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The SALON Summer 2013
Meet and mingle with the Literati (bring your own wine and cheese)
For National Audiobook Month of June we are proud to feature our Audiobook Narrators interviews
with Simon Vance and Paul Castanzo
Simon Vance interview
by Jeb Stewart Harrison
Not long ago my bethrothed and I, having been abandoned by our dependents, decided to move to Coon Hollow, just up the hill from Ed's Superette (aka the Stinson Beach Market) to pursue a quiet, retiring life of birdwatching, needlepoint and Grand Prix racing on Highway 1. We soon learned that nothing makes the trip over or around the mountain more enjoyable than a good audiobook, especially a classic story by a master storyteller. So we were listening to Dickens's Bleak House, as read by Simon Vance, and realized that here was a narrator who could somehow embody not only the voices but the personalities of a staggering number of characters. (I counted over 20 major speaking parts and around 50 characters all told). We continued listening in amazement, now hyperaware of the changes in tone, accent, inflection between characters and wondering "how does he do it?" How, indeed?
You've never heard of Simon Vance? Mr. Vance who, like Sting, was born in the fifties in Brighton, UK. He has narrated or co-narrated over 450 titles. He is the proud winner of 6 Audie awards and 43 Earphone awards, for which he has had to rent a mini-storage locker in Concord, his home for the past 25+ years. If you listen to audiobooks a half dozen times a year, chances are you've heard Simon Vance. (www.simonvance.com) NOTE: as we go to press, the APA (Audio Publishers Association) just presented Simon with 4 more Audie awards.
Some books narrated by Simon Vance:
1. What is your process for determining the voice for any given character?
Simon Vance: My first anchor will be the information given in the text by the author – Dickens is particularly good at painting the picture of a character, giving me some idea of his/her physical characteristics and social status even before they open their mouth. Often, if there’s nothing spelt out I use my intuition based on who the person is, what they want and how they interact with the other characters. There’s usually something I can hook onto. I tend not to practice voices beforehand, just see what comes out when I open my mouth based on what I know or have surmised… I’ve rarely gone back and changed the way a person sounded.
2. Do you have a "library" of voices that you've created that helps you match voices to characters?
Simon Vance: I have “types” of voices that I return to depending on the background of the character… (It’s possible to say I might occasionally over use those: Just today I saw someone in the comments section of a book note that some of the same or similar voices appeared in this one book that I had used in a book from years before… Well, that’s going to happen, I’m afraid.) I don’t think in terms of exactly repeating a voice, I hope that my motivation for speaking for one character might be just different enough from another even though I might use the same root sounds for both.
3. Do you draw on other sources - films, TV shows, previous recordings - to determine a character's voice?
Simon Vance: TV and films, all the time. I use actors I know in my mind to remind me of the kind of voice I used for a particular character as I read through a book. BUT I’m not a mimic! If I hang the name “Alec Guinness” onto a character in my head so I know the kind of placement and style I’m going to use I think few would say “Ah, he’s doing an Alec Guinness.” It just helps me as a hook.
4. The characters in Bleak House, save for Madame Hortense, are all British. I've also heard your rendition of The Brothers Karamazov, where the characters are all Russian except for the German doctor. While you use a German accent for the doctor, you do not use Russian accents for any of the other characters, (though I imagine you could if you wanted). What’s the thinking behind those choices?
Simon Vance: For one thing if a book is set in Russia, or France, or Afghanistan, it’s going to get very tiring listening to me doing fake accents all through the book. Another, and perhaps more important, reason is that if you are French and you are in France you do not hear everyone talking French to you in an accent, although a German will probably speak French with an accent… hence the differentiation.
5. Are there any authors or books that you’ve found particularly difficult to effectively narrate?
Simon Vance: Very few. On only one occasion have I asked not to be sent any more of that author’s books… and I’m not going to tell you who that was. This wasn’t because the style or syntax caused me any difficulty, just that the book really sucked!
