magazine editor who, the first day we met in her office, asked me if I would like to try to write an article on skincare. I went home and poured everything I knew about skincare into a first draft. Then I took it in to show Marissa a few days later. She read it, and, to my horror, she ripped it up. She said, “I don’t want this!” I was stunned. I started to cry. “This isn’t how you write!” she continued. “This sounds like a text book. Tell me real stories about real people with real skin problems. Tell me what you know from experience, not from what you studied in school.”

My inclination was to tell her nothing, other than that I wasn’t interested in working with her after all. But I took a minute to think it over and decided that would be a mistake. She was offering me an opportunity to reach many potential clients. She opened her drawer and took out a tape recorder. She said, “Take this and start talking. I’ll type it up later.” So I pulled myself together and told her a story about a man who had the beginnings of folliculitis barbae—a rare but serious bacterial infection of the deeper layers of the skin and subcutaneous tissues—and how we determined the cause of his infection and how we finally got rid of it. Marissa loved it. That was how it all began. 

It sounds like Marissa was a tough, but necessary mentor in your writing journey. Do you have a favorite place to write? To read?

Because I have my own business and work long hours, I don’t have the option of writing whenever or wherever I want. I write notes, as I mentioned above, wherever I am, as I think of things. Most of them I never look at again. But sometimes I realize I have the makings for a manuscript.

Tell us something personal about you people may be surprised to know.

I am a yoga fanatic. I do yoga very early in the morning, as many mornings a week as possible. I am also a closet eater of candies and other sweets that I know are not good for me. My favorite indulgence is York Peppermint Patties. So, something healthy and something not, that’s one surprise about me—though there are others.

Looking back, Linda, what did you do right that helped you write and market this book?

I stuck with it. In these times it’s not enough to find a publisher and hope your book flies off the shelves. You’ve got to accept every interview invitation that comes along, every opportunity to talk about your work, and not just right after the launch date. You’ve got to keep at it. It’s been difficult for me, because I work so many hours. But I do as much as I can and I plan to continue to do so.

linda-df-book

Any advice or tips for writers looking to get published?

Don’t give up. Go after your dream. Persevere. The rewards for me have been huge, even though Cornered is not a best seller. Not only did I accomplish what I set out to do, but in the process I discovered answers to questions that had plagued me for years.

Well said, Linda.

Website and social media links?

www.lindadefruscio.com

www.thecorneredbook.com

www.gingerandmoecatbook.com

Where can we find your books?

On Amazon and other online sites, on my website, and in libraries and stores.

What’s next for you?

I’m completing a wonderful book about individuals in the transgender community. Because I am an electrologist, and because I was introduced to people from the trans community early on, a great number of my clients are transgender. And because every transgender individual works with a variety of healthcare professionals, I know lots of people peripheral to the transition process. Over the last two years I worked with an assistant to interview several of my trans clients. Their stories are all different and all fascinating. Now I’m in the process of adding a preface and some back matter, and deciding on a title.

The book I’m just starting is about my sister, who suffers from MSA, or Multiple System Atrophy. As you might guess, this book will describe her personal journey, and mine as well, with the context of our relationship as sisters. Again, I have boxes of notes, some of which are my sister’s ideas and insights. I can’t wait to get started.

Thank you, Linda, for a most interesting interview. I’ve enjoyed getting to know more about you and your memoir. I wish you the best of luck with your timely book on the trans community and the memoir with your sister.

About Eleanor:

ellie

Puerto Rican-born Eleanor Parker Sapia is the author of the award-winning historical novel, A Decent Woman, published by Scarlet River Press. Her debut novel, set in turn of the century Ponce, Puerto Rico, garnered an Honorable Mention for Best Historical Fiction, English at the 2016 International Latino Book Awards with Latino Literacy Now, and was selected as a Book of the Month by Las Comadres and Friends National Latino Book Club in 2015. A writer, artist, and photographer, Eleanor currently lives in Berkeley County, West Virginia, where she is working on her second novel, The Laments of Forgotten Souls, set in 1920 Puerto Rico.

Eleanor’s book: http://amzn.to/1X0qFvK
Please visit Eleanor at her website:
www.eleanorparkersapia.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

Author Interview: John M. Cahill

Welcome to the Tuesday Author series at The Writing Life blog, where I have the pleasure of chatting with authors across genres. Today, I’m very pleased to welcome John M. Cahill.

