Wednesday, June 25, 2008

A Conversation With William Hammett

William Hammett is a poet, novelist and ghostwriter. I met Billy through his blog, Chapter and Verse. I connected so strongly with his flash fiction and poetry that I ordered his latest novel, John Lennon and the Mercy Street Café and I was blown away.

I asked him if he’d be willing to participate in a Q&A for Eudaemonia and he generously agreed to indulge my questions.

I shamelessly lifted the following information on Billy’s background and work from his ghostwriting site.

“Through the years, I have built a rapport with various agents and editors at major publishers and firms while submitting my work. These generous people at Simon & Schuster, Macmillan, and McIntosh & Otis, to name a few, helped me shape my work into publishable form. Subsequently, I published Rimsky Rises (young adult novel) and Salamander Illusions (literary fiction) with Word Wrangler Publishing. I also published The Erotic Manifesto (an indictment of America's selling of sex in the marketplace) with Word Wrangler, which sold the rights to Seven Rivers Press after two years although Word Wrangler still sells it. I have written several middle readers and children's picture books. Additionally, I have authored mainstream fiction and two horror novels, the first of which was a finalist for the Anubis Award for horror fiction.

My latest novel, published in September of 2007, is John Lennon and the Mercy Street Café. It is sci-fi/fantasy, although readers who like literary and mainstream fiction will also enjoy the book. It is a "rock-and-roll Field of Dreams," with John Lennon alive and unaware of his assassination.

I have an MA in English and thirty graduate hours in education. I taught writing for twenty years at colleges and universities and have given numerous seminars on getting published, selecting agents, and submitting manuscripts. Before publishing books under my own name, I wrote newspaper columns, edited company newsletters, did technical writing, and wrote short stories.

I have always been interested in verse and have published poetry in American Poets & Poetry, Pegasus, Poem, Black Buzzard Review, The Lyric, Tight, Creative Juices, Twilight Ending, Angelflesh, Lynx, Parnassus Literary Journal, Offerings, and many others.

I have worked with many clients during the last eight years to help them produce their own manuscripts. I have worked with corporations, celebrities, sportsmen, housewives, ministers, social workers, engineers, artists, politicians - in other words, people from all walks of life. I have written nonfiction on numerous subjects for my clients, and fiction representing several different genres: mainstream, literary, horror, romance, adventure, science fiction, historical fiction, humor/satire, and more.”


LISA: Your work definitely reminds me of Tom Robbins, Kurt Vonnegut and maybe even Douglas Adams. Have you always written magical realism?


BILLY: I have been heavily influenced by the work of Robbins and Vonnegut. I love Robbins' eccentric style, full of attitude and word play. With Vonnegut, now deceased, I love the way he would make outrageous plots sound believable, mastering the "willing suspension of disbelief." As for magical realism, John Lennon and the Mercy Street Cafe is the only novel where I've fished those waters, injecting fiction into historical events. It still uses a quirky style, but it's the first time I tried it. It's a rock and roll Field of Dreams. Instead of bringing Shoeless Joe back, I brought back Lennon.


LISA: Based on your descriptions in John Lennon and the Mercy Street Cafe I'd think you were a native New Yorker. Have you spent much time in New York?


BILLY: I'm a native of New Orleans and still live in the vicinity, but I have traveled to New York to see friends and relatives many times in the past few years. I've spent enough time there to get past the "touristy" aspect of the city, although I haven't ever lived there. Also, it should be said that much of what the country sees about New Orleans in movies is a mindset, part mythical, that has been perpetuated over the years. While it is indeed a special place, residents get up and go to work as in any other city. Yes, we have Mardi Gras, good food, and the French Quarter (only one Dixieland jazz club in the entire Quarter), but the image of constant partying is incorrect, which will be mildly heretical to natives who might read this. The only accent we have, by the way, is a Brooklyn accent in the suburbs, such as the 9th ward. There was a mass emigration from Brooklyn to Louisiana in the early part of the twentieth century. So I don't look at authors as southern writers vs. "others." That's heretical too, but I'm an iconoclast by nature. I love my hometown, but Hollywood never gets it right. It’s a complex, multicultural environment (not as much after Katrina) that can’t be pigeonholed.


