Friday, October 28, 2016

Interview with author Ceil Lucas

1.      What inspired you to write your book? My childhood growing up in Guatemala and Italy and later, what I learned about my family history.

2.      What is it about? It’s about my childhood growing up in Guatemala City  ( 1956- 1960) and Rome, Italy ( 1960- 1972 ), with the historical context provided; and it includes the stories of my ancestors in the United States – it’s a genealogical memoir. Given my childhood, when I came back to the U.S. for college in 1969, my stance was, “I wasn’t raised here. I’m not from here.”,  “here” meaning the U.S. But as I worked on my family history, I discovered that my mother’s first ancestors were among the Scottish Prisoners transported to Maryland’s Eastern Shore in 1654; my father’s first ancestor, Robert Lucas, was a Quaker who sailed from England to Philadelphia in 1679. I had to come to terms with the reality that, when your folks arrive in 1654 and 1679, you are “from here”. And my ancestors’ stories have become mine and needed to be included in the memoir.  The memoir is about the balance between my own childhood abroad and my family history, between “I’m not from here” and “I’m deeply American.” 

3. What do you hope will be the everlasting thoughts for readers who finish your book?        
    Thoughts about the role of their genealogy and family history in their present reality. 

4.      What advice do you have for writers? If you’re going to write a memoir, do the genealogy homework and include those stories in your book; and provide the historical context surrounding all of the stories. In my case, it was Guatemala of the mid-1950s, a very turbulent time that my father was directly involved with, and the post-war Italy of the 1960s, with the start of the political turbulence of the so-called “years of lead”.  But also the historical context of Scots being sent to America, Quakers coming here, the Oklahoma Land Rush, New Mexico before it was a state – and so forth -  
5. Where do you think the book publishing industry is heading? I think that self-published books need a much better welcome. Big publishers and agents are interested in the blockbuster, which mine and other books are not. When it came to publicizing my book, I found a clear reluctance from bookstores and newspapers because it is self-published. More and more authors are going to self-publish and the publishing industry needs to get with the program. 

6. What challenges did you have in writing your book? Fun challenges in doing the research and nailing down the historical stuff, making sure it is perfectly accurate. I spent 1973 – 2013 as a university professor, researcher, and writer and it’s all about the facts. I tried to bring the same strict standard to the writing of the memoir while at the same time not making it like an academic treatise.  Vexing challenges like the one discussed in # 5 above: I had not anticipated the complete lack of reception by independent bookstores and newspapers because the book is self-published. I have managed to get the word out about the book through a Facebook author page, a Twitter author page, presentations about the book, radio interviews, and so forth. 

7. If people can only buy one book this month, why should it be yours? It’s a unique combination of family history and memoir, a genealogical memoir with some very good stories.

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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. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog 2016 ©.
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