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 Literary Agent, Mollie Glick!

mollie glick photoThe love for writing and business is what Mollie Glick cherishes about being an agent. “You know if you’re gonna be an agent if you love the stories, you love the words, and then you also love the entrepreneurial business-building side,” the Creative Artists Agency (CAA) agent told So Booking Cool. Glick, who has adored books since childhood, started out as a literary scout fresh out of college. While the job served its purpose, she ultimately knew she wanted to work directly with writers. Following her tenure at Crown Publishing (Penguin Random House) as an editor, the Brown University graduate eventually transitioned into agenting.

Subtle Art CoverHer seasoned career has seen the success of Mark Manson‘s The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life, which is still sitting comfortably in the top two of the New York Times bestsellers list two years later (90 weeks to be exact); former Vice President Joe Biden‘s memoir, Promise Me, Dad; Priestdaddy by Patricia Lockwood; and Spineless: The Science of Jellyfish and the Art of Growing a Backbone by ocean scientist, Julie Berwald.

Senator Kamala Harris and Valerie Jarrett, former government official, and New York Times bestselling author Ali Benjamin (The Thing About Jellyfish) are among the forthcoming projects Glick is excited about. Listen to the full interview to learn more about these upcoming books, as well as Glick’s insights about publishing, especially agenting and editing, whether or not publishers or agents make more money, more about Manson, her favorite way to discuss new projects, and juicy tidbits!

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 Markette Sheppard, Author of “What is Light?”!

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Emmy award-winning television journalist and entrepreneur Markette Sheppard was inspired to write her first book, What is Light? after becoming a stay-at-home mother for a year to her then newborn son. The book, in which Sheppard describes as a “love letter” to children, soared to number one on Amazon‘s Children’s Sense & Sensation list. Parents of all backgrounds have expressed appreciation for Sheppard’s children’s book. “I think people are fatigued by seeing one type of version of African American people, and so this is something new, something different, and it’s something you can feel good about,” she told So Booking Cool. “No one’s going to feel bad by the end of this book– whatever part they play in the story that is our human family’s history.”

What is Light? is the board book debut from Denene Millner Books (Agate Publishing) and is illustrated by award-winner, Cathy Ann Johnson. Sheppard has nothing but positive things to say about her first publishing experience. Like many debut authors, the former Essence magazine writer researched what entailed writing a book and getting it published. While she didn’t have the connections, she believed in her work. Today she remains in awe over the fact that something she wrote in her notebook is now available to the world. “I’m just so proud that my words are in print. I feel like there’s a lasting legacy in this book that hopefully people will keep and share with their family members for many, many generations to come, like Goodnight Moon.”

WHAT IS LIGHT COVER

Listen to the full interview to learn more about Sheppard, her advice for children’s book authors, including the advice she received from a New York Times bestselling author, her childhood exposure to reading, her next book, and more! For more information, visit Sheppard’s official website.

Review: Renaissance Man: The Lin Manuel Miranda Story, An Unauthorized Biography By Marc Shapiro

marc shapiroRENAISSANCE MAN: THE LIN MANUEL STORY, AN UNAUTHORIZED BIOGRAPHY, Marc Shapiro. Riverdale Avenue Books, $18.01 (200p) ISBN-13: 978-1626014480
Publication date: May 10, 2018

From the New York Times bestselling author and veteran entertainment journalist, Marc Shapiro, comes his newest biography of a high-profile talent: the self-made Lin Manuel Miranda’s story. Unlike some unauthorized biographies, Renaissance Man is anything but salacious and scandalous. Shapiro doesn’t go for the cheap. He has instead chosen to tell the compelling journey of the Hamilton frontman that will leave readers feeling inspired and motivated. Ever the page-turner and crisply written, this book is just as pleasurable for the celebrity memoir and/or “tea” enthusiast as it is for the go-getter crowd. When absorbing Miranda’s story, the takeaway extends beyond the fact that Miranda was a man who went after his dreams steadfast. The real message here is the level of discipline one should probably have for pursuing and maintaining a passion.

Prior to the groundbreaking success of Hamilton, there was Miranda’s first major theater production, In the Heights, which dealt with cultural themes significant and personal to Miranda, who was bred in a predominately Latino community in Inwood, New York City. Shapiro highlights the tireless work ethic Miranda dedicated to his play as a college student, as well as his determination—there is a moment when Miranda meets with a potential investor who wanted Miranda to trade the loss of a scholarship storyline for one about drugs and/or a teen pregnancy. In short, the investor opted for a stereotypical scenario and showed he didn’t get the heart of the project. Miranda stuck to his guns, and the play eventually soared past his college campus and onto Broadway. Each new opportunity that arose to elevate his work, whether it be in the form of a national tour or any new stage in general, raised the stakes for Miranda; he did not allow the praise to make him comfortable or complacent.

Miranda was introduced to Alexander Hamilton in school for an assignment. And while he possessed a keen interest in literature early on (he’d read to the other kids in daycare, kind of like a teacher, in which he would eventually become) as well as in musicals and hip hop, the Puerto Rican visionary never imagined he would one day create a play in the late president’s honor.

Call it fate, nevertheless, Miranda worked hard for his success. He had talent, recognized his talents, and made the choice to hone them (even if there were on-and-off-again periods and other obstacles he had to overcome). He didn’t ask for handouts and didn’t need to. Shapiro shows how Miranda got to the point where his work spoke and continues to speak for itself.

Rating: Excellent

Rating Scale

Cool: Decent

So Cool: Good

Booking Cool: Excellent

So Booking Cool: Masterpiece

Interview With Daniel José Older, Author of the “Shadowshaper” Series, “Dactyl Hill Squad” and More!

daniel jose older photoDaniel José Older penned his first novel in 2009,a manuscript that would be rejected forty times and eventually put on hold as he gained inspiration for creating other stories. This story is Shadowshaper, the YA bestselling series praised by New York Times (“magnificent”); Kirkus Reviews, “a must”; and Publishers Weekly, “exceptional.” And yes, there will be another installment of the thrilling sci-fi fantasy.

Of course So Booking Cool asked Older to give advice to writers who are experiencing what seems like endless rejection, which also prompted an insightful conversation about the different states of rejection, and which of them are useful. “It can feel very circular because you feel like you’re getting nowhere,” the former paramedic said. “But if your focus is really on the craft and becoming a better writer, then the rejections will get you to that goal.”

Even as an accomplished author, Older’s goal remains to improve and write better books. He believes it is critical as a writer to self-reflect, work on the craft, and trust the gut.  “When we’re talking about your gut, what that really means is you understand the beating heart of your story better than anybody else. You may not be able to put it into words…usually the heart of a story is not an elevator pitch; it’s a little more complicated than that; it’s almost poetic and that’s why it takes the whole book to get to it.”

Listen to the full interview to learn about the upcoming projects he’s excited about, including the highly anticipated Dactyl Hill Squad (Arthur A. Levine Books, Scholastic), his new Skillshare class, the gadget he uses to create his magic, his favorite sci-fi and fantasy works, Octavia E. Butler, and more! Visit his website for more information.