LISA: Both of your novels have female main characters and they're very convincing. Did they evolve naturally from the story, or was writing from the female point of view an intentional choice.


BILLY: My best friends have always been females. Males have been in the minority. I'm not sure why. With the Lennon novel, it seemed more natural to have a female fan interact with the pop icon.


LISA: You managed to touch on some significant historical events in the book, without ever making us aware that you were doing it. We start out early in 2007 and you reference the Iraq War, Homeland Security and Bush, but I don't think you ever bring up the events of 9/11. Since Lennon was very much a part of New York City, did you consider "telling" him about September 11th?


BILLY: No. I mention the Iraq War for all of two lines, and part of novel deals with the FBI, which was always chasing Lennon in the 70s, feeling that he might be a security risk. I thought that if he somehow "returned," the FBI would be more paranoid than ever. But I didn't want to mention 9/11 or delve deeply into current events since this is a work of fantasy that attempts to deal with the mystical more than politics.


LISA: Are you a poet first and a novelist second, or do you find the two forms complementary?


BILLY: I've never favored one over the other. I do find that writing poetry, with its tight, demanding syntax, keeps my brain sharper for prose and therefore contributes to varied sentence structures.


LISA: Tell me a little about ghostwriting. I find it fascinating and I imagine it as the kind of enterprise where someone -- perhaps a wealthy person -- wants to write a memoir, but they need some help in doing so. Is this a typical scenario, or am I way off base?


BILLY: I do work for celebrities sometimes, but unfortunately most of my clients aren't wealthy. Most people who query me want me to write their memoirs, but I turn them down. Memoirs don't sell unless one has been in the limelight (with some exceptions). Some of my clients make it into traditional publishing, getting contracts with major New York houses, while others get contracts with independent publishers. But there are no guarantees. Many don't get published at all or turn to POD. The marketplace is tougher than ever. The hardest part is walking into B&N and seeing my work making big bucks for other people, but I have to work for a flat fee and not a percentage of royalties since not every book "earns out" and makes money. But it's better than a nine to five job!


LISA: What are the kinds of ghostwriting projects that you’re excited about working on?


BILLY: I like intelligent nonfiction that has something important to say. I like to write about metaphysics, or the intersection of quantum mechanics and spirituality. In a larger sense, I’m interested in working with clients who are intelligent and mature and know the realities of the literary marketplace. Most clients have unrealistic expectations for their books.


LISA: What is the worst writing advice that you yourself have been given and what's the worst advice that you see other people listening to?


BILLY: To heavily outline. If a character has any vitality, you can't restrain him or her. As local bestselling novelist Walker Percy used to say, "I can't tell my characters what to do. They have to tell me." My outlines are mere skeletons, with plot resolutions nothing more than distant stars on the horizon. I trust that the story will tell me how to get there. (This is more heresy, but it's the way I work.)


LISA: You taught writing for over twenty years and I absolutely love your list of Twenty Things You're Not Likely to Find in a Book About Writing” . What are the biggest novice fiction writer mistakes?


BILLY: Listening to the advice of others. I don't think writing can be taught per se. I always regarded myself as a mentor, nothing more. As Stephen King says in On Writing, the best way to practice the craft is to read a lot and write a lot. I grew up with a book in my hand from age seven on. Students no longer read from what I can see. They don't learn syntax or plotting. I'm not saying you can't learn from others or pick up ideas, but I think as soon as one sits down and starts asking, "What do I do?" and begins to obsess, the battle is already lost. I believe in Ray Bradbury's advice in Zen in the Art of Writing. Relax and have fun. Let the plot and characters grow organically.


