Friday, September 2, 2011

5 Questions with Dr Rajan Sankaran, author of Homeopathy for Today's World

For those who haven’t heard, what’s the book all about?

The book deals with questions like what makes each of us unique, what makes each of us feel, perceive, experience, and act in our own unique manner and what is the real cause of the stress in our life is. I have been working on these questions in my practice for the last three decades and has made some  discoveries. I found that stress comes not from external reality but the specific way each of us perceives it. At the deepest level our experience is not of outer reality, but is a constant inner sensation. This core sensation matches something from one of the three kingdoms in nature.  It is as if a specific animal, plant, or mineral lives in each one of us and colors our whole experience of life. It is our constant companion, the other song that keeps singing within us, shapes our personality, determines our life patterns, and is the underlying factor behind our stress. I have set down the knowledge that decades of seeing patients has taught me about the inner other song within each of us in order to guide the reader to awareness of his own other song and find release from it.

What was one of the big things you learned from creating this book?

That truth is simple, and if clearly understood can be conveyed to others. Also that the fundamental truth behind all sciences and art is one. At a deeper level the borders between art, science and philosophy fade. and that music, psychotherapy, homeopathy, art , literature, chemistry, botany, zoology etc all speak of the same truth. This is very beautiful to see and  a very useful tool for healing

Which part of the book was most compelling to you?

The part about the seven levels of our experience. I found that each one of us ca perceive reality in any one of seven levels. The discovery of this is a breakthrough for me. What’s been the most rewarding part of this process?

The most rewarding thing is to find the whole concept useful in knowing myself better

What new projects do you have on the horizon?

I am now heading the newly formed International Academy of Advanced Homeopathy located in Mumbai. it is called "the other song" , and promises the be the one of the world's premier institutions for treating, teaching and research in homeopathy. . Details can be found on For my new and upcoming books, please visit

5 Questions with Christopher Vasey, author of The Detox Mono Diet


What inspired you to put this book together?

My motivation was to explain the importance of detoxifying the body in order to regain a good health. An accumulation of toxins is indeed considered in natural medicine as the primary cause of illnesses. Nowadays this overflow of toxins is very common because many people overeat and under exercise. However, overeating doesn’t lead to overweight only but can also – with or without overweight – lead to an intoxication of the body and illness.
Which section of the book did you find easiest and most natural to write?
It was the practical guide to the cure which shows step by step how to proceed: how to prepare for a cure, how to follow the cure itself and how to come out of it. Following a detox cure is not difficult, but a few important points must be respected in order for the cure to be the most effective.
Did the final product come out as you envisioned it when you first started?

Yes, it did. And the layout made by the publisher enhances the important points and makes it easy to read and to understand.

What is the best compliment you have received on the book?
The best compliment is when readers write to tell me that they cured themselves by following the instructions given.

What are some new and upcoming things we can expect from you?
My upcoming book is “The Healing Power of Fever” which will be published in January 2012. It explains that fever is not a hindrance but a help to heal. It tells what to do during fever and shows the practical means to support and control the healing processes which are taking place.

Monday, August 8, 2011

5 questions with the authors of "Seattle in Black and White"


1. What inspired you to put this book together?

A desire to remember and preserve this historical period accurately. The initial inspiration for writing Seattle in Black and White happened at the memorial service for a friend who was involved in the civil rights movement.  Although the eulogy was positive, much of what was said was inaccurate.  Also in recent years there were articles in the newspapers  alluding to events during the civil rights struggle of the 60s that were incorrect.  We simply decided that we had to set the record straight.  Our combined mission was to record Seattle's history and make clear that the civil rights movement did not happen only in the South; it happened all over the United States.

2. Which section of the book did you find easiest and most natural to write?

Bettylou says it for all of us: "One in which I was an actual participant." Joan adds: "Since I have never written anything but a term paper for college, the book  did not seem 'easy' to write at any time.  I was comfortable with telling the story but it was the combined talent of four authors that made it interesting."

