Someone asked me recently what I wanted to be when I grew up and I answered, “To be heard.” I think this is true of artists. Whatever the artistic discipline, there is always a story, and that story always needs an audience. As a child I wanted to be dancer but after failing a ballet exam, I discovered acting. I had my first professional acting job at age 18. I chased my acting career from city to city, Canada to the U.S., and finally settled in Los Angeles, where I eventually moved into writing. Always, always wanting to be heard.
2. What’s your favorite book?
A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole.
3. Who is your favorite author?
So difficult to pick just one. In fact, so impossible that I will pick more than one. Marilynne Robinson, Anne Tyler, Laura Hillenbrand, Joan Didion…okay, I’ll stop, but I could go on.
My book is a memoir, with the story about the pain of leaving my acting career entwined with the story of my volunteering to start a Shakespeare Club at an public elementary school. At a writing conference, a fellow writer asked me about my work with the kids. I discovered in the telling there was a story to be told, so I came home and wrote the book.
5. Tell us a bit about your current writing projects.
I’ve completed two novels. Nobody’s Dolly begins with a young woman’s choice to escape an arranged marriage, and her 14-year-old sister being forced to take her place at the altar. The story covers how that initial act influences generations over the course of eighty years.
The second book, The Novel Class, is set in contemporary Los Angeles during the recent recession. When an upper-middle-class widow discovers her nest egg doesn’t exist, she’s forced from her perch into a journey of survival.
6. Do you have more books in the works? Tell us a bit about them.
My brain is always churning up new stories, but it’s too soon to say more than that.
7. What can readers expect to get from this book?
I hope what readers get from Teaching Will: What Shakespeare and 10 Kids Gave Me That Hollywood Couldn’t, is a chance to laugh and an opportunity to identify with the very real circumstances of dissipated dreams. We have a romantic notion in this country that we can get whatever we want if we just work hard enough or dream big enough. This is simply not true for most. So what to do? I hope this book inspires readers to consider widening their road, looking past what hasn’t happened, accepting those disappointments, and creating anew.
8. Any tips for aspiring writers?
Start. Just begin. A thousand words a day. Revise, revise, revise. Get your butt in the seat and start.
9. Any last words?
I’d like to address the idea of the artist having something to say and wanting to be heard. That impulse, that passion, that need, is as undeniable and necessary as food or air. It has never been an easy gig to produce art and wait for an audience. Publishing took a big hit in the recession and has been turned upside down as consumers have never had so many opportunities for entertainment, with so little time. This is also the case with music, dance, theatre, you name it. And yet if you are an artist, you have to do it anyway. On days when I hear from a reader that my book kept them up reading, I am thrilled. And on other days when I have to weather rejections, I am disheartened. Still I know that I have to do it anyway.
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