LISA: I keep reading that there are more people writing than reading. There are more print and online literary magazines than one can count, yet most of them don’t last a year, and you can’t swing a dead cat without running into an MFA graduate. The typical published writer still needs a day job and yet more people than ever seem to be writing. Do you have any theories as to why? Do you think the reasons people are motivated to write have changed?


BILLY: Blogs, message boards, and websites have enabled people to acquire limited audiences. Some online writing is quite good, while much is deplorable and shows an ignorance of the basics of grammar, usage, and style. On balance, it’s healthy. After all, Sister Mary Henrietta was hoping all those years ago to make us literate. And yet, as you point out, more people write than read. Many of my potential clients see the golden ring, the movie deal, the reviews in the New York Times. They think that if a book is written, it will surely be published. I place the blame on poor educational systems. Today’s college curriculum is easier than the high school curriculum when I was growing up. Students graduate, unable to write a coherent essay. They don’t know the cause of WW I and can’t point to New Zealand on the map. Worse yet, they are not challenged by teachers. They never learn to think. This is a generalization, but ever since Sputnik was launched in 1957, language arts went out the window. All we ever hear about is “science and math” from politicians (who know zip about education), although Obama seems to be stressing the arts. Without teaching the arts, we are breeding a generation that is culturally poor. But computer technology to the rescue! It’s fun to write—to journal (an odious verb)—but are we really interested in reading about Bambi’s sexual escapades on prom night? I also think it’s related to the above problems in society. People have a need to reveal their thoughts. Much of blogging, I think, is unconscious therapy. People are looking for validation. Regardless, self-expression is good and there are many good writers out there who wouldn’t be published otherwise. Getting ideas down in any form is better than letting them fester within. I just wish people had a more solid educational background. Consider the soldiers in WW II. With only a high school education, they sent letters home that were eloquent and beautifully written—almost poetic--as evidenced by Ken Burns documentary, THE WAR.



LISA: You've published both of your novels with small presses. Was that a conscious choice, or was it difficult to sell your style of magical realism into the New York publishing houses?


BILLY: Again, I wouldn't say that my work is magical realism (except for one novel), just very quirky. I've had agents, but even though they say they like quirky, it's meat and potatoes prose that sells. The literary marketplace is now downsized and very limited in what it will take a chance on. It's also a bit schizophrenic. It says it wants new, fresh styles with energetic language, but the very agents and editors who ask for something radically different will say, "this is too quirky." Go figure. I stopped expecting logic from publishers and agents a long time ago. Most of the good ones I've worked with urged me to go to small presses with work written under my own name. I haven't given up on the major houses though. Besides, according to Publishers Weekly, the average fiction title only sells 7000 copies nationwide. There's not a lot of promotional money going into fiction these days, so most titles sink to the midlist and die. Sometimes you have to play AAA ball a long time before being called up to the majors.



LISA: What are the benefits and disadvantages of working with small presses?


BILLY: It might be slightly easier to get published, although small presses still get thousands of submissions just like major publishers. The downside is that they don't have large print runs and have limited distribution. But it's better to have your work "out there" than sitting in the bottom drawer of the desk. I've come very close to publication with major houses, and my ghostwriting clients have enjoyed much success because they have the proverbial connections. But I’ll get there myself sooner or later.



LISA: What does no one ever ask that you'd like to talk about?


BILLY: Raising children. We nurture and protect them with Mr. Rogers, Sesame Street, Disney, and kindergarten lessons about being honest and fair. (I love the book All I Really Needed to Know I Learned in Kindergarten.) By fifth grade, we abandon the self-contained classroom, hand kids a high school schedule, and give them 4 hours of homework a night. They never finish growing up, never learn the magic I mentioned above. Bullies aren’t punished, and all the lessons about being true and honest go out the window. School becomes a game of survival. Discipline is lacking, and the accountability we stress in the early grades is never really learned. At home, kids watch Reality TV and spend hours text messaging and IMing. Only God knows where they go on the Internet, although I’m not encouraged by some of the bizarre MySpace pages I’ve seen. Most parents I’ve spoken with have never looked at their kids online sites. Maybe I’m a Luddite, but I think we need some nuns with hard rulers again.


