Interview With Executive Editor of Riverhead Books, Courtney Young!

courtney youngCourtney Young carefully considers our question: whether it is enough for people to write a manuscript if the thought of doing so crosses their mind. Understandably so, the executive editor at Riverhead Books believes it is different for everyone; in other words (no pun intended), like many things in life, it depends.

“I will say writing a book is a lot of work, and you have to be, especially on the nonfiction side, prepared to go really deep on your subject and on working on the book,” she told So Booking Cool. “Be prepared for it to take years to get to the outcome. It’s not easy and the hardest thing is to commit to a book that your heart isn’t in.”

Young can relate to doing something that her heart wasn’t in. Prior to embarking on her 12-year career in book publishing, she pursued engineering. She was expected to follow in the footsteps of her father and brother. However, Young realized her true passion was in English, prompting her to take it on as her new major. She worried about disappointing her family (and to an extent she did), however, leave it up to a book to become the solution. Her father would later gift her The First Time I Got Paid for It: Writers’ Tales from The Hollywood Trenches by Peter Lefcourt (Editor), Laura J. Shapiro (Editor).

“ ’Well, I guess people can make a living if they’re not engineers, and I assume you’ll be okay,’ “she recalled her father saying. The Detroit native also had a stint working at NASA in California as a technical writer, where she edited proposals and journal articles. She was grateful for the opportunity, but, again, this wasn’t her ideal career. Her vision clear, she relocated to New York City and officially began her publishing career at Penguin Random House’s Portfolio Books, a business imprint. She has not looked back since.

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Some of Young’s favorite titles she’s edited include the New York Times bestsellers What If?: Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions by Randall Munroe; Romeo and/or Juliet: A Chooseable-Path Adventure by Ryan North; Spineless by Juli Berwald, just to name a few. Young also discussed some of the forthcoming projects that she is excited about, such as Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World by David Epstein (May 2019), who wrote the bestseller, The Sports Gene (she also worked with him previously).

the sports generange bookThe Sports Gene is a really fascinating, wide-ranging book that a lot of people came to, and he found the thing that most people were interested in is this idea of early specialization,” Young said. “The idea that if you want to truly be great at something, especially sports, you have to start early and focus; be kind of like Tiger Woods, and just sort of get ahead of everybody else. And David was turning over all this research that said the opposite, that the people who are actually most successful aside from those few stories like Tiger, are generalists.” In his new book, Epstein presents information on why thinking broadly and having diverse experience and various interest will enable an individual to thrive.

Listen to the full interview to learn more about Young, her insight on what makes a strong editorial team, some of the proudest moments of her career, her insight on book reviews, and the other upcoming projects she looks forward to sharing with the world. Don’t be a stranger, visit Young on her official Twitter.

Interview With Marc Shapiro, Author of “John McCain: A View from the Hill”!

One of the reasons New York Times bestselling author Marc Shapiro penned John McCain: A View from the Hill was because he wanted to uncover the unknown details of the late senator’s life. However, if you are expecting a scandalous, sensationalized account, you won’t find it in this biography. The book, published by Riverdale Avenue Books, was written prior to McCain’s passing and focuses on the revered figure’s professional life, in which readers have gained compelling information. McCain was as kind as he was tenacious and was willing to work with everyone, a point Shapiro emphasizes.

“We need more people like John McCain,” Shapiro told So Booking Cool. “I mean, that sounds cliché as hell, but we really do. I talked to one person who made the point of saying that John McCain was a throwback to the founding fathers of this country. If there had not been people like him when this country first came into being, we would probably have thirteen United States of Americas as opposed to the one we ended up having in the beginning.”

In our second interview with Shapiro (check out our first one, in which we discussed his Lin Manuel Miranda biography and more), we uncover additional topics, such as the book he wrote on Donald Trump prior to his presidency, as well as his forthcoming biography on the popular boy band from South Korea, BTS. Shapiro, who is just as much as a journalist as he is an author has a catalog that includes more than 80 high profile biographies, as well as fiction, short stories, and poetry.

“The key to doing what I do is basically, number one: it has to interest me. I’m not averse to the idea of having a book that’s going to sell a lot of copies and make a lot of money for people, that’s how I pay my bills. But at the end of the day, whoever or whatever I write about, it has to have some interest to me because if not, it’s going to be a real drag to write and then you become your own worst enemy.”