6. Laura Miller wrote in a Salon interview: “To my ear, he [Simon Vance] strikes exactly the right balance between distinct characters and the unified sensibility of a third-person omniscient narrator. When I crave the pleasure of being entirely enveloped in the imaginary world of a long novel, I want Vance to read it to me.” Is there a “standard” Simon Vance voice that you’ll use for a third person, non-character narrator?
Simon Vance: Er…. My own? I’ve never thought about adding or subtracting from my own voice for a standard narration unless the book specifically calls for that. What might affect it is the mood of the piece, but it’ll still basically be me… as far as I’m aware.
7. Do you work out of a home or local studio, sharing files with directors/producers remotely? Or do you still need to be “on-site”?
Simon Vance: I am a very successfully self directing narrator. I haven’t had a director in years… I am on my own when it comes to books I’m narrating although I sometimes talk to the authors to see if they have any thoughts on how the story should be presented. I have my own studio at home and I send the files to an engineer where they are mastered and checked for errors. I’m not averse to going elsewhere, but for obvious reasons if a publisher trusts me to produce well on my own they’re going to save a boatload of money… (I really should put my rates up).
8. What percentage of your work is narrated with other performers, if any?
Simon Vance: I’ve contributed to several ‘multi-voice’ productions – Just recently I completed The Center of the World by Thomas Van Essen. I probably do two or so a year. There’s a multi voice production of Dracula by Bram Stoker in which I’m working alongside Tim Curry and Alan Cumming (I read Jonathan Harker’s letters) which is a finalist at this year’s Audie Awards in three categories. All these contributions are made from my home studio, though.
9. Your voice must take a beating. How many hours a day can you perform? How do you keep all those voices healthy and happy? Jolly Ranchers? Ricola drops? Tequila?
Simon Vance: I tend to stay around three to four hours maximum performing a day and generally I simply use water with a lemon slice in it… If things get hard I boil up the lemon, ginger, cayenne mix with a little honey in it…mmmm.
10. Watching a great reader in a one-person show can be fabulous entertainment. Do you ever perform live?
Simon Vance: I did perform David Hare’s play Via Dolorosa back in 2003 in several venues around the Bay Area (including a church in Mill Valley, I recall). That was 90 minutes long. But apart from the occasional short reading I haven’t any plans to hit the stage anytime soon.
11. When you were getting started did you have a coach or mentor that was particularly influential in shaping your art?
Simon Vance: When I was news reading on BBC Radio 4 I used to attend occasional classes at a place called The Actors Centre in London. One day I did a workshop with Prunella Scales (Sybil in “Fawlty Towers” and an excellent narrator herself). After giving a sample reading she told me she’d love to hear me read Dickens one day… Little did I know that that was where my future would lie. I certainly learnt from her, but mostly I think it just comes from the fact that in the society I grew up in we were being read to all the time… on TV as well as on the radio. So many great examples I think I learnt by osmosis.
12. Have you narrated any self-published novels? How is the self-publishing phenomenon affecting the audiobook space?
Simon Vance: I’m fortunate enough to be in demand to narrate more of the mainstream releases. Self publishing is a niche I haven’t got into, and probably won’t. Many people just coming into the industry find ACX of use. It is run my Audible (owned by Amazon) and there are a number of self published titles that audition for narrators on the site that will only pay a royalty percentage, and that so small in many cases that it makes no sense for me to take those on. I’m paid up front for every project I do since the publishers would not want to split a percentage of their profits on books they know are going to sell.
13. What advice would you give to folks just getting started in audiobook narration?
Simon Vance: Really, you want to sit in a dark closet sized space for hours on end reading to yourself? Are you crazy? You’re going to have to really love reading…. Seriously, it’s become a very crowded profession recently and I’m lucky to have established myself some time ago… I think it’s much harder to find enough work to be your sole income these days bearing in mind that it’s not just the hours spent behind the microphone… I spend a lot of time pre-reading and researching pronunciations and so on as well as there being the technical aspects of running a home studio. But if you’re dedicated, who knows what might happen. Plug yourself into all the audiobook groups you can find in social media and absorb as much as you can. Listen and practice. Listen to your own recordings… Would you buy a book you narrated? Listen to the respected readers and try to discover what it is they bring to a narration that the less successful clearly do not. I think, as a very basic requirement, you need an actor’s sensibility… it’s not just about a pretty voice.