LISA: Some people (I’m one of them) believe most writers have an issue or a theme in their lives that repeatedly manifests itself in their art. Do you agree with this, and if you do, what themes do you think recur in your work?


BILLY: I agree with you. Most writers, regardless of plot, are operating from a philosophical underpinning of some kind. My books have dealt with the mindlessness of modern man and the absurdity of contemporary life. We’ve forsaken magic—the holy, the divine, the sacred—but I’m not talking religious dogma. Any society that sells Girls Gone Wild videos is in real trouble. We’re obsessed with Britney and Paris while our own children are allowed to stay out all night because they have cell phones to “check in.” This is the age of casual hook-ups, political lies, corporate greed, global warming, genocide, and perpetual face-lifts. As novelist Walker Percy said, we have the spiritual flu. We don’t know who we are anymore. We follow trends without thinking. Plus we don’t believe in Santa Claus. A bad sign. If there’s one thing I want to leave readers with, it’s hope. There’s a fatalism in the air that things are too far gone. I want people to believe that there’s immense power in a single thought. If we talk to the universe, it will talk back if we bother to listen.


LISA: What advice would you give to the aspiring novelist?


BILLY: Take out a piece of paper and write about something that makes you mad. Don’t worry about anything but getting your ideas onto paper or the PC. When you’re finished, you can go back and play with it all you want. As Bradbury said, “Shoot a character out of a cannon.


* * *


Thank you Billy for taking the time to chat with me.


To win a copy of John Lennon and the Mercy Street Cafe, leave a comment with your thoughts about one or more of the Q&A topics. I'll randomly draw a winner sometime this weekend, so don't forget to check back!


Note: I apologize for the wacky fonts in this post. Blogger had it in for me today and after messing around for an hour, I decided to post this "as is".


26 comments:

CindyLV said...

I love lurking while my favorite bloggers are posting. Great interview! I might have to check out the John Lennon novel! I love the questions you ask. You ask what I wish I could ask when getting to know a good friend. Thanks!

CindyLV said...

Oh yeah...I forgot to mention that I didn't even notice the wonkiness of the fonts! I had to go back up and scan for them. :-D

Larramie said...

Terrific interview, Lisa -- despite the fonts ;) -- and Billy has impressed me for so many reasons, including his belief in Santa! *VBG*

Shauna Roberts said...

This looks great! I hope to have some time tomorrow night to come back and read it.

Carleen Brice said...

Glad somebody is answering your questions!

Charles Gramlich said...

I already have Billy's book so you don't need to enter me in the contest, but I much enjoyed the interview. Every time Billy got off on the subjects of kids and education and society I thought it was me talking. We have very similar takes on things.

His book was very enjoyable, btw.

Riss said...

I have to say I completely agree with his ideas of the education system. I think that the curriculums we teach in colleges nowadays are total jokes. I got a fairly good college education I think, I can write a coherent sentence, essay, etc. I was forced to think outside of my comfort zone. But I had to pay a LOT of money to get it. I went to a community college during a less favorable time in my life and took one class to entertain myself with...an Eastern Religions class. It was good but i had to teach myself. The teacher chose great texts but then expected us to regurgitate what we had read and not what we thought. No one is taught how to think critically anymore. It's why we lack problem solvers and yet are choking on "yes men and women" Makes me want to scream. And become a teacher so I can teach some lazy minds how to THINK.

Ugh. Does that count as getting out a piece of paper and writing about something that really ticks me off? I didn't mean to do it here but well, carpe Now.

I also really like his notion on parenting and the fact that he mentiones the Spiritual Flu. Awesome mind to speak with. Great post.

Patry Francis said...

Thanks for introducing me to a new author. I liked that he talked about far more than books and writing--and I especially liked that he quoted Ray Bradbury, my personal writing guru.

Usman said...

That is such a great interview. I found myself agreeing with most of what Bill had to say.
Had a look at my daughter's facebook couple of weeks ago and was appalled.

steve said...