Listen to the full interview to learn more about Shapiro’s approach to writing A View from the Hill, who he is as a writer, his thoughts on whether there are qualifications for writing a biography, additional tidbits about the BTS book, and more!

Interview With Literary Publicist, Lathea Williams!

LATHEALathea Williams might not have initially chosen book publishing as a career, but the driving force for why she chooses to remain in the industry is due to history. “There was a point in time where as a black person, we weren’t even given the opportunity to read. We were chastised for it. So I’m very much aware of my history and that’s one of the main things that keeps me in this industry,” the publishing professional said to So Booking Cool.

So far, Williams has worked as a literary publicist for over ten years. She attended City College where she earned a degree in public relations and advertising. Her internships included public relations in the fields of investment and music (one of her stints saw her intern at Columbia Records). But it was the publicity internship at Little, Brown that ended up being her favorite.

ATLAS OBSCURABook publicity was another territory and Williams was delighted that her responsibilities consisted of reading, writing (press releases, which she says are like writing book reports), and building media contacts. “Years ago, proud moments for me was when I would get a media hit in a magazine, like Oprah Magazine or a Today Show or Good Morning America hit, but now, I’m proud and happy when I can give back and I can see someone excel and succeed and have as much passion and joy for what they do a little much as I do,” said Williams. “And bestsellers are great!” she added laughingly.

Williams has gotten several bestsellers, including Dylan Thuras’ and Rosemary Mosco’s Atlas Obscura’s Guide for the World’s Most Adventurous Kid, illustrated by Joy Ang. What was one of the most integral parts of the children’s book’s publicity campaign? The plentiful school visits that Thuras made.

A WOMAN GUIDES TOI WILL TEACH YOU TO BE RICH

Now, Williams has been gearing up for the upcoming releases of A Woman’s Guide to Cannabis: Using Marijuana to Feel Better, Look Better, Sleep Better–and Get High Like a Lady by Nikki Furrer (Workman Publishing, January 2019) and the 10th anniversary of I Will Teach You to Be Rich: No Guilt. No Excuses. No B.S. Just a 6-Week Program That Works by Ramit Sethi (Workman Publishing, May 2019). Check out the interview to learn more about Williams, publicity, her personal story, her advice for aspiring publicists, what she’s currently reading, and more! For more information, visit Williams on LinkedIn.

Interview With Rock ‘N’ Roll Pianist, Singer & Actor Jacob Tolliver!

jacob tolliver“Santa Baby” was originally Jacob Tolliver’s least favorite Christmas song—in fact he dreaded it—but when the emerging rock ‘n’ roll artist, pianist, and actor had the idea of collaborating with Full House and Fuller House star Jodie Sweetin for a holiday song, he saw no better choice than the classic record. Tolliver’s 50’s, 60’s, 70’s rock ‘n’ roll piano skills meshes with Sweetin’s pop sound for the rendition, which will release worldwide this Friday, November 16.

“It’s kind of a pretty relevant theme in pop music within the last five, ten years of blending retro sounds with modern beats and modern sounds, like Bruno Mars, Michael Buble, Post Modern Jukebox or Megan Trainor,” he told So Booking Cool in description of the song. “Baby” has now become Tolliver’s favorite.

JODIE AND JACOBTolliver, who hails from Ohio, has been active in music since he was a child. Currently, he is the opener for legendary rock n’ roller Jerry Lee Lewis aka The Killer. Previously, Tolliver portrayed the pianist in the Las Vegas production of “Million Dollar Quartet.” The popular musical tributes the famous recording session between Lewis, Elvis Pressley, Johnny Cash, and Carl Perkins. During his run on the tour, Tolliver was recruited for the 14th season of American Idol. Both stints have allowed Tolliver and Lewis to build a close bond.

“The man truly is a genius,” Tolliver said. Lewis is also an exception to the “never meet your idols” phrase. “He’s 83 and he’s at the point in his life where I think he’d love to see somebody wanting to keep [rock ‘n’ roll] alive and keep it going ‘cause it is really great music. If you’re at a dance and let’s say “Johnny B. Goode” comes on, everybody starts dancing…people love that music, it makes people happy, it makes people dance.” Tolliver’s goal isn’t to copy; it’s to help keep the genre going.