14. Do you have any favorites?
Simon Vance: Really hard to answer that question as there are many different books I enjoyed for many different reasons… When I think about it my overall favorite long term experience narrating books has been the Aubrey/Maturin series by Patrick O’Brien starting with Master and Commander (21 books in all). For the visibility it gave me (and I enjoyed the read) Steig Larsson’s Millennium series (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, etc) and finally, because it led to a friendship with the author and I really liked the book The Prestige by Christopher Priest… Oh, there’s also the wonderful experience of narrating all 12 novels in A Dance To The Music of Time by Anthony Powell… and on… and on…
15. Ah..and finally: what are you working on now?
Simon Vance: About to get into Rules of Murder by Juliana Deering who just left a message on my website today saying she was excited about me narrating her “cozy mystery”… I like that kind of encouragement.
Paul Costanzo, Voice Actor
“A golden whiskey voice, with a bit of rumble, a bit of grit, both reassuring and seductive.”- Ruth Francisco-author of ‘Sunshine Highway’
Paul Costanzo interview
by Jeb Stewart Harrison
I arrived at Rulli’s pastry palace in Larkspur for my interview with voice actor and audiobook narrator Paul Costanzo a few minutes early, so I plugged in my headset and listened to some of Paul’s rendition of “Husk,” an ultra-noir zombie story where our protagonist, in first person, has to “contend with decomposition, the scent of the open grave, and an unending appetite for human flesh.”
The more I listened, the shakier I got as I watched the passersby on Magnolia. Wait, was that guy that just came out of the Silver Peso missing half his face? Then a dude in shiny black leather pulled up on a sleek, purring Ducati. He dismounted, then grabbed his helmeted head on either side and with a violent push ripped his helmet, and his head, clean off his shoulders. The head popped out of the helmet and landed on the sidewalk with a thud and rolled up right between my feet. I looked down at the face beaming up at me with a friendly smile. "Hi, Jeb," said the head. I’m Paul Costanzo.” Wow, I thought. Here's a guy that really gets into his roles.
Paul and I spent an hour talking about the high art and the business of voice acting, it's challenges and rewards, and the unique talent and commitment it requires. Gracious and honest, Paul shared some of the "realities" involved in making audiobooks, as well as some of the secrets of his own success, which as you can see on his website, is vast and growing.
"Narrator Paul Costanzo balances the multiple points of view in this compelling crossroads of characters and drives listeners to want to hear more about their lives well after the story ends. Costanzo improves the book with a voice that blends well with whatever perspective he is narrating; he can move from the psychopath to the victim clearly enough not to lose or confuse listeners. His strong command of tone, emphasis, and pacing, which varies by character, almost immediately tells the listener whose point of view it is before being identified." AudioFile 2011
Some books narrated by Paul Costanzo:
Jeb: Many narrators and voice talents have acting backgrounds. How did you find your way into the field as a voice talent? What drew you to voice acting?
Paul: I had studied trumpet performance at The Juilliard School in New York and was free-lancing on both coasts for The Metropolitan Opera, various Broadway shows, the San Francisco Symphony, performances at Carnegie Hall and so forth, and after doing that for many years I decided to take a sabbatical in LA. The woman I was dating during that time, Linda Gray - from the TV show, Dallas?
Jeb: Oh, JR’s wife?