I'm not in favor of bringing back nuns with rulers, or the paddles we feared in public school. ("Over land, over sea, over Mr. Montman's knee. There's a paddle a-waitin' for me," we'd sing to the tune of "When the Caissons Go Rolling Along.")

But I agree with Billy on the schools' emphasis on science and math to the detriment of language, history, and the arts.

I'm not sure whether anyone understands the causes of World War I, given the fact that prominent historians disagree. But what my son knows about it comes more from watching "Young Indiana Jones" than from anything he learned in school.

Excellent interview.

Billy said...

Thanks, Lisa, for taking so much time to work up this post. I'm already a fan of your blog, as you know, and I feel honored to have been interviewed by you. And thanks to those who have commented on the interview and my ramblings.

I do tend to get on a soapbox when itr comes to modern malaise and the spiritual flu. Either something's wrong in society, or I'm becoming an old fart who needs to listen to "The Times They Are A Changin'."

It's interesting how everyone seems to agree that education is a bit "off" these days. I taught writing in college for many years (and a few years in high school) and that was enough for me. (Everyone needs a second career in mid-life anyway!) I told my own son to sew his cell phone into his navel. Believe it or not, such experiments have already begun, with chips being implanted beneath the skin. Within 10-20 years, the PC will be a middleman that some people don't use. Info will go straight into the human body. Makes me think of Bradbury's "I Sing the Body Electric." But then sci-fi always had a way of predicting things decades in advance.

Anyway, I hope to be blogging more regularly one day, but it's hit or miss now. My present client's agent has me on a deadline. Thanks again, Lisa!

Tim said...

Great interview, Lisa, and (most of all) really good, insightful questions. That kind of intelligent participation by the interviewer makes it much, much easier for the subject. It gives him or her a standard to rise to.

Hope you plan to do more of these.

Anonymous said...

(o)

Lisa said...

Cindy, I think it is my amateur nature that leads me to ask questions about subjects that interest me and the opportunity to get to know the person behind the book.

Larramie, Curses to blogger and its evil formatting demons! I actually thought of you when I read Billy's disappointment at a culture that stops believing in all things magical -- I believe specifically in fairy godmothers :)

Shauna, I think you've read JOHN LENNON & THE MERCY STREET CAFE too, haven't you?

Carleen, Well I'm sure some other people will get around to it (oh wait, you're the only other person I've sent questions to!) -- but no pressure -- I take just as long, if not longer to mess around with these questions and add more of them as the two authors who've done Q&As with me so far, so there is really NO pressure.

Riss, I can't wait until you come back to CO to visit! "Carpe NOW" -- I love that!

Patry, I'm so glad to hear from you! I'm afraid I'm not the best interviewer for book promotion. I kind of figure there is plenty that's out there online about the books that's probably been said better than I can say it, so I like to dive into the writer behind the books if the writer is game. Billy was a great sport about it, as was Nick Arvin, the subject of my first Q&A.

Usman, I saw my son's a while back (he's 27, but I think it's mandatory for anyone over 14 to have a Facebook page) and it made me a little squeamish. TMI for MOM.

Steve, We had a teacher in one of my elementary schools named Mrs. Curran, who was a proponent of "the rattan" -- whacks on the back of the hands from her ruler. This was in the Boston Public School System in the late 60's. Fortunately, I never had Mrs. Curran.

There's no doubt that the arts have been suffering in public school systems for a long time. No music, art, theater, and very little literature make for some pretty dull students, I think.

I am encouraged though by the number of twenty-somethings I've met here on line who are very well read, way smarter than I, and curious about the world. Specifically, I always read Larissa Uredi (Riss), Gunter and the Electric Orchid Hunter (all on my sidebar). They give me a lot of hope. I've also noticed that most of the lit bloggers (separate sidebar category) all appear to be very young as well. So just as the death of reading and culture in America is a bit of an exaggeration, so is the impression that there aren't plenty of cultured and well read literary types. I learn a lot from them

Billy, Thank YOU for taking the time to put up with my questions and more questions and for providing such thoughtful answers. As you can see, you've sparked lots of discussion, which is the whole point.