John M. Cahill was born and raised in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, in the history-rich Berkshire Hills. He earned a B.A. degree in journalism and political science from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. After graduation, he moved to New York’s Capital District where, for 34 years, he enjoyed a successful and rewarding career in public relations and social marketing with New York State government. While living in New York’s Mohawk Valley, he became fascinated with the Dutch and Iroquois history of the area. He now lives with his wife in Vienna, Austria.

John is the author of Savage Wilderness, the second book in a series entitled, The Boschloper Saga. The first book in the series, Primitive Passions, was published in 2015.

John M. Cahill

Welcome, John.

What is the genre of your book series?

Savage Wilderness is historical fiction, specifically an historical adventure.

John Cahill Savage_Wilderness

Please describe what Savage Wilderess is about.

Savage Wilderness continues the adventures of Sean O’Cathail on the frontier of 17th-Century New York. Sean is a young Irishman who has come to America to seek his fortune. He becomes a fur trader in Albany and, eventually, is named a special envoy to the Iroquois for the lieutenant-governor of the Colony of New York, Thomas Dongan.

At the start of Savage Wilderness, in 1687, the flow of beaver pelts to Albany has slowed to a trickle. In response, Governor Dongan grants licenses to Albany traders to enter French territory and divert the furs of the Far Indians in the west from Montreal to Albany. However, as the expedition sets out for the Great Lakes, the new governor of New France, under orders from King Louis XIV, has mounted an invasion of Seneca territory. Caught in the middle, the Albany traders are captured by the French and their Indian allies and sent to Montreal and Quebec where they would be held as bargaining chips in the continuing power play between the governments of New France and New York. At this point, Sean finds that his adventure is only just beginning. He need all his wits and the help of a long-lost love to survive and return home.

How did you come up with the title?

The title comes from a quote from a 1775 speech in Parliament by Edmund Burke, “By adverting to the dignity of this high calling, our ancestors have turned a savage wilderness into a glorious empire.”

John, what inspired you to write this series?

While I was working for New York State government in Albany and living in the Mohawk Valley, I began to explore the relationships and interactions of the Dutch and English fur traders, their Iroquois neighbors and their French adversaries. I found that I was especially intrigued by the events of the second half of the 1600s. At that time, although the English had taken New York from the Dutch, the Dutch in the colony behaved as though nothing had changed.

Does your main character resemble you? If so, in what ways?

It’s hard to say without sounding as if I’m bragging, but I like to think that Sean is a “mensch,” someone who has integrity and honor, and is faithful to his family and friends

What do you find is the most challenging aspect of writing?

The hardest part of writing, for me, is motivating myself to just write. I have a strong predilection for procrastinating and calling it “research.”

John, what is your favorite part of writing?

As Dorothy Parker famously said, “I hate writing, but I love having written.”  For me, the favorite part of writing comes when I am satisfied to the degree that I can send my manuscript to a publisher with a clear conscience.

What was the last book you read? What did you think of it?

The last book I read was Enigma by Robert Harris. I hadn’t seen the movie and the book sat in my TBR pile for over a year before I made myself read it. I was quite pleasantly surprised. It wasn’t boring as I had feared (breaking codes). It was even a quite exciting story (no spoilers).

Who are some of your favorite authors?

My favorite authors cover a lot of ground. Besides Robert Harris, I like Bernard Cornwell, Ian Rankin, James Lee Burke, Roddy Doyle, Martin Cruz Smith, John Grisham, John Sanford and Jeff Shaara.

What authors or person(s) have influenced you as a writer and why?

Reading the works of James Fenimore Cooper, Kenneth Roberts and Walter D. Edmonds as a youth got me interested in pre-Revolutionary America and made me want to learn more. Andersonville by MacKinlay Kantor showed me the kind of realism in writing to which I aspire.

Do you have a favorite place to write? To read?

I have a study in which I write. I’ll read anywhere and everywhere.

Tell us something personal about you people may be surprised to know?

I can’t whistle. Never could. As a child, I was quite embarrassed by it, but I grew out of that.

Did the writing process uncover surprises or learning experiences for you? What about the publishing process?

In my professional life as a social marketer, I was a writer and editor for more than 30 years. So, I found the process of writing a novel to be oddly liberating. I guess I just assumed that the publishing process would be the thicket of brambles that I have found it to be.

What do you hope readers will gain from your book?

I hope that they will come to appreciate the lives of the people who first opened up the American interior and to realize that many of the political and cultural problems of the time are much the same as those we face today. History really does repeat itself.

John Cahill Savage_Wilderness

Looking back, what did you do right that helped you write and market this book?

