Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Alana Cash

Today on Pinky's Favorite Authors, I am lucky enough to have Alana Cash author of Saints in the Shaddows.

Where are you from originally?

Texas – I was born in Texas into a military family. 

Tell us your latest news?

Saints in the Shadows will be in Publisher’s Weekly in August.

If you could have a dinner party with any authors from any time in history, who would you choose and why?

Collette                           Oscar Wilde

F. Scott Fitzgerald           Edith Wharton

Rumi                               Karen Blixen

Margaret Mead

[I love Margaret Meads quote:  Until you’ve lost your reputation. You never realize what a burden it was.].

What books or authors have influenced your writing?

I have kind of a peculiar style.  I can’t say who influenced it.  I like all the authors that I mentioned for the dinner party, but it would be wishful thinking to compare myself to any of them.  I have read everything that has been published under Ernest Hemingway’s name. And I think my style is pretty spare.

Is there an Author that you would really like to meet?

Ann Patchett.  I would like to ask her how she works.  Bel Canto is a phenomenal book.

What book are you reading now and in what format (ebook/paperback/hardcover)?

I’m reading: 

When God Was a Woman by Merlin Stone  (nonfiction)

Flights of Memory Days Before Yesterday by Peter Megargee Brown (memoir)

A Child of Montmartre by Paul Leautaud  (memoir)

The Hours by Michael Cunningham

I always read hard copy books.  For one thing, I’m in love with bookmarks and I make them sometimes.

Tell us a little about your background. When did you start writing?

I started writing in college, but I didn’t publish until after I started teaching, which amuses me.  I didn’t really have any credentials for teaching, but I had a knack for it and after two years at it, a PBS producer found me and asked to profile me on “A Writer’s Exchange.”

I also wrote and directed some films.  My documentaries on women in science (Anna Freud, Marie Curie, and Mileva Maric) are in libraries and universities worldwide.  That surprises me, actually.  The Anna Freud documentary was translated into German and aired in Austria, Switzerland, and Germany. Even more surprising.

Where do you get your ideas?

The idea for Saints in the Shadows came to me when my son told me that on a flight to New York he sat next to a psychic who said he had just done a reading for a very famous TV celebrity.  I wondered, “What would someone who appears to be so successful want to ask a psychic?”

Pretty much all my stories germinate from me asking a question.

Can you tell us a little bit about Saints in the Shadows?

Maud Strand is a young woman who once had an idyllic life in New Orleans, but her father died suddenly in a car accident, and she and her mother have drifted apart because of grief.  Maud moves from New Orleans to New York when her mother starts dating.

Maud can’t get any traction in her life until she meets a neighbor – Lina S├índor (aka Madame Budska) – a Hungarian physics professor turned into a psychic.  Lina’s clients are those very successful people I wondered about – a hedge fund manager, a political kingmaker, a TV celebrity, etc.  Lina charges nothing, but her clients leave envelopes containing $5,000-$10,000 each session. 

As a psychic to those people, Lina just reads body language and encourages them.  But with certain people stuck in tragedy, like Maud, she is a genius at helping them find the way out and forward.

How long did it take you to complete?

Seven months.

Are any of your characters based on real-life friends or acquaintances?

No. Not in this book.  Not one of them.  I know people like Madame Budska’s clients, but I didn’t use them in the book.  Curiously, I got a form of writer’s block early on and so I went online to see if I could find pictures of people who fit the description I had in my mind of the characters, and I did.  I printed the pictures and, for a couple of weeks, I looked at them whenever I started writing and that got me past the block.

Do you ever incorporate yourself into your characters?

I write from one character’s point of view in every story I write.  So, I see the whole world through their eyes.  The trouble I have is getting out of the way.

Tell us about your cover. Did you design it yourself? Where did you get the inspiration for your cover?

I have a friend named Mike Rosebery who is a marvelous photographer.  I looked through his flickr account to find a photograph that I thought represented the book.  Jim Rosebery (Mike’s brother) is a professional designer and he created the cover.   

What other authors inspire you and your work?

Harriet Doerr inspires me.  She published her first book, Stones for Ibarra, at age 76 and it won the National Book Award. 

Ok, now some fun questions….

Coffee or Tea?  Tea.  Loose tea. No bags.

White Chocolate, Dark Chocolate or Milk Chocolate? 

Milk chocolate.  Although I try to avoid it, I’m not very successful.

What is your favourite colour?   

I love to look at the color green.  I like to wear the color pink.

Winter or Summer?  

I love summer, fall, winter, and spring in New York.  I like winter in LA, but the summer is so hot, I feel trapped by the heat until sunset, and then it cools off so much it’s like winter again.

If you could have one superpower what would it be? 

I already have it and it’s a secret.

If you could be somebody else for a day who would you choose and why?

Queen Elizabeth.  Who wouldn’t want to be queen for a day?

Where can we find you online?

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