Paul: Right, that Linda Gray. Well, Linda suggested I investigate voice-over and hooked me up with Joanie Gerber,the protege of the great Mel Blanc, - and Joanie became my first VO coach. I started doing some commercials in LA, then a ton of narration for all the Silicon Valley corporations. After about 20 years of commercial voice over work, a few years ago I had an opportunity to audition for best selling author Catherine Coulter. At the time, Catherine was looking for a new male narrator for her FBI series. Catherine was willing to give me a shot, so, the opportunity to narrate her books, along with good reviews, opened the doors to the audiobook world for me. For the past 8 years, I almost exclusively record and direct audiobooks.
Jeb: So you went from being a concert trumpeter to a narrator. Don’t most audiobook narrators come from acting backgrounds?
Paul: Yes, many do, and I’ve actually had quite of bit of acting training over the years with Charles Conrad in Los Angeles and in SF with Cliff Osmun. So I draw on all of my training and life experience when I narrate.
Jeb: How so?
Paul: To me, phrasing a piece of copy requires the same sensibility as phrasing a line of music. So I think that my musical background as well as my acting training enables me to be sensitive to what’s happening on the page. How the action is described on the page can be brought to life through nuances like inflection, intonation, pitch, timing and so forth, the same way it works with music. The job of the narrator is to get the words off the page and into the theater of the mind of the listener, and the way the words take shape off the page has a profound impact on what the listener can envision.
Jeb: I imagine that the application of these principles gets more complicated in stories with a lot of different characters.
Paul: Differentiating the voices of the characters can be challenging. Catherine Coulter’s novels regularly have dozens of male characters that I have to bring to life. So you have to try to differentiate the characters by the way you physically produce the timbre and pitch of their voice by having it come from different parts of your head - one might be more nasal, while another may have a hollower tone from the back of the throat, while still another may have a breathier tone, so you’ve got to separate them that way so the listener doesn’t get confused. Also, the character’s point of view is important. Now, that’s just talking mechanics. But the way all those things happen, is to really embody the character. Then the narrator produces those qualities naturally. The more the narrator “sees” the character, the more convincing that character is to the listener.
Jeb: Do you have a library of stereotypical character voices that you draw from for your projects?
Paul: You’ve got certain characters that are tried and true for you, that you call on. Then there’s often times where you’ve got a basic character - let’s say a New Yorker. If there’s a different character description in a particular book there will be shades of that prototypical New Yorker. You’ll layer that voice with different things. Maybe he’ll be more nasal than your standard New York character, maybe he’ll talk out of one side of his mouth. So you take that basic Columbo character and you do something else with it, based on what the author says about the character. How he dresses, if he talks in a lilting voice, whatever. So you can take that lilt and layer it over the New York and you’ve got a different recipe to produce the end result.
Jeb: Some of audiobooks are acted by multiple narrators and some are not, even thought there are multiple male and female characters.Who usually makes the decision to have the story read by multiple voices or to have a single voice cover all the characters?
Paul: The publisher along with the author makes those decisions. When an author sells a lot of books, they have the power to request their book be read by both a male and female narrator. In Catherine Coulter’s FBI series, the main characters are a husband and wife team and she prefers to have her books read by both a male and female. Catherine actually hand-picked me to play the role of the husband, Savage, and Renee Raudman to play my wife, Sherlock. Of course I do all the other male voices and Renee does all the other female voices. We actually just finished recording her latest title called ‘BombShell’ in LA.
Jeb: Is it easier or more difficult to do multiple narrator projects?
Paul: Well I haven’t had an opportunity to do any true ensemble work yet, though I would jump at the opportunity. But working with Renee, is way more fun than going solo. First, it’s great to play off another narrator, and Renee is a fantastic voice actor and a great person. I think we make a terrific team and we’ve developed a wonderful working relationship. I’ve learned so much from her over the years. When we work together, we’re also directing each other, which just makes for a better performance and a more compelling audiobook all around.
Jeb: Shifting gears just a bit. I imagine there are more than a few of us “boomers” out there who have been told they have a great voice and may have been involved in local theater who are considering audiobook narration as something to do after retiring from their day gig. Do you see that happening in the industry?
