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Welcome to Dames of Dialogue, Ben. Tell us about your latest book.

Shadow Dance Murders: Detective Carson Chandler draws the short straw — the assignment to untangle a series of murders at the Antebellum Community Theater, in Charlotte, NC. As he pulls back the curtain the spotlight reveals the unglamorous inner workings and politics of the Theater. The large pool of suspects includes: actors, directors, staff, Board members, and shady real estate developers that are willing to do whatever to grab the choice Theater property.

As Chandler works to solve the case, his life is increasingly complicated by two intriguing, yet polar-opposite women. Ben Furman_Book Cover_ (2)One is a successful Broadway actress he’s loved since childhood, or at least that is what he believes. But this belief is challenged by an incident that occurs in the scorching sands of Pakistan. He saves a mysterious female Mossad agent, who is seriously wounded in a terrorist ambush. He cares for her wound, and immediately her comrades whisk her away to a secret location. He’s left with only her first name. His military tour is cut short by a sniper’s bullet. He returns home following months of rehabilitation and struggles daily with the physical and mental effects of battle. He tries, but can’t erase the striking Israeli woman from his mind, and then when he least expects it, she reaches out.

The Shadow Dance Murders has a unique “hook” that to the best of my knowledge has not been encountered before by homicide detectives. There is a secondary hook at the ending that establishes the groundwork for a sequel.

Can you share a little bit about what you’re working on now or what’s coming next?

Several key characters move forward with Chandler in much broader international thriller.

General O’Malley, Chandler’s control, says, “Your wealth gives you unique credentials that allow you to infiltrate the world of power brokers that make kings and bring down governments. These days, friends turn foes faster than a short order cook flips pancakes. As an insider you can sniff out problem areas and identify hostile alliances that can’t be done by electronic means or satellites.

“If a corporation has changing attitudes that are favorable to our enemies, especially the Russians and Chinese, we have to know. We’ve ear-marked large US companies that are doing business with terrorist organizations, supplying them with embargoed goods, and laundering their blood-soaked money. Identify the key players, and then……”

What is a typical writing day like for you?

I write early, around six a.m., which includes the entire process of researching, editing, and head-scratching about the dumb stuff I wrote the day before that I thought was so brilliant. I close shop before noon or earlier if my brain goes numb. But, not being at the keyboard doesn’t mean I’m not thinking about the twists-and-turns of the story, so at six the next day I’m at it again.

When you’re writing, who’s in control, you or the characters?

Most often I’m in control, but I do listen to the characters. If they show me something I think will add to the story, okay, if not I tell them to get back in line.

Who are your favorite authors, the ones you read when you should be doing something else? Why do they appeal to you?

Elmore Leonard: He wrote small, tight stories that ordinary people could understand, and chose to stay away from world-ending, apocalyptic, international thrillers. He was malleable, and successfully moved from writing westerns in his early years, such as 3:10 to Yuma, to a crime writer that had his work adapted to movies and television series, like Justified.

David Baldacci: The years he spend practicing law in Washington, DC gave him a first-hand look at the power brokers and political maneuvering that occurs with the inside the “beltway” crowd. He used this knowledge to write Absolute Power, and his body of work has an authentic feel because of his background. Plus, he’s used his fame and money to do considerable charitable work for multiple sclerosis and formed a foundation to combat illiteracy.

Robert Ludlum: I got hooked on his break-neck paced spy thrillers such as The Scarlatti Inheritance, and The Bourne Identity and its sequels. He was one of the first writers to use former CIA agents to supply his books with authentic background information and procedures. And because of his experience as an actor and producer, he brought a theatrical flair to his writing.

Promotion is a big – and usually the most hated – part of being a writer. Can you share a little bit about how you promote?

Over the years I’ve run through the promotion gauntlet to include radio and television interviews, signings at book stores, talking at book clubs, blogs, and employing professionals (literary agents — there really are such things) to sing my praises to book buyers.

How long have you been writing?

I’ve been writing off-and-on for thirty years, and seriously for the past eight.

If you could talk for thirty minutes with any author (or person), living or dead, who would it be?

Harper Lee.

Describe your writing process once you sit down to write – or the preliminaries.

I back-read recent work to pull me back into the story to verify the tone and atmosphere are correct, and then I check my outline to make sure I’m moving the story forward rather than meandering about. With the first key stroke I’m back in the zone.

Where do you get your ideas?

I rely a great deal on my life experiences, and when I find something of interest I try to come up with a different twist or angle that will help weave an interesting tale.

 Were books an important part of your household when you were growing up?

