Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Author Interview - Connie Wilson - Laughing through LIfe & Giveaway !!

Today I have the Author of Laughing Through Life - Connie Wilson to answer a few questions and give us some insight into herself !





Where do you live ?

1) I live in East Moline, Illinois on the Illinois side of the Mississippi River in what is known as the Quad Cities (despite the fact there are something like 10 cities accounting for 500,000 people and nobody knows what the "Quad" really stands for. Our biggest claim to fame seems to be that Cary Grant died here in Davenport, Iowa). I am about one-half mile from the Mighty Mississippi, but since I also have a condo in the heart of Chicago about a block from the lake (because the grandchildren are in Chicago), I go back and forth quite regularly. My son and the twins pictured on the cover of the book live in Chicago and there are many writers' groups there that I belong to in Chicago, such as IWPA (Illinois Women's Press Association), AWP (American Writing Program), Thriller Writers and MWA (Midwest Writers' Association...for nonfiction writers.)

2) As for animals, I've always had cats. First cat: Snookum. Then, the Siamese cat (Sam). Then, in no particular order, Merill, Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Beane, Fraidy Cat, Kitty Kelley and Lucy. I did have a black Labrador when I was a child, but it jumped up on a neighbor girl and she sat down on a piece of glass. No more Blackie, the Labrador, after that.

Do you have a muze or someone who inspires you to write  how long have you been writing for ?

3) I have been paid to write something for over half a century, since I was 10 years old, when I began interviewing people for our local newspaper (the Independence, Iowa "Bulletin Journal") because the editor thought it would be cute to have an elementary-school aged child writing a few feature story pieces and interviewing some of the locals. Laughing through Life was my attempt to record some of the funny stories involved in child-rearing, teaching school and following the 2004 and 2008 presidential candidates. (I still have another nonfiction book with pictures that I may write, some day, about my adventures traveling to the DNC and RNC and Belmont Town Hall meeting and the Ron Paul Rally for America, and following Rudy Giuiliani around Florida during the 2008 campaign.) I read and enjoyed Erma Bombeck's columns, when she was writing them, the "Peanuts" comic strips, and I like David Sedaris' observations on life in most of his books, so I decided to try to combine those approaches in this book.


4) Muse: Since another group I am an active, voting member of is HWA (Horror Writers' Association...whose President, Rocky Wood, is from Australia), one of the people I interviewed who has been unfailingly supportive is William F. Nolan, author of "Logan's Run" and 85 other novels. Bill has encouraged me and made me believe in myself as a writer and would come the closest to "a muse." I also had a wonderful short story instructor at the University of Chicago (Dr. Barbara Croft) who took me out in the hall and told me I should just go home and write. Of course, having interviewed such great writers as David Morrell, Kurt Vonnegut (when 19), John Irving, Joe Hill (Stephen King's son), Anne Perry, Frederik Pohl and others makes an impression. When I was in college at the University of Iowa,. Nelson Algren and Kurt Vonnegut were instructors on campus, as was David Morrell, and John Irving was a student there at the time. Hard not to be inspired by such great writers.

What do you enjoy doing in your spare time ?

5) In my spare time, I read, play with my grandchildren (pictured on the cover), review 9 television shows weekly for Yahoo, write 3 political pieces for Yahoo (I was named the Associated Content political reporter of the year for the 2008 campaign by that half-million member blog, now owned by Yahoo), blog at www.WeeklyWilson and www.AssociatedContent.com, go to movies and review movies, go to concerts and review concerts, travel back and forth between the Quad Cities and Chicago (a 7-hour roundtrip drive) and travel elsewhere (preferably somewhere warm), depending on the season. I also attend a number of writing conferences. I formerly founded and ran 2 businesses (Sylvan Learning Center #3301 in Bettendorf, Iowa and a Prometric Testing Center) after a lengthy teaching career, so I'm used to multi-tasking, and I'm now publishing quite a bit, especially E-books. I taught for 33 years, and the teacher years in the immediate family, which number 150, go back uninterruptedly to 1927. I've taught writing at all 6 Quad City colleges. "The Christmas Cats in Silly Hats" just went "live" on Amazon and Barnes & Noble this week, an illustrated children's book Christmas present for the twins, Ava and Elise. (Check it out! It's darling!)

What are you currenlty working on ?

6) I am currently finishing up Hellfire & Damnation II, the sequel to Hellfire and Damnation (www.HellfireandDamnationthebook.com), which placed 7th out of 45 short story collections for Best Short Story Collection on preliminary Bram Stoker balloting in 2010. (Stephen King was in 10th place at that point, but subsequently carried the day with "Full Dark, No Stars.") That collection is organized around Dante's "Inferno" and the 9 Circles of Hell and each story illustrates one of the circles of hell. I am also working to finish a trilogy of novels. The first novel, The Color of Evil is complete and is about an 8-year-old boy with paranormal abilities. The first book takes him forward to the age of 16. The second book in the series, Red Is for Rage, will take him through his senior year of high school. The third and final book will take him into his freshman year of college when the government learns of his powers. I have 2 very big houses interested in the series, [but never count your chickens before they hatch.] The first book will be published in 2012, if all goes well.