 3. Did the final product come out as you envisioned it when you first started?
The final product was much greater in content and scope than we originally envisioned.  We are pleased at how many personal touches enliven the factual text. The uncovering of FBI files and police files served to explain many events that happened 50 years ago that we were able to include in the book. 

4. What is the best compliment you have received on the book? 

Many readers are surprised that Seattle had such a history and thank us continually. They want us to know how much they appreciate the time we invested in explaining in great detail what was involved in attempting to end racial discrimination in Seattle  during the 1960s.

5. What are some new and upcoming things we can expect from you?

Bettylou's response: "Nothing, nothing, nothing." (We began this book in 2002, and it was finally published in March 2011.) The four authors  are all in our late 70s and do not expect to do another book.  We now have separate agendas. Maid feels free to be actively retired. Joan is working on is a family history for her grandchildren. "They are growing up in the electronic age and I grew up in a time without indoor plumbing and a four party telephone line. I feel family histories are important and wished that someone in my large family had done that for me." Jean may do something of the sort for her grandchildren.

What we do hope for is that our readers will take up the challenges ahead for our communities and our country. We hope we inspire you that a committed  group can accomplish important results.

5 questions with David Ewen, author of CHASING PARADISE


For those who haven’t heard, what’s the book all about?

Donald Trump’s bid to build what he says will be the greatest golf course in the world. He picked a spot on the east coast of Scotland that happened to be a Site of Special Scientific Interest, and where the locals weren’t for moving. It took Trump five fraught years to get planning permission. What started out as an argument about sand ended up with an attempt to bring down the Scottish Government. Essentially it’s a drama—a flamboyant billionaire’s quest to realize his life's ambition.

What was one of the big things you learned from creating this book?

That people will always view a book through the prism of their own emotional experience. Preconceptions proved surprisingly difficult to challenge. The title itself was ambiguous – and people did indeed read it in different ways. My own opinion, for what it’s worth, is that it may take a long time for us to mature sufficiently as a species to understand our place within the natural world. 

Which part of the book was most compelling to you?

The story crystallised a much wider debate – how we balance economic aspiration with custodianship of the environment; the power of celebrity; the nature of devolved democracy; the changing role of the media; and the meaning of place. The saga also unfolded against a background of unusual events – the recession, the harshest winter in a generation, the climate change summit, Tiger Woods's fall from grace, Scotland's push for independence – all of which helped provide a narrative drive.

What’s been the most rewarding part of this process?

Hearing people say they thought the book was unbiased. The book has a foreword from Trump, which helped secure the publishing deal. It obviously had to be reasonably sympathetic but the Trump Organization were commendably relaxed about what I included, even unflattering stuff. I thought it was better to go with the foreword and get all the arguments out there, and it was great to have the space to do that.

What new projects do you have on the horizon?

I’m writing the songs for a musical my wife Donna has written about Hollywood screenwriter Lorna Moon. The project already has an endorsement from Scotland’s First Minister Alex Salmond (he lives in the village where Lorna grew up and was later disowned). I’m also working on a novel about Scotland’s mythical creatures. 

Q&A with Mark Conard, author of "The Philosophy of the Coen Brothers" & "The Philosophy of Spike Lee"


What was the most interesting part of about putting together this book?

Reading the contributors’ essays and exploring the philosophical angles they take on the Coens’ films.

Which section of the book was most enjoyable to write?

My own chapter. It’s about Barton Fink, which I’d always liked but had always been puzzled by. In writing the essay, I’d wanted to come to a better understanding of the film; I wanted to interpret it better. And as I was working on the essay, it became clear that that difficulty of interpretation was what the piece should be about.

What was the most challenging part about creating this book?

The most challenging thing about any of these works is coming up with something philosophically relevant and interesting to say about the subject matter. There are some other, practical issues that can present some difficulties, but this is the most serious challenge.

What has been the feedback thus far on the book?

The feedback has been great so far. People really seem to love the book.


For those who haven’t heard, what’s "The Philosophy of Spike Lee" all about?