I kept faith in myself, my imagination and my talent.

What didn’t work as well as you’d hoped?

Living in Europe and trying to market books about colonial America in the USA is extremely difficult.

I can relate. The setting for my two books is Puerto Rico and I live in the US. Marketing is a bit more challenging from a distance.

Any advice or tips for writers looking to get published?

Don’t give up. Learn from each experience and keep plugging away.

Website and social media links?

Website: http://www.john-m-cahill.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/jmcahill47

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/9875321.John_M_Cahill

Where can we find your book?

Savage Wilderness is available from W & B Publishers at www.a-argusbooks.com

Primitive Passions is available from Amazon at https://www.amazon.com/Primitive-Passions-Boschloper-Sage-1/dp/1537174983/ref=sr_1_5?ie=UTF8&qid=1489249012&sr=8-5&keywords=primitive+passions

John Cahill second book

What’s next for you, John?

I am currently working on Book 3 in The Boschloper Saga. With the working title, Inglorious Revolution, it will focus on concurrent events associated with King William’s War, e.g., the massacre at Schenectady, and Leisler’s Rebellion in New York.

Thank you for a great interview, John. I wish you the best with your series!

About Eleanor:

ellie

Puerto Rican-born Eleanor Parker Sapia is the author of the award-winning historical novel, A Decent Woman, published by Scarlet River Press. Her debut novel, set in turn of the century Ponce, Puerto Rico, garnered an Honorable Mention for Best Historical Fiction, English at the 2016 International Latino Book Awards with Latino Literacy Now, and was selected as a Book of the Month by Las Comadres and Friends National Latino Book Club in 2015. A writer, artist, and photographer, Eleanor currently lives in Berkeley County, West Virginia, where she is working on her second novel, The Laments of Forgotten Souls, set in 1920 Puerto Rico.

Eleanor’s book: http://amzn.to/1X0qFvK
Please visit Eleanor at her website:
www.eleanorparkersapia.com

International Women’s Day, 2017

Shared article: http://www.upworthy.com/21-ways-to-participate-in-womens-strike-even-if-you-cant-take-off-work?g=2&c=ufb1

Can’t take off for the Women’s Strike? Here are 21 ways to show your support.

On March 8, 2017, A Day Without a Woman, an international women’s strike will take place.

In the spirit of the highly successful Women’s March on Jan. 21, the International Women’s Strike was organized to raise awareness of the seen and unseen ways women and girls contribute to the economy, all while receiving lower wages, enduring toxic and unsafe work environments, and facing discrimination.

Thousands gather at City Hall for the San Francisco Women’s March. Photo by Josh Edelson/AFP/Getty Images.

If you’re professionally and financially able to take off work and step away from home responsibilities, do so.

Organizers also encourage participants to avoid emotional labor and shopping for one day, with exceptions for minority- and woman-owned businesses.

Of course, many women, femmes, and gender-oppressed people do not have the economic security to take off from work, child care, or home duties for a day. That’s part of the problem. Those who can strike will strike for them.

If you’re unable to take off work (or are looking for something to do while on strike), here are 21 things you can do to support the Women’s Strike.

1. Take part in an International Women’s Day event in your community.

A Day Without a Woman is held on International Women’s Day. Cities around the world are hosting events before, the day of, and the following weekend. RSVP to a local march, listening session, or talk in your neighborhood.

Women march on International Women’s Day in downtown Los Angeles. Photo by Mark Ralston/AFP/Getty Images.

2. Wear red to show your support.

Organizers selected red as a bold, determined color “signifying revolutionary love and sacrifice.” Need something red? Consider adding one of these red shirts to your wardrobe, as each one supports the American Heart Association’s “Go Red for Women” campaign.

Photo by iStock.

3. Learn more about women in the labor movement.

Understanding the vital role women play in the labor movement — particularly women of color and women living in poverty — is vital to understanding how we move forward and improve working conditions for all women. Start your research by exploring the contributions of women like Rose Pesotta, May Chen, and Hattie Canty (no relation). And check out this book about the first successful all-women sit-in.

4. Dine out at a woman- or minority-owned restaurant.

If you must shop during the Women’s Strike, support a small, woman-, or minority-owned business or restaurant. That money stays in your community and goes right into the pocket of a woman who needs it. Aren’t sure where to find woman- or minority-owned businesses? Maybe…

Photo by iStock.

