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Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Interview: Author Student of Gullah and Geechee Cultures

Hi! I am Carolyn Howard Johnson, your trusty New Book Review blogger and author of the multi award-winning HowTo Do It Frugally Series of books for writers. This blog has heretofore been exclusive for reviews but I thought I’d do a special series of interviews after I chatted with Jeanie Loiacono, President of Loiacono Literary Agency – Where ‘can’t’ is not in our vocabulary! I thought sharing the interviews would help the many subscribers and visitors to this New Book Review blog, including authors, reviewers, and, of course, readers who just might find a new favorite author among the featured books and authors.

So, today welcome Stephen Doster.

Stephen Doster was born in England and grew up on St. Simons Island, Georgia. He is a student of history and has extensively researched the Gullah and Geechee cultures of South Carolina and Georgia. He received a degree in Marketing from the University of Georgia and has recently received his Master of Liberal Arts and Science degree with a certificate in history. Doster has appeared at BookExpo, the Southern Festival of Books, the Amelia Island Book Festival, The Southern Kentucky Book Fest and has spoken at colleges, historical societies, and library associations in Georgia, Kentucky, and Tennessee. He has been interviewed on public radio and television in Mississippi, Tennessee, Florida, and Georgia. Currently, he is an assistant editor for a peer-review journal at Vanderbilt University. His other works include: Voices from St. SimonsLord BaltimoreGeorgia WitnessJesus TreeShadow Child, Rose Bush and Her Finest Hour.

1 What is your genre? Is it fiction or nonfiction? All of the above. I’ve written several novels, a couple of oral histories, a book of short stories, and a WWII memoir. I try to write something new and different each time. Probably not the best approach to building an audience, but I sleep well at night.
2 What made you want to be a writer? Living in the South, and especially on the Georgia Coast surrounded by Gullah/Geechee communities. I grew up listening to gifted storytellers. However, I’m not a great raconteur in the oral tradition, so I gravitated to telling stories via the printed word.
3 Of all the authors out there, who inspired you most? Cervantes. He knocked down a lot of walls for future writers. Don Quixote remains a thoroughly modern novel after 400 years.
4 What is your writing style? Do you outline? Linearly? By scene? Why? I start with the seed of an idea and go from there without outlining, at least not on paper. It’s like taking a journey and constantly asking, “What happens next?” and then answering that question. When the journey’s done, the book is finished. When I need to work out a plot idea, I take a long walk. Something about being in motion gets the creative juices flowing.
5 Do you write every day? How much? How long? I have adopted the Ringo Starr approach to writing. He doesn’t practice on the drums. He just lays down a rhythm when it’s time to play. I write a lot in the course of my regular (full time) job. So, when it’s time to write a book on my time, I’m primed.
6 Do you think reading is as important to writing for an author? Why? Most of my inspiration and ideas come from reading (especially historical books). I think this is true for most writers. Otherwise, it’s like asking a musician to create a song without having heard other musical works or asking a painter to create something without having seen other paintings. Without reading, you’re recreating the wheel, and probably not doing a good job of it, regardless of the genre you’re in. Another benefit is that reading provides the research required to be historically accurate or to inspire new ideas for a work in progress. Nothing dislodges a reader from the story—or embarrasses a writer—like inaccuracies, historical or otherwise.
7 What are some of the things you would like to share with budding authors? Write what interests you and trust that it will resonate with others (to paraphrase Emerson). If you have a family to support, write whatever pays the bills. You might have to do the latter to support the former.
Do you have any marketing and promotional advice, referrals, tips you would like to share? If you can afford it, hire a good PR person. With the right machine behind you, you can sell a lot more books.
Do you think conferences are beneficial? If so, what have you learned? Which ones do you frequent? Leave each conference having learned at least one thing or having made at least one connection that will benefit your writing career. It might be an inspired talk or simply meeting another writer who is now a new friend for life.
10 Where can we find you, your books and when is your next event? You can find me at Goodreads Amazon Author Central All books can be found on all the online sites:  Amazon Fish Pond BAM B&N IndieBound Shelfari Powell’s Books Wheeler’s Books  IDreamBooks COPIA Book Depository and more.
Represented by Loiacono Literary Agency, Jeanie Loiacono

Jeanie Loiacono, President, Loiacono Literary Agency
A facilitator of dreams, Jeanie Loiacono represents over eighty authors. Her forte is mystery, romance, thrillers, historical/military/southern fiction, and all quality fiction/nonfiction. Her passion is to see her authors succeed.
“There is nothing more rewarding than to hold one of my author’s books and know I helped bring it to fruition. I am so blessed and privileged to be able to work with some of the most talented writers in the world.”


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