It’s about the philosophical themes of Spike Lee’s films. The contributors explore issues such as justice, the nature of time, race and community, transcendence, moral motivation, etc.

What was one of the big things you learned from creating this book?

I certainly learned a good deal about Lee’s films and a fair amount about race studies. I watched a number of his movies for the first time while preparing the book and writing my essay, so some of the work was quite new to me.

Which part of the book was most compelling to you?

All the essays are compelling. They’re really very good, very interesting, and very accessible.

What’s been the most rewarding part of this process?

Working with the contributors and the good people at The University Press of Kentucky. Everyone has been great.

What’s next for you?

Not sure yet. I’ve had it in the back of my mind to do a book on The Philosophy of Jazz. This would be a departure for me, since I’ve never written about music before. I have to give it some more thought.

5 questions with Shai Biderman, author of The Philosophy Of David Lynch


What inspired you to put this book together?  

The unique cinematic style and the rich philosophical context of David Lynch’s cinematic works. Lynch is known as a cutting-edge director, whose films are enriched by profound philosophical insights and an intriguing picture of human nature and of the world we live in.

Which section of the book did you find easiest and most natural to write?  

As editors, our main task was to make Lynch’s philosophical depth plausible and comprehensive. The most natural aspect our work was therefore to ensure a broad philosophical spectrum, which captures the full range of Lynch’s cinematic ingenuity. 

Did the final product come out as you envisioned it when you first started? 

 Even better. The collection of scholarly chapters we came up with truly encapsulates the richness of Lynch’s thought. The collection covers a great variety of issues and philosophical agendas, from metaphysics to ethics and epistemology, from existentialism to phenomenology, in both the eastern and western philosophical traditions.

What is the best compliment you have received on the book?  

One reviewer wrote: “There can be no doubt that David Lynch has produced a body of work widely recognized for its excellence and depth—and its opacity. Hence, a volume treating Lynch’s work from an explicitly philosophical perspective should be welcomed by both fans and scholars of Lynch’s work ... The editors have assembled a volume that covers many important philosophical issues from a variety of perspectives, including Asian ones. The essays show careful attention both to philosophical rigor and to the nuances of a complicated filmmaker ... All seem of high quality, mostly jargon-free, and accessible to the educated reader ... I think this book will be significant for Lynch fans and scholars for years to come.”

What are some new and upcoming things we can expect from you?  

A thorough investigation of the intriguing relationship between film, the most popular communicative medium in our times, and philosophy, the most thoughtful and methodical of our mental capacities.

5 Questions with Kent Crowley, author of Surf Beat


Q. How did this book come about?
I actually felt obligated to write this book because I was fortunate enough to grow up right in the center of the whole surf music revolution and I’d never seen the story reported the way that I witnessed it firsthand. I grew up in Newport Beach just a short walk from the Rendezvous Ballroom and took my first guitar lessons from Norman Sanders of The Tornadoes (the first band to chart a surf - themed instrumental) in early 1963. I worked and played in bands in Laguna Beach at the time ‘Five Summer Stories’ was released and I was playing Gazzarri’s on the Strip in Hollywood when an audience member said during a break “did you know REAL surf music is coming back? There’s this band called Jon & The Nightriders…’.”
     It struck me because differentiating between instrumental surf music and the vocal schools was something one didn’t hear too far beyond the beach – and especially not in Hollywood. When I first heard Jon & The Nightriders, the first thing I noticed was how it resonated both with my younger friends – most of whom were shortboarders and punk, metal or ska fans - as well as the older musicians and surfers who’d grown up with the original sounds of Dick Dale, The Tornadoes, The Belairs and the others.
     My recollection of surf music is that the amps got progressively bigger and louder and the guitar players got progressively more skilled. Yet, to most of the world, surf music was The Beach Boys and Jan & Dean records. Yet these two very different schools of music all originally sprang from the same soil and drew from the same well. Over the years, the two viewpoints had fragmented into opposing camps and I was just hoping to reconcile them. The whole point of surf music was that this was music designed to make people dance and have a good time with as little interference from parents and other authorities as possible.
     Oh, and I do want to mention that I DID surf, but badly. My older brother, who was a very accomplished surfer, once told me I would always be safe from shark attacks because sharks can’t eat and laugh at the same time.