Paul: It’s attractive to a lot of people, but not practical because they don’t really know the reality of it. You can’t really know the reality of it until you have the responsibility of reading a book, signing a contract and delivering the goods. You also need the confidence and experience to be able to self-direct, because the reviews that you get will make or break whether that company says “we would like you to read another one.” So there’s a lot riding on that even before you get a company to say they would like to take a chance on you. So if somebody likes reading bedtime stories to their grandkids, they should probably continue to do that. I had one very experienced mentor put it this way: go up to your bookshelf, close your eyes and pick a book. You don’t get to choose the book - that’s done for you. Then take it into a closet with a flashlight and read for three or four hours a day, five days a week for a couple of weeks. If you can do that, maybe voice acting is for you.
Jeb: You’re also a director. How did you get involved in that part of the business?
Paul: I took some classes at Voicetrax SF years ago - 20 years ago - and I got called back to be a narration director and I started teaching classes in narration and commercial voice-over, and subsets of those categories. I did that for many years. They’ve now asked me to return to teach an audiobook seminar in September. There are a lot of people out there that are curious about what it’s about, how do you go about it and what the realities are around it, and there’s really no other way to find that out. There are classes you can take that will tell you how to do it but the talk about the realities doesn’t always happen...
Jeb: You mean like the flashlight in the closet reality...
Paul: Yeah, exactly. People are asking “can this fantasy really work for me?”
Jeb: Makes sense. Now, you're a voice director as well. What's that like?
Paul: Well, I love directing. The voice is such a naked thing. When you do it (direct) long enough a person just can’t hide because the voice is so revealing. So, as a director, you’re kind of part psychiatrist. Lately I've been directing authors reading their own books. With authors, you need to know how far you can go with critique, and how to be deliberate, or where you need to sidestep...it’s a very delicate thing. As far as an author reading their own material, that can be challenging if there are major articulation problems, and the biggest challenge with people that don’t do this all the time is to convince them that if they slow down the read, it won’t sound slow to the listener. I try and get them to create pictures as they’re moving through the copy. The more I can get them to be involved in the story they’re telling, the natural tempo of the story reveals itself.
Jeb: I’ve heard it said that to be a voice actor one must first be a stage actor. This must be challenging for some of the writers narrating their own material who are not actors and never will be.
Paul: Yes, the acting experience is nice to have, but it’s not an absolute requirement. What is an absolute requirement is that the narrator has a voice people want to listen to...and that they can tell a great story, wherever that skill may come from. Voice-acting is a ‘high art.' You have no props or costumes, it’s all created in the ‘theater of the mind’.
Jeb: It sounds like the bulk of the work for any voice actor is spent in a home studio, alone, reading and recording. Doesn't it get a little lonely?
Paul: Ha! It could, but I have enough variety in my life to keep it from being overwhelming! Now that voice actors like myself can record at home - I generally do about 6 hours of reading a day - and send the days work to the publisher with a click, there's no need for face-to-face interaction. Fortunately I also direct, teach private lessons and seminars, and continue to perform as a classical musician so it's not like I'm a complete hermit sitting in a closet reading to myself all day.
Jeb: How is self-publishing affecting the audiobook industry?
Paul: I think we’re seeing a lot of self-published authors approaching narrators with commission-based deals that only pay on the come, which, regardless of how good the book might be, simply can’t compete with the work-for-hire model that the audiobook publishers like Brilliance Audio, Tantor Media, Audible and the other companies I work with provide. But there are voice actors just getting started that may jump at the opportunity to read a self-published book, which is great because it's great experience and helps build a portfolio. If the voice actor can build a strong portfolio reading self-published work, it's well worth it.
Jeb: What additional advice would you give to someone looking to become a voice-actor?