I think the interesting thing about our spiritual flu is that it's kind of hard to tell exactly what's happening because of information overload. If you look at all things popular (reality TV, the cult of celebrity, cell phones, ipods, social networking), it would appear we're OD'ing on junk. But on the other hand, there is also more good information available at the tips of our fingers than ever before. I've found more great literature through online recommendations and God help me, the Amazon "if you liked this, you'll like this" feature than ever before. If I want to know who Barthelme or Gass or Gaddis or Pynchon are, all I have to do is Google and I can learn more than I'd ever have learned at a library. And even television has its gems, if you know where to look.

Good luck with your deadline and thank you again Billy, for such a great discussion!

Tim, I'm always afraid that I don't talk enough about the books, but I am always excited to interview more authors. This is only the second one I've done and I'm always reluctant to ask, since I know authors are incredibly busy.

But -- now that you're back in the states, maybe you'd consider it?

Riss said...

Thanks Lisa (c: You rock. I had to explain that phrase to an Italian guy I met in Rome...I'd never really thought about it before.

there is a blog that an acquaintance of mine puts out that is called Life, Universe and Art and she does really great artist interviews from time to time. I recommend it. I think it's a blogger address, I haven't been in a bit but I liked what I saw while I was there. she's got some good work herself.

Tim said...

Lisa --

I'd do it in a moment, although it's going to be hard to follow Billy. (Men are so competitive.)

Vesper said...

An excellent interview, Lisa! Very intelligent, very considerate - a pleasure to read, both questions and answers.
I found the discussion about blogging and about having a theme most insightful.

Billy said...

For all my grumbling about technology, Lisa, you can see that I'm on Blogger, have a website, etc., and I couldn't be a ghostwriter without being able to network. The NET, like everything else--it's how you use it. The technology was inevitable, and the history of humankind is one of technological evolution. My biggest misgiving is that technology in general is outpacing man's ability to gather enough wisdom to use it. I watch a lot of astronomy shows, and the ones that really make me think are on SETI, where scientists discuss whether there are many advanced cultures out there. Surely life develops elsewhere, but are finite, imperfect beings able to withstand that critical phase where they must cope with advanced technology and either master it or let it master them? Makes me wonder. I think the next 100 years are going to tell the tale, which means we're living at a pivotal moment in history. I'll be planted six feet under by mid-century if not before, but I think we're losing the battle against global warming. Two years ago, AN INCONVENIENT TRUTH said we had ten years to start reversing the process. Gracious. That's not good.

Jennifer said...

Excellent Q&A, Lisa. As others have said, I loved the variety of subject. So much of what Billy said really resonated with me. John Lennon and the Mercy Street Café sounds very interesting.

I liked what Billy said about regarding himself as a mentor. More and more, I believe that mentorship is the way to go when pursuing an arts eduction. As opposed to the traditional teacher-student relationship (as I've experienced it, anyway), there seems to be a lot more openness, a lot more room for the apprentice to fall flat or take off, discover what rules--if any--work for her.

I also agree that people aren't reading enough, and many who are reading a lot are reading too quickly. I think this is partly due to the rush-rush nature of our society, but also to the incredibly vast amount of potential reading material. People feel they need to blast through, to get as much read as possible, and that can dull your ability to pick up on all the wonderfully subtle magic of a story. (Who was it who said that a book read once isn't really read at all? Terrible paraphrase on my part, I know.)

I totally agree with you about the information overload. There is so much that is great out there, but to find it, you really need a "wheat-from-the-chaff" mentality and a hefty dose of patience. Although some of the "chaff" can be great fun. Everything in moderation, as they say. . . .

Lisa said...

Riss, That's funny, although I would have loved to hear that conversation. I checked out that blog and she does some great interviews. I'll have to bookmark her and check back.