I grew up in a house of readers. Even though my parents didn’t mandate that I read, it seemed the easy, natural thing for me to do. My grandmother, on the other hand, was a task master. She read everything in sight, expected the same of me, so I got in lock-step with her and eventually came to cherish our time together discussing books, etc.

Have you bought an e-reader? What is your overall impression of electronic publishing?

I have. Electronic publishing continues gaining traction and “respectability.” The cost-savings of “on demand” publishing and digitized e-books are substantial, which is important in this day of tight pocket books. The big expense of warehousing books, delivering them to the bricks-and-mortar houses, and then bearing the expense of unsold inventory that’s circled back, has been eliminated. Kids are growing up in an instant everything world that they access through I-phones and I-pads. They’re not inclined to spend time browsing bookstore aisles when they can access millions of titles online. Overall, electronic publishing allows a broader spectrum of writers to participate in the business, and provides readers with an excellent, inexpensive variety of material from which to choose.

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BIO

 

Mr. Furman retired from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), as the Assistant Special Agent in Charge of the North Carolina field division. His investigative and managerial expertise was directed against domestic and international terrorism and organized crime.

Currently he is the CEO of the Rexus Corporation, a background screening company and private investigative company headquartered in Charlotte, NC.

Welcome to Dames of Dialogue, Jeffrey. Tell us one strange and provocative tidbit from your life that nobody has heard before.

They say that everyone in the world has a double, an exact lookalike. I was surprised to find a few years ago that mine is a celebrity. I’m mistaken internationally for Steve Wozniak, the computer guy Jeffrey McQuain Author Image (2)who cofounded Apple and then performed on “Dancing With the Stars.” When I try to explain politely that I’m not “the Woz,” as he’s nicknamed, people don’t believe me or look disappointed to learn the truth that I can’t dance or build computers. If my novel “The Shakespeare Conspiracy” succeeds, though, I’m hoping somebody somewhere asks the Woz, “Aren’t you the guy who writes those Shakespeare thrillers?”

Tell us about your latest book.

I’m very excited about my first novel. It’s a thriller based on the Bard’s racial background. The main character, Professor Christopher Klewe, teaches Shakespeare at William and Mary in Virginia. When his best friend is murdered by a secret society in Washington, he has only three days to outrun killers on two continents and reveal the biggest conspiracy in literary history. Much in the style of Dan Brown’s “Da Vinci Code,” my novel uses fast pacing and cliffhangers to move the story along and to allow readers a whole new way to see Shakespeare.

Can you share a little bit about what you’re working on now or what’s coming next?

My next novel in the Christopher Klewe series is a prequel to the first one and will be titled “The Shakespeare Trap.” It shows how Klewe became caught up in solving Shakespeare mysteries as he tracks a serial killer who leaves clues from the Bard’s tragedies. This second novel takes place in Williamsburg, Virginia, and it should be ready later this year.

When you’re writing, who’s in control, you or the characters?

I hate to say it, but I think novelists tend to be control freaks. We invent the world and the characters, often forcing them to do what we want. That being said, there are moments that the characters rebel against all my good intentions. In “The Shakespeare Conspiracy,” for example, one character was originally meant to die, but she was too important to let go, so she was granted a reprieve in my final rewrite.  Now here’s the strange part: when the characters do take control, the writing becomes an almost out-of-body experience for me, and that’s my favorite part of being a novelist. In other words, sometimes I’m driving the bus, and sometimes I’m just along for the ride.

Who are your favorite authors, the ones you read when you should be doing something else? Why do they appeal to you?

My favorite writer is Shakespeare, of course, but I find that my preferred modern writers are mostly women, particularly in the mystery genre. I think that women tend to be more detailoriented and make scenes come to live more vividly. Among mystery writers, I read everyone from Agatha Christie (the best at plotting) to Martha Grimes (the best at characterization). Try any Grimes novel about Detective Richard Jury, but I especially recommend her Shakespeare story, “The Dirty Duck.”

Mark Twain said, “Southerners speak music…” Do you have a favorite southern saying you can share with our readers?

I tend to travel around the South a lot, and I’m always hearing lines that I want to save. My latest nonfiction book is “Ebony Swan,” which makes me think of the favorite Southern euphemism, “I swan” (meaning “I swear”). I’ve also heard “I could use a skinny nap,” as well as the greeting when two women met on the street: “If I’d known you’d be here,” announced the one with a grin, “I’d have brought my gun.” I also love Southern signs. There’s a bar in Daytona Beach, for instance, across from the town cemetery. The sign says, “Order a drink and have a seat. You’re better off here than across the street.”

Where do you find inspiration for your writing?