Q. Which aspect of the book was most interesting to write? 

Two aspects of the book particularly stood out: the first was getting an education in the nuts and bolts of the recording and musical instrument manufacturing processes from people like Dave Gold and Stan Ross from Hollywood’s Gold Star Recording Studios. By the time I ever set foot in a recording studio, the standard was 24 tracks and music was a billion - dollar industry, whereas in the early 1960s artists like The Beach Boys, Dick Dale, The Tornadoes and The Surfaris were just making records for their fans and in the hopes that they could quit their day jobs or buy some new instruments.
     The other aspect that impressed me was the degree to which jazz was a huge influence on West Coast rock & roll. The cream of the recording session musicians like Hal Blaine, Rene Hall, Earl Palmer, Carol Kaye and others were all accomplished jazz musicians in their own right. Then, add that to the fact that many of the artists who emerged from the whole surf music revolution were hugely influenced by jazz artists and composers. While Dick Dale personally interacted with some of the finest country western and rockabilly guitarists in the business, he based his guitar attack in Gene Krupa’s drum style. Brian Wilson’s biggest influences were George Gershwin and The Four Freshmen and Frank Zappa was a jazz major at Chaffey College. When they went into the studios, they found themselves working with accomplished jazz musicians who were open to these new styles of music and I think that’s why you have the L.A. rock scene becoming an electronic musical style more than any other music capital because they needed the Wrecking Crew. The sophistication level of the music of artists like Zappa and Wilson rose with each new composition because they were finally working with musicians in the studio who could realize their wildest flights of musical adventure.

What did you learn from writing this book? 

When I first met Dave Gold and Stan Ross, they told me that during Gold Star’s heyday they were like the happy hookers - they could have made more money but they were having too much fun recording all of that great music. What impressed me about this story was the degree to which the engineers, technology designers, surfboard builders and even amplifier and instrument builders viewed their crafts as artistic pursuits. They weren’t looking for financial gain so much as they relished conquering challenges and finding new opportunities in technology at a time when the technology was growing at the most rapid rate in entertainment history. Remember, in the five - year period between ’Surfin’ ’ and ‘Smile‘, recording technology grew from two - tracks to eight tracks while guitar amplifiers grew from primarily single enclosures with ten - inch speakers and wattage in double - digits to massive amp stacks with multiple 12 or 15 inch speakers and triple - digit wattage. Most of this came about because the ‘adults’ like Leo Fender, Paul Buff, Dave Gold and Stan Ross were listening to what the kids wanted and trying to accommodate them. They regarded themselves as being part of a great musical adventure rather than just technicians or businessmen hoping to make a buck.

What's the future of surf music? 

I make a comment in the book that surf music is less like a fashion statement that wanders in and out of style and more like a superhero, called upon when needed and vanishes when the deed it done. The biggest attraction of surf music is the fact that it is a relatively easy style of music to play, learn, stage and perform in virtually any environment. As The Surfaris’ Jim Pash used to say, ’Wipe Out’ probably kicked off more bands than any other single song in history.
     More importantly, surf music never saturated any generation’s ears to the point where people hear it and dismiss it as some other generation‘s music. It’s still new to the ears and still offers enough subtext of rebellion and subversion for any generation to discover it and enjoy it without apologies or excuses. Today, a beginning guitarist can put together a serviceable surf rig for a couple of hundred dollars and it requires only one guitar, one effects pedal and one amp (and LOTS of picks, of course - but they‘re cheap). For an experienced guitarist, today surf music offers a huge canon of work and nearly everything an experienced guitarist needs to reproduce this music with some level of authenticity is available through neighborhood or online music retailers. For purists and novices alike, there is a thriving surf music scene all over the world and all it takes is a search engine to find the bands, the shows, and hundreds of musicians who are willing to counsel and answer questions.
      Another aspect of surf music for younger musicians is that it’s a perfect style for starting a band. Every musician knows there are few things more fun than getting together with a room full of other musicians and flailing away at some poor 12 bar blues until our wives and kids call in missing persons reports on us. However, after a point, we’re playing for each other. Surf music is a great place to start because it’s a very focused style of music - it’s music for dancing. In fact, it got the name surf music because it was surfers who first embraced it. For musicians at every level of skill, it’s a great place to start because it’s more than a musical style - it’s both a folk music and a performance art.

