Interview With Ben Philippe, Author of “The Field Guide to the North American Teenager”!

ben 2If you are passionate about writing and want to pursue it professionally, you might want to keep certain skills off your resume. Ben Phillippe, author of the forthcoming debut novel, The Field Guide to The North American Teenager (Balzer + Bray, January 9, 2019) is one of many who had jobs that he disliked, but when he removed Microsoft Excel from his resume, he yielded opportunities that were a lot more appealing. “For a while my resume was just a bunch of stuff I knew how to do, but that didn’t make me happy because the only thing that makes me happy is writing,” he explained to So Booking Cool.

“I would get these temp jobs that required a lot of Excel and Microsoft Access because that’s what I was advertising to the world, and then I just started to remove them. They were small jobs–I was living month to month, but I was just doing stuff that was close enough to writing so that I could keep the passion alive.” Phillippe would go on to write for a host of publications including Vanity Fair, Observer, The Guardian, Thrillist, and Playboy, just to name a few. He also has a background in ghostwriting and teaches writing at Barnard College.

FGTNAT - CoverAs for Field Guide, Philippe hopes people will find the book funny. He also feels his character Norris is an underrepresented one in mainstream storytelling.  “Representation is kind of a big thing these days, especially in YA literature, which is great. We see a lot of characters that we wouldn’t normally see, like ten years ago we wouldn’t see characters of color in bestselling books, but I think there’s still the expectation that when you’re reading a story about a black male character, ‘oh no, it’s gonna be sad at the end; oh no, it’s gonna get Precious.”

While Philippe notes that Norris does have stakes and an emotional journey in the book, the story is more about comedy and a young guy’s high school experience. Listen to the interview to learn more about Philippe, The Field Guide to The North American Teenager, creating characters, his insight on ghostwriting, why he loves teaching and how it fuels his writing, who he envisions portraying Norris, his thoughts on the reboot of Netflix’s The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, and more! For more information visit his official website.

Interview With Michelle Wolett, Owner of Once Upon a Book Club!

ONCE UPON A BOOK CLUB

Once Upon a Book Club is not the typical book subscription box. It enhances the reading experience by including a replication of an item mentioned in the novel. As you can imagine, this concept is engaging for people, an aspect that the company’s founder, Michelle Wolett, appreciates. “I’ve learned that it’s really helping the world read more,” Wolett told So Booking Cool. “So that’s the part that I really love about our company because I also at some point in my life just stopped reading; life just got too busy. There’s so many people out there that say ‘oh, I just don’t read’ or ‘I don’t like books,’ and this has actually changed their mind because they’re not supposed to open their gift until they reach a certain page. So it’s also like a treasure hunt for them.”

MICHELLE WOLETTE

It would not be untrue to say that entrepreneurism runs in Wolett’s family. However, one unlucky business move that her parents made with her uncle, unfortunately led to her parents losing their home (that her father handmade, by the way). Wolett, who recalls her father’s devastation, turned tragedy into triumph. She was determined to start a successful business. Anything to help her parents out financially. Her parent company, Chick-Lit Designs would also revert her love for reading and she would eventually quit her day job to take over her business full time.

When asked for her advice for anyone who wants to become a self-starter, Wolett said, “…I notice that a lot of people seem to just be afraid of failing and that’s one thing as an entrepreneur that you have to just go with. It’s okay if you fail, it’s not the end of the world. You can fail or you can adjust or tweak.”

Listen to the full interview for Wolett’s advice, her insight on re-branding and branding in general, the Once Upon a Book Club system, how she selects books for the subscriptions, her Once Upon a BookCase collection, and more! For more information visit Once Upon a Book Club.

Interview With Jerald L. Hoover, Author of “My Friend, My Hero”!

HOOVERThough it took nine years for Jerald L. Hoover to get his book, My Friend, My Hero published, it would later celebrate 25 years of release; win multiple awards and garner accolades; become a semi-finalist in the Gotham Screenplay Contest; and make Hoover a staple in his hometown of Mount Vernon. He was awarded with the WritersCorp Award by president Bill Clinton and was among the top selling black authors in the early 90’s. The professor, motivational speaker, playwright, award-winning author and sports journalist is now excited for the new generation to be introduced to My Friend, My Hero, the first in a series.

The young adult novel tells the story of Bennett Wilson, a level-headed athlete who seemingly has it all with the top colleges lining up to sign him to their basketball roster, but life tests him in a major way when his mother falls ill and behind on the rent, forcing Wilson to consider the bad road he’s always tried to avoid in order to save his family. The novel, which Hoover began writing when he was 17-years-old, is a powerful story of friendship, education, the choices one makes.

25th 3D Light Red Shirt“My endeavor is to reach everyone, but out of everyone I want 1 million young men to read the book because I really think it will shape their thinking to be more positive and proactive,” Hoover told So Booking Cool. “And I really think that will help America going forward.”

Listen to the full interview to learn more about Hoover’s journey to writing My Friend, My Hero and getting it published; how the book is still relevant; why he champions literacy; the comment he’ll always remember from a fellow reader about his book; the marketing ideas he implemented for his book; and info on the series; and more! For more information, follow Hoover on twitter, as well as the Hero Book series.