I started thinking about a mystery/thriller series while reading and teaching Shakespeare. My inspirations come from everywhere, though, and I have to keep paper and pen nearby at all times. In fact, even my dreams can contribute. One night I was dreaming about being chased through a library, and I soon started writing “The Shakespeare Conspiracy.”  Of course, one drawback is that I can’t control when an idea strikes. I may be in conversation with you when my eyes glaze over with thoughts for a fictional murder, but I promise it’s not personal.

If you could talk for thirty minutes with any author (or person), living or dead, who would it be?

jmcquain.theshakespeareconspiracyI don’t know what I’d ask Shakespeare, so I suppose I’d talk with my favorite modern writer, the novelist Shirley Jackson. She’s the only writer I know who can frighten me with one story and have me laughing uproariously at another. I wrote a graduate thesis about her work and was allowed to use her personal papers at the Library of Congress. It was a thrill to see her unpublished letters and find a four-leaf  clover pressed in her childhood diary. She died in 1965, so I’ll never get to ask her about the secrets to her multifaceted writing, but she was my biggest inspiration to become a writer.

Were books an important part of your household when you were growing up?

Yes, books were always important in my house. My mother worked outside the house as a library aide, so she was always telling me about books she enjoyed. My father worked for NASA as a meteorologist, and I remember that he would sit down in the evenings to smoke a pipe and read a dictionary he kept beside the chair. I have one brother, Dan, who is older and the most prodigious reader I’ve ever met, so I had to learn to read early just to keep up with him.

Any teachers who influenced you…encouraged you or discouraged?

I had a drama teacher named Marguerite Coley when I was in high school. She was exceptionally good at encouraging students not to worry about limitations.

I even tried acting for a while as a result of her courses, but soon I turned to writing as my creative release. Years later, when I started teaching, I remembered many of her acting lessons to use in teaching Shakespeare classes across the country.

 Any good suggestions for overcoming writer’s block?

The best secret I can share is not to force it. Turn your attention to other things. Daydream a little. Brush up your Shakespeare. Often I have an inspiration about another way to approach a scene. It helps also to keep more than one project going at a time. That way, when I’m blocked on one, I can usually make progress on something else. Finally, I’d heard that Ernest Hemingway would stop working midsentence at the end of his day, so he’d know where to pick up the next day. (To be fair, though, I’ve tried this system and found I had no idea where I was going with that sentence.)

Any books on writing you have found most helpful? Or classes you’ve taken?

The mystery writer Martha Grimes once taught at a Maryland community college I attended, but I regret never taking her class. Instead, I’ve read the writing lectures by Shirley Jackson and I recommend them as well as the Strunk and White classic “Elements of English.” I also wrote a book on writing called “Power Language,” in which I advised writers to inject humor whenever it’s appropriate.

The truth, though, is that writing is an organic process that uses everything you’ve ever seen or done. You must take those experiences and craft them into a finished product. That’s why I’m excited about my first novel, “The Shakespeare Conspiracy,” and I’ve found I’m enjoying myself writing fiction more and more. I’m already plotting the third novel in the series and thinking of other projects, including a stage play of my nonfiction book “Ebony Swan: The Case for Shakespeare’s Race”.

The making of the covers for the Appalachian Journey series by CC Tillery [part 2].

via The making of the covers for the Appalachian Journey series by CC Tillery [part 2].

CLAN HENDERSON.

via CLAN HENDERSON.

Welcome to Dames of Dialogue, Amy. Tell us about your latest book.

Down a country road not far from Charleston, South Carolina, stands an antebellum plantation as old as the oaks arching their leafy limbs over the long drive leading to the great house. Known as Peppernell Manor, the home has seen better days.

Cora Camille Chadwick-Peppernell, the matriarch of the Peppernell family, has finally decided to have her home amy readerestored. She offers the job to Carleigh Warner, an old college friend of her granddaughter, Evie. Carleigh, a restoration specialist living and working in Chicago, jumps at the chance to relocate, at least temporarily, to South Carolina and restore the old manor, which she fondly remembers visiting during her college days. With permission from her ex-husband, she takes her young daughter, Lucy, with her to the sultry South.

Once Carleigh arrives at the old manor, it doesn’t take her long to learn that not everyone in the Peppernell family is happy about the direction the restoration is taking. There are certain family members who would like to see the plantation under the management of a firm that would turn the property into a tourist destination. As disagreements begin to take a menacing turn under the hanging Spanish moss and violence visits the manor, Carleigh must choose whether to stay in South Carolina or leave it all behind for her own safety and that of her little girl.

The Ghosts of Peppernell Manor was released on April 28th.  It is not a ghost story. There are a couple characters who believe in ghosts, but the ghosts in the story are metaphorical, not real.

