Monday, April 22, 2013

Cynthia Dagnal-Myron - The Keka Collection - Author Interview

Author Interview 

1. How did you come up with the title?
The title was a natural, since it’s a “collection” of Keka’s Blog posts. But the subtitle, “Soul food for lone wolves and wild women” was taken from that blog, which is still there on Open Salon. I envisioned my blog as a place where women and men who felt a little wilder and therefore sometimes a little lonelier than most could come and share our thoughts and ideas. And it turned out to be exactly that—a den of lone wolves, howling to each other as kindred spirits in search of adventure and common bonds.

2. Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
My life has been a magical mystery tour. So the message that readers seem to find peeking out between the lines of my writing is that life is a constant stream of miracles that take you on a journey made just for you. So if you stay open to all of the possibilities and are willing to look beneath the surface, disguises and unusual “forms” the answers to your dreams may take, everything you yearn for will manifest. Even when I’m writing a review of something or just telling you about a place I’ve been or a person I’ve met, the message is that everything we do can be “transformative.” Nothing is as simple as it may seems at first glance—and that’s a great thing!

3. How much of the book is realistic?
All of the book is realistic, actually. But because I’ve had such an unusual life, sometimes it reads like a novel. I think all lives are stories, and all lives have messages for us. No life is “mundane” or “just normal.” I don’t know what normal means. I’ve never met anyone who fit the dictionary description of “normal” yet. I don’t think there’s any such thing!

4. If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your book?
I might have added some chapters about the life-threatening illness I suffered about two years ago that Roger Ebert helped me endure, because he recognized many of the symptoms from his own battle with cancer. But that could also be another book, about what I learned by surrendering to it and riding through it watching for “clues.” Roger certainly thought so. When “spirit” puts you in that choke hold you can’t escape, you can bet you’re being taught a life lesson designed to absolutely change your mind, body and soul. It hurts, but if you let it be…you come out of it with amazing insights.

5. What was the hardest part of writing your book?
Choosing which posts to include was the hardest part. I’d been urged to turn the whole thing into a book, but that would’ve been too long and too complicated. So I started reading through my posts and choosing the ones that seemed to fit together best. I wasn’t sure exactly why they fit until other people read the proof and began to tell me how they all started to come together and tell a story about me and life in general.

6. Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
First, I learned how powerful it is to be able to publish my own book—just holding the first proof in my hands was incredible. I’d been published three times before in the “traditional” way, and though I really loved that experience, this was empowering in a very soul satisfying way. I’ve just published a tiny short story called “Deadline” as a Kindle edition, just to continue to explore self-publishing as a means of reaching out to readers in this very unique way. But second, I learned that there was a “storyline” to my life that I’d sensed but never put into words. And realizing that other people could feel and be inspired by it was just delightful. We write to communicate, if only with our own inner selves. The fact that my ruminations could also “illuminate” was very rewarding and exciting.

7. Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
I began writing little “stories” by reciting them to myself and “transcribing” them as little squiggles that I considered “writing.” So I was writing before I could actually write. It’s a compulsive thing—I do it as easily as I breathe, and have since I came into “consciousness” so to speak. I always say, “I write, therefore I am.” When I stop writing…it’ll be a sign that I’m coming to the end of my life, I think.

8. Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
I love Cormac McCarthy, oddly enough—the cowboy books, most of all, like All the Pretty Horses. I even love the movie of it that Billy Bob Thornton did, and I know that a lot of ranchers out West here felt as I did, despite what the critics said. When I moved West in the early 80’s and we drove into New Mexico…I had a transformative experience. I saw the red mesas and wide open turquoise skies…and I realized that I could never live in a city, especially a city back east, again. The land itself just claimed me, and I was forever changed. Cormac “gets” it. Even when he writes about the border and the terrible violence that has been part of the Southwestern experience since ‘way back when it all belonged to Mexico, I feel that he understands this place better than any other writer save Edward Abbey, perhaps. I know the places and the people he describes and the terrible beauty of it all. And I love the way he makes it all “sing.” Sometimes joyfully, sometimes mournfully, but always powerfully and poetically.

9. Tell us your latest news.
The bad news is news the entire world knows, I lost my dear friend Roger Ebert recently, and not seeing his messages in my Inbox anymore has been very strange and sad. I used to always add his email address to my little scatter mails about this and that, and he would always respond to those, too—sometimes by posting things I’d sent to his blog. So now, when I’m going through my contacts list, and I see his name, I get a little twinge. On the writing front, I’m plugging away at a novel, my first, via Camp Nanowrimo, the “gathering” of writers from all over the world who try to write a novel in a month or so. Mine won’t be ready in a month, but it’s fun to watch the word count go up and up and up. Although I’ve always been able to find time to write, so it’s not the big motivator for me that it is for others. I think I’ll be finished with the first draft by Christmas of this year. I’ve already created a cover and found a picture of a young man who fits my description of the main character—you can buy the rights to those pictures for a pittance, actually. So now my book cover is my desktop background. That keeps me going!

10. Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
For the writers out there, I’d like to say that the only thing you need to do to become a successful writer is to keep writing. All the tips and tricks and whatnot are nice, but you’ll find your own tricks and your own voice and your own inspiration and everything else only by writing a lot. Every day. The only thing more important than that is reading a lot, though once you start writing you’ll find it hard to read other people’s work without wanting to jump up and get your laptop as soon as you read a passage you particularly admire. To everyone else I say, again, that your life is a story worth telling. Or at least worth living “intentionally,” with your heart and mind wide open. You’re already writing it, even if it’s not on paper or for sale in bookstores. If you read mine, you may begin to believe that. You may even start your own blog! So start with The Keka Collection, and see if you get “the fever.” It’s one illness that you shouldn’t try to avoid, or cure!

About the Book

Cynthia Dagnal-Myron is an award-winning former reporter for both the Chicago Sun Times and Arizona Daily Star whose articles have appeared in Rolling Stone, Salon, Working Mother, Orion and many others. During her Sun Times years, she sat desk to desk with mentor and friend, the late Roger Ebert, traveled with and interviewed the top rockers, film stars and other celebrities of the 70’s and 80’s and dated Arnold Schwarzenegger. Once.

For five wild years she traveled with and interviewed Kiss, Cheap Trick, Peter Frampton, Todd Rundgren, Brian Eno and members of Queen, the Who, Aerosmith, Styx. She reviewed all of the top rockers of the 70s and 80s like Led Zeppelin, Traffic and Rod Stewart.

She also interviewed film stars like John Travolta, Kirk Douglas, Richard Pryor and the then unknown cast of Star Wars--and dated Arnold Schwarzenegger. Once.

And then one day...she walked away from all of it. And never looked back.

The Keka Collection: Soul food for lone wolves and wild women, is "the rest of the story," as told via Keka’s Blog, at Open Salon.

Prices/Formats: $9.99 ebook, $11.99 paperback
Pages: 249
Genre: Memoir
Publisher: self-published
Release Date: February 4, 2013
Buy Links: Amazon, Kindle, Barnes and Noble, Nook

About the Author

Cynthia M. Dagnal-Myron is a former reporter for both the Chicago Sun Times and Arizona Daily Star, published author and optioned screenwriter who spent 8 years on the Hopi reservation as wife of a Hopi artist, and over 30 years as a teacher and administrator.

Links to Connect with Cynthia:
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