5. Join or support your local women’s chamber of commerce.

Chambers of commerce work to grow, support, and sustain businesses in specific communities or run by specific populations. You can join your local women’s chamber as a community member or business owner, or see if your employer is a corporate member. Funds go to support training, business resources, marketing materials, and more. Check out and support local black, Latino, and LGBTQ chambers of commerce as well.

6. Stream films by female directors.

Support the art and stories of female filmmakers and take a few hours to watch some of their work. Some of my favorites streaming now on Netflix include “Pariah” (Dee Rees), “Paris Is Burning” (Jennie Livingston), “Clueless”(Amy Heckerling), and “Girlhood” (Céline Sciamma).

Aasha Davis (left) and Adepero Oduye in “Pariah,” 2011, ©Focus Features. Photo courtesy Everett Collection.

7. Support female artists and performers in your community.

No matter where you live, there are talented women on the rise who could use your support. Stand-up comedy, music, art, and other live performances are often free or low-cost and a great way to support the arts scene in your city.

8. Freshen up your timeline and follow female leaders, scientists, writers, and performers on Twitter.

Here’s a list of black women that fit the bill exactly. Your timeline will thank you.

Start with first lady of New York City Chirlane McCray. She’s a force for good. Photo by Photo by D Dipasupil/Getty Images.

9. Call or write your legislator and share where you stand on living wage, equal pay, family leave, reproductive justice, and maternal health issues.

These are not solely women’s issues; they’re issues that affect the health and success of everyone in this country. If women can’t succeed, our country won’t succeed either.  Or better yet…

10. Look up the next town hall in your area.

Take your message straight to the people in charge by seeking out and attending a town hall. If your rep hasn’t hosted one in a while, request one — and remind your representative that they work for you.

A town hall meeting with Sen. Tim Scott in North Charleston, South Carolina. Photo by Sean Rayford/Getty Images.

11. Contribute what you can to different women’s groups and nonprofits.

Donate your time and money to local groups empowering and uplifting women and girls in your area. If you need some ideas, check out Black Girls Code, The Malala Fund, or the National Women’s Law Center.

12. Buy a box of Girl Scout cookies.

The Girl Scouts have helped generations of girls take risks, explore the outdoors, learn new skills, and lead with confidence. Money raised from cookies helps fund these life-changing experiences. Plus, you know, cookies.

Molly Sheridan,13, and her sister Edie, 5, sell Girl Scout cookies in Chicago. Photo by Nova Safo/AFP/Getty Images.

13. You’ve got friends who should run for office. Tell them.

There are women in your life who would make great elected officials. Maybe they’re already thinking about it or maybe it’s off their radar. Mention it. Let them know you believe in them. Check out the great resources from Emily’s List, Running Start, and She Should Run for women interested in pursuing political office.

14. Find your inner RBG, or at least attempt one of her intense workouts.

At 83, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is the oldest and one of the strongest voices for women and progressive issues on the U.S. Supreme Court. She works out with a personal trainer to keep her mind and body strong so she can continue to do her job at “full steam.” Channel your inner RBG and try it out for yourself. No robe required.

Ginsburg speaks at an annual Women’s History Month reception on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. Photo by Allison Shelley/Getty Images.

15. Celebrate the women in your life and thank them for the work they do.

A call, text, note, or high five can go a long way to let the important women and girls in your life know you see them and value their contributions to your family, neighborhood, or community.

16. Inspire the next generation of brave women with picture books.

It’s never too early to encourage children to dream, explore, and lead. Check out “The Apple-Pip Princess,” “Molly, by Golly! The Legend of Molly Williams, America’s First Female Firefighter,” and “Rosie Revere, Engineer” next time you’re at the library.

“Rosie Revere, Engineer” by Andrea Beaty, illustrated by David Roberts.

17. Donate new packages of pads and tampons to shelters.

No woman should have to choose between menstrual products and their next meal, but that’s a reality many women face when they’re experiencing homelessness. Reach out to the shelters and domestic violence resource centers in your area to learn more and drop off donations. Or connect with national groups like Support the Girls that focus largely on this issue.

18. Take a minute for yourself.

Yogurt, candle, and chocolate commercials are constantly asking women to take time for themselves, but we rarely do. Self-care and taking a moment to reflect, breathe, and relax are critical. If we don’t care for ourselves first, we can’t care for the ones we love or stay strong in the fight for equality.

Photo by iStock.

19. Be an ally for other women you work with.

Support, repeat, and give credit for good ideas in meetings like the women of the Obama administration; keep and share a running list of back-up child care providers; offer to be a mentor or listening ear to new hires; work together to push back against sexist dress codes or natural hair bias; and encourage community, not competition.