Can you share a little bit about what you’re working on now or what’s coming next?

Just last week I sent my publisher the full manuscript for my next novel, which is due out in March, 2016. It doesn’t even have an official title yet. For now, its working title is The House of Hanging Jade, but I fully expect that to change.

It’s the story of a young sous chef in Washington, D.C., Kailani Kanaka, who returns to her native Hawaii to take a job as the personal chef to a family living on the island of Hawaii, often called the Big Island.

Kailani is soon called on to deal with more than the job description called for, with a family in desperate turmoil and an unexpected and unwanted visitor from her past. Before long the secrets and the tensions in the home begin to build and Kailani must find the courage to stay and follow her heart.

When you’re writing, who’s in control, you or the characters?

I am in control when I write. I’m not the kind of writer that can sit down and let the characters take over, though sometimes I wish I were. Before I write anything I have an outline of exactly where I want to go with the story and what situations the characters will find themselves in.

Who are your favorite authors, the ones you read when you should be doing something else? Why do they appeal to you?

There are lots of writers I love, but probably my favorite (at least today) is M.C. Beaton. She writes the Agatha Raisin series and the Hamish Macbeth series, and I just can’t get enough of them. The Agatha Raisin books are set in the Cotswolds and the Hamish Macbeth books are set in the Scottish Highlands. I love the books for their humor, their quirky characters, their settings, and their mysteries.

I also enjoy reading anything by Ernest Hemingway or Jane Austen. And I’m currently working on two books: Senseless Acts of Beauty by Lisa Verge Higgins and The One You Love by Paul Pilkington.

Promotion is a big—and usually the most hated—part of being a writer. Can you share a little bit about how you promote?

I actually like to promote, but I do wish it didn’t take so much time and I wish the results were instantaneous. I promote on social media, on my blog, on my website, on other blogs, in person (at book signings, conferences, and library talks), in newspapers, on online radio, and in magazines, both online and print.

Promotion takes away from the time I have to actually write, but I’m thankful to have that problem.

What do you consider the single most satisfying aspect of being a writer?

amy reade bookDefinitely all the people I’ve met, both writers and readers. There’s nothing nicer than opening my email and finding a message from a reader who enjoyed my books. I am so grateful for all my readers, but especially the ones who reach out to me like that.

And as for writers, the ones I’ve met are an absolutely wonderful group of people. They’re supportive, encouraging, kind, and gracious. I couldn’t ask for a better group of colleagues.

Who were your favorite authors as a child? Have they influenced your writing career in any way?

I read voraciously as a child. Probably my favorite “author” when I was young wasn’t a single author at all, but Carolyn Keene, the group of authors who wrote the Nancy Drew mysteries. One of my favorite books was Down, Down the Mountain by Ellis Credle. And when I was older, I read every word by James Herriott that I could find.

If you could talk for thirty minutes with any author (or person), living or dead, who would it be?

I’d talk to my grandmother. She died several years ago and there are lots of questions I would ask her about her childhood that only she can answer.

What are your thoughts on the standard writing advice, “write what you know”?

I once wrote a blog post about that question. I followed the advice and wrote what I knew for my first book, Secrets of Hallstead House, which was set in the Thousand Islands region of northern New York, but I also wrote what I wanted to know. The main character was a nurse and I didn’t know enough about nursing to write thoroughly about it, so I did quite a lot of research on nursing for that book. For The Ghosts of Peppernell Manor, I researched endlessly the decorating and restoration of Civil War-era plantation houses. I didn’t know anything about those topics when I started planning the book.

How do you classify yourself as a writer? Fiction or non-fiction? Specific genre such as mystery, short story, paranormal or more general such as women’s fiction, Appalachian, etc.

I classify myself as a fiction writer. Under the fiction umbrella I consider myself a writer of women’s fiction with a romantic suspense bent.

Have you bought an e-reader? What is your overall impression of electronic publishing?      

I have a Kindle that I love. I know a lot of people prefer books they can hold in their hands, but e-readers definitely have some advantages over books. First, I can increase the font if I want to. Second, instead of taking a heavy pile of books when I go somewhere, I can put them on my Kindle and have everything on one device at my fingertips. And third, ebooks are very often cheaper than both hardcover and paperback books.  Yes, there’s the smell of books and the feeling of pages under your fingertips, and I love paper books, too, but I can’t say that I prefer them to e-readers.

Any books on writing you have found most helpful? Or classes you’ve taken?

The book I’ve found most helpful, the book that is never far from my desk, the book that I have highlighted and dog-eared to death, is Phyllis Whitney’s Guide to Fiction Writing. It takes an aspiring writer step-by-step through the practical and organizational processes she recommends to produce a finished novel. I know her methods aren’t for everyone (there are lots of writers, called “pantsters,” who write without outlines and reams of notes), but they work very well for me.

