Jon Wilkman interview with David Alan Binder
Post date: Feb 9, 2016 2:17:54 PM
Jon Wilkman interview with David Alan Binder
Direct Link for the book: www.stfrancisdamdisaster1928.com
His website: http://wilkman.com/
His IMDB Bio (Internet Movie Data Base): http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0929499/bio
His Good Reads: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/467039.Picturing_Los_Angeles
1. Where are you currently living?
LOS ANGELES (HOLLYWOOD TO BE EXACT)
2. Where would you like to live?
I’M HAPPY WHERE I AM, BUT I ONCE LIVED IN NY CITY AND WOULDN’T MIND RETURNING IF IT WAS SOMEHOW NECESSARY
3. Why did you start writing?
I ENJOYED WRITING STORIES ALMOST AS SOON AS I COULD DO SO. PROFESSIONALLY, I BEGAN AS A RESEARCHER AT THE CBS NEWS DOCUMENTARY UNIT IN NEW YORK, WHERE FINDING OUT STUFF AND WRITING ABOUT IT CLEARLY AND ACCURATELY WAS IMPORTANT. I’VE TRIED TO DO IT EVER SINCE – AS A DOCUMENTARY FILMMAKER AND OCCASIONAL BOOK AUTHOR.
4. What is the most important thing that you have learned in your writing experience, so far?
FIND A SUBJECT THAT INTERESTS YOU ENOUGH THAT YOU CAN STAY AT IT FOR AS LONG AS IT TAKES TO FINISH. RESEARCH FOR MY LATEST BOOK, “FLOODPATH,” BEGAN MORE THAN 25 YEARS AGO, ALTHOUGH THE ACTUAL WRITING OF THE BOOK TOOK LESS THAN A YEAR, WHEN I GOT AROUND TO IT. I PRODUCED A DOCUMENTARY FILM ENTITLED, “CHICANO ROCK! THE SOUNDS OF EAST LOS ANGELES” FOR PBS, AND THAT TOOK 10 YEARS OF ON AND OFF EFFORT, MAINLY BECAUSE OF THE DEMANDS OF FUND-RAISING, WHICH IS ALWAYS A PROBLEM.
5. What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk?
I CAN’T SAY I HAVE AN INTERESTING WRITING QUIRK. ONE THING I’VE NOTICED OVER THE YEARS IS MY HANDWRITING HAS BECOME INCREASINGLY ILLEGIBLE, SINCE I DO VIRTUALLY ALL MY WRITING WITH A KEYBOARD. WHEN I TAKE NOTES BY HAND (RARELY) OR SIGN BOOKS, I HAVE TO WRITE SLOWLY LIKE A THIRD GRADER TO MAKE SURE THE WORDS DON’T TURN INTO A SCRAWL.
6. Tell us your insights on self-publish or use a publisher?
I’VE NEVER SELF-PUBLISHED.
a. Who is the name of your publisher and in what city are they?
THE PUBLISHER OF “FLOODPATH” IS BLOOMSBURY PRESS. THEY HAVE OFFICES IN LONDON, NEW YORK, OXFORD, NEW DELHI AND SYDNEY. THEY’RE PROBABLY MOST FAMOUS FOR THEIR ASSOCIATION WITH THE HARRY POTTER BOOKS.
7. Any insights eBooks vs. print books and alternative vs. conventional publishing?
I DO OCCASIONALLY READ BOOKS ON A KINDLE, BUT PREFER THE OLD FASHIONED PAPER-BASED FORMAT. I EXPECT ONLINE READING WILL ONLY GROW MORE PREVALENT OVER TIME, BUT I DOUBT BOOKS WILL EVER DISAPPEAR. THE EASE OF ONLINE ACCESS TO INFORMATION IS A WONDERFUL THING, ESPECIALLY FOR RESEARCHERS AND WRITERS, BUT IT’S IMPORTANT TO RECOGNIZE THAT ONLY A SMALL PORTION OF KNOWLEDGE IS ONLINE AND SOME, IF NOT MUCH OF IT, CAN BE OF QUESTIONABLE VALUE.
8. Do you have any secret tips for writers on getting a book published?
I DON’T THINK THERE ARE ANY “SECRET TIPS” BEYOND THE OBVIOUS – WRITE, WRITE WELL AND PERSIST. AFTER THAT, WRITE AND PERSIST SOME MORE. FOR THE “BIG” PUBLISHING HOUSES, AN AGENT IS PRETTY MUCH ESSENTIAL. LEARNING TO PRESENT YOU BOOK IDEA IN A COMPELLING WAY IS ALMOST AS IMPORTANT AS WRITING A COMPELLING BOOK.