Paul: It's like I said earlier - make sure you understand the reality of the business. Once you're sure that the day-to-day is something you want to pursue, there are many different routes to take. It's getting comfortable with the reality and the nature of the work that takes some serious soul searching, and if that's the kind of work that turns you on, I wish you all the best of luck!
for more see http://paulcostanzo.com/
Patricia is a bright light in the San Francisco Bay Area literary scene, a person with talent and energy.” ~ Sam Barry, Author, How to Play the Harmonica: and Other Life Lessons and member of The Rock Bottom Remainders
Top Three Reasons Why I Don’t Give a Fig Who “Steals” My Books
By Patricia V. Davis
A few years back, I was in the audience listening to a speaker at a prestigious writers’ conference as he warned us about book piracy and how many potential sales authors stood to lose as a result.
“I know for a fact that people are pirating my work and even selling my books illegally online,” he said, clearly not happy about that.
He went on to inform a roomful of mostly new writers that he’d even caught some reviewers ─ legitimate ones ─ selling their review copy of his book on eBay after they’d reviewed it. “When giving out review copies of your books, be sure to write ‘review copy’ in it, to help prevent that from happening,” he cautioned. He continued in the same vein about illegal copies being obtained for his ebooks, as well, and I observed several audience members taking notes diligently on his piracy prevention suggestions.
The problem is, I’d personally never heard of him before that conference, and if you ask me even now, I couldn’t tell you the title of even one of his books.
What does this mean? I’m getting to that.
Let’s take another scenario: Me, as a teenager at a neighbor’s garage sale. She had a bin of old paperbacks that she was selling at ten cents each. Obviously we’re going way back here, before the internet even existed, so in essence, her reselling of those paperbacks at ten cents each was that era’s equivalent of today’s online book piracy. I bought a paperback that looked intriguing ─ why not, at that price? ─ and took it home to read. I became so enraptured by the story that I read it all in one sitting, then raided my babysitting money which I’d saved for something else, walked all the way to the local bookstore and bought another of her books at the full paperback retail price that same day. Over the years, I’ve repeatedly bought her titles, and sometimes, if I’m feeling famished for the quality brain candy novels that she writes, and something new she’s written looks particularly appealing, I won’t even wait for the paperback version ─ I’ll spring for the hardback price of 25 dollars plus tax. (Yes, even this day of eReaders and iPads, I still buy hardback books.)
The novel that I bought “illegally” hooked me into becoming a lifelong fan of this author. Her name is Nora Roberts and obviously I’m not her only devoted fan because she’s worth approximately 60 million dollars. But the conference speaker who’d advised new writers to “watch out” for book thieves was correct ─ Nora never got a penny of the ten cents my neighbor stole from her by reselling her book.
So, my first reason for not giving a fig if my books are pirated on eBay, resold at garage sales or passed on from person to person? Nora Roberts. If I hadn’t found that book at that garage sale at such a tempting price, her name on the cover of a paperback would be just another author’s name whose work I don’t know. I would wager that a good portion of her millions of fans learned about her the same way I did ─ from a paperback bought for ten cents.
My second reason is that when my first book Harlot’s Sauce came out in 2009, a friend sent me an email that went like this: “I loved it! I loved it so much that I lent it to my mother and told her she had to read it. She loved it, also and passed it on to my aunt, who gave it to my cousin. My cousin loved it too! We all can’t wait until your next book comes out!”
Thrilled over my first email praise, I read it to my husband, who having majored in economics was not nearly as excited. “So, four people read one copy? Let’s see ─ you make about a dollar in royalties on each copy of that book. What you’re saying is ─ you made 25 cents per reader?”
“We’ll see,” I responded to his cynicism.
Sure enough, the friend’s cousin, whom I’d never met, belonged to a rather large book group, as book groups go. She really had loved the book, because she presented it to her group who then purchased 50 copies of Harlot’s Sauce. And one of the women in the club invited me to speak at her organization of Italian American Women, and there went another 125 copies. So from one copy being read by four different people, I sold an additional 175 books, and who knows how many more from those?