P.S. Thank you so much for hosting this interview on Dames of Dialogue. It’s been a wonderful experience and I’ve enjoyed every minute of it.

Thanks for joining us today, Amy. I really enjoyed the interview. For more information about Amy, visit her website at: www.amymreade.com

Mystery writer Nancy Lynn Jarvis wanted to share this with our readers. Although I can’t be in San Francisco on March 22nd, I do plan to buy her books to support her cause. If you haven’t read her books yet, I suggest you give them a try- she writes a terrific mystery series called the Regan McHenry Real Estate mystery series. I’d appreciate it if you would help network this important event. ~Christy~

From Nancy:

Like Tom Brokaw, my husband has multiple myeloma, a plasma cell cancer. He was diagnosed a little more than two years ago. If he’d developed this disease a decade ago, he’d likely be dead by now, instead he’s doing well. Fortunately great strides have been made and survival times keep getting pushed out because of research, new medicines, and new treatments.

The Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation has been instrumental in fundraising dedicated to finding a cure for the disease. Supporters have answered their call to do creative fundraising. There’s a cat litter manufacturer who donates a portion of sales as part of a “Cats for Cancer” campaign. Ditto a Louisiana seafood producer who sells “Crayfish for Cancer.” It seems this group loves alliteration and it occurred to me that as a mystery writer I could donate books for sale and dub them “Mysteries for Myeloma.”

Five of my books are real estate mysteries set in Santa Cruz. My husband and I also edited a terrific cookbook called “Cozy Food: 128 Cozy Mystery Writers Share Their Favorite Recipes” which qualifies in the mystery category because all the recipes are from mystery writers.

This year’s Greater Bay Area MMRF event is a 5K Walk/Run which will be held in San Francisco at the Marina Green on March 22nd. I’ll be there selling books. All proceeds will be donated to MMRF. For people with e-readers or those who can’t make the event, profits from e-books purchased on Amazon that day will also be donated. (My Amazon Author page is http://tinyurl.com/6uq4gsx if you want to take a look at the books or get ready to buy one on March 22nd. “Mags and the AARP Gang,” another book I’ve written will also be included for those who prefer humor to mysteries or cookbooks.

Please spread the word about the fundraiser. Email your friends. Post about it on your blog. Tweet and share thru social media. E-books are only $3 or $4 each — such a small donation to make — but if enough people buy one, not only will they get a book they may enjoy reading, but we will raise some real money…perhaps enough to keep my husband and many others around for those who love them.

 

Snow, Sleet … and ‘Sang Tea.

via Snow, Sleet … and ‘Sang Tea.

CHRISTY TILLERY FRENCH: Betty, as one of the Dames and a fan, I’ve been thrilled at the attention your books are receiving. And now the good news that two short stories are being made into movies! Can you tell us about that?

BETTY DRAVIS: Thanks, Christy, for your ongoing interest in my books and now my short-films. I’m glad you’re Betty Dravis in black hatasking about my short-films. I’m so excited… I have fulfilled every author’s dream in getting some of my works into film. I was delighted when Mina Ownlee, actor and founder of KPF Productions of Orlando, Florida, offered me a contract to do a short-film of The Snack, one of my three offerings in a horror anthology titled Six-Pack of Fear. As you know, the renowned paranormal author, Barbara Watkins, is my co-author on that book.

Word around the Net spreads fast and when several more production companies began inquiring about my other works, I was over the moon… The first offer fell apart when the producer was in a serious auto accident, but then I signed another contract with Suniil, In Transit Productions, actor and founder of Hollywood, California, who has won awards for his first two short-films. He is going to short-film my humorous adventure Uncle Herman’s Harem, which debuted in Best Short Stories of 2005.

And that’s not all: I also have offers for two feature films to be made from my longer works, but no contracts yet, so can’t go into detail on them… I’m keeping my fingers crossed and praying. I think you know that I’m a huge advocate of short-films, but a feature film has always been my big dream.

CHRISTY TILLERY FRENCH: Do you have a release date for either one?betty dravis.the shack 2

BETTY DRAVIS: Your timing is perfect, Christy. Producer Ownlee just released the DVD of The Snack last week and it has already gone global with sales in New Zealand and Canada. That’s unusual because usually the premiere (or first screening) traditionally comes before the DVD. But a number of problems arose on the set during production, which caused such long delays that Mina and I agreed to put the DVD out as soon as possible. Our friendly fans were getting impatient to see how Mina adapted my story and what my unending hype was all about. I’m happy to report that the first week’s sales exceeded our expectations and we’re hoping work spreads fast…and far. Thanks to you, we will now reach even more people via your gracious and numerous Dames of Dialogues readers. We sincerely appreciate your interest.