What's next for you?  

It was really difficult to compress this story and all of the characters into 90,000 words. So many of them deserve full-length biographies  - particularly Paul Buff, Dave Gold, Stan Ross, Dick Dale, Carl Wilson, Paul Johnson, John Blair…so many of the artists and the bands are lacking the recognition that far less deserving artists routinely get. Right now, my first objective is to get some historical recognition for both Pal Recording Studios/Studio Z and Gold Star Recording Studios. While I was honored to be part of Rancho Cucamonga’s honoring of Paul Buff up at Chaffey College in 2005 and The Grammy Museum’s special honors for Dave Gold and Stan Ross, those events never reached anywhere near the people who need to know about them…there is just so much more to do.

5 Questions with Kalena Cook, author of Birth a Better Way: 12 Secrets for Natural Childbirth

What was the most interesting part of about putting together this book?

Interviewing the moms, doctors and midwives. Hearing their intimate stories of challenges, like their friend's and family's views of natural birth, how they overcame their fears, what birth was like for them, their triumph and feeling empowered for motherhood. I found that women opened up and felt they were wanting to share and be as helpful and encouraging to other pregnant women reading this book. Working with Margaret Christensen, M.D. was an honor as well. Her resources and perspective raised the book to a higher level.

Which section of the book was most enjoyable to write?

I appreciated and enjoyed interviewing the physicians, mostly Ob/Gyns, who chose to birth their own children in a birth center or at home and not in the hospital. Their stories are particularly interesting with their training and background as to why they made that decision. 

What was the most challenging part about creating this book?

Shaping the stories to include the conflict and resolution made the book stronger. 

However, getting published was challenging in terms of writing and selling the book proposal. Thinking that publishers were not interested in natural childbirth (although many inspired me that the timing was right) I resolved to self-publish and had an imprint name with ISBN numbers ready to go. By synchronicity and faith, I entered the manuscript in the Mayborn Literary Nonfiction Conference competition and it won a publishing contract!

What has been the feedback thus far on the book?

Women are encouraged to give birth by reading the stories. The information goes beyond birth stories to include nutrition, information on ultrasound, c-sections, and even the epidural ingredients. 

More testimonials are on the website
, feel to look at the excerpts there. Thanks!

Monday, July 25, 2011

5 Questions with Robert Jeffrey, author of GLASGOW'S GODFATHER


What was the most interesting part of about putting together this book?
Researching with Walter on a weekly basis in his home for six
Months, to hear his tales of a spectacular life of crime and gain
insight into his family life past and present – in particular his
relationship with his mistress Jean, who was so supportive down the the
years. Fascinating too, to relate the theories of nature v nurture with  
this intriguing criminal mind. The stories that came out of his long
years of incarceration were riveting and a real insight into the
effect of prison life.

Which section of the book was most enjoyable to write?
I enjoyed writing about the planning that went into the robberies and
hearing his theories of leadership in a criminal concept. A highly
intelligent man, he would have made a good general – something that is
often said about Godfathers.

What was the most challenging part about creating this book?
Attempting to balance the man, contrasting the crimes and the other
side of his nature, which was a certain likableness, and his easy going
attitude - except when, as he put it, "the red mist came down". I enjoyed
walking his patch with him - bookies and pubs - and seeing at first
hand the delivery of what he called "respect". Walter would have been  
fascinating subject for serious analysis for any shrink.

