Thursday, September 13, 2007

Author Interview with Saralee Etter

The camera pans the beautiful Ohio morning where the sun is shining, but the air is cool, a foretelling or the coming autumn. As the camera pans closer, a figure in red is seen hustling into the studio. She waves at the cameraman, smiles, and...walks onstage.

"Good morning, Blog Studio audience!"

The band plays a short intro, the crowd applauds, and Carol Ann smiles and takes a seat on the set.

"It was so beautiful today, that I just had to walk here. I haven't had a chance yet to say hello backstage to my very special guest for today. Saralee Etter is also a resident of Ohio, in a small town outside Columbus. She's going to be telling us about her very first release, A LIMITED ENGAGEMENT. Saralee has been making news here in Ohio with her radio and newspaper interviews. So, I'm delighted to be the very first to interview her on national television."

Carol Ann picks up a book and shows it to the audience. "This is Saralee's book. It is a perfectly delightful romance...but I'll let her tell you all about it."

Camera pans in on the book.

"Ladies and gentlemen, please put your hands together for a fantastic author, my friend, Saralee Etter!"

Audience gives a standing ovation as Saralee walks onstage.

CAROL ANN: Saralee, welcome to the Blog Studio. I'm so thrilled that you finally made it to our show.

SARALEE: Thank you, Carol Ann. I'm just as thrilled to be here.

CAROL ANN: I've been teasing the audience about your novel. I think they've been in suspense long enough. Won't you please share what this wonderful story is about?

SARALEE: I'm happy to. My book, A LIMITED ENGAGEMENT, is the story of a young actress named Miranda Luce, and the dashing nobleman, Lord Justin Devereux, who hires her to play the role of his fiancĂ©e at a family dinner party. She needs the money she will earn to free her brother-in-law, the theater manager, from debtors prison; He needs to convince his family that he’s willing to settle down, so they will let him have his inheritance. When they fall in love, it’s just the first tangle in the web they are weaving—they are just no good at deceiving!

Theater is one of my favorite things. I’ve acted in a lot of high school plays and community theater and those memories hold a special place in my heart. Recently, I became fascinated by Georgian and Regency theater—and it was a treat to learn all about the lives of famous performers of the day.

I’m also a big fan of Georgette Heyer’s novels—she invented the Regency romance as we know it, and I love to re-read her stories. They’re so lively and charming, so full of love and laughter! So of course I wanted to write a novel that would take me back to that world and give me that same feeling of delight.

When Cerridwen Press announced that they were launching a revival of the traditional Regency romance with their Cotillion line, I was thrilled. And the Cotillions are a wonderful bunch of stories.

As an extra treat for people who love the Regency period and stories set during that time, I’m currently running a contest through Author Island. Anyone who is interested in entering a drawing for a DVD of the 2005 movie “Pride and Prejudice” plus some popcorn and other munchies can do so by reading an excerpt of my book and answering the secret question. Just visit Author Island , or my website, to find out how.

CAROL ANN: Great. My audience loves contests. **Audience applauds loudly** Saralee, can you share a bit about your radio and newspaper interviews?

SARALEE: One of the nice things about interviews is that local media people are all such fun to talk to. I think you really have to be a “people person” to do this type of reporting, because you’re really approaching it as one neighbor to another.

And I’ve done both types of interviews. The Pataskala Post reporter chatted with me over the phone, the reporter from ThisWeek in Licking County and I met for lunch, and the reporter for The Pataskala Standard came over to the house.

My radio interview was done at the station, too—it was fun being in a real recording studio and watching how it’s all done. The interviewer was great, and really made me feel comfortable. I almost forgot that there were a lot more people listening in to our conversation.

CAROL ANN: How great! Kind of hard to do that here in the television studio though. **Audience laughs** When you did the interviews were you nervous?

SARALEE: Well, the radio interview was the most unusual experience to me. Even though the host was really nice, I was still out of my element, so to speak. One of the things I like about writing is that I get to re-write! I have time to think about what I’m saying, and maybe tweak it a little here and there. Words come out a lot smoother when I’m writing than when I’m speaking—guess I’m not really a glib talker.

I know I stumbled a bit, but I didn’t say anything I wanted to take back. I didn’t feel too stressed either, but afterwards all I could think about was how much I craved a doughnut!

I found out later that after you have an adrenaline rush, your sugar can get really depleted, so maybe that’s what happened to me.

CAROL ANN: Are you nervous now?

SARALEE: Who, me? **Saralee's voice rises to high pitch and breaks. Audience laughs**

CAROL ANN: I know you're kidding, of course. So, tell me what you're currently working on.

SARALEE: Well, I’ve got a couple of projects in the works. One is a Georgian romance in which a theater manager and actress join forces to unmask a spy who has infiltrated their theater troupe in order to assassinate King George II, and the other is a Victorian murder mystery.

CAROL ANN: How cool! I love the fact that you can depict history so vividly. It takes a special talent to do that without losing the essence of romance, but you pull it off.