As for my second short-film, Uncle Herman’s Harem, Producer Suniil Sadarangani is aiming for mid-to-late 2015. He’s busy putting together the package for his first “passion”: making a feature film of his current short-film In Transit. That was his first short and he achieved phenomenal results by having it nominated for a nomination to the Academy Awards last year. In Transit and his second short-film Blind both won awards. Suniil informed me he is tying my Uncle Herman’s Harem in with the coming In Transit packaging, which is good news for me.

CHRISTY TILLERY FRENCH: Tell us about the actors who are playing roles in these films.

BETTY DRAVIS: I’m very pleased with the actors in The Snack; they all come from Florida since KPF studio is located there. The main lead is a newcomer to acting, Brian Mason, who plays the part of father Mike Kirby. I’ve shown betty dravis. the snackthis film to several Hollywood directors and all agree he handles his role with believable drama and “shows a lot of potential.” KPF founder, Mina Ownlee (stage name simply Mina) plays the role of mother Michelle Kirby. Mina has been acting since childhood in The Bronx and gives her usual stellar performance. Makaylee Rinaldo plays the important role of the child Cayla who is in danger from paranormal forces. Since her father is Kelly D. Weaver, a popular Florida film producer, and her mother, Amy Rinaldo, serves in numerous film capacities, Makaylee has many film credits. Next we come to the fourth main lead: Cindy Long plays the role of Morning Star and she’s an acclaimed actress with many credits from Disney to TV. Look for her in two big features coming in 2015: S.O.U.L. directed by the legendary Armand Mastroianni and Big Sky, coming soon to prime-time TV.

Then there is the cute teen-ager, Romanita Collazo, who plays the part of Roma Star. This is her very first acting job and she leaves a fine impression. In addition, cameo roles are played by Amy Rinaldo and Bonnie Cobb who play the detectives. I’m so impressed with all of them…

CHRISTY TILLERY FRENCH: And ala Stephen King and Alfred Hitchcock, will you have a cameo role?

BETTY DRAVIS: Hahaha, Christy… I am such a ham, years ago I would have loved that, but due to my advanced age,betty dravis. the snack characters I might not even be able to make it to Florida for the premiere/screening. Mina is setting that up at the present time. However, I have arranged through a long-time producer friend for a premiere in Hollywood’s famous House of Blues. This is part of the Innovative of West Hollywood Film Festival. My producer friend is Martin DeLuca, the founder of WHFF. I won’t be attending that either, but I hope to have representatives at both events.

CHRISTY TILLERY FRENCH: You’re receiving attention from celebrities – several of whom you’ve interviewed here at Dames of Dialogue and in your books Dream Reachers I and II. You’ve developed friendships with many of these celebrities and I wonder if you’ve ever had a negative experience with one (no need to name names!).

BETTY DRAVIS: No serious negative experiences, but I can think of three minor issues. One interview subject disagreed with my co-author over interview rights and pulled her interview from the first book, then opted back in for the second Dream Reachers. Another woman that I interviewed presented a minor problem when she made my job take much longer than it should have; she called on the phone, wanting to change too much text while adding over 2,000 words to the space we had allotted her. The third thing I recall could have been a little more serious; one person mentioned by a Hollywood celebrity didn’t like what she had said about him, so I obliged him by taking it out. All three of us ended on an amicable note, so it worked out and we are still friends to this day.

bettydravis.snackcharctersCHRISTY TILLERY FRENCH: Will there be a third Dream Reachers?

BETTY DRAVIS: Due to the amount of work involved with each interview, sorting through photographs and all that’s involved in book production, I doubt it, Christy. My co-author Chase Von and I worked till three in the morning for four or five months putting those books together. It was a labor of love because we do love spotting potential talent before they become big household names. And we’re elated that so many of them have gone on to greater glory. To name a few: Kashy Keegan (#1 hit song in Hong Kong), Jenny McShane and Shawn Richardz (prime-time TV roles) and the great Joan Baker, famous Voice-Over coach who is taking New York by storm… Since we spot-lighted over seventy talents, there are many more who are doing even greater. Even though the books weren’t major hits, we’re happy that they inspired other talented people to pursue their dreams. I can’t believe the e-mails we received from grateful readers who reported being inspired by these books.