20. Watch speeches from the Women’s March to remember why you’re fighting and stay inspired.

There are plenty of videos online from the national march in D.C. and satellite events around the globe. Take a few minutes to remember the enthusiasm, unity, and revolutionary spirit of the day and use it to fuel your action going forward.

Photo by Emma McIntyre/Getty Images.

21. Share why you’re striking or why you’d like to strike with your network.

Be sure to use the hashtags #DayWithoutAWoman and #IStrikeFor.

If your job isn’t secure or you don’t feel comfortable sharing online, confide in a person you trust. Telling our stories is key to helping everyone understand that our challenges, struggles, and issues are not exceptions to the rule — in fact, they’re all too common.

However you mark the International Women’s Strike, make it your own.

This is your movement, your day, your chance to take part in a global show of support for women, femmes, and gender-oppressed people. Make it your own, and make it count.

 

Author Interview: Marsha Casper Cook

Welcome to the Tuesday Author Interview series at The Writing Life. Each Tuesday, I have the great pleasure of chatting with authors across genres about books and writing, and marketing and publishing. 

Today I am very pleased to welcome Marsha Casper Cook, a talented screenwriter, novelist, editor, and writer of children’s books. Marsha, who hails from Chicago, is a radio show personality on Blog Talk Radio, which is how we met a few years back. Her World of Ink Network partner for the last five years is V.S.Grenier, an author, editor, and radio show host, who lives in Utah. Marsha’s group discussions always feature interesting and talented writers and center around writing, publishing, screenplays, and books. I love her show, and always come away with pages of writing tips.

In this interview, Marsha graciously offers readers a glimpse into the business of turning books into audio books, and I’m excited to begin.

Welcome, Marsha!

marsha-cc-photo

marsha-cc-book-cover

What is your newest book’s genre?

Romantic comedy.

Please describe what Grand Central Station: Some Relationships Are Just Meant to Be is about.

A famous child psychologist, who has authored several bestselling books on raising children, discovers he doesn’t know as much as he thought he did when he meets a pediatrician and mother of three. Neither of them imagined how their lives would change when they shared a flight headed for Las Vegas for a medical convention.

For Jack Winston and Victoria Feingold, whatever happens in Vegas doesn’t stay in Vegas. It follows them back to Chicago.

Jack doesn’t want to fail, but he’s not sure he’s emotionally prepared to live with Victoria’s three children. Not to mention her mother, sister, dog, and needy ex-husband.

Grand Central Station is a fast-paced ride and a lot of fun! 

Congratulations on Grand Central Station, Marsha! How did you come up with the title?  

There was so much going on in the story, and it seemed as if Grand Central Station would be the perfect fit. A busy house with so many characters coming and going. 

What inspired you to write this romantic comedy?

It’s taken from one of the screenplays that I had written several years ago and loved. It had been optioned, but never produced.

How exciting that the screenplay was optioned, Marsha. In my mind’s eye, I can see this romantic comedy on the silver screen. Best of luck!

Does your main character resemble you? If so, in what ways?

Actually, there really were no similarities to any of the characters in my book, but I felt the family quarrels were most likely a part of any family, including my own.

What do you find is the most challenging aspect of writing?

Not coming up with another story while I’m working on one. I usually think any idea that pops in my head might be better than what I’m writing, but usually the feeling passes.

That’s a familiar scenario when I’m writing, as well. What is your favorite part of writing?

I enjoy the fun of not knowing exactly how my story will end. I always feel if I don’t know the ending, the reader will be just as surprised as I was when I wrote it.

What authors or person(s) have influenced you as a writer and why?

I have been lucky to meet wonderful people all through my life that have guided me in my writing by telling me their stories, and in turn, I listened with open ears and learned how to write good characters with real problems.

Marsha, many of your books are now audio books. Could you tell us about that process? I know I’m more than interested.

One of my favorite passed times is listening to audio books. When I hear an audio book, it’s becomes a special event and very entertaining. The story comes to life, and it’s so enjoyable I sometimes wish the story could go on forever; however I do agree with the common complaint about the narration. If you like the voice behind the words, it’s such fun to imagine the setting and the story, but if you don’t, the feeling is not the same, and sometimes it’s enough to make you go on to something else. It doesn’t hold your interest.

I never thought my books would become audio books, but because of Audibles and the sharing method between the producer of the audio and the author of the book, it became possible.

