Sunday, December 12, 2010

Consuelo Saah Baehr Interview

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

Let’s break down this question to its emotional components:  When do we have the emotional energy and courage to make something up in our head, put it down in just the right words, re-read it tens of times and offer it for reading or for money to the general public?  When put that way, my answer would be: never. 
Before independent publishing, the difficulty in finding an agent or a traditional publishing house to take a look at our work was so daunting it shut most people down before they put words on paper. The rigidity of the publishing process not only derailed writing careers but created cement filled writing blocks for those brave enough to attempt writing at any time of the day or night.
Yes, there are probably times of the day when blood sugar levels are just right and the serotonin is kicking in nicely and we can let the mind do its thing and produce reams of words. Most writers identify it as early morning or late at night.  For me, since I began to operate my virtual Kindle Store with backlist and original e-books, I can and do write anytime, sometimes all the time.  Self-publishing has liberated me to simply write the best I know how without the fear and dejection of having to find someone to publish what I write.  It is like a huge 24-hour energy boost.

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

I usually start my projects with a thought that comes into my head while I am raking leaves or washing dishes.  Then I rush in and begin a document on the computer, save it and go back to the leaves or the dishes.  I have many documents that I have saved this way with one or two sentences and when I come upon them, I think:  Oh, yeah, this was a good idea. 
I mull things over at the beginning of a project to get the “voice” of the person who will tell the story especially when it is a “first person” narrative. The “voice” or tone of the protagonist is one of the most important aspects of a successful book.  When I have that firmly in my head I start writing on the computer.

3: What do you draw inspiration from?

To be a good writer you have to be madly in love with the human race.  You have to especially love the flaws because they create the conflict in the story and there can be no good story without conflict. I’m not trying to be pious or religious when I say this. I love to people-watch and make up lives for those standing in line somewhere.  I also draw inspiration from the ordinary aspects of life.  Mundane events that become extraordinary because of chaotic people or chaotic emotions.

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

No.  Even when I had contracts and deadlines for my print books, I never set a word count goal although I know that literary icons like Hemingway did use that technique.  It’s probably a good idea and I wish I had that sort of discipline.

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

I am both published and self-published and I cover this subject in the first question.  My daughter and one of my sons did the cover art for my e-books.

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

Choose?  Who said anyone had the option to choose?  Writing is a monkey on your back.  If anyone knows how to get rid of it successfully, let me know.

7: Do you own an ebook reading device?

Yes but it’s not working now and I’m using my Mac to read e-books.

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

F. Scott Fitzgerald (for his sentence structure and language). Hemingway for “A Moveable Feast” one of my favorite books.  Some of Anne Tyler’s books, specifically “Dinner At The Homesick Restaurant.” Elizabeth Strout for that brilliant book, Olive Kitteridge.  Sue Grafton for her alphabet series and many more.  Right now I am reading Sara Paretsky’s book, Guardian Angel.

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

My voice is high and doesn’t lend itself to recording.  I think trailers are a way for reader and writer to get to know each other but I’m not convinced this is a good thing.  I have no plans at this time for a book trailer but I might change my mind.

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

My latest title, One Hundred Open Houses, is about a middle-aged woman who needs to re-submit her life goals to the board of review and see where she is heading.  Step one:  move to the noisy, dirty, wonderful city of New York.  She visits one hundred open houses, evaluates the lives lived in them and then finds the one that will be her salvation. This is a very funny book as well as poignant.  Also you learn a lot about the minefield that is New York real estate. The title seemed appropriate to the story.

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

 When I began to self-publish I searched my files and found three wonderful half-finished novels.  One of them “Faith and Hope” had even received an offer from a traditional publisher. The other two “Almost Fifty” and “Tough as Nails.” are well under way.  I plan to finish all three and publish them as e-books.

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