I might one day do a digital version of Dream Reachers, show-casing about eight or ten celebrities, both major and minor. That would be “doable”…

CHRISTY TILLERY FRENCH: You also have a background as a journalist during which time you interviewed betty dravis booksfamous celebrities such as Clint Eastwood (lucky you!). What fun you must have had! Do you miss those days in the past when you were buzzing around Hollywood conducting these interviews?

BETTY DRAVIS: There is that mistaken impression that I flitted about Hollywood doing my interviews of the rich and famous. But that’s not how it worked. All my contacts were through my newspaper work. It’s common for newspapers to attract celebrities because publicity is the name of their game. The more good press the better… Thus whenever they’re on the road their publicists inform the media and we take it from there. That’s how I met super-star Jane Russell and interviewed her at a round-table session at Trader Vic’s in San Francisco. I was editor of The Gilroy (California) News Herald at the time. The same with country/western singer Tanya Tucker who was in the nearby town of San Martin to perform at Bobby McGee’s Night Club… She was staying at the ranch of a family friend and I got invited to be in their entourage for various activities over the week-end, including Tanya’s birthday party. And then there was SenatorTed Kennedy…

My all-time favorite interview was with the very handsome, talented living legend Clint Eastwood. I lucked out with him, meeting him through his college friend whom I had featured in a story when I was a feature writer/columnist for The East San Jose Sun. I’ll never forget the night I had a private interview with him in her home. He was so charming and complimentary of my writing skills, encouraging me to follow my dreams. I published those stories and three others in the book Dream Reachers that I wrote with celebrity interviewer/poet Chase Von and later in digital format in Star Struck: Interviews with Dirty Harry and Other Hollywood Icons.

Christy, as for wishing for days gone by, NO, I don’t. It was fun at the time, but I have never been one to dwell on the past. I couldn’t reach my dreams if I did that. I believe in living in the present, enjoying it while still pushing onward to fulfill our dreams and follow our passions into the future. There will be time enough to dream of the past when I am too old to work.

betty dravis.the hiss of evilCHRISTY TILLERY FRENCH: Let’s turn to your author life. You’re a prolific writer and have crossed several genres. What is your favorite genre to write and do you have a favorite book?

BETTY DRAVIS: I love writing scary stories with a bit of twisted humor, but have no idea why, Christy. I don’t actually have a favorite genre but I don’t like writing romance unless it’s a light comedy. I write whatever story seems dominant in my mind at the time. I can tell you this, though: I had the most fun writing a cross/genre young adult book The Toonies Invade Silicon Valley. I think it’s because I could let my imagination soar. I was elated when Apple’s famous Steve “Woz” Wozniak agreed to a cameo speaking role in the book.

I can tell you stories about each of my nine books, but that would take too long. My “heart” book is 1106 Grand Boulevard because it’s about my beautiful older sister and her seven marriages and is set around our childhood home in Hamilton, Ohio. It was hard writing about my family, but I felt it was a story that needed to be told.

As for favorite book, I do believe 1106 Grand Boulevard would have to be it (for above reasons). I have a great fondness for the Six-Pack books that I wrote with the popular paranormal writer Barbara Watkins: Six-Pack of Blood and Six-Pack of Fear. It was through the Fear book that about four producers took an interest in my works, but we discussed that in the opening of this article.

CHRISTY TILLERY FRENCH: Do you have an upcoming release?

BETTY DRAVIS: Within the past month I released a short humorous/adventure story, The Search for Bobby McGee, through my publisher, Wendy Dingwall of Canterbury House. I’m still doing PR on that one while trying to launch The Snack DVD simultaneously. Even at that, the answer is YES, I have a new release coming. It’s my first full-length horror novel, titled The Hiss of Evil. Wendy was kind enough to loan me out to Janet Beasley of JLB Creatives Publishing for this one selection.

A generous friend created a cover that I’m just nuts about; one that Janet already approved. I will share it to your readers in this article for the very first public showing. I hope to hear your fans’ opinion on this cover. And so it goes. Being an author yourself, you know that we are always juggling projects. However, even though I dreamed of having movies made of my stories, I truthfully never thought I would be juggling books and movies simultaneously. I’m over the moon at the moment, and will probably be intolerable when I get that feature film out there.

CHRISTY TILLERY FRENCH: I’ve always found you very knowledgeable about promoting and, to be honest, you remind me of the Energizer Bunny when it comes to this. What do you like best about promoting? What do you like least?

BETTY DRAVIS: Well, the Bunny is now 86 years young, and losing some of that energy, but I will keep pushing. Onward and upward, I say… I really enjoy the writing, Christy, but don’t like the promoting. It takes too much time from my true passion of writing. That’s what I dislike about it, and what I like about it is that I get to meet many new and lovely friends. People like the Dames and my Facebook, Goodreads and Twitter friends.

