Monday, January 10, 2011
Today's special guest is Fran Orenstein. Fran, welcome to the blog. It was so nice of you to take the time for this interview.
Could you tell us a little bit about yourself?
Born and raised in New York (Brooklyn and The Bronx), I retired from NJ State Government, where I managed projects for women on gender equity and violence prevention, children’s early education issues, and programs for women and disabilities I’ve been a rehabilitation counselor, teacher (briefly), magazine editor/writer, and an officer with AmeriCorps. I adore my four grandchildren and am very proud of my three children. Currently I live in Southwest Florida near the Gulf Coast with my cats, Salem and Lilibit, but I have lived in Arizona, South Carolina, and briefly in California.
That's very interesting! I live in SC myself. Right now we're in the middle of a major winter storm with about eight inches of snow and ice on the way. What event triggered you to become a writer? Any major inspirations?
Once I learned to read, I became an inveterate reader, just like my mother. She was a story teller too, making up her own stories or her versions of fairy tales. Inspired after I read Bambi, I wrote my first poem at age eight. At twelve I wrote my first short story and got my first rejection from a magazine. I always wrote for school newspapers, and one of the careers I envisioned was as a journalist, traveling the world to exotic places. That was not in the cards, however during the era in which I grew up. The inspiration in my life is my muse, Rachel. She is my granddaughter with whom I share my stories and poems. She is now twelve, but even at a younger age she suggested ideas and storylines, which I adapted into novels. Rachel is my best critic.
I dictated my first story to my dad at age five. :) Keep Rachel close. I wish my granddaughter had more interest in my writing. How many manuscripts did you submit before you were published? How did you feel when you got “the call”?
I started seriously submitting in the mid- nineteen nineties. I had agents. I had an editor from a major publishing house hold a manuscript for months. I had a picture book in the galley stage when the publisher went out of business. I collected enough rejection slips for 3 novels to paper a room, or start a large bonfire. After 9/11 and the economy tanked, I finally threw in the towel and found a small POD publisher for my ‘tween books. I was thrilled that the books would finally be published. After publishing 5 books with him, he declared bankruptcy and left 165 authors high and dry. Back to square one. Now I have another small publisher, Randy Young at Sleepy Town Press, who is honest and caring about his authors, because he was also scammed by the same publisher and understands how devastating that can be. I also recently published a young adult historical romance novel, The Spice Merchant’s Daughter with Whiskey Creek Press.
What’s the very best thing about being an author?
The thrill and honor of knowing that these books that are part of me, are being read by strangers. It is also my granddaughter announcing that she read Fat Girls From Outer Space twice and that The Spice Merchant’s Daughter is awesome. It’s my nine-year-old grandson telling me he read all four of my ‘tween books in a week and liked them. This is the legacy I always dreamed of leaving.
Sigh. Me too. Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?
Don’t ever give up. Someone out there is waiting to read your book. You may have to compromise on the publisher, but getting the book into print and read is the biggest high you will ever have as a writer. Just holding that newly published book, or seeing the cover on the internet, is thrilling. Wait until you slit open the box of books and stare down at your printed novel. FIREWORKS!
Would you share your links with us so we can find you on the web?
My website is www.franorenstein.weebly.com Please visit and check out my books, blogs and share my life.
We’d love to read an excerpt of your work.
The second edition of Fat Girls From Outer Space will be re-released at the beginning of February. A novel for ‘tweens and young teens, it addresses childhood obesity, bullying, seventh grade woes, and the issue of parental divorce. Although a work of fiction, the novel encompasses true stories from childhood, mine and other women I interviewed. Randy Young is currently designing the cover.
FAT GIRLS FROM OUTER SPACE
Bad Body Day
Freddy assaulted the piano. She pounded the opening chords of Liszt’s Hungarian Rhapsody. The lamp on the piano shook with the vibration. Isis, the cat hid under the ottoman. She pushed all her anger into her fingers, pummeling the keys. The house throbbed with the pulsation of Freddy’s rage. She raised her hands in anticipation of smashing another series of chords….
“Hey, you crazy? It’s Saturday morning. Shut up down there,” Mike yelled.
“Shut up yourself,” she shouted back, slamming the keys one more time.
“Fredericka, your brother was sleeping. Don’t make me come in there,” her mother called from the kitchen. “Go get dressed before your friends come.”
Freddy stomped up the stairs. Mike muttered something from his room across the hall. She turned toward his door and stuck out her tongue. “Sorry,” she said, but didn’t slam the door to her room. It wasn’t Mike’s fault that she was angry. As big brothers went, he rocked compared to others she knew about.
Freddy opened her dresser drawer, and stared at the pile of tee shirts. Pulling one over her head, she glared at the girl in the mirror. “I hate you.” She pulled at the tee shirt but it still popped back, tight against her body. Tears pooled in her soft brown eyes. She whipped off the shirt and flung it on the floor. “There has to be something I can wear that doesn’t show every lump of fat,” Freddy muttered, rummaging through the drawer.
Isis sat watching from the top of the dresser, her yellow eyes gleaming, and her tail twitching. “What are you looking at?” Freddy growled, as Isis arched her neck and yawned. “So, okay, you don’t care. How would you feel if you looked like Garfield, with a fat belly hanging down to the floor?”
Isis licked her paws, watching as Freddy pull out shirt after shirt, and tossed each one on the floor. Freddy groaned, and threw herself down on the bed. “What am I going to do?”
Great excerpt, Fran. Since the doctor made me take prednisone, I can sure relate to Freddy. If the weather ever warms up I've got to do some big time weight reduction. Your topic is a serious one, but I've got to say, your title cracks me up. Thanks for coming, and good luck with the new book.