Thursday, January 26, 2012

An Interview with Gary Gauthier

I had the pleasure of "meeting" Gary Gauthier online when I participated in Rachael Harris's Platform Building Campaign last fall. (She's doing a new one in February. You can go here to learn more about it, as well as enjoying her posts about writing.)

A couple of weeks ago I reviewed one of Gary's e-books, 50 Classic Love Poems in Rhyming Verse (you can read the review here if you missed it.) Many of you who have read my blog over time know how much I love art and poetry. I was particularly interested in how Gary matched beautiful art work to poetry and prose excerpts on his two blogs, Literary Snippets and Illustrated Basho Haikus. After reviewing 50 Classic Love Poems in Rhyming Verse and seeing more of his e-books at Amazon, I knew I wanted to interview him and get his take on what is happening in the publishing world today. 

I am late on getting this posted, but for those of you reading this post today (Thursday, January 26th), it's not too late to get a free copy The Portable Bouguereau 

Q: You have edited three beautifully illustrated, published e-books, The Art of Reading, Illustrated Basho Haiku Poems, and 50 Classic Love Poems in Rhyming Verse. How did you happen to start  editing books?

A: First, let me thank you, Elizabeth for conducting this interview. I really appreciate the opportunity.

I wish I had a more exciting answer for your first question. It all started as an experiment. I wanted to learn the ins and outs of electronic publishing—what better way than to actually try to do it from scratch with your bare hands? 
Let me clarify what I mean by electronic publishing. I mean taking a bunch of files and compiling them into the organized structure of a properly formatted ebook. I didn’t have a novel or short story ready for publication, so I decided to start with an anthology. 
It took me a couple of weeks to fully understand what was involved. I gained some excellent insights as to what the available software could and could not do. It was a tremendous help that I had some background in coding with html and css.
Q: You’ve authored and published two more beautifully illustrated e-books, The Portable Bouguereau and Van Gogh for a Starry Night. In the first book, you do a thorough analysis of Bouguereau’s paintings. In the second, you provide a biography of the artist. Are you a painter yourself, or simply an afficianado of great art?
A: I’ve dreamed of being an artist—the truth is, I’m not an artist. But I do love all forms of art and I like paintings in particular. I’ve also spent some time reading about the history of art. Bouguereau is known for his accurate and almost life-like paintings of human subjects. Van Gogh is recognized for his creative use of shape and color to convey mood.
Q: You have a wide variety of interests: art, poetry, law, philosophy, and you speak French and Spanish. Have you traveled a lot?  
A: I’ve done some traveling but not as much as I would like. I’ve visited places in South America, the Caribbean and Europe. Most of my exposure to the topics you cite came from pursuing my own curiosity and by way of books. 
Q: Do you also read/speak Japanese? (You have mentioned that for the book of Basho Haikus you made some changes to the translations.)
A: This question makes me smile. I definitely do not speak or read Japanese. For the book you mention, I made changes to previously existing English translations of the original Japanese. Many translated haikus don’t strictly adhere to the 5-7-5 syllable structure we often hear about. As much as possible, I made it so that the haikus in my book keep this format.
Q: You studied law at Harvard and have an undergraduate degree in philosophy. That’s quite a combination. Do law and philosophy figure into the crime thriller you are currently writing?
A: The short answer is no, they don’t figure in the novel I’m writing. I haven’t really given much thought to using court-room scenes or creating a legal thriller. Believe it or not, a degree in philosophy helps you to avoid run-on sentences and to catch dangling clauses and modifiers. So, hopefully, these will be kept to a minimum in my upcoming novel.

Q: Can you tell us a little more about your novel?
A: I can tell you that the protagonist is a heroine who leaves an abusive marriage and, shortly afterwards, is transformed by unexpected events. There are a couple of bad guys who figure prominently. The heroine’s new boyfriend is unassuming and clumsy in person and serves as the narrator. As you correctly pointed out previously, the novel will be a crime thriller. Other than that, my lips are sealed.
Q: On your blog and on Facebook, you often discuss aspects of the publishing world today. Can you share with readers your take on the future of publishing?
A: I need to write an essay to do full justice to that question. The bottom line is that the bulk of publishing today is already in digital in format.  Almost all my reading is done on digital devices. Many like to point out their intimate relationship with paper books. I certainly can understand that and I am very fond of paper books myself. But in the long run, the convenience of a portable library with search functions will outweigh the joys of using individual paper books.