CHRISTY TILLERY FRENCH: As an accomplished author, do you have any advice you can offer a novice or struggling writer?

BETTY DRAVIS: This advice might sound trite but the best advice I can give is to never give up and to remember there is no such thing as a writer. We are all re-writers; meaning write it as many times as it takes until you are confident it works. If this means getting a professional editor, then that’s a must. The American language is complicated, so make sure you have your text edited before sending it out into the world. Reviewers are critical and won’t hesitate to point out all your errors. They have long memories, so get it right the first time. Another very important point is creating your own “voice.” Don’t imitate other writers… It takes time before we “feel” our own voice; you may not find it until your second or even third book. But it will come… There is so much more, but there are many books on the subject of writing. Stephen King has a great one on the market.

CHRISTY TILLERY FRENCH: Let’s get personal. What’s your most favorite pastime Favorite food? Favorite saying? Favorite place?

BETTY DRAVIS: My favorite pastime is writing, of course, and spending time with my lovely children and grandchildren. I even have three great-greats… I don’t really have a favorite food, but I like seafood, salads, Mexican food… and cornbread. My favorite saying is one my mother used to say: “I wouldn’t give a nickel for another child, but wouldn’t take a million for any one of mine.” Some of my favorite words are: flabbergasted, funky, kinky, lickety-split. As for my favorite place, it’s home. The old saying, “There’s no place like home,” is absolutely right. Nowadays I can’t make up my mind whether to choose my “Girl Cave” where I write and reflect or my bed…

CHRISTY TILLERY FRENCH: I guess we covered all the important points, Betty. It’s been fun and enlightening talking to you. Speaking for myself and all the Dames, we’re very happy for you. Congratulations on your two short-films and we look forward to a feature film in the future for you. In closing I’m going to share your various links so our readers know where to find your books, your biography and other things about you. TTYL (talk to you later), as they say in phone texts…

Betty’s The Snack DVD purchase link: http://kpfproduction6.wix.com/kpfproductions#!kpf-store/c3jc

Betty’s Amazon Central Author page: http://www.amazon.com/Betty-Dravis/e/B002BLJJIU/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_pop_1

Betty’s website: http://www.bettydravis.com

Betty’s Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/betty.dravis

The Snack: Movie page https://www.facebook.com/TheSnackmovie

 

by Christy Tillery French

Bobby McGee cover - Smashwords ready ... FinalI just finished reading Betty Dravis’s new digital book, a short story titled The Search for Bobby McGee. What a writer! I have always admired Betty’s prolific writing style and ability to write in any genre out there and this one is a definite winner.  I really love the unusual concept of this story and was surprised at the novel ending. It’s only been posted for two days, but I was not surprised to see it listed in Amazon ranking as #5 in Teens and Young Adults Short Reads; #46 in over-all literature. Way to go, Betty…

I also enjoyed reading the praises by other successful writers at the front of book, and the foreword, written by esteemed feature film director Russel Emanuel, was awesome. Betty Dravis certainly has friends in high places.

Since I’m also a fan of Janis Joplin and her biggest hit song, Me and Bobby McGee, I was curious about how this multi-genre author came up with the idea for this story. I was happy to find the answer in her author note in the book. This is what Betty says about writing The Search for Bobby McGee:

betty dravis

Author Betty Dravis

Did you ever have a song that keeps running through your mind for years after first hearing it? Well, it’s like that with Janis Joplin’s version of Me and Bobby McGee. I just can’t get that tune or the melancholy love story out of my mind.

I’ll never forget the passionate performance this legendary performer gave and I often watch it on this video. She moved me to tears…and still does. http://youtu.be/6iX-EcRKXJw

Being human, we all day-dream from time to time, wondering if “the one that got away” was our soul mate or not. With that in mind, I often thought about Bobby and Janis, wondering if he was real and whether she spent her life pining for him. Could he be the reason she became a substance abuser? The reason she died so young?

When I learned that Kris Kristofferson and Fred Foster actually wrote the song and the Bobby in his song was female, then I knew Janis’s Bobby wasn’t real. But he was still real to me and I kept wondering about him. That’s what inspired this story, and I had hoped in writing it that it might exorcise him–and the song–from my mind.

It ain’t working, friends. I suppose, like Janis, I will never forget Bobby McGee.

booksbybettydravis

 I hope all the Dames of Dialogue readers get your copy of this short story. A warm, humorous adventure awaits you…

To get your copy, go to this link:

http://www.amazon.com/Search-Bobby-McGee-Betty-Dravis-ebook/dp/B00R8NG3HQ/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1419203054&sr=1-1&keywords=the+search+for+bobby+McGee

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