When I first received my copy of Peoplescapes, My Story From Purging To Painting, I was struck by the expressive, colorful painting on the cover. Nancy Calef certainly chose one of her more provocative works to represent what was inside the pages of this charming and heartfelt book.
I was immediately drawn into the author’s tales of her atypical and often dysfunctional childhood. The modeling industry is a world where the sexualization of women and girls is still very much prevalent, and it was somewhat shocking to find out that Nancy’s own mother was the one pushing her in this direction. Far from a typical stage mother (or maybe not that far?), Esther was often eccentric and a bit odd.
As often is the case with girls who are made to rely more on looks rather than any other asset, Nancy soon fell into the world of anorexia and bulimia. Yet, rather than bemoan her unconventional upbringing, battle with eating disorders and life with stage mom, Esther, Nancy found a more productive outlet in her artwork. Peoplescapes also includes some of Ms. Calef’s personal travel stories (depicted with additional artwork), which I found quite interesting as well.
I enjoyed Peoplescapes. I absolutely love Nancy’s artwork. She’s clearly a talented contemporary artist. While I would like to have read more about her battle with eating disorders, that certainly didn’t take away from the book. Nancy Calef is proof that we can all overcome life’s difficulties and turn negative experiences into positive creativity. I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys reading about triumph over adversity, and finding ones’ own creative path and purpose.
eBook Review Gal is pleased to have had the opportunity to interview Scott Hildreth. Scott’s novel “Broken People” deals with alcoholism, eating disorders, co-dependency and several other issues.
The eBook Review Gal Interview:
How long did it take you to write Broken People?
Three weeks. My mind works very fast, and I write every fast. I am also somewhat of a perfectionist. This book, in its presented form, has not one sentence added or removed from the original manuscript.
How did you choose the title?
The title came to be as I was about 75% complete writing it. It was appropriate. We all have a little part of us that is Broken. ‘Broken People’ just fit.
Which part did you enjoy writing most?
I just love writing fiction. I also love a great movie. To me, writing fiction is similar to watching a fabulous movie, only you are in charge of the outcome and the story. To pick a part of this work and call it my favorite would be impossible. I never think about a scene when I write, I just write it. The words come rapidly. I get ‘in character’, and I become the protagonist. I develop their mannerisms. Having said that, I would have to say I enjoyed the character of Marc, because he was such a romantic.
Did you always know you wanted to be a writer?
As a freshman in high school I wrote and presented a speech about war in my drama class. We were to present information that was previously published . I decided to write my own. I did, and it was very well received. I had written poetry before this, and enjoyed writing it, but I always kept my poetry to myself.
What’s your writing schedule like?
I write until I am exhausted. For the middle twelve chapters of Broken People, I wrote for nine days straight. I slept seven hours in nine days. The characters would not allow me to sleep. I would lie in bed and The Fat Kid would demand I write another chapter.
Do you have any interesting writing quirks?
I write several chapters as fast as I can, and then go back and add to the scenes. ‘Adding character’ is what I call it. The content of the added material is as many words as what is being added to. It allows me to get ideas and dialog into the story, and add bits and pieces later. I love to write dialog rich material.
How would you classify this genre?
Broken People was written as a book that fell into no genre. I took great time to write it, carefully incorporating material into it that would, when complete, be accepted by a wide variety of people. The reviews have proven that it is well received by ages from 16-75. If it had to be categorized, it may fall into the new genre of New Adult (NA) fiction.
Where did you get your information or ideas for Broken People?
There is a little of us in everything we write. I write about what I know about. I have spent a lifetime talking to people about life. I have a mind capable of retaining a tremendous amount of information, and tend to retain what I wish to from my exposure to people that interest me. My writing is based on this exposure. This particular book was based on twenty years of exposure to co-dependent women, and people that were broken. Primarily, In the last ten years, I have interviewed 500 people to gain information used to develop this novel.
What was one of the most surprising things you learned while writing Broken People?
How deeply we can hurt when we write about elements of the heart.
Do you hear from your readers?
This book has caused a tremendous stir. I placed my email address in the introduction page of the book, and within the first week of release, I was receiving emails from readers. I received two emails that said this book saved their life. One of those emails is from an award winning author who posted this information on his website. I have received around twenty emails from readers that said this book changed their life. Someone posted a photo on a website stating that the book saved their life. This type of feedback makes the book, regardless of the amount of copies in circulation, worth the effort in writing it.
What do you think makes a good story?
Anything that captures the reader’s attention and holds it until the book is finished. I once wrote an article for a publication about the death of my grandfather. No one who read it had ever met my grandfather. I, from the beginning, captured their attention, and did not let them go until the last sentence. I won an award for that – Best of the Year.
Do you think most authors understand the importance of marketing their own work?
I don’t think anyone understands the need for self-promotion. The amount of work that goes into the marketing far exceeds the writing.
What are some of your methods for self-promotion?
I started a couple of blogs. Additionally, I’m on Facebook and Twitter.
What do you do when you’re not writing?
I listen to music, read, and enjoy living life. I spend my idle time in coffeehouses, watching and meeting people.
Who has been a major influence in your life?
My children. My children, in my eyes, are my largest success in life. They have influenced me to do this, and to do it well. I intend to make them proud with the stories I tell.
Are you working on anything now?
I am currently almost finished with two books. The three of us, which is a story about the value of a human life. It’s a deep read, similar to Broken People. A book that makes you think, and continue thinking throughout the entire book. The second is erotica. It is not typical of what you’d think, and I suspect it will set erotica readers back on their respective heels.
Do you ever use friends, family members or acquaintances as character models?
Even in writing fiction, I believe there are bits and pieces of everyone we know woven into the characters. In the erotica I am finishing, it is written on real-life experiences.
How do you deal with criticism?
I am extremely critical of myself. I am somewhat of a perfectionist. Someone being critical of my work hits hard, but I have to receive it well, and consider it.
We often hear the term, Write What You Know. Do you think this is always true?
If we want to do what we do well, yes.
How much time did you spend researching information for Broken People?
Broken People was about ten years of research. I believe it is what makes it hit so hard. The three of us was about three years of research. The erotica, well…a lifetime.
What is your opinion on using a pseudonym when writing?
For the erotica, I feel I must use one. I am still struggling with that. I am of the opinion that people can either accept me for my diversity, or not. I am back and forth regarding this.
Has any book (or movie) influenced your life?
The movie, Crash, opened my eyes to the reality of racism, and the book, The History of Love, by Nicole Krauss, opened my eyes to the depth of love.
Who are some of your favorite authors?
Nicole Krauss, Ken Follett, Tom Robbins, I could go on and on. Krauss and Robbins because they can make me laugh, think, and develop a teary eye all in the same book. Follett because of his ability to place me in the location of the scene and keep me there.
What advice would you give aspiring writers and authors?
Wayne Gretzky said this and it stuck with me, “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.”