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Interview: author, Barbara Worton

28 Dec
Friendly Fireside Chat with Barbara Worton, author of 
BedTime Stories, the short, long & tall tales of a sleepwriter.

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GoodMorning Friends –
  Thanks for stopping by the Reading Den – we are so very excited to be joined this morning by Barbara Worton, author of BedTime Stories, the short, long and tall tales of a sleepwriter.

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rj: Good morning Barbara –

bw: Good morning to you RJ, and thank you so much for featuring me and Bedtime Stories on the Reading Den.🙂 You are quite welcome – we sincerely appreciate your taking the time, in the midst of all the holiday hustle and bustle to sit down and chat with us…so without further ado, we’ll just jump right in.
rj:  Where did you grow up? bw:  I was born in Brooklyn, New York.  My family moved to Massapequa Park, NY, which is on Long Island, when I was five.  I lived there until I moved to Staten Island, New York with some girlfriends to finish my college education.
 
rj: I was moved by the “thank you” to your Mom for sharing with you the love of books and reading..*Was reading and writing an integral part of your childhood?
*During the early years, who was the most influential person in your life?

bw:  My mother did read me stories before I went to sleep at night, and once I was able to read by myself, she brought me to the Massapequa Library and signed me up for a library card.  She introduced me to The Bobbsey Twins, Nancy Drew and my love of mysteries.  Even when I was in my teens, she would go to the library and bring home books for me.  I read a lot of her favorites, but I’ll never forget that when I was 14 years old, I was home sick with tonsillitis.  My mom said she was heading over to the library and would get me a book to keep me busy.  She asked me what I wanted, and I said, “The Spy Who Came In From The Cold.”  Not really what she expected, but I did fall in love with John LeCarre and went on to read everything he has written.

My mother also liked to write and won second prize for English when she graduated high school.  She got me writing too, and I did, in fact, once write a story about a pancake–which I mention in the last story in Bedtime Storiesand contributed to my high school and college literary magazines.  I guess it’s pretty clear that my mother was a profound and positive influence on my life.

rj: What was your favorite story or book as a child?
What was the first book you remember reading independently?

bw:  Alice in Wonderland was probably my favorite childhood story, but I also loved The Wind in the Willows.  I wish I could remember the first book I read by myself.  I’m not good with remembering those kinds of things.


rj: What do you like best about writing?
What do you like least?

bw:     Writing is a chance to say whatever I want to say, to give voice to the ideas bouncing around my head and to connect with my true self.  I love letting my imagination run wild.  You know, sometimes I think all writers are professional liars.  We have this ability to invent other worlds and realities.  It’s fun to inhabit those worlds and realities, to go to the extremes of my reality and to give into the characters that I create.  Also, there’s nothing more exhilarating than hitting a real creative streak.  I love when the words and story line just flow.  I hate when they don’t, and sometimes, even in a peak creative moment, I’m very aware that the words that sound so brilliant today may end up on the so-called cutting room floor if whatever it is I’m writing takes a different turn.

rj: What has been the most surprising and/or challenging aspect of publishing the book?

bw:  I was in publishing in the 1970s and thought I knew a lot about the business.  Boy was I wrong.  Things have changed in 30+ years, so I had a lot to learn.  Publishing is hard work.  There are difficult decisions to be made every day, and it takes a lot of time to get a book out into the world and in front of an audience.  I’ve been lucky enough to work with Gail Kearns at To Press and Beyond.  We’re old friends from college, and she was, in fact, the person who encouraged me to publish Bedtime Stories.  She’s been there for me with all kinds of experience, resources and support.  She knows the publishing business.

rj: When writing the 3 pages, do you stay with the initial thought or if something new enters your mind do you change directions?

bw:  I start with the first word that pops into my head and just keep going.  I don’t edit myself, so if my mind tells me it’s time to shift direction, off I go.  Of course, that does mean that not all of the stories I sleepwrite are for publication.  That’s okay.  I still fall into a delicious night’s sleep when I’ve finished sleepwriting.


rj: With notebooks filled with sleep-stories, how did you decide which ones to include?

bw:  Some of the stories I’ve sleepwritten were not as fully formed as others.  Some of the stories were much too personal.  I know that probably doesn’t seem possible if you’ve read Bedtime Stories.  Many of the stories seem very personal, and they are, but they are far more universal in their themes.  People have told me when they read the stories they feel as though I’m saying something they would have liked to have said or understand something very personal about them.  I like that.


rj: In addition to the release of BTS, you have also launched a new publishing company, “Great Little Books” – tell us a little about your plans, the kind of books readers can expect, etc.
 

