Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Interview With New York Observer Columnist & Author George Gurley

1.      What inspired you to write your newest book, George & Hilly: Anatomy of a Relationship (Gallery Books)? Actually there was a column that came first – it ran in the New York Observer from 2005 through 2009.  The idea came from my NYO editor Peter Stevenson, who coincidentally was also Candace Bushnell’s editor for the Sex & The City Column.  The column began after I confessed to Peter that Hilly and I were about to begin seeing a couples therapist, and he thought it would make great material for a regular column.  I would tape record each of our sessions and then transcribe them for the paper.  It became a big hit with a regular following – NBC caught wind of it and nearly made it into a pilot for a sit com.  That’s when my agent Ed Victor told me that Simon & Schuster wanted to offer me a book deal.  For the record, the book consists of entirely new material that did not already appear in the columns.

2.      Any good sex scenes in the book? Absolutely – tons of sex. However I try to delve delicately into these matters out of respect to Hilly’s preferences for privacy.  As the man on the brink of matrimony, what is going through your mind right now?

3.      How can you successfully promote the book so that one can make enough money to pay for a wedding? As a longtime New York Observer nightlife reporter and humor columnist, what did you learn about the Manhattan dating scene that we need to know? It’s vital to always carry hand sanitizer in this town.

4.      What advice do you have a struggling writer? Like my father advised me back in 1992:  “Start a Laundromat; go to business school, join the army, the ministry, become a pastry chef—do anything but write for a living. Unless of course you have to. Unless you have no choice. Then work really hard." I didn't take any of his advice.

5.      Where do you see the book publishing industry heading? I feel very strongly that the industry is going to be completely driven by paperbacks with turquoise and pink cover images.  I wonder if ebooks might change the publishing landscape.

Books Rank High With Babies
A recent study by the American Association for the Advancement of Science indicates the 25 words that every child should be saying by the time they turn two years old include: dog, hello, cookie, Mommy, Daddy…and book.  Maybe there is hope for society when the next generation knows about books at such a young age.  We need to do everything possible to encourage children to value reading, writing, storytelling, and listening comprehension.  Not only is this good for our country and the individual but it’s great for the book publishing industry.

My four-year old daughter, Olivia, loves to make up stories based on the pictures in her books. Then my wife or I read the book to her.  Maybe one day she’ll write stories for other children.

My seven-year-old, Ben, likes to read but also enjoys it when we read to him.  He likes it when I make up a Curious George story with the theme revolving around our day’s activities.  If he thinks he can enhance my story, he’ll shout out stage directions to change the course of the story.

I’ve always enjoyed reading though I enjoy writing more. When I experience the imagination and curiosity of my children.  I feel like a plant getting sunlight. Some type of chemical reaction is taking place. It’s a symbiotic relationship.  My kids give me back just as much as I give them.

Even my English bulldog likes to read.  She’s bitten into a few books, one of which was about a dog.  She likes to leap her 56-pound frame onto the bed when we read to our kids. I wonder if she imagines her own story as she looks at the illustrations.

The books my children read are not showcased on an e-reader or computer or a tablet. They live on good old paper and cardboard.  Big books, small books – of all sizes and shapes. They each have a bookcase overflowing with colorful adventures.  One day such a scene may be worthy of a museum but for now they love to read books the way others have for centuries.

That doesn’t mean they aren’t exposed to gadgets. My son loves to play Angry Birds on his mom’s phone. We’re not Amish, but I want to hold onto the love of books, newspapers, and magazines in a non-digital way. They’ll have plenty of years to click buttons and touch screens.

Interview With Author Sherri Carpenter

1.       What is your latest book?  The title of my book is: Thank You Mom, Thank You Dad, For All The Wonderful Things I Have.  It's a story/picture book of a young boy on a wonderful journey learning about the five senses.

2.      What inspired you to write it?  For this book I had an adorable little muse - my grandson Dublin.  I was waiting to be picked up and I had about forty minutes of spare time.  I went into my office and sat at the computer.  In thirty minutes of non-stop writing the first draft was complete. My fingers just hit the keyboard and I could not stop typing, which is not typical for me.

3.      What do you feel your readers want or expect when they read your books? My readers want something to hold their interest and take them on a wonderful little journey they will enjoy and which they can relate to from their lives.

4.      What do you love most about being a published author? The excitement the stories bring to the children's faces. Knowing that I have encouraged a child to want to be read to and to learn to read is inspiring.   Kids love the journey I take them on and by their faces I can see they want more.

5.      As a children's book author do you feel you write for kids or for the parents reading the books to their kids?  I feel I write for both.  It is the parent who will first see the book and if they don't get taken in by it they are not going to offer it to their child.  When the child sees it and wants it to be read over and over, the parent knows they made a good choice and will look for more stories by that author.

6.      Do you have any advice to a struggling writer? Yes.  Write everyday and read every day, especially in the genre for which you want to write.  Give yourself permission to write poorly, as great writing comes from just sitting down and letting your mind open up and flow.  You can make corrections later.  Write about anything and everything, whatever pops into your head. Lastly, it is very important to describe the details, don't just tell the story.

7.      Where do you see the book publishing industry heading?  There has been a lot of discussion about this topic lately.  Self publishing is becoming very big, however, there is a lot of work in that route, especially to market yourself.  Big publishers will not talk to you unless you have an agent. Self publishing becomes a print on demand process and bookstores will not carry these books on the shelves.  Like many aspects of modern life, times are changing and so is publishing.

Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at He feels more important when discussed in the third-person.

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