Welcome to the two hundred and eighty-ninth of my blog interviews with novelists, poets, short story authors, biographers, agents, publishers and more. Today’s is with multi-genre author Bridget Straub. A list of interviewees (blogged and scheduled) can be found here. If you like what you read, please do go and investigate further.
Morgen: Hello, Bridget. Please tell us something about yourself, where you’re based, and how you came to be a writer.
Bridget: I am originally from Northern California but moved to Los Angeles right after high school. Writing is second nature to me. I have been telling stories since I was little.
Morgen: How wonderful. I’d say about half the authors I’ve interviewed have written forever, the other half wishes they had. 🙂 What genre do you generally write and have you considered other genres?
Bridget: Contemporary/chick lit, although I have also written a musical and been known to write children’s books for my kids.
Morgen: What have you had published to-date?
Bridget: I have just published my first novel “Searching for My Wand”, which tells the story of Glenda, a young woman named after Glinda the Good Witch. As such, she has spent a good portion of her life trying to live up to the reputation of a fictional character.
Morgen: That sounds like fun. Have you had any rejections?
Bridget: I really haven’t, but then I decided to self-publish after a two-year period in which I was ridiculously prolific. The responses to the novels I wrote were so positive that I was anxious to get them seen sooner rather than later. Traditional publishing is so much slower.
Morgen: Oh isn’t it just. That’s part of the reason why we’re all eBooking. You’re, I think, only about the third author I’ve interviewed who’s not had any rejections. 🙂 So I don’t suppose then that you have an agent? Do you think they’re vital to an author’s success?
Bridget: No, and I’m not sure how vital they are. I guess I’m going to find out.
Morgen: So you’ve self-published, is that as an eBook? Do you read eBooks or is it paper all the way?
Bridget: This is a funny subject to me, because I love paper books and at the moment my book is only available as an eBook. I would love to have it in print, but I’ve yet to find a cost effective way of making that a reality.
Morgen: So would I but it’s not just the cost but the time spent going out finding people (unless you’re selling online alongside the electronic version) to buy it. How much of the marketing do you do for your book?
Bridget: I am doing it all, and I have to say it is at times overwhelming. I have a blog I started a year ago, and of course there is Twitter and Facebook, but I have spent a lot of time (and will continue to) doing guest posts and interviews in an effort to get the word out.
Morgen: It seems to take ages, doesn’t it (but hopefully you’re enjoying it :)). I hadn’t realised until I started these interviews last June how many there were of us doing the same thing. Do you have a favourite of your books or characters? If any of your books were made into films, who would you have as the leading actor/s?
Bridget: I love “Searching for My Wand”, but then I love all of my novels, and the musical, too. My characters generally have a sense of humor which shines through even in difficult times. As for actors, I was thinking about this the other day and thought of Matt Bomer to play Glenda’s husband. He’s the star of “White Collar” a TV show over here.
Morgen: I don’t think we have that here – I’ll have to Google him. 🙂 So presumably you chose the title / cover of your book? How important do you think they are?
Bridget: This is the good thing about self-publishing. I have had control over everything. I did the cover, the book trailer, the title, etc.
Morgen: I’ve done everything myself (with assistance from my editor) but a book trailer is something I’ve yet to dabble with. What are you working on at the moment / next?
Bridget: I just finished a wildly funny novel, “The Salacious Marny Ottwiler” that had me laughing the entire I was writing it. I was honestly sorry to end it. Still, I had four other novels completed before I even started that one, and I am probably going to publish “On a Hot August Afternoon” next.
Morgen: What great titles. If you had such fun writing it I’m sure your readers will also feel sorry that it ends – maybe you could do a serial? Do you manage to write every day? Do you ever suffer from writer’s block?
Bridget: I do write every day. I hate the days when I am too busy to get to it, and as my kids can attest, get very cranky about it. Writer’s block is rare for me.
Morgen: Me too (although it’s just the day job that gets in my way – and that’s going next week :)). Do you plot your stories or do you just get an idea and run with it?
Bridget: I am definitely a runner. I am constantly surprised by where my characters take me. In “Searching for My Wand,” there is a huge and surprising plot twist that I had no idea was coming.
Morgen: I love that. It’s got to be my favourite aspect of writing. Do you have a method for creating your characters, their names and what do you think makes them believable?
Bridget: I try to give my characters simple, relatable names because there is nothing I hate more than trying to read a book with names I’m not even sure how to pronounce. I don’t think you can get into the rhythm of the story if you are constantly trying to figure out how to say a name. I want my characters to be your friend or a family member, and I make them believable by putting them in very real situations.
Morgen: That’s how it should be. Even with sci-fi or fantasy it should be relatable however weird and wonderful. Do you write any non-fiction, poetry or short stories?
Bridget: In the past few months I have tried my hand at short stories, but I don’t think they are my strong suit. Poetry is not really my thing but I have learned to write lyrics, which is not something I ever would have thought I would end up doing.