The children’s books that I have on audio were a great learning experience for me. I got to hear every word and realized that after reading a book and listening to the audio, the experience is far greater than just the read, especially for children.

I urge authors and readers to give audio books a chance.

For authors go to www.acx.com

http://www.audible.com/search/ref=a_hp_tseft?advsearchKeywords=marsha+casper+cook&filterby=field-keywords&x=0&y=0

http://www.audible.com/search/ref=a_search_tseft?advsearchKeywords=lady+jane+sinclair&filterby=field-keywords&x=0&y=0

Thanks so much for sharing, Marsha. I love audio books, and would love to go down that path with my first book. 

Do you have a favorite place to write? To read?

I love writing in coffee shops or restaurants when I’m by myself. That’s when I truly feel I’m completely in my characters world. 

Tell us something personal about you people may be surprised to know?

I’m very organized, however as a teenager I wasn’t and didn’t know exactly what I wanted to do. I usually try to tell parents not to judge their children so harshly because life has a way of working itself out and growing up isn’t easy. Every child needs their space as do adults.

True words and great advice for parents. As a kid, my interests were varied and appeared to have no rhyme or reason to many adults. Looking back, the common denominator was creativity and a healthy imagination.

Did the writing process uncover surprises or learning experiences for you? What about the publishing process?

Over the years, I have learned so much from writing and doing my radio shows, which in turn gave me the best education ever on how to independently publish, and not worry that a publisher may have rejected my work. If the story is good, readers will enjoy your work regardless of who published the book. Enjoy writing and try to remember that if your book makes you laugh or cry, that is always a good thing because your readers will probably do the same.

I also feel that because things have changed over the years in publishing, authors have an open field for fulfilling their dreams. They just have to be persistent.

marsha-cc-book-cover

What do you hope readers will gain from your book?

It’s always good to hear your reader understood what you were trying to convey in your story, and as authors that is the best feeling imaginable.

Looking back, what did you do right that helped you write and market this book?

I used my own judgement. Listening to too many people can end up causing a writer to feel insecure and not finish their story. Finishing the story works!

I agree wholeheartedly–finish writing the book! What didn’t work as well as you’d hoped?

Usually by the time my story is written, I’m hopeful that everything worked during the journey because if I felt uncomfortable on any level, I would try to re- work my story until I got it right.

Any advice or tips for writers looking to get published?

My suggestion would be if you are having trouble getting an agent or publisher, find an Independent service and publish your own book, but don’t skimp on three very important aspects of successful publishing: editing, formatting, and getting the best artwork you can for your cover.   

Website and social media links?

Radio Show Blog – http://worldofinknetwork.blogspot.com/

Author Blog – http://whatsnewwithmarsha.blogspot.com/

Marsha’s Website-   http://marshacaspercook.com

Radio Show Website – http://worldofinknetwork.com

https://www.facebook.com/marshacaspercook

Where can we find your books?

https://www.amazon.com/Grand-Central-Station-Relationships-Meant-ebook/dp/B01B8CBDMC

https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/michiganavenue

https://www.kobo.com/us/en/search?Query=marsha+casper+cook  

A list of Marsha’s books:

Novels: Grand Central Station – romantic comedy & audio book; Guilty Pleasures series – erotica

Children’s books: The Busy Bus; No Clues No Shoes – also audio; The Magical Leaping Lizard – also audio; Snack Attack -also audio; I Wish I Was A Brownie- also audio

Screenplay (book): It’s Never Too Late

Non-Fiction:
To Life 

What’s next for you?

I have several projects in my head. One is to write another romantic comedy, and the other is to add to my Guilty Pleasures series.

Thanks so much for joining us today, Marsha. It’s been a real pleasure getting to know more about you and your books. I wish you the very best with your many books and audio books!

About Eleanor:

ellie

Puerto Rican-born Eleanor Parker Sapia is the author of the award-winning historical novel, A Decent Woman, published by Scarlet River Press. Her debut novel, set in turn of the century Ponce, Puerto Rico, garnered an Honorable Mention for Best Historical Fiction, English at the 2016 International Latino Book Awards with Latino Literacy Now, and was selected as a Book of the Month by Las Comadres and Friends National Latino Book Club in 2015. A writer, artist, and photographer, Eleanor currently lives in Berkeley County, West Virginia, where she is working on her second novel, The Laments of Forgotten Souls, set in 1920 Puerto Rico.

Eleanor’s book: http://amzn.to/1X0qFvK
Please visit Eleanor at her website:
www.eleanorparkersapia.com