bw:
  www.greatlittlebooksllc.com is the place to go to read about our mission and plans.  We have four books on our publishing schedule for 2008.  My team–Linda Dini Jenkins, Dom Rodi, Gail Kearns –and I will be working hard, but we’re hopeful we’ll complete all the books we have in the pipeline.  We plan to publish fiction, children’s books, short stories and nonfiction from new voices in traditional and new genres.  And we’re planning to publish in new formats and across multiple mediums.  The lifestyle and self-help books we publish will grow out of the way people really live their lives and the support they need.  No hype.  No panic.  No lies.  Ultimately, we want to
build a community of our writers and readers, which includes reaching out to our readers for feedback, ideas and submissions.  It’s our hope to publish a second book in the
Bedtime Stories which would include stories sleepwritten by our readers.

rj: I understand you have plans to launch a line of Bedtime Stories merchandise…can you tell us about that?
bw:  Yes, the products are in development now.  We’re designing throw pillows, sachets, journals and pajamas.  Dom Rodi is in a creative flurry!  All of our products will pick up on the friendly sheep on the book’s cover and the theme “I’ve earned my zzzzzzzs.”  Once we have prototypes, we’ll have them posted online on our store, and we hope people will like them.

😉
I’ll be first in line for a pair of those PJ’s – after good books & coffee – comfy pj’s are an absolute necessity for me!

rj:
What’s next for Barbara Worton? For Great Little Books?bw:  I wish I had a crystal ball!  I do know that we’ll be at AWP at the end of January. On February 11th, Linda Dini Jenkins, one of our editors, and I will be at the Short Pump Barnes & Noble in Richmond, VA . 
We’ll be at the South Kentucky Book Fest, London Book Fair and LA Book Fair in April. In May, we’ll be at an Arts Fair in Hoboken, New Jersey, and there are plans to do readings in New York, Farmingdale and Staten Island, New York, but dates have not been set.  
We’re also focused on getting our next four books in the works, building sales for
Bedtime Stories.  To launch the book, the Glen Rock Library hosted a Bedtime Stories Pajama Party, which was a huge success, and we’re trying to bring these staged readings to other venues.  I guess you could say we’re going to be very busy.:0
Wow – how exciting! We wish you the very best of luck with all your endeavors and we are definitely looking forward to the second installment of BedTime Stories, the new releases from Great Little Books – and of course, the “earn zzzz’s merchandise.”
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Each time we have asked readers to send in questions or emails telling us what they would like to hear answered during author interviews these are always at the top of the list – so, here ya go! rj: What’s the last book you read?
bw:
     Exit Music by Ian Rankin

rj: What’s the best advice you have been given about writing, becoming a writer and/or getting published?
bw:
  Just do it.

rj: What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

bw:  Just do it–for yourself.  Don’t dream about the final product, making the big sale, etc., etc.  Just write.  If you’re dreaming of putting words on paper, you probably have a story to tell, so write it, and be prepared to revise again and again.  The act of writing and finishing what you want to write is its own reward.

rj: If given the opportunity to spend the day with any writer (living or dead) who would you choose and why?

bw:  John IrvingA Prayer for Own Meany is my favorite book of all time.  I’ve ready everything Irving has written and think he’s brilliant.  Reading his books, even though they touch on some of the most difficult aspects of human nature, fill me with joy.  It’s almost impossible for me to describe all the “revelations” I have reading his books.  I laugh, cry–I know that sounds silly–and as I get to the last page of his books, I slow down my reading, I don’t want the stories to come to an end.

rj: Do you have any final comments for our visitors today?

bw:  I’d just like to say thank you for reading this interview and for hopefully reading Bedtime Stories: The short, long and tall tales of a sleepwriter.  Not only is it a delightful collection of short stories, it also serves up my secret to getting a great night’s sleep. I’m proud to say that we’ve been getting some great reviews–one from Reading Den, thank you–

Ed Begley, Jr., loved it, and the blog Headbutler.com recommended my book as a Holiday Buy on their December 18th post.  That was amazing. www.greatlittlebooksllc.com is the place to go to learn more about Bedtime Stories, our company and the kinds of submissions we’re hoping to get.  I hope you visit the site.
 
CLOSING:
We want to take this opportunity to, again, say Thank You to Barbara for stopping by and talking with us today. This has been an informative, as well as, interesting hour and I hope you (the readers) enjoy the interview as much I did. Also, don’t forget to check out our full review of Barbara’s book –
  
BedTime Stories, the short, long and tall tales of a sleepwriter

— you can read it by clicking the typing kitty icon below.

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bedtime-stories.gifBarbara Worton is a born storyteller. Sometimes provocative, sometimes hilarious, but always honest, the stories are mini flights of fictional fancy crafted around the ordinary objects present in our daily lives. Uninhibited, richly textured and beaming with a quiet brilliance that touches the soul, BedTime Stories gives you permission to set your imagination free and encourages you to find meaning in the mundane.
 
 When the merchandise line is launched and a date is set for the release of BedTime II – we will announce it here at the Reading Den – so drop by often …

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