Before making it big time, Tolliver actually was interested in public relations. He saw himself being the publicist for a musician. Proving that life has an interesting way of unraveling, Tolliver was not always passionate about playing the piano. Listen to the interview to learn more about his trajectory, including the time he stopped playing the piano for five years, how friend and Full House creator Jeff Franklin’s party led to Tolliver befriending Sweetin, the book he’s currently reading, Sam Phillips: The Man Who Invented Rock ‘n’ Roll by Peter Guralnick (Little, Brown and Company), his thoughts on mentorship and the new Bohemian Rhapsody movie, and more! For more information visit Tolliver’s official website.

Interview With Painter & Illustrator Alvaro (PART 2)!

“I love that we’re talking more about reality than we are about art because it’s so much more important to get inside the artist than about the physical of the art,” painter and illustrator Alvaro says to So Booking Cool during the second part (check out part one ) of our interview.  “You’ve dug in and you let the art surface around, but you went inside. And I wish more people would do that with people that are very emotional and passionate.”

In part two of our conversation, Alvaro, candid and engaging as ever, opens up about being a “little” psychic. He also recalls his favorite books, including his 30-book Marilyn Monroe collection, the books he’s illustrated (Constance Gibson’s She Can Go Where Pretty Girls Go; Iman and Naomi Campbell) the time he discovered model and actress Joy Bryant, working with Mariah Carey, his thoughts on how the modeling world is evolving, more on his solo art exhibit, which will be open at Casa House 625 West 51st Street for a month, and more.

445_picture_of_coveraAs far as whether Alvaro plans to pen a memoir? The veteran artist says he will write a picture book about art instead of his life. “No one’s gonna wanna know about me. Not yet.”

Interview With Writer, “Wild N’ Out” Star, & Author of “Please Don’t Grab My P#$$Y,” Julia Young!

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Comedian, Producer, Actress, Improviser and Wild N’ Out star Julia Young has expanded her skills of television writing and rapping into co-writing her newly-released book, Please Don’t Grab My P#$$Y: A Rhyming Presidential Guide. The adult picture book, published by Animal House Media Group, was co-written with comedian and entrepreneur Matt Harkins, and illustrated by Laura Collins. The impetus for the book came after this past presidential election, in which Young felt upset, but inspired.

When asked what she hopes readers will takeaway from her debut, Young replied, “I hope that they get a laugh first of all. I think people who are buying this book don’t like Trump, it’s a very divisive book. But I hope people realize things need to change, and obviously it’s never okay to grab women by their genitalia, and maybe just come away with a little bit of a laugh in these very, very difficult times,” she told So Booking Cool.

Young, who has produced for Desus and Mero, has written for many hit shows including Brain Games, Girl Code, Hack My Life,  Impractical Jokers, TRL, Safe Word, and Celebrity Death Match, among many others. Before joining Wild N’ Out as a cast member, she was a consultant for the show. She has also taught creative workshops for improvisation. Her road to success has not been a linear one, as she describes, which can actually help people get closer to their dreams.

“I think you just have to say yes to every opportunity. I got on Wild N’ Out because I was consulting for them. I was there and people thought I was funny and after one season, they were like, ‘hey, do you want to be on camera?’ I also think I’ve succeeded in comedy and in this world because that was never not an option…I can’t do anything else, therefore this will happen.”

Listen to the interview to learn more about Young, including her approach to comedy, her book publishing experience, how she overcame bullying, her favorite authors, and more! For more information, visit Young’s official website.

Interview With Painter and Illustrator Alvaro! (PART 1)

alvaro2This Thursday in New York City, renowned painter and illustrator Alvaro will launch his new solo exhibit, which will showcase a raw range of his art. “I’m very excited about this because I’m going to be able to show people that it’s not just pretty things that I paint. These are my real paintings. These are not just illustrations that I’ve done for magazines or models and things, this is my more serious art,” he told So Booking Cool.

alvaro1Alvaro started his career at 18-years-old, which would go on to span 37 years and counting. He has illustrated several books and has created classic pop, political, parody, and fashion art (his portraits include his friends Iman, Naomi Campbell, Cindy Crawford, and Linda Evangelista). His robust clientele includes everything from shows, private collectors, Giorgio Armani, The New York Times (his first feature), Calvin Klein, Vogue, and Bazaar to David Bowie and Mariah Carey, just to name a few. He is currently working on a piece in tribute to his all-time idol Harriet Tubman.