Interview With Tom Wascoe, Author of “Child of the Dust”!

tom wascoe.pngThere are two things Tom Wascoe wants readers to take away from his book Child of the Dust: love conquers all and the importance of the Vietnam War. The story is inspired by Wascoe’s service in the army as well as his Corporate Officer career at a Fortune 100 company. He once told someone that he would write a book about the war, and accomplished his goal forty years later.

Child of the Dust tells the story of a soldier, Richie, who falls in love and procreates with a native, though he is forbidden to marry her. Richie is obligated to leave the army and returns to life in America. Two decades later, however, they reunite, along with his son.

“The whole Vietnam experience was very important to me, the struggles and the people that we left behind,” the author told So Booking Cool.

Child of the Dust coverPrior to penning Child of the Dust, Wascoe was not a reader of romance—he typically reads historical fiction. But when chatting with him, his passion for the story’s message that “love is overriding” is palpable. Listen to the full interview to learn more about the Chicago resident.

We discuss his thoughts on a film or television adaptation of Child of the Dust; his perspective on book reviews; how many books he reads a year; his debut book, Backseat, which is also partly derived from a personal event in his life; his experience with Bookstand Publishing; and his upcoming work. For more information, visit Wascoe’s official website.

Interview With “Renaissance Man: The Lin Manuel Miranda Story” Author, Marc Shapiro!

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While New York Times bestselling author Marc Shapiro likens the life of a writer to that of a roller coaster, he also believes that as a creative, the psychological benefits of the craft are high. He would know. Shapiro has written everything from articles, horoscopes, short stories, poems, to approximately 80 celebrity biographies, including the bestseller, J. K. Rowling: The Wizard Behind Harry Potter. Lin Manuel Miranda (check out our review here on Renaissance Man: The Lin Manuel Miranda Story, An Unauthorized Biography)Mary Tyler Moore, George Harrison, Justin Bieber, Lindsay Lohan, Adele, and Fifty Shades of Grey author, E.L. James are among the high-profile lives he’s penned. He even wrote one about the hit rock song “Hey Joe.” Recently, he revealed that he finished writing the late Senator John McCain‘s life story (this interview was done prior to the senator’s death).  Shapiro, who says he’s always been attracted to creative people, is also interested in finding out what makes them tick.

“Some days it’s a pain in the butt to make a living doing this, but more often than not, it’s fun. You’re doing what you love to do and making a living, and getting paid for it,” he said.

Listen to the full interview to learn more about Shapiro’s projects, both past and present, including the recent release of his debut short story collection, Short Story Collection: Stories of High Strangeness, the execution of Renaissance Man, his insights on being an author, and journalist, and the time he had three weeks to write the LA Times bestseller, Total Titanic: The Most Up-to-Date Guide to the Disaster of the Century, and more!

Interview With Curtis Bunn, Essence’s Bestselling Author and Founder of the National Book Club Conference!

19999Curtis Bunn founded the National Book Club Conference (NBCC) so readers could have the opportunity to interact with their favorite authors and/or writers. The idea was conceived after he attended country-wide book club meetings for his debut novel, Baggage Check, which became the first Essence magazine bestseller by a black author, with a black editor and agent, a black cover designer, a black distributor, and a black publisher. The NBCC’s 16th annual Literary Bliss weekend, which celebrates African American literature, will begin August 3rd in Atlanta at the InterContinental hotel.

Alice Walker (The Color Purple, among many), Terry McMillan (Waiting to Exhale, among many), Jenifer Lewis (blackish star and author of her memoir, Mother of Black Hollywood), Tayari Jones (An American Marriage, the Oprah’s book club pick), Bryan Stevenson (Just Mercy), and Carl Weber (The Man in 3B) are among the 30 authors of this year’s lineup. While Bunn is glad to have the support of renowned attendees, he is especially excited about the new talent.

“I need the majors, and I love having them because they’re amazing. We need them to attract the readers, but when they come, I always challenge the readers to stretch themselves. Go see someone you’ve never heard of. And almost in every case they’ve done that, they say they’re glad they went there…for me, that’s the mission of the conference, to expose readers to authors they may not have otherwise known about or read.”

Press play to hear how Bunn started the NBCC, his approach to his craft, including how the setting/location in a story is a “character” itself, the developing film adaptations of two of his nine novels, The Old Man in the Club and The Truth is in The Wine, the up-and-coming authors to be featured at Literary Bliss this weekend that he’s excited about, and more! For more information visit Bunn’s official website as well as the official NBCC website.

Interview With D.B. Moffatt, Author of “The Misbirth”!

David Moffatt Headshot (1)For D.B. Moffatt, the author of The Misbirth, the heart of his novel is to transform a negative experience into a positive. “In the case of fate, you’re dealt with a situation that is bad. You can go one of two ways. The first way, in which I ultimately chose, was rationalizing to myself ‘okay, bad circumstance, however, ain’t my fault, but I have to deal with it anyway.’ And I rather deal with a circumstance that ain’t my fault, than deal with a bad circumstance that I created.”

