Inkwell: Authors and Artists
the System Works (dgault) Fri 23 Aug 02 20:00
Didn't a famous honkytonk guitar player cut off a knuckle of a non-critical finger on the bar there? To satisfy a bet? That's a story I vaguely remember. dgans: re another T Bone, I don't know another. I wonder if the demand for the music he serves up for soundtracks like O Brother is sufficient to warrant competition. I bring it up here because I think Kathi knows enough of the different facets of that vein of music so she could make a judgement. She could do it herself. So could you, Gansito. But is the demand for this kind of music sufficient? Kind of a rhetorical question, which only instinct can answer.
Nancy Montgomery (nan) Fri 23 Aug 02 20:23
did I miss your Bay Area book signings? Or are they coming up?
Moist Howlette (kkg) Fri 23 Aug 02 21:35
Whoa--I never heard that knuckle-cutting story! About booksignings...they're coming up starting Sept. 20 at Readers' Books in Sonoma. Here's the whole list, so far: 9/20: Readers' Books, Sonoma, CA 9/23: Booksmith, San Francisco, CA 9/25: Books Inc., San Francisco, CA 9/26: Book Passage, Corte Madera, CA (with band) 9/27: Cody's, Berkeley, CA 9/28: College of San Mateo Book Festival 10/1: Bookshop Santa Cruz, Santa Cruz, CA 10/3: Copperfield's, Santa Rosa, CA 10/8: Phoenix, AZ 10/9: Tucson, AZ 10/10: Tattered Cover, Denver, CO 10/12-10/13: Southern Festival of Books, Nashville, TN 10/14-16: Memphis, Birmingham 10/18: DeMarco's 23 Club (Friends/Family/Press party with band) 10/20: Northwest Festival of Books, Seattle, WA 10/23: Barnes & Noble, NY 10/29: Borders, Sacramento (with John Lescroart) 10/30: Rakestraw Books, Danville, CA 11/4: Powell's, Portland, OR 11/9: National Kidney Foundation, Sacramento, CA 11/11: Detroit Jewish Book Festival 11/12: Atlanta Jewish Book Festival 11/16: National Kidney Foundation, San Francisco, CA (with band) 11/21-24: Miami Book Fair (includes 2 performances with the Remainders, on the 22nd (Scotty's Landing, Coconut Grove) and 23rd (Bayside marketplace, Miami)
Lena M. Diethelm (lendie) Fri 23 Aug 02 21:54
So what are we in Silicon Valley, chopped liver? No book appearances at Borders or Kepler's? Harrumph.
Moist Howlette (kkg) Fri 23 Aug 02 23:05
yeah, I guess they didn't request signings. That's how they do it, by store requests and who supports the book with good-sized orders...at least that's how we do it at Harper San Francisco, my day job.
Moist Howlette (kkg) Fri 23 Aug 02 23:09
Though actually there was some talk about Borders...I'll have to ask and see what happened.
Call me Fishmeal (pk) Sat 24 Aug 02 02:06
In case anyone missed this offer in news: I have a copy of the book I can lend to anyone who wants to drive up into the Berkeley hills to pick it up.
Elizabeth Churchill (leroy) Sat 24 Aug 02 06:55
Kathi, you've spent much of your adult life surrounded by authors: professionally, as a literary escort and at Harper San Francisco, as well as socially and even, for better or worse, musically. Did being around all these writers make it inevitable, or at least easier, for you to write a book, or was it at times an obstacle? I think I might be intimidated to even write out a grocery list if I was hanging around with Amy Tan.
flying jenny (jenslobodin) Sat 24 Aug 02 08:09
man, this is exciting, being here with <leroy> and <kkg>, two of my heroines on the Well! if my car wasn't kerplunkt, i'd drive up to your house, <pk>, to borrow the book, since barnes and noble in el cerrito said yesterday that they won't even have it until mid-september (what?!). but, i suppose (fervently hope) that i can get one tomorrow at the books, inc signing. and, of course, i'll be soliciting a ride to hear your band monday night in corte madera, kathi. this is all SO cool! ok, enough gushing interruption; carry on...
Sam (jonl) Sat 24 Aug 02 08:12
Email from Sam: I loved this book--it was a fun, bittersweet ride through honky-tonk music land. Who do you see playing the lead in the movie? And Kathi, are you writing another book? --Sam
Berliner (captward) Sat 24 Aug 02 09:20
And when did Bob Wills record "...Shoes..." before Ray Price?