Tim, Woohoo! Now the pressure is really on for me to come up with some good questions!

Vesper, Thank you very much. I was pretty fascinated by Billy's insights on blogging and social networking too.

Billy, Wow! Now there's some serious food for thought. On one hand, the only thing that keeps me from worrying too much about technology is the same thing that frightens me about our global disregard for the environment and what I think is the cause of our spiritual flu -- our ravenous consumerism. I think I worried about the possible results of technological developments more during the 60's, 70's and 80's when technology was driven by revolutions in the military industrial complex. Now things have shifted and technology is almost exclusively developed by the commercial sector and driven entirely by revenue generation. I believe that the only way that we'll get a handle on global warming and our environmental issues is for individuals to force change that will require a sacrifice on all of our parts. People talk about alternative sources of energy and other solutions, without recognizing that even though there are solutions, all of them are costly and no private company is going to voluntarily take on additional cost in order to be greener. When the time finally comes to shut down power plants that run on coal and oil, the cost to replace them will be enormous and we'll all have to agree to take it on. I'd like to think that we'll all join hands and agree to vote for regulation that will increase taxes in order to save the environment, but I don't have that much faith in "us". I think you're absolutely right about this being a pivotal time, for a lot of reasons.

Jennifer, I think you'd really like the book.

Yes, I also liked what Billy said about mentoring. Whether it's writing or painting or any kind of creative endeavor, I think teachers can help you with craft to a degree, but after that, I think a mentor would be much more helpful.

I'm guilty of that rush rush mentality with books. I have a whole pile of BIG books that I consistently put off getting started on because I know taking them on will be a big commitment.

Over a decade ago, when I was still working as a civil servant for the military, I worked for a pretty visionary guy who said that the next big career field would be that of "combat librarian". At the time he wasn't focused so much on the internet, as he was the plethora of stove-piped military information systems and our inability to wade through too much information and quickly find information we'd need, whether it was for intelligence purposes, or on the battlefield or to correlate seemingly unrelated data points. I think in our private lives, the chaff is what weighs me down. I might Google one thing and before I know it, I've been following link after interesting link and I've blown three hours just reading cool stuff that has nothing to do with what I was originally looking for.

Günter said...

Hey, there's a good interview, though. I added Billy's book to my wish list. Nice job.

Billy said...

Lisa, you have nailed it. There is going to be an enormous cost to all of us if we are going to slow global warming, and it's going to require many things, including personal pain and a tax. We can expect Washington to lead, but we have to force government and corporate entities to follow through and keep their word. We seem to have lost that proactive spirit from the 60s though. And the military industrial complex ... you're right there too. Ike knew what he was talking about.

Billy said...

a little ps and btw: I noticed that Amazon has erased the discount on the book, which was selling for $14.35. I think it is still available at a cheaper price on B&N.

Shauna Roberts said...

You can leave me out of the contest because I already have the book (which I loved and hated to have end). Wow! What a great interview and wonderful follow-up comments! I look forward to future interviews. Oh, and to more books by Billy.

Lisa said...

Gunter, Well thank you! I am still trying to figure this out :)

Billy, HBO had a tribute to George Carlin over the weekend, so I got to re-watch a number of his specials and as dark and cynical as some of his views were, especially about the environment, I found myself agreeing with most of what he said. I need to fight that despite the fact that someone once said something to the effect that behind the face of every cynic you'll find a disillusioned idealist.

Shauna, I'm glad you enjoyed the book as much as I did. I had the same feeling of not wanting the story to end too.

Billy said...

As a result of your interview, Lisa, sales spiked a bit and Amazon reinstated the discount. Thanks--and Happy Fourth!

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Literary Quote

It is worth mentioning, for future reference, that the creative power which bubbles so pleasantly in beginning a new book quiets down after a time, and one goes on more steadily. Doubts creep in. Then one becomes resigned. Determination not to give in, and the sense of an impending shape keep one at it more than anything.


Virginia Woolf