Quick Take Tuesday, a blog of tasteful, yet shameless, self-promotion involving an author or someone of equal social standing. I ask two questions, and then my guest turns the table and asks me two questions, as long as they don’t involve pounds or pant size.
Q) Konnichiwa! I should also add that you are a cat lady like me. But I’m not so sure that you’re as bat shit crazy as I am. Maybe that’s because you live on the other side of the Bay, just a few blocks from the ocean and are a successful and highly paid author of several beautiful books. And might I add, a karaoke singer!
A) Highly paid author? Ahem. I think my husband would beg to differ with you there. Yes, I’m a karaoke singer of some reknown—LOL—but mainly with Japanese songs. I also like to sing jazz, bossa-nova and cool pop (Nancy Sinatra, anyone?) with my husband on keyboards. But am I a cat lady? Mmmm. I was just talking about this the other day. Why is it that when a woman simply enjoys the company of her cat (or cats, as I assume is the case with you), she is automatically dubbed a “crazy cat lady?” It’s such a stigma. When I’m out shopping with my husband and I want to buy a cute dishtowel or mug with a cat on it, he tells me that I shouldn’t, that I’m in danger of becoming one of those nutty feline-hoarding, cat-sweater-wearing old biddies. Do I hear the same thing about men and their cats or men and their dogs? Nooooo. I’m not sure what to do about this. I guess raising consciousness about this important issue through QTT is enough for the time being.
Q) You and I met and bonded at a writers’ conference because we both called bullshit on a famous writer who gave the most disingenuous speech about her success as an author and failure as a human being. There’s a lot out there that’s hard to digest right now about the publishing industry. What’s your take on it?
A) Yes, I remember that speech well. It was difficult to suppress my look of astonishment when everyone else seemed to be in tears as they rose to give said author a standing ovation. Oh, well.
As for the publishing industry, as someone who just released an e-book on Kindle, I have to say that I’m not one of the doom-and-gloomers. I actually am excited to be living in a time of such change. There are downsides and upsides to all of this and a lot of it mirrors what’s gone on in the recording industry. I think it’s likely that more and more people will do some or all of their reading on e-readers or i-Phones or iPads, but I don’t think tangible books will disappear. I also don’t envision libraries going away, but they will change a lot. The same with independent bookstores. They might become more like community gathering places with more computers and accessories for people to use, perhaps, than books. I have faith that there are a lot of creative people out there who will take on these challenges and turn them into amazing entities we can’t even foresee.
I also embrace social media. I love Twitter and Facebook and the way these sites have allowed me to interact and network with readers and writers from all over the world, whom I never would have otherwise met. I think traditional publishers will still exist, but they will have to make some changes, and self-publishing and indie-publishing will also be in the mix. I guess I’m a good example. I just published my own e-book, but my latest novel, about a congressman’s sex scandal of some 20 years ago and the effect it still has today on his wife and two grown daughters, is with my literary agent and we’re about to try and pitch it to editors at publishing houses. Will it sell? I don’t know. It’s always been a tough business and it’s getting tougher. On the other hand, people are still buying books and novelists are still getting book deals.
The sky isn’t falling, at least not from where I sit. In fact, it’s a big, beautiful and intact sky that is full of possibilities if you can think a little bit outside the box.
//BUZZER NOISE AND SOUND OF TABLE BEING TURNED//
Q) Okay, your turn, Laura. I know you’ve confessed to being a major foodie or at least that you LOVE to eat out like I do (and we should get together for lunch sometime!). And no, this question has nothing to do with dress size or caloric intake. I can’t name one favorite restaurant because I like way too many of them (though I’ll say that I’m currently loving Café Claude in San Francisco), but I’ll put you on the spot. What and where is your favorite place to eat out and why is it your favorite?
A) You know, the food scene has exploded in Oakland. It’s all happening right here where they said there was “no there.” James Syhabout, Daniel Patterson…from Jack London Square to Uptown, Piedmont avenue, Rockridge. Whether it’s a taqueria or a multi-course meal you’re after, Oakland is the new Brooklyn. Tastebuds are exploding like firecrackers over here and if you’re a new chef on the scene, you’d better bring your A Game. But there are two new places I’m dying to try in SF: Michael and Lindsay Tusk just opened the new Quince & Cotogna and it looks gorgeous. And Michael Mina is now in the old Aqua space. It’s all so hip and happening, they might not let me in the door. And of course, just like my protagonist in Finding Clarity, I have nothing to wear. And it was the outfit she donned for the big party that got her in real trouble and really set in motion the events that unraveled the entire story! Who knew dining out could be so much fun?
Q) I know that you’re a very successful non-fiction writer who has written for many of the top magazines and journals. But you are also writing a mystery! What are the differences in mindset when you write fiction versus non-fiction? And which is more fun?
A) I always called being a reporter “having a license to snoop.” Assignments were an entrée into incredible worlds, places I’d never otherwise go, be that a ghetto, backstage at a rock concert, on the trail with a politician, or cruising in a cop car. When I was young and starting out, my roommates worked in banking and they wore suits and had very stable jobs. I never knew what was up from one day to the next. But one thing I was certain of: I disliked dull stories and loved exciting ones. Environmental stories were my least favorite. Strikes were okay because they were basic (get both sides, don’t take sides) but crimes stories, now crime stories were my first love. Really. One minute I was covering Joe Biden on the campaign trail and the next I was looking down at a body covered in lime rotting in the heat. And you know which one I found more interesting? Guess. I just loved how linear the crime stories were. They flowed, they were comprised of pieces. There was mystery, or not, as the case sometimes was. That’s why I loved them. And that’s why I love piecing together my own Murder at the Mailbox, my first Clari Drake mystery following Finding Clarity (where I just so happen to have almost 10,000 reads of the first chapters on Scribd!)
//BUZZER NOISE AND SOUND OF AMAZINGLY LOUD APPLAUSE//
Thank you for joining me on Quick Take Tuesday, author, wife, cat-liker, Karaoke singer and bullshit detector,
Wendy Tokunaga! Please come back and fill me up, so to speak, with some of your work for my Friday Feature!