Morgen: Shame about the short stories (they’re my first love) but then I feel the same about novels – too many threads to think about. Do you do a lot of editing or do you find that as time goes on your writing is more fully-formed?
Bridget: I start out getting the story down. Then I have others read it and give notes, and then I edit some, but usually not a lot.
Morgen: I do less than I used to but it’s all about practice (same with anything) isn’t it? Do you have to do much research?
Bridget: Not so far. My stories are contemporary, and since I put my character in every day circumstances, I haven’t had to research too much. I would certainly love to get to travel more, though.
Morgen: What point of view do you find most to your liking: first person or third person?
Bridget: First person is definitely the easiest for me.
Morgen: It does get you inside your character. Do you have pieces of work that you think will never see light of day?
Bridget: Tons of it.
Morgen: Oh dear. 😦 I have quite a lot of old stuff but I hope I’m older (definitely am) and wiser (in theory) to buff it. 🙂 What’s your favourite / least favourite aspect of your writing life? Has anything surprised you?
Bridget: My least favorite part is not having the money to promote more. I would love to be able to hire a publicist and wish I could pay the woman who did the formatting for me, etc. Also, like I said, travel would be nice.
Morgen: I do think the more an author has available, the better they’ll do because if they only have one novel up (I’m the same at the moment with a short story collection) and a reader really likes it, there’s nothing else for them to go and buy. What advice would you give aspiring writers?
Bridget: Write, write, and then write some more.
Morgen: Absolutely – practice. If you could invite three people from any era to dinner, who would you choose and what would you cook (or hide the takeaway containers)?
Bridget: I did a post on this on my blog and said I would invite Emma Thompson because I adore her. I think her Oscar speech was the most brilliant speech ever written. If you know anything nasty about her, don’t tell me, because in my book she can do no wrong. That said, it might be fun to invite Kenneth Branagh to dinner too, and then we’ll invite Colin Farrell because he’s always entertaining. I think for dinner we’ll have either turkey or roast beef, mounds of mashed potatoes, and some corn, followed by angel food cake with chocolate buttercream frosting.
Morgen: I’m a fan of Emma Thompson. She’s brilliant in my favourite film (who no-one’s ever heard of: Stranger Than Fiction) where she plays a neurotic writer. 🙂 She used to be married to Kenneth Branagh so an interesting choice (although I still think they get on well) and Colin Farrell was hilarious in In Bruges so great choices. Is there a word, phrase or quote you like?
Bridget: “Isn’t fun the best thing to have?” from the original “Arthur”.
Morgen: 🙂 What do you do when you’re not writing?
Bridget: I love to draw as is evidenced by the drawings in “Searching for My Wand”, and of course I like to spend time with my kids.
Morgen: I love drawing too. I have loads of pads, pencils and so on but it’s finding the time. Once the day job goes… Are there any writing-related websites and/or books that you find useful?
Bridget: I am all over a variety of blogs reading anything I can to better myself and my career. For writing advice I like Kristen Lamb.
Morgen: Not sure I’ve heard of her (OK Google, here I come :)). Are you on any forums or networking sites? If so, how valuable do you find them?
Bridget: I keep signing up for things and then wondering if they are doing me any good. I’m on Twitter @bridgetstraub, and Facebook, and Linkedin, and most recently Triberr, although I haven’t really figured that one out yet.
Morgen: Mmm. I’ve been on Triberr for a while and it’s a great tool although it’s annoying that Twitter made them de-auto the tweets so now I have to remember to go in and tweet them but then it’s brilliant that you’re part of a group who does the same so we all get to share each other’s work. What do you think the future holds for a writer?
Bridget:I really think self-published writers are going to win the respect that traditionally published writers have. There is so much talent out there, and publishing is rapidly changing.
Morgen: Isn’t that great. 🙂 Where can we find out about you and your work?
Morgen: Is there anything else you’d like to mention?
Bridget: Only that I love hearing what people think of the book and hope everyone enjoys it.
Morgen: Please do comment, folks, if you’ve read the book – feedback is so vital to an author. Is there anything you’d like to ask me, Bridget?
Bridget: No, but I would like to thank you for this opportunity to share my work. It is truly appreciated.
Morgen: Oh you’re so welcome, lovely to meet you and thank you for letting me grill you. 🙂
Bridget Straub (author, lyricist) has co-written the musical “Room to Grow” with Laura Hall. Bridget has her own blog at http://bridgetstraub.com and has written guest posts for several other bloggers while also blogging for the Studio City Patch.
She has completed four novels. The first, “Searching for My Wand” was published in December 2011.
Update Sept 2012: I have since published On A Hot August Afternoon. And am hoping to publish The Salacious Marny Ottwiler by November. “August” is available in both paperback and ebook and “Marny” will be the same.
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