Christy Tillery French: I’d like to introduce our newest Dame, Betty Dravis, author and celebrity interviewer. Welcome to Dames of Dialogue, Betty. Tell us about your latest book.
Betty Dravis: Thanks for asking that question, Christy. There’s nothing I like better than talking “books,” and my latest book is uppermost in my mind at the moment since it’s being released in a few days. It’s titled “Dream Reachers” and is a compilation of celebrity stories and interviews by me and my co-author Chase Von. Chase is a poet, author and celebrity interviewer for Student Operated Press.
We decided to join forces and publish behind-the-scenes anecdotes about my back-in the-day interviews with Clint Eastwood, Jane Russell and other living legends AND Chase’s interviews with up-and-coming new artists: actors, musicians, artists, photographers, poets, writers, comediennes, etc.
In their own words, Dream Reachers in our book tell of the struggles they went through before reaching the point where they are now “living their dreams.” We hope to inspire everyone to dream, dream big and never give up!
Christy Tillery French: Your books “The Toonies Invade Silicon Valley” and “1106 Grand Boulevard” are getting a lot of interest from producers. Any good news along those lines?
Betty Dravis: I almost fainted the first time my “Toonies” was considered for an animated film by one of the biggest producers in Hollywood. It was ultimately rejected for good reasons that had nothing to do with the quality (more to do with their scheduling), and before I could go to my room and cry, another producer, Ben Forkner who has six movies under development, heard about it and requested to see it. Both said it had “great visuals,” it was a fun read that they enjoyed very much and they could see it as an animated film…but…!!!
Well, Christy, I’m pleased to report that another prestigious producer has requested both “Toonies” and “Grand,” so I’m keeping my hopes high and not giving up…just as the people in “Dream Reachers” advise. The third time’s a charm, they say, so I’m sending my “babies” to Hollywood tomorrow. I promise you’ll be one of the first to know when I hear anything. Wish me luck…
Christy Tillery French: You have such an interesting background and have met more than a few celebrities. I understand you met them through your writing background. Can you tell us about that, Betty?
Betty Dravis: I see you’ve done your homework, Christy. I admire that. As for writing, I wrote a few poems in middle school (then called Jr. High) but didn’t get serious about writing until encouraged by my journalism instructor at good ol’ Hamilton High School in Hamilton, Ohio. And it was just like when I learned t o talk: once you got me started, I couldn’t stop. Lol… Then when I moved to California, I worked up from newspaper reporter and feature writer to columnist to editor, finally owning my own newspaper; all that while raising my six children alone. During those years, I won many awards, but always dreamed of writing books. I guess I tired of writing facts and wanted to let my imagination soar, as one can when writing fiction.
Holding fast to that dream, I started writing novels when I retired and have now published three. In addition to “Toonies” and “Grand,” there is also “Millennium Babe: The Prophecy.” “Babe” was my debut novel, although it was the third I wrote. That’s often the way it goes in this crazy, unpredictable business. Lol…
As for my life, it’s been not only interesting but also exciting––and continues to be so. I thank God for all the opportunities that came my way and am delighted to have interviewed Clint Eastwood, Jane Russell, Ted Kennedy, Tanya Tucker and many other famous people. Without giving any of the stories in “Dream Reachers” away, I can’t tell you how I came to meet and interview them, but I can tell you I was starry-eyed to see those glamorous “movie stars” on the big screen one day and in my life the next! It was unbelievable! Wow! But for the answer to that question, you will have to read “Dream Reachers.” My co-author would not forgive me if I leaked any of the stories prematurely. Since “Dream” is due for release in a few days, you and your fans won’t have long to wait.
Christy Tillery French: Do you have a specific writing ritual?
Betty Dravis: Since I had so many years of “press deadlines” and “children’s catastrophes,” I’m conditioned for adaptability. That helps me now, so I am able to write any ol’ time of day…morning, noon or night. If my Muse isn’t ready, I awaken him or her to do my bidding. Lol…
I actually have two Muses; My favorite is a wild, tattooed “Biker Babe” who rides a pink Harley. She’s the one who gives me my darker works, like my Amazon Short V.O. about some New York bankers who have mysterious adventures while on a Caribbean cruise, and my unpublished novel “Dead Women Don’t Talk Back.” My male muse rides a big, white horse and is a cross between John Wayne and Evangelist Billy Graham; I call him Billy Wayne and he supplies inspiration for my softer, more sentimental, humorous works, like my Amazon Short, “The Search for Bobby McGee.” Can’t beat those combos, can you, Christy? …Lol
Christy Tillery French: You’ve published novels of differing genres and your latest book is nonfiction. Which do you prefer to write and why?
Betty Dravis: I prefer to write fiction because, as I said above, I tired of writing nonfiction during my lengthy journalism career. Besides, I’m too lazy to do much research and following my active imagination into other zany, complex worlds is fun, fun, fun. I’m certain that you know what I mean, Christy, since you have created some of the most interesting, feisty female protagonists in literature.
Christy Tillery French: What do you think works best for you in regards to promoting?
