Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Authors Road Interview Features Larry Engelman, Creative non-fiction

For many of us, the Vietnam War was an event that could be described as a milestone, touchstone, or millstone in our lives. It’s a story that’s been told in every medium, from music to film, in novel, poem and historical non-fiction.

We are pleased to present our interview with historian, professor emeritus and creative non-fiction author, Larry Engelmann. Although his book on Vietnam, Tears Before the Rain, was not the first of his six books and countless articles, but it did open the doors to him to begin writing extensively on stories from Asia.

Engelmann received his BA and MA in history and economics from the University of Minnesota, and his Ph.D. in history and American literat from the University of Michigan. He then went on to teach until his retirement in the History Department at San Jose State University.

In this thoughtful interview, Engelmann discusses the real reason he began writing, and how powerfully it has shaped his life and impacted the lives of others. We know you’ll enjoy his frankness, openness and wit as he tells his stories about the art and craft of storytelling.

Next Interview: Diana Gabaldon, author of the Outlander series.

George & Salli

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Notes on the Film A Dangerous Method - Ideas in Conflict

by Bill Johnson
This movie about Carl Jung, Sigmund Freud, and Sabina, a patient of Jung's, illustrates that conflict in a film does not have to revolve around action. Here the most heated conflict revolves around ideas.

Jung is a disciple of Freud, who has invented psychoanalysis. Freud's goal is to ensure that psychoanalysis be taken seriously as a scientific method of understanding people through an understanding of the subconscious and the unconscious. When Jung begins to express an interest in a collective unconscious and mysticism, Freud sees this as something that will undermine his life's work.

Each man is committed to his ideas and their primacy. Neither can walk away from the conflict between their ideas.

When Jung begins to treat a young Russian Jew named Sabina with the new talking cure, he finds himself attracted to her (as he is not to his wealthy, genteel wife). When Jung and Sabina become lovers and rumors about that begin to surface, Freud now has a weapon he can use to discredit Jung, and by discrediting Jung, his ideas as well.

But he does not.

A thoughtful, intelligent film directed by David Cronenberg.

Years ago I reviewed a generic action film. The Big Bad in the film had hired mercenaries, some right-wing idealogues and some professional soldiers for hire. I pointed out he could develop conflict between these two groups based on their different mind-sets. A small point, but it would have given what was generic characters some flavor.

When characters embody powerful ideas in conflict, and a storyteller finds a way to bind those characters together, that kind of conflict naturally and forcefully comes off the page.


A fourth edition of Bill Johnson's writing workbook, A Story is a Promise & The Spirit of Storytelling, is now available for $2.99 from Amazon Kindle.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Mark Twain, by Robert H. Hirst Interview on Authors Road

To our knowledge, no author in history has managed to write and publish new, best sellers that span a career of nearly a century and a half. But Mark Twain has. His first short-story (1865), The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County, is still read in schools today. And in 2010, the UC Berkeley Mark Twain Papers & Project published the first of three volumes of Twain’s critical edition autobiography – a monumental work that Twain embargoed from publishing for 100 years after his death. Granted, there have been several autobiographies published before this, but the materials those were drawn from were abridged and censored.

No one anticipated what would happen with this first volume. Initial plans were made for a print run of 2,000. Before a year was up over half-million copies were sold, and world demand was still going strong.

And for good reason. Critics and scholars may argue over who is the most important American of letters, but the world knows who is the most endearing and original. Years ago, when we were in Mumbai, India we were constantly reminded by excited residents that Mark Twain had spoken there long before our arrival.

We are so very pleased to have had the opportunity to meet and talk with Robert H. Hirst, General Editor of the Mark Twain Papers & Project. For nearly half a century Hirst has devoted his professional life to the phenomenon of Twain, a history that continues to grow with the discovery each week of yet new letters and papers.

We know you’ll enjoy and learn from this remarkable interview.

George & Salli

Author's Road

Friday, February 3, 2012

Northwest Author Series Features Bill Johnson

Bill Johnson offers a presentation based on his writing workbook, A Story is a Promise, for Christina Katz' Northwest Author Series in Wilsonville on February 26th. The fourth edition of his book offers new, unique tools for creating vibrant story characters that he'll explore in his presentation.

The Northwest Author Series is an educational series of author workshops put on for the benefit of aspiring writers of all levels from Wilsonville, Oregon and the surrounding areas. All of the authors who present for us are:

* residents of the Pacific Northwest
* traditionally published authors
* experienced writing workshop teachers

The Northwest Author Series is sponsored by The Wilsonville Public Library and The Wilsonville Friends of the Library and hosted by Christina Katz.

Christina's first book, Writer Mama: How to Raise a Writing Career Alongside Your Kids, was sold at the Willamette Writers conference in 2005 and published in 2007. Her second book in 2008, Get Known Before the Book Deal, was the first book to break down the steps of platform development for aspiring authors, a topic that has become extremely popular in the past few years. Her third book is The Writers Workbook.

More about Christina.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Author's Road Features Laurie King

We've been on the Authors Road for five months now, driving over 2,000 miles and interviewing 20 writers. As you might expect we have begun to see patterns in the ways and styles of this unique species: the American Writer. Some are like firecrackers, some like slow burning coal seams, and some are time-bombs that surprise us with their explosive insights days after we’ve interviewed them. Laurie R. King is a writer who, for us, did all three pyrotechnics.

King grew up in the San Francisco and Seattle areas, making friends with books as she rolled like a tumbleweed from one place to another. She worked her way through UC Santa Cruz and The Graduate Theological Union to her Masters degree before deciding that continuing to study for her doctorate was ill advised with young children and a soon-to-retire husband. (She was later granted an honorary doctorate from GTU). Her studies had revealed that books were NOT written by God as she had believed as a young girl, so she turned her hand to writing.

Laurie R. King first introduced her readers to the very modern detective, Kate Martinelli, then helped kick the tweed knickers of the stodgy Sherlock Holmes into the 20th Century with her popular Mary Russell series. In addition to these two series, she has added yet more inventive and enjoyable novels. We can all thank her for this magic of the written word - the words that Salli believes are written by a true writing goddess - and the spells she conjures in her many works.

Laurie agreed to meet us one sunny coastal afternoon in her daughter’s backyard in Santa Cruz, California. And there, in the growing afternoon shadows, she enchanted us with her honesty, craft, and the freedom of her story-telling skills. Ladies and Gentlemen, we’re proud to present our interview with the award-winning writer, Laurie R. King….

George & Salli

And stay tuned for our next writer: Mark Twain!