Saturday, May 11, 2013

An Interview With Author, Bridget Straub

Where are you from?
Northern California. Oakland, to be precise.
What inspired you to write your first book?
I never know where these ideas come from. I think I was listening to Popular from Wicked and I began thinking about Glinda the Good Witch, and thought that would be a hard image to live up to, and out it came. I wrote it in three days, complete with accompanying drawings. Well, that’s the first published book.
Do you write full-time or part-time? How do you balance your writing life with your family/work life?
I write full time and to be honest it is incredibly difficult. I am a single mom to three kids and although my son is an adult, the girls are in their early teens and have very busy schedules. Add to that the fact that I am not yet selling enough books to pay for all of the expenses that come up, it requires sacrifices. That said, I can’t not write, and I have faith that it will soon pay off in a big way.
What jobs have you held that influence your stories?
I’ve worked in both childcare and as a photographer’s assistant.
Do you have a specific writing style?
I’m finding that I write best in first person.
How did you come up with the title?
Searching for My Wand was easy because it tied into the whole being named after the good witch theme. On a Hot August Afternoon is literally how the second book begins, and The Salacious Marny Ottwiler came to me while doing a collage.
Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
The message in all of my novels to some extent is that although we all go through hard times, a sense of humor and a little determination can bring about a happy ending.
How much of the book is realistic?
I write contemporary novels about people in very real circumstances.
Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
 Obviously I have had children, so that is somewhat based on reality, and I have been around a lot of artists, so many of my characters are writers, actors or musicians.
What books have most influenced your life most?
The reality is that I don’t read many novels. I find myself drawn toward biographies, but there have been exceptions. I loved The Witching Hour by Anne Rice
If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?
It might be Emma Thompson because she has a great sense of humor and I find her to be immensely talented.
What book are you reading now?
I’m trying a collection of Dorothy Parker, but I’m hating the way she keeps referring to her characters as Mr. or Mrs. Whatever their names are. It makes it hard to relate to.
Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?
Bonnie Tractenberg wrote a book that was light and enjoyable, titled Wedlocked
What are your current projects?
Have you got all day? I am currently pitching a ½ hour sitcom, I have three novels completed and in the editing stage, as well as three others in various stages of completion. I also have a musical, Room to Grow, that I wrote with Laura Hall (from Whose Line is it Anyway) that I am hoping to get produced.
Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.
There are many. Laura Hall and her husband Rick have been amazing and instrumental, not to mention they are great friends. Vicki Abelson’s Women Who Write is also an incredibly supportive community of supportive writers.
Do you see writing as a career?
Oh yeah!
If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
I am happy to say not one word.
Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
My little sister and I were the youngest of five kids and shared a bedroom through most of our childhood. From the time we were very little she would ask me to tell her a bedtime story. By eight, I was writing.
Can you share a little of your current work with us?
This is the opening to an as of yet untitled novel. I just finished it last week but still need to edit:

“And so here I sit, all alone in an empty house. You’d think sitting here in a room stripped of everything that once made it personal and mine would finally make it seem real. It’s over. We have lost not just our home but everything in it, including ourselves. I look outside and see blue sky with a breeze gently blowing the leaves of the huge tree in the front yard. It was that tree that drew us to this house in the first place, and yet I don’t even know what kind of tree it is. Is it a maple, an oak? Who knows? I guess there is probably a lesson in that, something to do with taking the time to think before you leap.

I know I have to get up and walk away. It’s unavoidable, and yet I can’t bring myself to move. As soon as I walk out the door, I won’t ever be allowed back in. This part of my life will be over, and as quick as I have been to act in the past, I am now paralyzed. Before now, I looked forward to new beginnings. I deluded myself into thinking that change was always a good thing, but it’s not. It’s scary and uncertain, and I just want to go back to the way things were. I want to close my eyes and wake up wrapped in Bobby’s arms, surrounded by all of our stuff. The good, the bad and the ugly; I want it all back.

I wrote that almost six months ago. It was scribbled in a small notebook I kept in my purse, and after I wrote it I curled up on the floor and cried all of the tears I’d been refusing to shed for months. It was my friend Julie who came and found me. It was Julie who walked me out of there. She took me to the apartment she was sharing with her then fiancĂ© Louis, gave me their bed, and told me I was welcome to stay with them for as long as I needed. I don’t think she’d ever dreamed that I would curl up into a ball and not move for the next three weeks. I was broken into a million pieces and there was no putting me back together.”
Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
Not really.
Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
I really don’t have a favorite. It’s strange, I know, but I get little bits from everything I read.
Do you have to travel much concerning your book(s)?
No. I would love to have the budget to travel more.
Who designed the covers?
I did. I love designing the covers.
What was the hardest part of writing your book?
I love writing so much that the hardest part is usually having to put it away.
Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
I’ve learned not to try and control the story. Sometimes I think it’s going to be about one thing and it goes in another direction.
Do you have any advice for other writers?
Don’t worry if at first every word is not perfect. Get it all down and then go back.
Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
Just that I love hearing what they think.
What were the challenges (research, literary, psychological, and logistical) in bringing it to life?
The internet is so amazing that research has become easy and something I no longer dread.
What do you think about e-publishing versus technical publishing?
My books are available as both e-books and paperbacks.  As for traditional publishing, I think it takes too long, and that at least for now, the benefits are few. Hopefully that will balance out again but for now I prefer to maintain total control of the books I write.
Do you have an agent or publisher? How did you go about finding one?
I do not although I do think an agent or manager might make things easier. Unfortunately it’s a catch 22. Most want you to sell first, but it is hard to get your foot in the door without representation.
If you could live anywhere, where would it be?
Right here in Los Angeles. There are a lot of places I’d like to visit but to live, this is ideal.
If you could have any super power, what would it be?
To be invisible. I’ve always wanted to be like Endora on Bewitched and be able to sit up in a corner observing with no one knowing I’m there.

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