What are you current future plans with writing ?

7) My current and future plan in writing remains "to write one of everything," with the exception of erotica, romances, fantasy, and anything else that doesn't interest me. I've already written one novel (Out of Time. Lachesis Press, 2008) from the sci-fi romantic thriller plot of another, and a screenplay based on that novel won a 2007 "Writer's Digest" screenplay award. I wrote a trilogy of ghost stories set along Route 66 (www.GhostlyTalesofRoute66.com), traveling the route collecting them, and a scholarly book on teaching (Training the Teacher As A Champion, 1989, PLS Bookstores). I wrote a book in 2003 that combined humor, poetry, pictures and recipes (Both Sides Now). Then there was It Came from the '70s: From The Godfather to Apocalypse Now, a collection of 50 of my movie reviews from the "Quad City Times," with 76 photos, major cast and interactive trivia, which I put out at this time last year and which has won 5 national awards. I have published Hellfire & Damnation , The Bureau (a short story that is an excerpt from Hellfire & Damnation II, once again illustrating the 9th Circle of Hell in the second book), Laughing through Life, and The Christmas Cats in Silly Hats, all this year. Next year, I will have at least 2 books out, if not more. I also plan to take the characters I created for Ghostly Tales of Route 66, Vols. I, II and III on a road trip. I call them "Four from Flagstaff" and they will go to Key West and have some ghostly adventures at some point in time. I also just finished covering the Chicago Film Festival for Yahoo most of October and hope to do more such coverage of film festivals. Our Homecoming Queen dropped dead of a brain aneurysm a month ago. Tempis fugit. I'm writing as fast as I can. Time's winged chariot hurries near.


8) Favorite beverages: Dr. Pepper and white zinfandel (Berenger's, usually).


9) Favorite writing spot: my writing lair directly across the street from the Field Museum in Chicago in the second bedroom/office. I go there to isolate myself and produce book(s) when I have a deadline. I can see the dinosaur head out in front of the Museum, Lake Michigan, and the blue top of the Shedd Aquarium as I write. It's perfect.


10) Favorite movie: I have reviewed so many movies (my passion) that it is difficult to give just ONE "favorite" but I always mention the original "The Manchurian Candidate." This year, I've been very impressed at the film festival by the film "We Have to Talk About Kevin." Tilda Swinton is so powerful in her role. I have also really liked "The Ides of March" and "Moneyball" this year.


11) Again, there are so many fabulous books: who could pick (or read) just one? I do remember being blown away by The World According to Garp and I was both awed, honored and terrified to interview Kurt Vonnegut as a 19-year-old college student at the University of Iowa in 1963-64, whose books like Cat's Cradle and God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater, or Pearls Before Swine were very influential during my college years as an English major, as was Catch 22 by Joseph Heller. More recently, I really liked Jonathan Lethem's Motherless Brooklyn. All of these books have a serio-comic vein running through them, as you will know if you've read them. [And if you haven't, you should.] I could also mention all the "greats" (Faulkner, Hemingway, Fitzgerald) because they are, of course, hugely influential on all writers, but I'm sticking to the humorous, for this interview.


12) Favorite vacation spot: As I mentioned, my daughter is probably going to visit in Australia on a work visa for a year, so Australia, here we come. I've always wanted to visit Australia and New Zealand. We own three time shares in Mazatlan and Cancun and will be spending 4 weeks in Mexico on their pristine beaches in January and April, as we have for the past 18 years.


13) My favorite flavor of ice cream is probably butter pecan or butter brickle, although I also like chocolate and anything with nuts in it (Cherry Garcia is also very good!)

What makes you laugh ?

14) I laugh because laughter is therapeutic, and many things make me laugh. I used to love the short films of W.C. Fields. I liked Abbot & Costello when a young girl, especially those silly films where they'd "Meet the Mummy" or Frankenstein. I loved "Barefoot in the Park" (Jane Fonda, Robert Redford, et. al.) Some of my favorite funny films are "Lost in America" (Albert Brooks), "Animal House," and the very Grade "B" movie, "Saving Silverman," which I showed at my 57th birthday party (my favorite part involves a raccoon). On American television right now, "Modern Family" is great with wonderful writing, but
"The Office," "Community," "Parks and Recreation" and "Thirty Rock" are good on American TV. (I also like the Australian series "Rake.") I prefer witty comedy to slapstick or dirty joke humor.


I laugh and hope the world will laugh with me, because the alternative (crying) gives me a tremendous sinus headache. Doesn't it you?
Thanks Connie !!
The giveaway for Laughing Through Life  is a print copy to one U.S. Or Canadian Winner or a Kindle for an international winner. Leave me a comment telling me what makes you laugh..

1 comment:

Kara said...

My little sister makes me laugh.

klepard94(at)yahoo(dot)com