This is an author interview that I wrote in the 1990s.
Sol Stein penned his first story on telegram blanks, stolen from Western Union. “My father took them from the Grand Central Station,” Stein said, “because we couldn’t afford paper in the depths of the Depression.”
His first poem was published in a school paper when he was seven. “I wrote my first book when I was 13, and it was published when I was 15,” he said. “When I went to see the publisher, he asked me why my father didn’t come himself.”
Barbara Taylor McCafferty was born on September 15, the same day as Agatha Christie. She loves figuring out a good puzzle, like those found in novels by Christie. So, what does McCafferty do for a living?
Writes mystery novels — just like Agatha Christie!
Well, not exactly like Christie. McCafferty has her own unique style, sticking her unsuspecting characters in bizarre situations and watching them wiggle their way out of them.
“I always start a story with a question that begins with ‘wouldn’t it be funny if?'” she said. “Like in my book, Ruffled Feathers, a guy gets a ransom note and the person allegedly kidnapped is standing right next to him. So, you wonder, ‘Is this an error in timing? A gag?'”
Whenever you start a new nonfiction writing project, it can be a thrilling time. You’ve come up with the most incredible idea and you envision the marvelous story you’re about to tell, full of dazzling insights, with an ending that will cause readers to become breathless with amazement, dizzy with excitement, in complete and utter awe of your talent!
You may know exactly which anecdote, statistic or quote will create the best beginning to draw in readers, and you may also know the final point that needs to be made. But, what about the middle?