I could go on, but you get the point, which is: If you have a dog-eared copy of one of my books that you’d like to lend to someone, or even sell to someone for ten cents, go ahead─ I won’t call the Feds. For me, at this point in my writing career, it’s not about how much money I’m making; it’s about how many readers I have access to and whether or not those readers are enjoying my work. I’m a long way from a sixty million dollar income, but I do know this for sure ─ people are reading my books. Monthly, weekly, and occasionally even daily, I’ll get an email or Facebook message from someone who says, “Hey, I just finished your book, and I loved it. When are you going to write another one?” And sometimes, that note is from someone who lives in Australia. Or Indonesia. Or someplace else I’ve never been. Now, that’s the true miracle of the worldwide web. Or perhaps, book piracy.
The third and last reason that I’m listing here today (although, believe me, there are many more than three) on why I don’t care who pirates, lends or sells my published books is probably the most important reason of all. It has to do with some of my former pupils in the NYC Public School system whom I will never forget. The ones who were poor and lived in group homes, the ones whose parents were about 15 years older than they were, the ones who didn’t speak English as their first language but had to translate for their mothers and fathers ─ those were the students who seemed most fascinated by the stories I read to them in English class, because they had never been exposed to them.
Can you imagine never knowing Jack London, or Harper Lee, Roald Dahl or even Judy Blume? These authors and many others opened up worlds for me as a I grew up and I believe I passed on my love of their work to my pupils. The only way those young people would ever be able to read a book would be because someone had read it to them, as I had, or given it to them. Eighteen years after teaching at that school, I ran into a former pupil, now in her 30s and she exclaimed, “You’re Mrs. V, my former English teacher. Oh my God — A Tale of Two Cities — I will never forget how much you made me love that book.”
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not of the ilk who believes that all of us artists have to be broke in order to be “true” artists. Quite the contrary. I want to make money on book sales and lots of it. But I also give away plenty of my books when I feel someone will benefit from my work, or just because I want that particular person to read it. And I’m also looking at the bigger picture of how an author can build a platform. It’s not by hoarding one’s work, or expending energy worried about how many ebooks have not been accounted for. The irony in thinking like that is this: When you get well enough known, it’s much harder to be pirated without someone noticing. I know Harlot’s Sauce has been printed in Chinese and if you will forgive the pun, I have so far received not “yuan” penny for that translation. But when JK Rowling’s work was pirated in China, her publishers in the US were able to put a stop to it right away, and that was only because she was already famous. Will fame happen to all 3 million authors who put out a book this year alone? Can their publishers afford the money and time it takes to create a huge marketing campaign for each book they publish? Hardly. The slower, more possible way to get known is by word of mouth.
So go ahead, steal my ebooks. And then send me an email and let me know how you liked them.
Patricia V. Davis is the author of the bestselling Harlot’s Sauce: A Memoir of Food, Family, Love, Loss and Greece and The Diva Doctrine: 16 Universal Principles Every Woman Needs to Know. She is the founder of The Women’s PowerStrategy™ Conference which will be taking place on June 15, 2013 at Wells Fargo Center for the Arts in Sonoma County. www.patriciaVdavis.com
Publisher J. Macon King (John) of The MILL VALLEY LITERARY REVIEW
King (rt) with Al Hinkle, Jack Kerouac's friend, at Sweetwater Music Hall 2013
John Macon King is Publisher of The MILL VALLEY LITERARY REVIEW. John was the humor columnist for The San Francisco Marina Times. When he was 86’ed from North Beach, and escaped to Mill Valley in1985, he was advised by the Rainbow Tunnel Troll, “If you want to blend in with the locals you better buy a Jeep Cherokee, a golden retriever, and take a chill pill.”
Here he revived the dormant Rhubarb Revue theatre, has given readings at the Book Depot, the Sweetwater, and Sausalito Women’s Club, and his articles and short stories have been featured in the Marin IJ and various magazines. He states his proudest achievement is amassing “the largest cocktail shaker collection in Mill Valley.” After penning several screenplays, he nestled them in his desk drawer, safe from the money and glamour of Hollywood. King’s upcoming novel, The Sun in Our Eyes, promises to transport the reader to the pivotal “lost generation” in late seventies San Francisco.