Elizabeth Churchill (leroy) Sat 24 Aug 02 10:11
Bob Wills and Lee Ross wrote the song. I don't know when it was first recorded, but I think Ray Price had his big hit with it in 1957. This was a time when Bob Will s was going through some major health and financial problems, so maybe he didn't record it himself until later. I don't think most people think of it as a Bob Wills song.
Berliner (captward) Sat 24 Aug 02 10:26
Dang right they don't. Nor do I recognize the name Lee Ross. Anyway, back to our regularly scheduled program.
Moist Howlette (kkg) Sat 24 Aug 02 10:27
I'm not sure--I know that Bob Wills and Ross Lee are credited with writing the song, but Ray Price had the hit. As for writing, Elizabeth, it's a little of both. When I had to come up with a chapter for the Remainders' book, Mid-Life Confidential, that would hold up in a series of essays by the likes of Amy Tan, Stephen King, and Barbara Kingsolver (the answer to Stephen?) I was pretty paralyzed. I would think I was getting somewhere and be kind of porud of my work, and then Amy would call to read a paragraph for fact-checking, and I'd hear this perfect jewel coming across the phone lines, and throw mine away. But I got through it, and the process, the actual writing, was more intereting and fun than I'd anticipated. With the Rock & Roll joke book (which was a pretty stupid book, really) Dave Marsh and I worked together. I really couldn't tell you who wrote what, or who found which jokes, except for a couple. The most important thing about that project was Sandy Choron, Dave's agent, who took me on as a kindness to him, became my friend, and ultimately (based on a series of funny emails) urged me to try writing comic fiction. Around that time, I showed up at a writers conference where the Remainders were scheduled to perform. The good ladies in charge of the event were very aware of social heirarchy and so all the authors were invited to parties throughout the weekend, and because I wasn't an "author" I wasn't included. I'm not saying it wasn't more FUN to hang out with the drummer and roadies, but as the organizer of the band, the one who brought everyone together, I felt dissed. I mean, you can trash my writing and I won't care. But don't leave me off the party list--I'll hold a grudge. I gave myself a little "I'll show 'em" pep talk, and got started on "Shoes" shortly after that weekend. Now, these are not the conventionally accepted motives for writing a novel, and I'm not proud of the fact that it was not the irresistable, burning urge to write, but ruffled feathers, that sent me to the keyboard. A year later, when I shyly and proudly presented by first draft to Sandy, her response was: "You listened to me? NO ONE ever listens to me!" I felt like a big, wet dog presenting its owner with a dead bird.
Moist Howlette (kkg) Sat 24 Aug 02 10:28
woops--leroy slipped, and it's Lee Ross, not Ross Lee!
Elizabeth Churchill (leroy) Sat 24 Aug 02 10:40
Ha! Good for Sandy. She's right about comic fiction: this book is a veritable cornucopia of fine puns (my favorite is the title of the limo driver's autobiography--I hope you're going to follow up on that in a future novel). And personally I think "I'll show the bastards" revenge is a perfectly good motivation for wirting. In the book, when Sarah Jean finds herself up the creek, she goes home to what turns out to be everybody's dream--an extended family that is so utterly nurturing, accepting, encouraging, affectionate, and endlessly entertaining, I wanted to curl up under the sofa in fetal position and wait for them to come adopt me. Do you think part of the reason why you're so creative and talented etc. is because you grew up in a similarly validating, encouraging environment full of role models?
Elizabeth Churchill (leroy) Sat 24 Aug 02 10:41
I can't find any inofrmation on either Lee Ross or Ross Lee. Reckon who the heck it was?
Moist Howlette (kkg) Sat 24 Aug 02 10:43
I feel like I'm losing track of the questions here, a little... (leroy) mentioned Amy Tan back there, and I have to say she has been an amazing supporter of "Shoes"--she read my manuscript while we were flying around the country on a Remainders tour. I sat next to her on planes, pretending to be reading "White Teeth", while trying to notice the pages on which Amy giggled, or --once--fell asleep (p. 142--I ripped it right out of the manuscript!). She supplied a blurb before the book was even sold, and of course she is the inspiration for the "Amy" character, one of Sarah Jean's friends. Just don't ask me anything about "White Teeth", OK? As for the next project...I have an idea about four old women trying to finance their breakout from the convalescent home. Haven't started yet, but the characters are starting to assert themselves. That seems to come first, plot is harder and requires long walks and actual time to think.
Moist Howlette (kkg) Sat 24 Aug 02 10:54
(leroy) slipped again! >>Do you think part of the reason why you're so creative and talented etc. is because you grew up in a similarly validating, encouraging environment full of role models?<< Absolutely! Hey, did (betty) ask you to write that question? Seriously, for those who don't know, (pk) is my little brother and (betty) is our mom. There was an unusual amount of acceptance of peculiarities in our family, I think, and a lot of good-natured teasing and joking. My parents were NOT honky-tonk musicians, but they certainly supported my passion for music, Paul's passion for sailing, etc. Aside from the fact that we were never allowed suger or white bread, it was great fun!
