It was the first minute of my first day and my first impulse was to run. Just turn around and get the hell out of there as fast as I could. In that frozen moment between initial response and subsequent action, I stood mute, my vision tunneled to the desk in front of me. It was piled to toppling with files, pink message slips, newspaper clippings, and indeterminate scraps. A multi-line phone was half buried in the middle of this chaos, its angry flashing call buttons casting a blinking orange glow across the papers. What struck me with the greatest force, though, was the sheer number of words I saw in front of me. With the exception of the phone, every inch of the desk was layered in a dizzying collage of blue-black fonts and scribbles. And every word was screaming at me to pay attention and respond. This was my desk. This was my job.
An excerpt from Blind Submission
Thought about writing and publishing a book? Maybe you need to read Debra Ginsberg’s novel Blind Submission. Someone in one of my writer’s groups recommended this one to me and I enjoyed every minute of it. It is definitely a keeper. It had the inside information about the publishing world with all its warts, including the proverbial boss from hell.
Hope you enjoy our interview:
Virginia – Where are you from?
Debra – I’ve lived all over – from London, England to Brooklyn, New York, Portland, Oregon to Los Angeles. I’ve been living in San Diego for over twenty years now, though, so this is definitely home.
Virginia – How long have you been writing?
Debra – I’ve been writing since I can remember. When I was about four or five, before I had mastered the mechanics of writing, I’d dictate stories to my mother. But by about six or seven I was at it full time. But I didn’t just want to write – I wanted to be published. That dream of walking into a bookstore and seeing my book on a shelf has been with me from the womb.
Virginia – What do you write?
Debra – I’ve written – so far – three memoirs (“Waiting,” “Raising Blaze,” and “About My Sisters,” and two novels (“Blind Submission” and “The Grift”).
Virginia – Tell us a little about your publisher and agent.
Debra – My memoirs were published by HarperCollins, and all are still in print through Harper in paperback. My novels (including the one I am finishing now) are with Shaye Areheart Books, a fiction-only imprint of Crown Books, which is itself a division of Random House. My agent is Linda Loewenthal of The David Black Agency in New York. She’s fabulous – smart, funny, warm, and with amazing instincts. We’ve been working together for four years (I had another agent prior to her for the memoirs).
Virginia – How many books have you published so far?
Debra – Five – and I’m currently working on #6, which will be published sometime in 2010.
Virginia – What is your writing day like?
Debra – I’m at my best in the morning, though oddly that isn’t when I get most of the words in. I’m pretty early taking care of business on the computer, emailing, etc., then I take a long walk (essential) and then get down to writing between 11 AM and noon. At the beginning of a book, I’ll work (if I’m not interrupted, which I very often am – the perils of having one’s office in the middle of the house) until 5 or 6 PM. But when I’m near completion and trying to get it in on time (like now), I usually put in twelve-hour days and don’t get up from the desk until 8 or 9 PM.
Virginia – Can you tell us how you found a publisher and/or agent?
Debra – I’d had some experience working in publishing before my first book came out (I worked for a few literary agents), so I was familiar with the process. My first agent and my first editor were actually two women I had worked with. I was introduced to my current agent through another editor who, in turn, used to work with my current publisher. Ultimately, publishing is a pretty small world. If you’re in it long enough you start to know everyone!
Virginia – Do you have anything that just came out?
Debra – The paperback edition of my most recent novel, “The Grift” has just come out. Also, I must mention that my son (the subject of my memoir, “Raising Blaze”) has just written his own, absolutely brilliant memoir titled EPISODES: My Life As I See It and that will be in stores in a few weeks, on September 1, 2009.
Virginia – What are you working on now?
Debra – A novel of psychological suspense title “The Neighbors Are Watching.”
Virginia – Do you have some words of wisdom for us unpubs?
Debra – The publishing landscape really is changing. There are more and different opportunities for writers now, from print-on-demand to electronic books. But the core of it still remains the same – and that is just to keep at it. I tried to “give up” my writing habit for many years because it just seemed too difficult to get published and make a living from my writing (and even though I’m on my sixth book, it’s still a challenge to sustain myself on writing income alone). But this is all I’ve ever wanted to do and so it wouldn’t let me go. If you want it badly enough, you will make it happen. I still recommend having a good agent and I highly recommend having your manuscript edited before you begin the submission process by a reputable freelance editor. I can’t tell you how helpful this can be. And read. Read often and read everything.
I’m happy to share my website: http://debraginsberg.com and my son’s website: http://www.blazeginsberg.com where you find information and links. You can also find me on facebook – my new home at home.
Thanks so much for the interview Debra.
Happy reading and writing for everyone else.