SARALEE: Thank you.

CAROL ANN: Speaking of romance. What does the romance mean to you?

SARALEE: I like the old definition of a romance novel—it was an adventure, full of heroism and excitement and the thrill of finding true love. The stories I love to read are the bigger-than-life tales that show people at their best, facing overwhelming odds and meeting the challenge with determination and cleverness, and triumphing in the end.

CAROL ANN: What do you find is the hardest part of being a published author?

SARALEE: Finding time to write! I know it’s a matter of balancing all of the claims on our time, but sometimes that can be challenging.

CAROL ANN: Amen to that! Now, you didn't think I'd let you off without asking you at least one offbeat question, did you?

SARALEE: **laughs** One can only hope.

CAROL ANN: Sorry! Here's the question. If you inherited an uninhabited island in the South Seas, what would you do with it?

SARALEE: Swap it for a spacious vacation home on the shores of Lake Michigan, or on a lake in the Adirondacks, where I could write in a room that looks out over the water. Well, I wouldn’t say “no” to a lovely place in England or France!

But I’m not a tropical-weather girl—I lived in Florida too long. Give me seasons, and give me rolling, tree-covered hills and tranquil little lakes. To me the finest season is fall, with the richness of the harvest, the crunchy leaves and crisp air.

CAROL ANN: You did so well with that one, that I have another one for you. Let's pretend this is a serious program and you are the only celebrity present. You have to make a speech about yourself, not your writing. Go!

SARALEE: “Pay no attention to that woman behind the curtain!” No, just kidding.
I’d want to share with everyone the most important lesson I’ve learned—that the most important thing in life is to figure out what makes you happy, and do that.

Don’t waste time doing something you don’t like just because it’s a sensible career move, make sure you’re doing what makes you feel good. For so many years I didn’t know what made me happy, and I assumed that I couldn’t have what I really wanted because it wasn’t practical. The lesson I’ve learned is, “do what you love, and the success and stability you want will follow.”

CAROL ANN: You're a natural! **audience applauds** Now to get down and personal. Do you have any collections?

SARALEE: The one thing that I’ve always collected is—books! When I find an author I like, I buy all their books and keep them. I’ve got every book that Georgette Heyer ever wrote, except one. It was one of her earliest books, called “The Great Roxhythe.” It’s out of my price range right now.

I also have most of Charlotte MacLeod’s books, and all of Elizabeth Peters, Barbara Hambly, Robin Paige, Jayne Ann Krentz (in all her incarnations), Ellis Peters, Barry Hughart, Esther Friesner, Joan Hess, as well as lots of humor by S. J. Perelman, and C. S. Lewis’ novels as well as his Christian philosophy. I fall in love with new writers all the time, too.

I collect other things, too. For a while I collected fans—the ladies’ accessories—and the ones I have are mostly paper mounted on wood sticks, but some are made of celluloid, carved wood, or fabric.

Currently, I’m collecting Fenton Silvercrest—it’s a type of milk glass that has a wide ruffle all around, and the ruffle is edged with clear glass (which looks silver in comparison to the rest of the piece). I’ve got vases and candy-dishes and cake-stands. I’m fascinated by glass.

CAROL ANN: Oh, the fan collection sounds really cool. I adore those old fashioned fans. A friend made me some fans for my wall using the leftover wallpaper from my family room. I love them. I have a few glass pieces, but they are locked in my curio cabinet because I have three very curious and rambunctious cats. They are more destructive than a houseful of toddlers. **the band plays a quick scale" Oh, no! Not the dreaded "we're out of time" tune! Saralee, it's been such fun having you here today. Once again, I thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule. We've got time for one last question...the one I ask all my guests. Do you believe the pen is mightier than the sword?

SARALEE: The pen is mightier, because with words you can change a person’s mind. Then they will act willingly to support their new beliefs, rather than having to be forced by the sword to act against their will.

It’s like the parable of the wind and the sun. You remember that? The wind and the sun make a bet to see who can remove the heavy overcoat from this man who’s walking along.

The wind blows wildly, tearing at the man’s coat and trying to rip it right off him. But the man just hangs on tight, wrapping his coat around himself for warmth and safety.

Then it’s the sun’s turn. The sun comes out and shines on the man. That’s all. Soon, the man takes off his coat of his own accord, because he feels warm and safe.

CAROL ANN: Beautifully, said. Audience, what do you think?

**The audience stands and applauds, the band strikes up a lively tune, and Saralee and Carol Ann exit the stage**


Teri Thackston said...

Wonderful interview...cleverly done.

Elaine Violette said...

Hi Saralee,

I thorougly enjoyed your interview and hearing, not only about your book, but also about your literary interests and hobbies. Each Cotillion Regency from Cerridwen Press that I've read so far has been wonderful. I look forward to reading yours next!

Elaine Violette

Marcia James said...

Hi, Saralee! Congratulations on your debut book! I look forward to reading it. And your works-in-progress sound great! Best wishes on continued success!
-- Marcia James ;-)