Monday, October 25, 2010

Consuelo Saah Baehr Interview





1: What is the most productive time of the day for you to write? 

Years past I would have instantly said early morning, late at night.  Now I know that I can open the spigot to a good block of writing if I get an opening line in my head and it triggers writer’s excitement.  As an example:  in “Daughters” I had the death of a child to write and I knew it would be more emotional if I kept the writing factual.  “The twenty-ninth verse of the Gospel according to Matthew depicts a God who is capriciously cruel.”  Once I had that opening, I knew I could sit down and write the entire scene.  How do I court a good opening line?  I go for a walk or wash dishes or do any chore that allows a contemplative mood

2: Do you start your projects writing with paper and pen or is it all on the computer?

I wrote my first book: Report From The Heart, on a Royal manual typewriter with a missing N. When I got the contract to write “Best Friends” I bought an electric typewriter.  When I began the historical “Daughters” I bought one of the early word processors.  I have not written with paper and pen since that time.  I do however always carry a notebook and jot down thoughts that I think I will need.   By the way, I am an avid reader of the Paris Review Author Interviews.  I love to know how other writers do it.  Hemingway began writing at 6 a.m, each morning.  He wrote standing up, with pencil and paper on the top of a bureau


3: What do you draw inspiration from?

It’s always a person whose story I want to tell.  And I need to get the tone of voice right before I can have faith in the project. I think if you get the “voice” right in the story, the reader will trust you enough to stay with the book.  Also, I’m very economical so I use my life experience to pick a setting for a novel. If the setting is interesting enough, it becomes an important character. I used to be a copywriter for the Macy Corporation Chain of Department Stores and I set my novel, Nothing To Lose, in a department store.  Although the story is about the heroine’s physical transformation, it’s nice to be able to place her behind the scenes of a bustling department store.  Plus, she gets the young president of the chain to fall in love with her.


4: Do you set goals for yourself when you sit down to write such as word count?

I am not a disciplined person.  I am capricious and probably have adult ADD because I find it hard to stick to a daily routine.  The best way for me to set a goal is to have a contract for a book.  Then, being a good convent school graduate, I am honor bound to have that book finished by contract date.  Left to my own devices, I would be like Joseph Heller who took eleven years between Catch 22 and Something Happened.  That said, my recent entry into the self-publishing field has given me new ambition and I’m writing daily but still with no set word count.

5: Are you a published or a self published author and how do you come up with your cover art?

Most of my books were traditionally published by Simon & Schuster, Bantam/Dell and Putnam’s.  Many of them had foreign sales and were translated into other languages.  The rights to those books reverted to me and I have published them as Kindle editions and Smashwords editions. I also have two books that are Kindle originals and plan to do a few more.  Having done both, I love the freedom of self-publishing.  Knowing I can publish what I write without the agony of going through traditional publishing has been tremendously liberating.  I am eager to write now.  That was not the case before.  Traditional publishing can crush a writer’s spirit.  It takes too long to get the book to the public and once it is out there, they take it back in about ten minutes.  As for my cover art, two of those aforementioned wonderful children are very generous and do my cover art.




6: What drives you to choose the career of being a writer?

Most writers can’t help being writers and many (myself included) wish they didn’t have the “writing monkey” on their backs because they don’t feel good unless they are writing.  From ages four through seven, I lived in three countries and ended up in boarding school at a very early age.  The loneliness and displacement anxiety created a child who lived mostly in her head.  I still live in my head.  Although I’ve raised three great children and worked for ten years at a film festival here in East Hampton, I am most comfortable when I am alone.

7: Do you own an ebook reading device?

I just got a hand-me-down Kindle from my oldest son who upgraded.

8: Who are some of your favorite authors and What are you reading now?

My favorite author for language is F. Scott Fitzgerald.  I love John Cheever’s Short Stories.  I loved Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout.  I like Sue Grafton’s Kinsey Milhone series.  I like much of Anne Tyler.  Right now I have a Sara Paretskey book, a Janet Evanovich book and Ellen Degeneres’ book on my desk. I picked them up at a garage sale.

9: What do you think of book trailers and do you have any plans to have any?

I have a friend in the e-book business and he showed me a beautiful trailer his company did of Pat Conroy for his e-books.  It made me realize how powerful a trailer can be to connect the author with the reader.  I am not particularly tech savvy but I will probably get a device pretty soon to help me make trailers.

10: How did you come up with the title of your latest book?

I titled my latest book One Hundred Open Houses because I love to go to Open Houses and I think for a while now, real estate, has been the new drug of choice.  We all love real estate talk and  the heroine in OHOH becomes addicted to looking at apartments in New York City, certain she will find one that will change her life.

11: What are you working on now that you can talk about?

Right now I am finishing three novels that have been waiting for me to get my act writing act together.  Faith and Hope:  another historical set at the time of the robber barons, when J.P. Morgan played solitaire and locked up the bankers until they devised a plan to save the banking system from collapsing.  Almost Fifty:  a reclaimed housewife leaves a twenty year marriage and re-enters the workforce and a new life.  Tough As Nails: a mystery starring a crazy, ADD muddled woman detective who is barely able to function.


2 comments:

  1. Thanks for the nice interview. Consuelo, I like that you've been able to adapt to writing when you want to write instead of trying to stick to a schedule. Sometimes it's hard to break habits such as thinking we can only write during our "writing time."

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