by Daniel L. Carter
Reprinted from “A Christian Man’s Perspective”
Daniel L. Carter: I am always pleased to introduce my readers to visiting authors but today is truly an honor. My guest today is not only a talented author but has been an interviewer to the stars for years. Ranging from Clint Eastwood to Jane Russell this talented woman could be categorized as a Hollywood schmoozer! Without any more introduction, I’m blessed to call Betty Dravis my good friend. Welcome to my website, Betty. Please introduce yourself to our readers.
Betty Dravis: Hi, Daniel, and everyone. Thanks for inviting me to “A Christian Man’s Perspective.” To start at my humble beginnings, I was born in Hamilton, Ohio, second youngest of seven children born to John and Felda (Crawford) Barger. I came to sunny California after I graduated from high school and liked it so well I never went back home to live. But, Go Bucks! (laughs)
Most of you know me as the quirky lady you bump into all over the Internet. You know, the one who’s always pushing her own books and books of her author friends. (laughs) In recent years, I’m best known for my celebrity interviews, including actors, authors and artists of all types, but during my career I was a journalist, newspaper publisher and hosted a TV talk show.
But first and foremost, I’m a mother and grandmother; my family is my “real” life. All else is just icing on my cupcake… I had six children, five daughters and a son, but two daughters are now angels in heaven, having left us too soon…too young. Those were the saddest times in my life, but I’m consoled that they’re in Heaven now and our family circle will be complete as each of us find our way to them when our time on earth is over. And rather than mourn our loss, I treasure their memories and the children they left behind. I have nine grown grandchildren, five precious great-grands and one adorable great-great grand. They are what keep me so young at heart and filled with energy.
Daniel L. Carter: You are amazing! Your most recent book Star Struck: Interviews with Dirty Harry and Other Hollywood Icons. Tell us about your book, Betty.
Betty Dravis: Well, Daniel, you asked the right question here. There’s nothing I like better than talking books with another author. As you know, I write in many genres of fiction and also write non-fiction. I actually have six books on the market; three still in print format, two that were print but now “e-incarnations,” and two more e-books.
My latest is a short e-book, Star Struck: Interviews with Dirty Harry and Other Hollywood Icons. In this book I share behind-the-scenes happenings of some of my favorite celebrity interviews. You know, Daniel, the usual: What led up to the interviews and my feelings and impressions during and after the meetings… Among those I was fortunate enough to interview were: Actor/Director Clint Eastwood, Senator Ted Kennedy, 40’s Star Jane Russell, Singer/Actress Tanya Tucker, Mayor Joseph Alioto and Actress Ann Sothern. Those were “heady” days for a young journalist just starting my writing career. As delighted as I was to land such coveted interviews back in the day, in this day and age, I’m crowing over the fact that John Locke wrote the foreword for Star Struck. I consider that a feather in my cap because John’s the darling of the “e-book crowd,” having been the first self-published author to sell a million books on Kindle. Wow!
Daniel L. Carter: Out of all the stars you’ve interviewed, which of them did you most identify with?
Betty Dravis: Of the six high-profile people in Star Struck, I more closely identified with Clint Eastwood because he was sought after by every writer in the world and I was grateful that he chose me. I was a bit in awe of him, but identified with him because he was so kind, complimentary and considerate to me during and after the interview. I admired what he’d accomplished before I met him, so followed his career with great interest. From that day forward, I strove to be as good a writer as he is an actor, so eventually turned to him as my role model.
Daniel L. Carter: You’re not just a great interviewer but you’re also a talented author. When did you know you wanted to be a writer?
Betty Dravis: At age eleven, I started writing poetry and little short stories–more like life observations, from this viewpoint many years later–but even though my family encouraged me and my high-school, creative-writing teacher marked my papers as “best in class,” it was years before I took it seriously. You see, Daniel, in those days we were trained and encouraged to be wives and mothers, so I didn’t take writing too seriously until after my first child was born. I started out in journalism, writing columns for local dailies in various cities and eventually worked up to publisher. I always wanted to write a novel–try my hand at fiction–but journalism was a more steady income, so with six children to raise, I stuck with newspapers. I didn’t have time to write my first novel until I retired at age 62.
Daniel L. Carter: You are my role model! (smiles) If you could give advice to other authors or aspiring authors what would say?
Betty Dravis: I would tell them to take as many classes as they can, read all the books on writing in their selective genres, and to keep at it. Write! Write! Write! Even if it’s just little thoughts that come to them from time to time, write it down. Practice is what makes us better at our craft. And never let life’s setbacks (or negative people) stop them. Of all the ultra-successful people I’ve interviewed, they have all agreed: Keep focused on what you really want to do and you’ll win in the end. Persevere!
Daniel L. Carter: Great advice, Betty! What source or sources do you draw from when creating a new story? Personal life, your faith, the world around you, all the above…?
Betty Dravis: That’s an easy question to answer, Daniel, but harder to describe. It’s all of the above! I truly believe that everything we’ve ever seen, heard, read or experienced becomes part of us at some hidden level and that all of our accumulated information and experience filters up through our subconscious when needed. Whether we need information for a book we’re writing or other circumstances in life, our cumulative life experiences are there for us when most needed.
Daniel L. Carter: If I asked you to pick one of your characters as your favorite who would it be and why?