What has been the feedback thus far on the book?
Very good, in particular it got a rave review in True Crime from Kim
Cantrell, who called it "one of the best books of its type to come out
of the UK this year". It was also favourably reviewed and part
serialised in the Scottish press. It also featured in radio. One
criticism was that perhaps the fact that he was not a drug dealer led
to playing down his bloody violence, a criticism I and others reject.

What new projects do you have on the horizon?
At the moment I am publicising new editions of my books Gentle Johnny Ramensky and The Barlinnie Story while making a return to a previous strand in my writing, Scottish social history, with a book called
Scotland's Year - events ancient and modern. This deals with ancient traditional events like Whippety Scourie (a ball game) and festivals like Up Helly Aw, T in the Park and the Edinburgh Festival.

Interview with Arthur Plotnik, author of "Better Than Great: A Plenitudinous Compendium of Wallopingly Fresh Superlatives"


What was the most interesting part about putting together this book?

Early in the book's genesis, I felt there had to be better means of acclaiming the special things in our lives than the worn-out terms everyone seemed stuck with: awesome, amazing, incredible, and a few more of their ilk. As my list grew, my interest turned to just how many terms existed or could be created thanks to the flexibility of English. I had to stop at 5,700 for the book, but I could have done 10,000. 
    As I divided the terms into such categories as "Beauty," "Joy-Giving," "Sublime," and "Exceptional," something else seized my interest; namely, how many things in our lives are worthy of praise and acclaim, yet lost in the crushing negativity of our everyday valuations. An expanded, nuanced vocabulary of acclaim helps reveal the vast spectrum of joy, one that begins at relief from suffering and progresses to physical delight and intellectual and spiritual exaltation.

Which section of the book was most enjoyable to write?

Probably the category "Delicious," with its 363 terms to acclaim food and drink. How many words do people ordinarily use beyond delicious, scrumptious, and tasty? My salivary glands pulsed as I savored such terms as nectareous, eupeptic (good for digestion), honeysome, slurpworthy, and sapid. I also got to tweak—in my introduction to the category—a popular TV program featuring "ordinary" diners who critique the restaurants they've visited. To my increasing annoyance, the diners fell back on awesome, amazing, and incredible for virtually every eye-mistingly exquisite, cordon bleu dish they'd consumed.  So in dinging the show a bit, I enjoyed some saporific satisfaction.    

What was the most challenging part about creating this book?

First, the labor of going word-by-word through standard and slang lexicons--some approaching a thousand pages--to find existing terms of acclaim that have not been overused, as with, say, magisterial and  numinous; and second, the intellectual work of identifying rich words and phrases that could be converted into terms of acclaim; for example, tarantella (a whirling, upbeat dance) became a tarantella on the tongue in the "Delicious" category. 
    Such tedious work, however, was leavened by joys of discovery---often of terms from non-U.S. countries and cultures. Canadian sources, for example, turned up such gems as milks a good cow (is in the money), skookum (strong), and kippy (attractive).

What has been the feedback thus far on the book?

Well, God liked it—or at least one of His servants did: An Episcopalian priest kindly wrote (on that he keeps Better Than Great right next to his Book of Common Prayer, using it not only for sermons, but in thanking volunteers and charitable donors.
    Among mortals, I've had exuberant feedback from haters of awesome in particular and from lovers of language in general. A grandmother wrote, "Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! My granddaughter knows the word awesome is banned in my presence unless we are in church or in front of the Grand Canyon."
    Media producers have been intrigued, resulting so far in eight radio interviews and a segment on Chicago's midday TV news. I've gathered some of the reviewers' raves on the book's website, if anyone wants to be overwhelmed by the love.  If you look hard through the 38 or so customer reviews, you'll find a few less friendly responses---but even the compiler of 5,700 pleasure-oriented superlatives can't please everyone, right? 

What’s next for you?