The Misbirth Cover

The Misbirth, based in the 50’s is a fast-paced, hard-hitting story about sixteen-year-old Logan Spence, who is the product of a tumultuous relationship and controversial pairing that dangerously impacts his life. Moffatt’s has plans for his book, published by BeachHouse Books, to become a screenplay. The former freelance film editor says the movie or television adaptation of his book would unknown actors, who would ideally become breakout stars.

Listen to the full interview to learn more about the former real estate agent, the execution of The Misbirth, plotters and pantsers, fast-paced fiction, his advice for authors who are going through a hard time, and more! For more information, stay tuned for the relaunch of his official website.

Interview With Yahdon Israel, Writer and Creator of Literaryswag!

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Photo by John Midgley

An important goal for Yahdon Israel, the creator of the Literaryswag and Lit Platform movement and book club, is to bring more fans to the art, not more artists. Many writers and other industry-related professionals attend book events, whereas at a Beyoncé concert, most of the attendees are not singers but fans, he noted. “If the only reason you enjoy something is just because you’re doing it, then you’re really limiting your capacity for it to affect other people,” the writing instructor explained to So Booking Cool.

“Most people are never gonna be a writer, and they don’t have to be. The [Literaryswag] book club shows you don’t have to be a writer, have an MFA, nor study literature to have something valuable to say about a book. You just have to be someone with a perspective and that’s more than enough.”

Israel, who is based in New York, started writing seriously, as he puts it, when he was nineteen-years-old. Now at 28, the writing instructor said one of the most important aspects of his classes (in addition to learning from his students) is for his students to be able to put into words what they understand of themselves. He will begin his new nearly sold out (only one seat currently remains) creative nonfiction workshop July 9 at Park Slope. Later this month, the Awards VP of the National Book Critics Circle, will host his next book club meet on Wednesday, July 25 at 7pm at the Brooklyn Circus. The event is open to all.

Listen to the full interview to learn how culture and hip hop frame Literaryswag, why he thinks writers and authors should be more visible, his thoughts on black consumerism when it comes to book buying, how he hopes to build his movement to immerse the current and future generations into the appeal of books, the book release he is highly anticipating, and more! For more information on Israel, visit his official website. 

Interview With Deborah Gregory, Author of The Cheetah Girls!

DeborahGregoryHeadshotAs a child, Deborah Gregory‘s life circumstances required her to utilize her reading and writing skills for the benefit of her illiterate foster mother. It is the reason she says she became a writer and author. “If she had told me ‘make me laugh,’ I’d be a comedian. There’s no question about it. She controlled my every thought and movement,” she told So Booking Cool. This is just one of the compelling realities of The Cheetah Girls creator’s life. She revealed that she discovered the details about her paternal side, which included learning that she has a half-sister who resides in New York like herself. What’s more is she searched for her mother for 20 years.

The Cheetah Girls, a story that follows the lives of a young, ambitious girl group who also happen to be close friends, is close to Gregory’s heart. “I’ve never had a circle of friends, and that’s what these girls were to me,” she said. As a child she fantasized about being in a singing group, though she says she wouldn’t have pursued it because she can’t sing. She may not have boasted a talent in music, but even prior to having a bestselling series, she found success as a runway model, fashion designer, entrepreneur (she owned two boutiques in New York City) and award-winning journalist. Each of these areas of business proved instrumental in the development The Cheetah Girls.

Gregory knew Andrea Davis Pinkney from their days of working at Essence magazine, who would acquire and edit The Cheetah Girls, which would expand into a beloved franchise (three high-rated films, soundtracks, sold-out tours, dolls, etc.) Gregory’s success naturally resulted in her writing another book, Catwalk.

Listen to the complete interview to learn more about Gregory, foster care, therapy, how Destiny’s Child helped influence The Cheetah Girls, the girls who covered the original books, including former girl group, Before Dark, her thoughts on the film adaptation’s Hollywood casting, advice for authors, her upcoming projects and a lot more! For more information visit her website or Twitter .

Catch Tayari Jones, Author of Oprah’s Pick “An American Marriage” On Her Ongoing Book Tour!

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Award-winning and now New York Times bestselling author, Tayari Jones, is currently on tour in support of her new novel, An American Marriage. The love story centers on a newlywed couple, Celestial and Roy, whose marriage is ultimately tested when Roy is sentenced to 12 years in prison.

Celestial believes her husband to be innocent, but is it enough to remain devoted to him during his extensive absence? Will she fall for her friend, aka the best man at her wedding? What will happen when Roy returns home after five years and aims to reclaim who he believes to be his soulmate?

An American Marriage is Oprah‘s newest book club pick and has debuted at number 2 on the New York Times Best Sellers list. It is published by Algonquin Books.

Jones is also the author of Silver Sparrow, The Untelling, and Leaving Atlanta. For more information on Jones’ events, check out the following websites:

http://www.tayarijones.com/events/?date1=2018 and

http://www.squarebooks.com/event/tayari-jones-american-marriage