Betty Dravis: I have many favorites, Daniel. In fact I like all my characters, for one reason or another. But in giving it deeper thought, I will have to choose David Wetterman, the weatherman-turned-prophet in my first-published novel, Millennium Babe: The Prophecy. Why? Because he’s such a funny, likable little guy… He’s definitely not the image of your average hero; he’s just an ordinary, kooky guy who always bungles things, but somehow manages to end up “smelling like roses.” He’s what you call a “real character.” On the order of Jim Carrey, I suppose…
Daniel L. Carter: What was your greatest challenge, personally, when writing Star Struck?
Betty Dravis: My current book, Star Struck, is non-fiction, so it came with a unique set of problems. Since these six celebrity anecdotes were previously published in Dream Reachers, I had to get permission from my co-author Chase Von to put them in this book. He readily agreed, so that problem resolved amicably. My second problem was that, in addition to photos I owned, I also wanted to publish a few photos of the celebrities from their public life. That entailed either getting their permission or finding photos in the public domain. Since some celebrities’ managers charge as much as $200 per picture and take too long getting back, I opted for the public domain. That took a bit of digging, but it all worked out. And finally, I had to sell my publisher, Wendy Dingwall of Canterbury House, on trying the 99-cents price. Thank God, she agreed.
Daniel L. Carter: That’s great that your publisher was willing to work with you on the pricing. What factors do you use that tell your book is done?
Betty Dravis: Daniel, I consider a story finished after I’ve answered all the questions (tied up all the loose ends), making everything clear to my readers. And I always proof-read my books several times, trying to catch all the “nits.” I believe what Stephen King says, though: He said (in so many words) that if he had waited until a book was perfect in his eyes, he would never have published a thing.
Daniel L. Carter: That is so very true! Tell us, Betty, why did you choose to write in different genres?
Betty Dravis: When I first started, I thought I would write in the horror and thriller genre because that’s what I love to read. However, life just threw particular stories at me and I ended up writing an epic romance about my beautiful older sister (faction, my word to mean it’s based on a true story but is highly dramatized for commercial reasons). Then The Toonies Invade Silicon Valley came at me in such an unusual way, I just had to write that young adult. Once again I lucked out with another “famous person” boosting me along. Steve “The Woz” Wozniak agreed to play a speaking role in my Toonies. And so it went…until I ended up with one romance, one YA, one supernatural fantasy adventure and two non-fiction celebrity interview books. And yes, Daniel, I finally wrote my thriller and a horror. (laughs) I have those in the wings, waiting for perfect timing to publish. I think you’ll like them.
Daniel L. Carter: I am so looking forward to buying my autographed copy! (grins ear to ear) Do you have any favorite authors?
Betty Dravis: Indeed I do, Daniel. In fact, I have many, but my all-time favorite author (living or dead) is Pat Conroy. He amazes me with his beautiful words, perfect phraseology, dialogue, plotting and everything. I absolutely adore his poetic, flowery–some critics say too flowery—prose and his similes are to die for. To me, he’s a genius…
I have at least a hundred authors that are friends on the Internet and many, including you, who are my new favorites. You have a surprising number of great writers on Author Central, your popular page on Facebook. Of the ones I’ve read, at least fifteen blew my mind with their powerful, entertaining stories. Wow! I wouldn’t want to offend anyone by mentioning my favorites; actually, there are too many to list.
Daniel L. Carter: (Laughing) That’s alright, Betty. I know where I stand in your heart… wink wink. Are you working on a book now, and if so, tell us a little bit about it?
Betty Dravis: In addition to the horror and thriller mentioned above–Evil Voices at Circle Lake and Dead Women Don’t Talk Back (both finished except for a final proof)–I’m trying to find time to finish a second in the young adult Toonies series: The Toonies Rock New York. It’s similar to the first Toonies, with good cartoon characters escaping out of a humanoid boy’s computer into the world. The bad ones follow them out and wreak all kinds of havoc as they try to destroy everything in their paths. It’s another story of good versus bad, with good winning in the end. (laughs)
Daniel L. Carter: Now that sounds fantastic! You could have them come out of their IPhone…hehehe. If you were stranded on a deserted island and could pick only two books to have with you, what would they be and why?
Betty Dravis: The first one is a no-brainer. I would choose The Holy Bible because it’s always been my inspiration and I need it to refresh me on a daily basis. I’d also like to take a book that I wrote, 1106 Grand Boulevard, because my family members are in it and it has special meaning to me; many fond memories of my parents and siblings. Since there are only two surviving from our family, I would most likely get the most benefit and enjoyment from that book.
Daniel L. Carter: Hopefully readers have guessed that I am very fond of you as a friend and a writer, Betty. I pray they caught of glimpse of what a special person you are. Before we say goodbye, I want to thank you for sharing with us today. I’m sure you have intrigued many today. Where can people go to get more information about you and your books?
Betty Dravis: Thanks for the opportunity to reach more people, Daniel, and for giving me a chance to share my links. I wish you best of luck with your amazing G-6 Chronicles trilogy. I’ve read the first two and they’re very exciting and original; love the children in your books. Can’t wait to read the third one.
My website: http://www.bettydravis.com
My Amazon Author Central page: http://tinyurl.com/7mqorjj
My DOD blog: https://damesofdialogue.wordpress.com/
My Orangeberry Books page: http://tinyurl.com/6t5khqy
Daniel L Carter
Author of The G-6 Chronicles