Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Interview with Darryl Forman

Briefly describe your journey in writing your book. 
I’ve always been verbal and I’m told that I’ve always been funny. Writing was simply melding the two together. Unlike verbal and funny, writing is a real discipline, and the bumps on my journey have been the result of me not being disciplined. I wrote the essays for The Unleavened Truth before I’d even thought of having them published, so I wrote what I wanted and in the style that suited me best. I wrote because it made me feel good when little else did. That Untreed Reeds wanted to publish my stories was a major league bonus.

What genre are your books?  Do you write in more than one genre?
I actually created a genre for my style. I call it “Notaubiography.” The stories are mostly true, but all the events and occurrences didn’t necessarily happen to me.  It’s a mix of memoir and “you-moir” or “someone else-moir.” The important thing is that it either did or could have happened. I am, at heart, a story teller and if I need a little wit or imagination to make it more entertaining, I won’t shy away from it.

I am a financial-services writer, so I’m quite able to tell the truth clearly and directly. I joke that I’m Rumplestilskin and I spin my company’s performance into gold, but that’s not notaubiography, that’s a flat-out lie. 

If you write in more than one genre, do you use a pen name?
I wanted to use Stephen King, but my publisher wouldn’t let me. I’ve edited a slew of financial-industry documents and always use the same name. I’ve written and re-written many reports that I wouldn’t my name on. Phooey on brochures by committee.

Did you query agents and traditional publishers?  Did you receive an offer of representation or a book contract?
As I alluded to in Q.1, I was either lucky or lazy, and hadn’t shopped around for a publisher. Prior to that I had sent some essays into This American Life and AARP.  The only thing I got published was a 300-word essay for J Weekly on how the hippie farmhouse where I lived burned to the ground on the first night of Chanukah – the festival of lights. I don’t like rejection, which is why I don’t date or send unsolicited manuscripts.

What factors influenced your decision to sign with Untreed Reads?
I had a bunch of stories that were sitting around with nowhere to go and K-D (Sullivan) and Jay (Hartman), the heart and soul of Untreed Reads, were interested in publishing them. I was tickled pink that my style had found a home of sorts. Prior to that, I said I would self-publish, but I was much happier to supply content and let Untreed Reads do what it does best.

How involved are you during the creative process for your book’s cover design?
I thought I had a good idea, but it didn’t play out. When Untreed Reads offered the current cover, I was very happy with it.

Do you plan to self-publish any other books or will you stay with Untreed Reads?
I’m in the middle of writing my second collection for Untreed Reads. I don’t dare to think beyond that. For The Unleavened Truth, I had 20 years of writing to draw from, but now I have just 12-18 month. I should be working on that instead of my shameless self-promotion.

What kinds of social media [twitter, facebook, webpage, blog, writing forums] are you involved with trying to garner attention for your book(s)?
I had shied away from all of these prior to the book, but if I got an e-book out there, I had to develop a strategy to appeal to an e-public. That said, I have enjoyed catching up with former classmates, colleagues and my e-public, which I hope one day will be e-larger.

How do you feel about the world of digital publishing?  Do you think it will replace traditional publishing one day?
Understanding that I’m what you call a late-adopter, I’m not exactly a high-tech visionary – but I do have a vested interest in its success. I think textbooks already have migrated there, saving students countless dollars and the environment countless trees.  As to more discretionary reading, e-books already provide a similar experience to reading a traditional book. Unfortunately, we seniors who can’t give up the tactile nature of reading a book will continue to seek paper books.

What is the biggest thing you’ve learned during your journey as an author?
I used to think that other people thought what I was willing to voice, but after hearing readers’ comments, I realized that wasn’t  (and isn’t) the case. I also learned that if you write in first-person, everyone believes it’s true … no matter how many times I point to the literary genre of Notaubiography. One other thing that I’ve learned is that the nature of my fantasies have changed. I gave a printed-out copy of The Unleavened Truth to Nora Ephron because our books were released on the same day. She was very gracious about it, making me think she went home and read it immediately, so now when my phone rings, I imagine it’s Rob Reiner or Penny Marshall.

Do you have any advice for new authors?
I wish I could take my own advice here, but the single most important thing to do is to write everyday. If you love writing, as I do, it becomes as natural as flossing your teeth. In my next book is a story about a “writing relationship” that I had with a guy in the Southland. We wrote to each other everyday for several months and I fell in love with how I felt writing and his appreciation of it. It was a growth period and I hated to end it by meeting him in the (pitifully thin) flesh. My other bit of advice is to write about stuff that makes you feel good, because you live with these characters--including the image you create of yourself--for a while, especially if you write a book.     

What’s next for you?
My top goal is to be a guest on The Daily Show. I wrote a story about it and then faced the camera for a YouTube video that declares my dream and begs for an invite. On a more literary level, I want to continue writing humorous, pun-groaning and poignant stories. On a literary and community level, I hope to expand my presence at 826 Valencia, a wonderful non-profit organization that promotes literacy in The San Francisco schools.