9. How did you acquire an agent? Any tips for new writers on getting one?
WITH “FLOODPATH” A FRIEND AND FELLOW AUTHOR RECOMMENDED HIS AGENT WHO DECIDED TO TAKE MY EFFORT ON. SELLING TO AN AGENT CAN BE ALMOST AS HARD AS GETTING A PUBLISHER TO PUBLISH YOUR BOOK. YOU NEED TO WORK HARD ON MAKING YOUR PROPOSAL AS COMPELLING AS POSSIBLE.
10. Where do you get your information or ideas for your books?
I AM A VERY CURIOUS PERSON – AN ESSENTIAL TRAIT FOR A WRITER, ESPECIALLY A NON-FICTION WRITER. I KEEP UP WITH CURRENT AFFAIRS AND READ WIDELY.
11. Do you have any suggestions or helps for new writers?
AGAIN, THIS ISN’T NEW, BUT WRITING IS LIKE A MUSCLE. YOU NEED TO EXERCISE IT OFTEN. YOU MAY NEVER WIN THE LITERARY EQUIVALENT OF AN OLYMPIC GOLD MEDAL, BUT YOUR WRITING WILL BE STRONGER AND BETTER, AND THAT’S AN IMPORTANT ACCOMPLISHMENT – AND FUN, TOO.
12. What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books?
IT MAY NOT HAVE BEEN SURPRISING, BUT WHAT INTRIGUED ME WAS TRYING TO FIGURE OUT WHY THE STORY OF THE ST. FRANCIS DAM IS MISSING FROM U.S. HISTORY BOOKS. IN THE END, I CAME UP WITH SOME REASONS AND SHARE THEM IN FLOODPATH.
13. How many books have you written?
FOUR – “BLACK AMERICANS: FROM COLONIAL DAYS TO THE PRESENT,” “PICTURING LOS ANGELES” (WITH MY LATE WIFE NANCY), “LOS ANGELES: A PICTORIAL CELEBRATION” (ALSO WITH NANCY) AND MY LATEST, “FLOODPATH: THE DEADLIEST MAN-MADE DISASTER OF 20TH CENTURY AMERICA AND THE MAKING OF MODERN LOS ANGELES.”
14. Do you have any tricks or tips to help others become a better writer?
AGAIN, IT’S A CLICHÉ, BUT AS SOMEONE SAID, “WRITING ISN’T WRITING, IT’S RE-WRITING.” I ALSO THINK IT’S IMPORTANT TO READ YOUR STUFF ALOUD TO SEE HOW IT FLOWS AND REVEAL AWKWARD PHRASES AND REPETITION.
15. We’ve heard that it is good to provide twists in a good story. How do you do this?
THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN ACADEMIC HISTORY AND THE NARRATIVE NON-FICTION FORM I USE IN FLOODPATH IS NOT BEING AFRAID TO HOLD BACK INFORMATION YOU KNOW TO DEVELOP SUSPENSE AND KEEP READER INTEREST. THIS ALLOWS YOU TO PLANT “TRACKS” THAT WILL EVENTUALLY LEAD TO UNEXPECTED DIRECTIONS.
16. What makes your book stand out from the crowd?
FLOODPATH IS SERIOUS HISTORY, WITH 650 FOOTNOTES TO PROVE IT, BUT I THINK IT READS LIKE A NOVEL, WITH LOTS OF DETAIL AND DIALOGUE, ALL OF IT BASED ON CONFIRMED FACT.
17. What are some ways in which you promote your work?
IT’S AN ENDLESS CHALLENGE. I CAN’T SAY I’M A MASTER OF SOCIAL MEDIA – I’M NOT—BUT THAT MAKES A BIG DIFFERENCE TODAY. YOU SHOULD KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE AND GO TO PLACE WHERE THEY CAN BE FOUND, AND NOT BE SHY. IF YOU DON’T HAVE A PUBLICIST, LEARN TO WRITE A COMPELLING PRESS RELEASE AND PASS IT AROUND AS FAR AND WIDE AS YOU CAN.
18. What is the one thing you would do differently now (concerning writing) and why?
I GAVE UP EARLY ON BEING A FICTION WRITER. I FELT MORE COMFORTABLE WITH NON-FICTION, AND I THINK I BECAME GOOD AT IT. BUT I MIGHT HAVE KEEP AT FICTION A LITTLE LONGER, ESPECIALLY SCREENWRITING.
19. What would you like carved onto your tombstone? Or what saying or mantra do you live by?
HE WAS CURIOUS AND CARED.
END OF INTERVIEW
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