Alvaro, who grew up in the South Bronx, may have experienced bullying in his youth, but this did not deter him from believing in himself and chasing his dreams. He knew he would be successful and even carried around a portfolio with him. Alvaro knew he would meet his idol, legendary illustrator Antonio Lopez, and took the steps to make it happen and found a mentor, dear friend, and father figure all in one. What are the most important lessons Alvaro learned from Lopez? “To be kind, to respect people. To be chivalrous to women,” he answered.

Listen to part one of our must-listen interview with Alvaro, in which we chat about the unforgettable encounter he had with Andy Warhol, his thoughts on why some people do not open doors for others, versatility in art, cyber-bullying, such as stan wars, and more! For more information, follow Alvaro on Instagram.

 

 

 

 

Interview With Walter Tucker, MBA, Founder and President of LiveThe.Biz!

Headshot FinalWalter J. Tucker, MBA started LiveThe.Biz to provide an affordable platform for those interested in the music industry to meet the movers and shakers behind major music brands. This coming Thursday, November 8, the networking organization will host its final and highly anticipated event of this year: The 2018 Music Honors. The honorees are previous LiveThe.Biz panelists who work at the likes of Atlantic Records, Genius, Spotify, and BET, just to name a few.

“I want us to be known for motivating people and educating people around the world,” Tucker told So Booking Cool. “I feel that one of the things that we forget sometimes in the music industry and entertainment in general is the reason why we’re doing what we’re doing. There’s byproduct of feeding your family and making power moves, goals, and all these things. But all that comes down to how you want someone to feel about you and how you want someone to be able to connect and communicate. I want LiveThe.Biz to be known as a community of people who want to connect and build off each other.”

LiveTheBiz Socia LogoTucker, who had a passion for music since his childhood, realized the struggles of trying to network with music professionals when he relocated to New York from Virginia. Conferences often cost hundreds of dollars, which can be especially steep for college students. The Metropolitan College of New York professor decided that once he was in position, he would make these opportunities available for anyone who aspires to become an artist or music executive. For over two decades, Tucker has consulted hundreds of artists including Jadakiss, Jazmine Sullivan, India Arie, and Kirk Franklin just to name a few. Additionally, he has spearheaded projects that involved the publishing rights of the likes of Quincy Jones, Michael Jackson, Beyoncé, Justin Timberlake, and Adele just to name a few.

In addition to running LiveThe.Biz, Tucker is fulfilling another goal: writing a book. “I’ve wanted to write a book for the longest, but I wanted to have experiences. I wanted to be able to have my own business and teach for a while and travel the world and meet different artists. I didn’t want to write a book for the sake of just writing one, I wanted it to be super useful.” For more information, visit the company’s 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 “Maki” filmmaker Naghmeh Shirkhan!

NaghmehOut of all male nominees, Naghmeh Shirkhan won Best Director for her feature film Maki at this past week’s Chelsea Film Festival, a victory that both surprises but makes sense to the filmmaker. “It’s been such a long road for me, and I have kept at it. To me, it should not matter whether you’re male or female, the work should stand on its own,” Shirkhan told So Booking Cool.

Maki, which took 18 days to shoot, captures the story of a New York-based young Japanese woman’s coming-of-age. The film explores the themes of love and loss, power and manipulation.

Film_coverShirkhan, an Iran native, knew she wanted to work in film when she was in high school. She worked at a video store throughout her teens and early twenties in her hometown of Boston, and then attended film school. Once she graduated, she stayed committed to her passion and moved to New York where she worked in advertising and editing on the production side. While she knew she wanted to be an independent filmmaker, she lacked connections in the industry. But Shirkhan held onto her vision and eventually made her debut, critically-acclaimed film, The Neighbor.

Listen to the full interview to learn more about Shirkhan’s journey to filmmaking; Maki; what she thinks can be done to increase the amount of women filmmakers; the advantages that aspiring directors have today; her views on making movies on phones and casting; her love for books and how novels influence her; and more! For more information, visit http://maki-film.com/ and follow Shirkhan on Instagram.