Today’s post is in honor of one of my very first clients, Stacy Horn, who had me at meow, and I hate cats. Sorry Stacy. Her memoir, Waiting for My Cats to Die, is an hilarious and bittersweet memoir about mid-life and its discontents (with cats). It has just been published as an e-book. Here’s a q&a with Stacy and an unforgettable YouTube about, yes, pilling cats. – Who is your agent and how much do you love her?
Once a year I ask my agent, Betsy Lerner, to marry me, and once a year the detective who comes to my door says, “You know the restraining order is still in effect, right?” We always laugh at that. Then we commiserate about how we all can’t be married to Betsy Lerner, before heading out to a bar together to drown our sorrows.
– Describe your writing “process”.
Feed the cats, give them their medication, wash up, sit down with a cup of coffee and write. Almost everything about writing is a pleasure to me, especially the research. I love getting to work. The only bad parts are waiting for feedback, getting negative feedback, and that period where I wonder if I have it in me to fix something that isn’t working. My initial reaction is always the same. I think, ‘If I had it in me I would have made it better in the first place. Therefore I must suck, and no one will ever pay me to write another word ever again, plus I’m ugly, my cats are going to die someday, then me, and man I wish the research for my last book had turned up something more hopeful.’
– Which of your book is closest to your heart and why?
It has to be Waiting For My Cats to Die, because it was about the things closest to my heart. I still can’t believe I got to write it. Imagine getting paid to indulge all your obsessions and write about them. I was traipsing through forgotten graveyards, drumming along the Hudson River, and trying to uncover the identity of the ghost all my friends said they sensed (or saw) in my apartment.
I recently read in an introduction to a novel that said the artist’s job (or compulsion) is to bear witness. If I were to sum up my own compulsion, it would be to recover. I always want to bring back what was lost or forgotten. I always feel the most alive, and the most happy, when I’m resurrecting some forgotten story or person.
– What is your new book about?
Another obsession, singing! But I also got to recover. While researching the history and science of singing I found all these forgotten singers and composers, and their wonderful, moving, sometimes sad stories. For instance, while researching this composer I’m sure no one has heard of, I came across a black composer who dedicated his life to reclaiming and transforming spirituals that had evolved during the period of slavery in America. Although he’s largely forgotten today, one of his songs was sung as Barack Obama made his way to the Capitol to be inaugurated. The son of a slave, who lived and wrote in a state that practiced segregation, if only he could have known this day would come and that he would be a part of it
– What is Echo and what are your observations about social media today?
Echo is what is now called a social network, but I called it an online community. It was one of the first in New York, I started it in 1989, and it’s still around! I am absolutely ecstatic about social media today. It has evolved a lot quicker than I thought it would, and I love all the new toys and tools, and the endless creativity and imagination from all over the world that I can tap into at any moment. Seriously, this is a much bigger question than I can realistically answer here, but every day, many times a day, I am blown away; by a tweet, a video, something that came about as a result of an online collaboration, a work of art, etc., etc, etc.
– What is the worst part about being an author?
It’s a toss-up between that period of insecurity which I will soon be in. When you’re just finishing up one book, but you haven’t started and sold your next. And bad reviews. Apparently I don’t have a thick enough skin.
– The best?
When a publisher first buys my book. There is nothing better than the feelings from knowing that I’ve got a few years ahead of me to immerse myself in something I can’t wait to learn and write about.
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