Moist Howlette (kkg) Sat 24 Aug 02 10:59
Also, someone said something about a reading coming up this week! Nothing happens till the 20th of September, I'm afraid...
Berliner (captward) Sat 24 Aug 02 11:15
Hey, read White Teeth when you're not so nervous. Really funny book, and if it upsets you how good she is at her young age, remember that she's said that there's this upcoming novel and the next, and then she's gonna quit.
Katherine Branstetter (kathbran) Sat 24 Aug 02 11:19
Chalk me up as another who wondered where the CD was, Kathi. I found this a fascinating read--just as good on BART as it must have been on that boat to Hawaii. What are your connections to Clear Lake, Kathi? Do you have family or property there?
Sam (jonl) Sat 24 Aug 02 12:20
Email from Sam: What's the difference between song-writing and fiction writing? What's a nice Jewish girl from Long Island like you doing writing about goy country singer? What's a nice goy guy like me doing asking a question like that? --Sam Barry
Moist Howlette (kkg) Sat 24 Aug 02 16:45
Aha! Sam checks in. Some of you may know Sam as the guy with the suitcase full of harmonicas at the SingThings. Anyway...>>What are your connections to Clear Lake, Kathi? Do you have family or property there?<< I have dear friends who live there, and have visited many times; also, we do an annual summer pilgrimage so Tony can see Weird Al perform at Konocti Harbor. The place fascinates me. It's gorgeous, but old-timers whine about the mercury levels in the water. The county boasts the highest percentage of parolees in the state of California, and every time I go up there there is something in the paper about some teenager's basement methamphetamine lab getting busted, or some scandal with the high school football coach. There are Pomo reservations with gambling casinos, Native American legends about the origins of the mountains and the lake, odd spiritual communities nestled in the hills, survivalists, and goat cheese farmers. Everyone coexists in this sort of back-to-basics small-town America atmosphere. I wrote a lot of the book in a little cabin at the Skylark Shores Resort in Lakeport. My ritual upon hitting town was checking into my room, collecting whatever I had left there accidentally on my last visit (from the proprietors of the motel) and my desk chair (from my friends, who kept it for me), and making an appointment for a manicure, pedicure, wash and blow-dry at Tangles, the neighborhood hair salon. That is the BEST way I know to hit town as a stranger and catch up on all the gossip in one afternoon. I'll answer Sam's questions in the next post.
Moist Howlette (kkg) Sat 24 Aug 02 17:10
>>What's the difference between song-writing and fiction writing?<< About 300 pages (rim shot!) Seriously, a song and a novel can both tell a story, of course. But a song can be a reflection of one teensy moment in time, one feeling, one point of view. A hook can be three words long, and repeated over and over again. A novel has to have a plot, and your editor will complain if you repeat things. The characters have to be developed into at least semi-believable people. On the other hand, most people expect most songs, especially country songs, to have some sort of rhyming and rhythmic structure, where a novel allows you to spread out and play around a little more, with voice, structure, and time. Writing a novel is a much longer and more intimate experience. It's also lonelier. I've written a lot of songs with other people--that would be unthinkable with fiction, though I'm not sure why. I'm a great appreciator of good editing, that's for sure. >>how did a nice Jewish girl from Long Island...?<< When I was in Junior High, everyone I knew had a little plastic transistor radio. Mine was turquoise, and cracked along one side, but it worked fine, and like all my classmates I stuck it under my pillow at night in order to hear my favorite rock & roll stars on WMCA and WABC, after lights-out. But what I got instead was WWVA, riding in on a clear-channel frequency from Wheeling West Virginia after the sun went down. Patsy Cline, the Louvin Brothers, Porter Wagoner, George Jones, singing these amazing songs with gut-wrenching stories and wonderful harmonies. And then there was Brother Al the evangelist, and commercials for stuff I'd never heard of, like chewing tobacco. I was hooked! But I was smart enough to know it would be social death to go around talking about this stuff at my school, so it was kind of a secret. Later on, I jumped on the folk music band wagon pretty early: learned some guitar, started performing at school hootenannies, went to the Newport Folk Festivals starting in 1964. After college, when the LA country-rock thing (and later, the Urban Cowboy thing) were happening, I found that I actually had a foundation and a love for that music. I was in a few bands, which I quickly discovered was a very good way for a nice Jewish girl from Long Island to justify hanging out in sleazy bars.
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