Mirror Talk, discusses her memoir, her journey as a writer, and self-publishing on Kindle.
DAVID WISEHART: What can you tell us about Mirror Talk?
BARBARA ALFARO: Mirror Talk is about my journey from innocence to awareness along a sometimes bumpy road that includes a Catholic girlhood, studying and working in theater, and becoming a published author. A particularly funny experience was my being cast “against type.” The playwright’s description of the character I played was “voluptuous and extraverted.” I weighed ninety-eight pounds and was so shy my thoughts trembled. “The character you play,” the director told me, “represents man’s inhumanity to man” (a tall order for a skinny Catholic girl!). I really feel you don’t have to be a household word or a celebrity to have a life worth writing about. I’ve had my share of sadness and joy and I’ve also had some bizarre and hilarious things happen—all worth sharing.
DAVID WISEHART: I’m interested in your experiences in New York theater. Are there any more stories you can share with us?
BARBARA ALFARO: Quite a long time ago I appeared in a play at Playwrights Horizons in New York and while it wasn’t the Theater of the Absurd, something rather ridiculous occurred. The play was called The Conditioning of Charlie One and the then unknown Powers Boothe was its leading man. I don’t remember the name of the playwright or the director but I recall the ongoing feud between the two, one that eventually led to the playwright being banned from going backstage during rehearsals and performances. I played the wife of an astronaut and along with the other members of the cast was constantly given acting notes by the playwright that contradicted the director’s notes. The playwright was a handsome chap with a husky voice and the director never yelled at any of his actors, only at the playwright. I was a very young actress and new to theater’s “artistic differences” but this was certainly an introduction.
DAVID WISEHART: Who do you imagine as your ideal reader?
BARBARA ALFARO: Anyone over thirty.
DAVID WISEHART: What was your journey as a writer?
BARBARA ALFARO: I only started taking my writing seriously when I was in my mid-forties and my poems and essays began to be published in literary journals. Before writing Mirror Talk, I compartmentalized my writing. Poetry seemed a good place for the pain and essays for humor but in writing my memoir I blended sadness and humor and felt this more honest. Often, writing and my wanting to be an actress seemed to be vying for first place. I remember being asked to read an award-winning essay I’d written, at a writers’ conference, the very same day I was to have a callback for a part I’d auditioned for and I couldn’t decide which to choose. I went with the callback, was not cast, and someone else read my essay at the conference. Writing plays, I get to combine the two things I love—writing and theatre.
DAVID WISEHART: What is your writing process?
BARBARA ALFARO: Often, but not always, the first few sentences are in my mind in the same way the first few lines of a poem are suddenly there and it is up to me to complete the rest. If it’s in the middle of the night or early in the morning I write in bed and transfer what I’ve written to my laptop later. During the day I use the word processor unless I’m writing a poem; I always handwrite a poem first. I know an essay, poem, or scene for a play is finished when lines for it no longer keep me from sleeping or wake me when I am asleep—when writer’s insomnia is gone. Creativity is like a snoring husband, it won’t let you sleep.
DAVID WISEHART: What authors most inspire you?
BARBARA ALFARO: Dickens, Charlotte Bronte, Nuala OFaolain, and Mary Karr.
DAVID WISEHART: What one book written by someone else, do you wish you’d written yourself?
BARBARA ALFARO: Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte.
DAVID WISEHART: How did you create your cover?
BARBARA ALFARO: The cover was designed by Rayanda Delaini of Rayanda Arts. In a true collaboration (no artistic differences!), Rayanda and I worked together and she created the lovely Mirror Talk cover.
DAVID WISEHART: How have you marketed and promoted your book?
BARBARA ALFARO: By giving readings at the local library, book clubs, and memoir writing workshops and promoting Mirror Talk on the social networks Scribd, Twitter, and Facebook. I’m also looking into blog talk radio interviews and online book reviews.
DAVID WISEHART: Why publish on Kindle?
BARBARA ALFARO: Because Kindle is new, popular, and growing. And like most Kindle owners, I like the affordability of the books.
DAVID WISEHART: What advice would you give to a first-time author thinking of self-publishing on Kindle?
BARBARA ALFARO: Don’t lose heart. When your book is first published, there will be a flurry of sales, then most likely, a slowdown. Keep promoting it, keep at it. And when friends and family tell you they love your book, encourage them to write a positive review on Amazon. You wrote a book, surely they can come up with a paragraph praising it.
DAVID WISEHART: Thanks, and best of luck with your books.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
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