TBP: Tell us a little bit about yourself.
CA: First, in spite of my name, I’m not a guy. I hope nobody’s disappointed, because I’m pretty pumped in general about being female. I’m one of those crazy people who always wanted to be a writer, ever since I could manage to hold one of those fat red pencils in my chubby little hand. I’m the daughter of a preacher and a teacher, who were always very encouraging and didn’t laugh at me when I said I wanted to grow up to be a famous writer and artist. (Obviously, this still remains to be seen.) I’m married to a really great guy who puts up with my creative Gemini, split-personality craziness, and we have two amazing daughters. In addition to writing, I sing, paint, draw, work at an independent bookstore, and do professional voice-overs (something I started doing back when I worked full-time in radio). Oh, and I have a 3-year-old miniature Australian shepherd named Layla. She’s my first dog ever, and I’m ridiculously smitten.
TBP: Describe Being Henry David in nine words or less. (Can be individual words or a sentence.)
CA: Lost boy + nature, friends & Thoreau = discovery and hope
TBP: You have a Masters Degree in Creative Writing. As someone who is considering the pursuit of one, myself, what would you say is one of the most important and useful things you learned in your studies?
CA: I think the most important thing I learned is that it’s critical to share your work with other people and get constructive criticism. The workshopping process (when instructors and peers critique your writing) can be both encouraging and brutal, but you need honest input in order to grow. You start to really get a feel for what you’re doing right, and what you need to improve. And after a while, you learn what criticism to take to heart, and what to discard. To be honest, even though I did a lot of writing for newspapers, magazines and radio before I got the Masters, I doubt very much I would have gotten this book published without grad school. (Fiction and non-fiction are so different.) Plus, I made some fabulous lifelong friends, and we still meet regularly to laugh, drink wine, and workshop our stuff!
TBP: Your bio says that you sing semi-professionally. Could you tell us a little more about that?
CA: Sure! I’ve loved singing ever since being in the cherub choir at my daddy’s church, and music has always been a source of joy for me. I’ve sung in choirs, small groups, bands, in musicals, you name it. As for the semi-professional singing (which basically means I get paid for it, but it’s not how I make my living), I was the lead singer in a blues/rock group for about six years (and played a mean tambourine and cowbell, I must say), and I currently sing in venues all over New England with my husband in an 11-person a cappella group. (P.S. I even met my husband in college choir!)
TBP: Fate or free will? If you believe in a degree of both, which side do you lean more towards and why?
CA: That’s a very interesting question, and it’s one that I definitely mulled over when my character, Hank, finds a copy of Thoreau’s Walden at Penn Station. Does the book actually belong to him? Is it fate that it was right by his side when he awoke? Or, is it simply a book that was discarded at the train station by some random person, and Hank stumbled upon it? My book is all about what Hank chooses to do after finding the book, so I think it’s more about free will than fate. In general, I believe it’s about what you choose to do with the circumstances of your life that matters. I guess I like the thought that we have some element of choice!
Thank you so much, Cal! (Check out her website.)
What did you all think? If Being Henry David sounds like something you'd like to read, I'm giving away (in partner with Albert Whitman) a copy to one lucky winner!
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