Betty Dravis: Promoting! Ugh…not my favorite thing, but I’ll try to answer: What works best for me is word of mouth and being active on the Internet. I love FaceBook, GoodReads, Twitter, MySpace and writing reviews for Amazon and Midwest Book Review. Believe it or not, I’ve made some of my best fans among Amazon reviewers. Each of those sites I mentioned offers something special and unique to me. If you don’t mind my saying, Christy, I’m honored that you invited me to join you and the other Dames of Dialogue. I look forward to working with you and the other acclaimed authors.”
I also find it productive to introduce myself to local bookstores, newspapers and TV stations; I’ve had some great book-signings and interviews in those places.
Christy Tillery French: What do you love about writing? What do you hate?
Betty Dravis: Ah-ha, this one is an easy one: I love the actual act of writing which to me means creating, but I abhor the marketing. I even created a self-quote that is often repeated by others (a great compliment to me). I’d like to share it with your fans and readers: “ Writing a book is like sliding down a rainbow; marketing it is like trudging through a field of ‘chewed’ bubblegum on a hot, sticky day.”
Christy Tillery French: Are you an “outliner” or “pantser”?
Betty Dravis: I suppose I’m a pantser because I write by “the seat of my pants” and never plan ahead too much. When I write a book, I visualize it in color in my mind…like a movie, and I enjoy the point where my characters take over and become so vibrant they write their own story. (I have on a very few occasions written a mini-outline of a certain scene that pops into my mind, but mostly in fear of forgetting it, especially if I think it has potential.)
Christy Tillery French: What advice would you give other writers?
Betty Dravis: Never give up, no matter how long it takes. I wrote my first novel in 1992-93 and it never got published until 2006. However, in the meantime I wrote two more, the third one got published within months of writing it, the second one six years later with the third one a year after that. And now my fourth one, my first nonfiction and the first I wrote with a co-author, was sold before it was written.
More advice: Hook your reader on the first page, with the first line, if possible; never listen to people who tell you that you’re wasting your time following your dream. And most important: make your characters so sympathetic and real that readers will care what happens to them; if no one cares what happens to the main characters, you do not have a salable book.
Christy Tillery French: Of the celebrities you’ve met, who is your favorite?
Betty Dravis: That’s another easy one: Clint Eastwood, and it’s not because he was a gorgeous, sexy hunk, as most people think. It’s because of all he had accomplished at that time and because he put this “starry-eyed young journalist” so at ease when I interviewed him. He was nice, friendly, down-to-earth––and, yes, a bit flirtatious, which did wonders for my young ego. He also inspired me to stretch to reach my dreams. I consider him my first writing mentor.
Christy Tillery French: You’re a “California chick.” Tell us about the area you live in.
Betty Dravis: Hahaha… My son Bob calls me “Chicklet” (which I find extremely endearing), so you’re not far off, Christy. I now live in the Central Valley of California in a lovely complex of homes with world-class amenities, including indoor and outdoor pools and an indoor jogging/walking trail overlooking a manmade lake; that’s how huge the clubhouse is. Wow! The drawback is that I’ve only been here a few days so am still unpacking boxes. I know I’ll use the pool but the other amenities will most likely be put on the backburner as I plant myself in front of this computer, writing. My heart is still back in my beloved Silicon Valley where most of my kids and grands live. I really don’t know much about San Joaquin County yet… Hmmm…
Christy Tillery French: Do you have any pets? If so, tell us about them. If not, what’s your favorite animal?
Betty Dravis: I don’t have an animal of my very own, but my friend has a cat named Tigger that adores me and I have partial care of Tig. He’s a big cat that looks like a tiger, and that’s all that I know about him, except he loves to be petted. One day I was in the middle of writing a story and Tig kept trying to get my attention. I was so absorbed in typing that I didn’t see him. Suddenly he stood on his hind legs and knocked my hand off the keyboard. That shows how hard I was concentrating and how very much he wanted me to pat him behind the ears.
My favorite dogs is a golden retriever, but I also love horses… and giraffes. And Walk Disney’s Goofy. Lol…
Christy Tillery French: What’s your favorite Southern expression and food?
Betty Dravis: Even though we children were born in Ohio, my mother cooked Southern because she, my father, and ancestors were from Kentucky. I grew up with “shuckie beans” (dried green beans) and cornbread (not the sweet kind they serve at Marie Calendars) and my favorite chicken ‘n dumplings. My mouth waters now, thinking of my Mom and Grannie Sue’s great cooking skills. Yum…
I noticed that many of the Southern expressions (I Googled it… lol) are the same expressions I grew up with in Ohio: lickety-split; Lordy-Lordy; He’s all hat, no cattle; lower than a snake’s belly, etc. I find many of those expressions to be spoken by people I know from all states, Christy, so they’ve become pretty universal. My personal favorite is when a Southerner calls me “Miss Betty.”
And with that, I’ll sign off for now, Miss Christy. Thanks for inviting me for this interview. I truly appreciate it. If your fans desire more information, please check my website at: http://bettydravisauthor.googlepages.com/ They can also email me at firstname.lastname@example.org/ Bye, y’all.