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Guest Post: The Next Big Thing…from Cris Mazza

Thanks,  Davis Schneiderman, for inviting me here to participate.  It seems your energy, enthusiasm and playfulness have pulled me along in your wake for a while now. How many times have we given readings together, yet I’m still out there in the audience cracking up when you perform? We also wrote a piece together about this new era of author do-it-yourself book promotion. Since I’m a guest here on Big Other, I’ll refer anyone who doesn’t know what’s going on back to your post to explain the game.

You know as well as anyone that book-promotion is one of my anti-talents. I suck at it. It’s almost like taking someone who has played a lot of flag football tournaments and putting her into a rugby game. I don’t know how to get the ball, but then when I suddenly have it, I don’t know what to do with it, and all too soon I’m underneath a big pile of other people.  

What is the working title of the book?
The working title was Leave Her Alone, but the title became Something Wrong With Her.  The book also has a subtitle (being a memoirish type of thing, they always seem to need one), but I’ve been having trouble having the subtitle come directly from my mouth (or fingers) to another’s ear (or eyes).  I’m going to have to get past this (and my aversion is part of what the book’s about).  But here’s the cover:


Where did the idea come from for the book?
Nice, the question I dread second-to-most at bookstore Q&As and now I’m asking myself?  (The most dreaded is “How can I get published?”)  I’m going to change this question to:

Did the book actually end up being what you thought it would?
NO. It actually started as a different idea.  My first nonfiction book, Indigenous: growing Up Californian,  basically skipped 1975-1980. Confusing years for me. I wondered if some of my adult anxieties were due to relationships/situations that now would be called sexual harassment, but back then … it didn’t exist.  Just as that was proving to be a sort of dead end, events in my present life made the book into what it needed to be.  But I decided to leave in most of the false start because the turn I had to take away from it was part of the entire “journey.” Ugh, what a grotesque word.  So I decided it needed to be a book that was read while it was being written, and represented, the best I could, that process.

Read an excerpt with the false-start here.

What genre does your book fall under?
Hopefully it’s not under anything. Dropping down past “literary memoir love story” into “I can’t believe I’m admitting this” but hopefully falling short of “navel-gazing.”

What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?
Do I really want to dignify this question? As soon as I do – if I say Meryl Streep (although too magnificent) or Susan Sarandon (too confident/cocky) or Sally Field (too endearing) or Sissy Spacek (not even remotely physically similar)  – age discrimination will officially commence.  Also, since this book is nonfiction, this is a great question to expose latent narcissism, as if any of us don’t have enough.  So here’s mine: I would like Janis Ian to begin her acting career playing the main role in this book, as she looked in 1980 and as she looks now (she’ll have to be flexible).  For the guy, okay, Russell Crowe, who else?

“You” didn’t ask about the soundtrack: I’m having that composed for me, an original jazz suite that will accompany the book on CD.  Sorry, no previews yet.

What is the one sentence synopsis of your book?
Exposing a deep-rooted fear in all of us, Something Wrong With Her explores what it means to consider oneself worthy of love.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?
Does anyone care?  I never posted any “progress reports” on Facebook for this same reason.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?
Isn’t this the same question as #2 (the one I rewrote)?  Who wrote these questions?  OK, I’ll give a different answer here: Astriud Gilberto singing “How Insensitive” and Karrin Allyson singing “You Don’t Know What Love Is.”

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
Contains jpeg scanned excerpts from my college journals.  That’s not even the part that makes me scared to face an audience.  In fact, what makes me scared is pretty …  the opposite of risqué.

A sample here.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
What kind of offensive question is this?  So if you’re not represented by an agency, you must be self-published?  I left this question here just to show an example of an entirely ignorant view of publishing.

My tagged writers’ new books are as distinct from each other as each of them is also distinctive. Does that say what I meant it to?  Smart, talented, and fun to have a drink with.  Two of them I already have had the pleasure, and the 3rd…hoping our time is coming soon. 

My tagged writers are:

Michelle Herman
Tom Williams
Jeffrey DiLeo

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