"Sun" excerpts are sometimes featured in this site's Literary Latte. His adventuresome spirit and theatrical experience bring emotional depth, immersive dramatic style and existential humor to his writing.
King explains how MillValleyLit came to be:
Q. What was your background for this new literary venture?
A. I have always enjoyed a passion for reading, writing and the creative community. While earning a Creative Arts degree I worked in a library and then as a manager at the bustling SFSU bookstore. In Marin I found a niche as a marketing consultant for LucasArts and basked in the creativity at Skywalker Ranch. In 2000 I revived the Rhubarb Revue community theater, after its seven year closure, to encourage regular folks to take to the stage and perform. It is still a venue for local writers and talent. http://tamvalley.org/rhubarb2012.shtml
Q. You have had previous experience as Editor of a community newpaper and web site?
A. Yes. I was Editor in Chief for The Progress TVIC newsletter which at times went to 2,500 homes in Tam Valley. After negotiating with the County to assume the name and site, we lauched www.tamvalley.org as our own Tam Valley Improvement Club site. It was really the first neighborhood web site. I soon gave up on expensive paper, printing and mailings.
Q. Besides the poetry readings did you participate in other groups?
A. I took a number of writing seminars including Syd Field and the fantastic Robert McKee, who I had lunch with several times. For a number of years I was the only male in an engaging Mill Valley book club led by Barbara Nelson. The women were supportive and interested in hearing a masculine perspective, which I did my best to uphold. MillValleyLit developed from all those experiences.
Q. What other contributions have you made in the community?
A. My secret identity is the meek mild-mannered computer consultant known as Computer Whiz. I specialize in helping small businesses and home offices. Besides the Rhubarb Revue, my community activities formerly included: Vice President of the Tam Valley Improvement Club (TVIC), Founder and Chair of T.V. Services District's Revitalization and Safety Commisssion, President of the Marin BNI Power Lunch, Tam Valley School Technology Coordinator, and consultant to three successful local political campaigns.
Q. Tell us about your upcoming novel, The Sun in our Eyes.
A. In the hyper-kinetic San Francisco late seventies, The Sun in Our Eyes exposes frayed musician Jack to the incandescent painter Bretta and the creative entourage in her gravitational pull. Despite their social staus differences, the reforming bad boy Jack finds that he cannot resist the sexually charged, liberated Bretta. When Bretta's bizarrely flawed friend Michael returns, the mystery of their relationship is a shadow that creeps into Jack's psyche like fog through the Golden Gate. This San Francisco based literary fiction pinballs from hard-drinking North Beach bars, drug-fueled Haight streets, to all night raves and punk moshes, Sierra saloons, and elite mansions of Malibu.
Q. That is a time period from which we have not read much. Why then?
A. This novel transports you into the “lost generation” of a pivotal period. From mellow to molten, the post-Vietnam War years from '78-80 were a crazy period that reeled with Harvey Milk and Jonestown deaths, and sharply ended with the assassination of John Lennon, the Iran hostage crisis, election of Ronald Reagan, and advent of yuppies and AIDS. Jack’s journey accurately characterizes a little fictionalized time before America is thrust into the “Me Decade” of the coke crusted eighties - with the lure of corporate lifestyles punctuated with the next score, the next one-night-stand, the next technology, the next desirable toy.
J. Macon King
Marin Magazine June issue: "Local Literature" at top of page 30. Marin Magazine is available by subscription, on select newsstands, and a snazzy digital version at: http://digital.marinmagazine.com/marinmagazine/june_2013#pg1
Mill Valley Herald's front page interview: http://www.marinscope.com/mill_valley_herald/news/article_3329e140-8c20-11e2-91d0-001a4bcf887a.html
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Simon Vance photo by Cynthia Smalley
Other photos by J. Macon King except some stock promotional book jackets, posters, archival, or credited.
King photo: Ari Maslow
Literary Tree mural and Repack tilework: Fairfax
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