A big thank you to WU contributor Debbie Ohi for today’s custom comic.
Therese here. I’m happy to present today’s guest, Ron Hogan. Ron has been a part of the online writing community for a long while now. He launched Beatrice.com in 1995–over a decade before WU was a thought in our minds–as a site dedicated to books and authors. He’s worked for the pub industry news site GalleyCat, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, and writes book reviews for Shelf Awareness.
A short while ago, Ron launched a Kickstarter campaign in order to shine a modern spotlight on Beatrice and reconnect readers with his in-depth author interviews. The goal of the kicker? A Beatrice App, rich with in-depth interviews and video highlights, which you’d be able to download in Apple’s App Store.
Additionally, Ron has joined forces with an independent bookstore also trying to raise funds through Kickstarter, Ad Astra Books and Coffee House. If both campaigns are successful, Ron plans to support this Kansas indie by spearheading a multi-author recorded event at the store. Cool, yes? Read more about that HERE. In the meanwhile, I’m pleased to hand things over to Ron, who’s here to tell us about his passion for interviewing–the real reason behind his push for this new app. Enjoy!
THE CONVERSATIONS THAT CONVINCED ME TO BE A WRITER
When I started doing author interviews for Beatrice as a 25-year-old fresh out of grad school, my motivation was simple: It was a great way to finagle some time with my favorite writers. The more I got into it, though, and especially as I began to spend more time with debut authors, the more I came to appreciate the fantastic learning opportunity I’d been given. I was getting a lot of great advice about the craft of writing a book from these conversations, but more importantly I was discovering how these men and women had created lives for themselves as writers, and how they dealt with the issues and concerns that came along with that life.
Is it okay to cope with a dead-end job by writing fiction at your desk? What do you do if you love writing short stories, but everyone expects you to write a novel? How should you respond when a national magazine tells you they’ll publish your story, but only if you change the title to something a little less gay? When a novel unexpectedly becomes a huge success, how does that affect you when you’re trying to write the next book?
Questions like that came up all the time during my conversations, and learning about the ways the authors I was meeting dealt with them helped me realize that I was capable of dealing with whatever I thought was in the way of writing the things I wanted to write, too. Publishing those interviews on Beatrice allowed me to share what I was learning with other people who had the same dreams and ambitions I did, and when other writers would mention how much they enjoyed the site, I was thrilled. But then other writing opportunities came along, and I had to set aside the big interviews for a while.
In the last decade, I’ve written and published two books, and as the former senior editor for a publishing industry news blog, I’ve probably written another three or four books’ worth of material. I’ve continued to talk about books that I love at Beatrice, and I’ve also run a lot of guest essays from writers so they could speak more directly about their inspirations and the hurdles they’ve overcome to get their books published. I’ve even continued to interview writers, although most of those stories were written as mini-profiles rather than the Q&A format I cut my teeth on back in the ’90s.
I’ve been wanting to get back to the longform interview for some time now, and I think that the Beatrice app, with its streaming video elements, is a way to make those interviews viable for me as well as easily accessible for you. As part of my Kickstarter campaign, I’ve created some basic rewards for contributions between $5 and $20 that demonstrate just how inspirational the interviews I’m conducting now can and will be — ebook compilations of the best interviews from Beatrice’s early years. These are the conversations that convinced me not just that I was capable of writing a book, but that I was capable of making a life for myself as a writer. It hasn’t always been easy, but when my resolve wavers, I really do find myself thinking about one of these interviews and the way these writers held firm. With some crucial early support from people like you who share my passion for writing, I’m looking forward to having more of those kinds of conversations, and creating a resource that you, and me, and other aspiring authors can draw strength from in the future.
Readers, you can learn more about–and contribute to–Ron Hogan’s Beatrice campaign HERE. Write on.