If you want to read a couple of passages from Charles Dickens to your child one night, you are not likely to run out to buy a paperback. However, we do have immediate access to the works of Dickens, and thousands of other classics, without cost and without the inconvenience of leaving home. Project Gutenberg, along with other sites, provides this amazing service that is pretty much taken for granted.
Books are not going away anytime soon. If you insist on reading Dickens in hardcover, you can order it online and have it delivered.
Q: What is your writing schedule like? Do you have a quota for your output? So many hours/words per day?
A: I don’t have a set writing schedule. I wait until the creative idea dawns on me and then I put it in writing. The plot for my novel has grown increasingly detailed over time because I keep thinking about how I can develop the story’s theme and give depth to the characters. If I were a full-time novelist, I would probably maintain a writing schedule.  
Q: You are also involved in a publishing project to get 250 e-books published by Landmark Publications. You are at 116 at present, and all these e-books deal with landmark decisions by the Supreme Court. Can you tell us a little more about this project? Are you the editor for each book? 
A: This is where my law degree comes in handy. I select the titles and the cases included for publication. Many of the first titles we published were compilations of landmark Supreme Court decisions. We now publish a variety of casebooks in ebook format for law professionals. There seems to be a demand as this type of book is, traditionally, a very bulky hardcover and very inconvenient to carry around. 
Q: Your blog is a member the Life List Club. Can you share with readers how this club works and what inspired you as a writer to become involved?
A: As a writer, blogging is important to me for two reasons. It gives me a convenient public outlet to publish short written pieces and it helps me build an audience.
The Life List Club encourages its bloggers to set public goals and report on their progress. The goals can be as weighty as the deadline to finish a novel or as frivolous as spending less time on twitter. On Fridays, we exchange guest posts on topics that interest us. Right now, it’s a small group and we are looking for new members. We are very happy that you will be joining us soon as a new member, Elizabeth. 
Q: You both write and edit books. Which do you prefer?
A: I enjoy the editing work I do on a day to day basis. But the creative act of writing fiction is much more rewarding in the long run. I can’t wait to finish my novel and submit it to the editors. 
Do you have any special advice for budding writers?
A: The advice is to keep at it. Just start and keep writing. Not everything you write has to be published immediately. At first, it helps to have two or three seasoned editors who look over short writing samples. I have found this experience to be invaluable. 

Thank you again, Gary, for sharing your craft and knowledge. Good luck on finishing your novel soon and finding a publisher.  
Readers, you can contact Gary for more information at the following locations:

Blog: Literary Snippets:


Leigh Covington said...

Fabulous interview. His book sounds great! Very intriguing!

writing and living by Richard P Hughes said...

Excellent interview of an interesting person.

Nancy Herman said...

Gary IS very interesting! I will be looking for his novel and in the meantime, I'll check out the Life List Club. Thanks for posting this interview, Mitty.

Anonymous said...

Thank you! Such a fantastic interview.
Thankyou both for sharing with us.

Amie Kaufman said...

What a fantastic, thorough interview! I must admit, Landmark Publications fascinates me -- I wish someone would get onto that in Australia. I nearly died lugging all my textbooks around law school. Gary's right, they're SO inconvenient!

Elizabeth Varadan, Author said...

Leigh, MIchelle, and Richard, I'm glad you liked the interview. I'm looking forward to reading his book when it comes out. Richard, you might be interested in the Life List Club.

Nancy, I'm glad you're checking out the Life List Club. I think you'd be a good fit.

Amy, such good feedback about Landmark Publications. I think e-books are a good way for any kind of textbooks; I wasn't in law, but I remember lugging heavy textbooks to class.

Rachna Chhabria said...

What a great interview, his book sounds wonderful.

Elizabeth Varadan, Author said...

Hi, Rachna, so glad you liked the interview and find his book interesting. (I'm certainly looking forward to reading it.)

Meanwhile, I'll see you in just a few short days. I'm so looking forward to meeting my blog buddy from halfway around the world.