Posted on 05/11/2016 at 12:00 AM by Sadye Scott-Hainchek
A few months ago, The Fussy Librarian asked its authors to tell us how writing has changed their lives, so that we could in turn show readers what their purchases were accomplishing.
We’ll be posting one such story a month on a new page titled “Why pay for ebooks?”, but the volume and quality of responses were so impressive that we followed up with a few others to reboot our weekly Q&A series.
Connie Spittler is among those who caught our attention. Her oeuvre is impressive: essays in anthologies, short stories, memoir pieces, award-winning nature essay books, poetry, creative nonfiction, and a novel.
The proceeds of that novel, The Erotica Bookclub for Nice Ladies, allowed her to fulfill her lifelong author dream of taking a book tour and meeting readers beyond her immediate area.
And on one of those tours, Spittler found herself at Denver’s The Tattered Cover bookstore, staring at a display of her book — five across, five down — right next to a single column of Go Set A Watchman by Harper Lee.
“I burst into laughter when I saw it because for a few days before my signing in Denver, I was more important than Harper Lee,” she said.
How could we turn down the opportunity to learn more about the author who outranked Harper Lee? Here’s what she had to say.
SADYE: You and your husband founded and ran a film/video production company for years, and then you spent some time teaching at the University of Arizona’s Writing Works Center. So what inspired you to become a writer?
CONNIE: (Actually), my sixth-grade teacher told our class about a Great Plains essay contest entitled “How We Increased Flax Production on our Family Farm.”
Now, my father was a mortician and I’d never lived on a farm, but I enjoyed research and loved finding out about new things. I won $25 for my invented family flax farm, and decided writing was fun, interesting, and financially rewarding.
I went on to study writing in college, but opted for the commercial side — radio, TV, film and advertising. I worked in each of those fields and, with my husband, formed a film/video production company that won national awards. Not until after the children were grown did I begin to take an exciting ride through my literary career.
SADYE: What has been your proudest moment as an author, if you can identify just one?
CONNIE: I almost fell off my computer chair when I heard the news that my nature essay was selected for an international anthology, The Art of Living: A Practical Guide to Being Alive, and I’d find my name next to notables like the Dalai Lama, Mikhail Gorbachev, Desmond Tutu, Deepak Chopra, Mario Vargas Llosa. ...
But my most recent proud moment involves the Czech version of my latest book, The Erotica Book Club for Nice Ladies, to be released in 2016 by Albatros Media in Prague. I asked the editor if I could add Kostel (my maiden name) to my author credential and write a new dedication.
Their “yes” was enormously satisfying since my deceased father, Charles Kostel, was 100% Czech. I’m an only child, and he’d told me before I married that he was sad his line of the family, his Kostel name, would disappear. The new dedication will be to my dad and my Czech ancestors.
I’m sure he’ll smile down from heaven when Kostel finds its literary place in the Czech Republic.
SADYE: What are the most rewarding and challenging parts of being a writer?
CONNIE: Anytime and every time I talk to readers and other writers, it’s the best of times. When I’m recognized by national or international groups, I’m rewarded too. It’s just been announced that my book, The Erotica Book Club for Nice Ladies, is a winner in the Eudora Welty Memorial Fiction competition in Washington D.C. It’s also a finalist in the European Wishing Shelf contest, judged by book clubs in Great Britain and Sweden. ...
The most important challenge is getting all the parts of the manuscript right: characters, plot, dialogue, rhythms, tension. Then there’s the care given each word, each sentence, each chapter. It’s all challenging, but also rewarding when the book feels complete and ready to publish.
For me, the promotion side is more difficult. It takes a different energy, and that’s why I’m always grateful for any opportunity to talk about my writing.
SADYE: Can you tell us a few more funny stories about your book tour experiences?
CONNIE: (In addition to the Harper Lee episode) last summer, my husband and I set out on a six-state tour of Nebraska, Colorado, Wyoming, Utah, Nevada, and California, stopping at libraries and bookstores along the way. We ended up at the American Library Association National Conference in San Francisco, where I signed and talked to over 100 librarians.
I told them about the quirky, fired librarian I’d created who buys her own bookmobile to spread her love of reading to places that don’t have a library. An obvious flight of fancy, but one librarian looked me in the eye and said, “You know, that’s a terrific idea. I’m retiring this year, and I may just do that.“ I was too surprised to ask her name so I’ll never know if she did it. ...
In Seward, Nebraska, the head librarian called all the employees together to meet my husband and me when she found out we were married in their town.
I’ve sold copies at a gas station, trailer court, and interstate rest stop, traded a copy for abalone in California, and gave away a copy to the family who stopped to help us when our radiator overheated on a lonely country road.
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Categories: Author Interview