I'm still gathering fresh superlatives and plan to produce a supplement in some form, offering a few samples on my website along the way. They're too good not to share. Here's a quick three from the category "Joy-Giving":

skylarkish (frolicsome)

vellicating (causing laughter as if by a tickle; also, causing sensation of being pinched, plucked at, caused to twitch)

Falstaffian (ref., the comic character John Falstaff of Shakespeare's Henry IV plays)

    After that, maybe a collection of metaphors from contemporary writing. I've got a good start. But you know, picking the right project for a three-year effort reminds me of a Benjamin Kunkel metaphor in his novel Indecision: I'm "like a dog testing a vegetable dropped on the floor, to see if he will eat it.”

You can pick up "Better than Great" here.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Q&A with Phil Vickery, author of Gluten Free Baking


What was the most interesting part of about putting together this book?

The research and development of all the ideas and recipes. Also looking for new ingredients to add to our repertoire, we never stand still is this department.

Which section of the book was most enjoyable to write?

Don’t really have one, all were challenging in allsorts of ways. I like it when after cooking upwards of say 10 times, they finally work.

What was the most challenging part about creating this book?

Getting ideas and the framework in place. Then working on all the ingredients, mixing and testing, its takes many weeks or even months.

What has been the feedback thus far on the book?

Very good indeed, I think it’s now in 8 or 9 countries, and selling really well.

What’s next for you?

Ah ha, I’m writing a family friendly Coeliac book to published later in the year, spanning baby and toddler food family food and even when the kids leave home for the first time, probably be 100 or so recipes, so its keeping me busy.

Monday, June 13, 2011

5 Questions with Jason Draper, author of "Prince"

What was the most fascinating thing about you learned about Prince from creating this book?
The thing that most surprised me was actually during a crisis for Prince. He and his first wife, Mayte, had a baby who was tragically born with Pfieffer syndrome. They had to take the terrible to decision to remove the baby from life support very soon after he was born. Following this, two nannies that Prince had hired to help Mayte through the pregnancy got a local Minneapolis reporter involved in the story and began to claim that the whole thing was Prince’s fault – that he didn’t look after Mayte enough during the pregnancy, didn’t let he eat properly, etc. Of course, the whole thing’s preposterous, and it was just a cruel twist of nature. But after the reporter got involved, the police were called and, most shocking to me was that these two people once in Prince’s employ could actually have gone and tried to turn something so private and tragic into a very public homicide case. Of course, the whole thing was shut down almost as quickly as it started, but still – it never should have gone that far.

What was the most challenging part of writing this book? 

I wanted this book to move away from all the gossip and the jokes and the ridicule. Prince has done some odd things throughout his career, but he’s also done many more amazing things. Around the name of the name-change, it was easy to make a joke out of him. But beneath that, there was a deeper argument going on about artists’ rights and, now that the dust has settled, it’s easier to appreciate that. So I want this book to really bring to light and chart his successes – not just as a musician, but as an industry revolutionary. Lost in the commotion have been facts such as Prince being the first artist to sell an entire album online, direct to his fans, through his own website – and 10 years before Radiohead did it with In Rainbows. So the main challenge was to steer clear of the nonsense and really get down to what really matters – and what should be celebrated. It amazes me that there are so many “serious” rock bios about other artists in the canon, but that Prince really isn’t treated the same way.

What’s a big misconception about Prince?

That he’s humourless, maybe? The guy can be very funny. Also that he’s a recluse. Currently, he’s been on his Welcome 2 America tour since the end of last year – which is quite a long time for someone who’s not meant to make public appearances. And, in recent years, he’s conducted some major, high-profile interviews. Yet people still think that he doesn’t talk. What he does do is play the game brilliantly, masterminding things in such a way so that, whenever Prince makes an appearance, it’s an event; you want to be there. It’s brilliantly stage-managed.

What’s the best compliment you have received on this work? 

I had an interview earlier today with a group of hardcore fans for the Peach & Black podcast, and they were so positive about the book it was wonderful. One of them said he learned at least one new thing in each chapter, which was great. If you can appeal to – and engage with – the people who already know everything, then that’s just fantastic. But the response in general has been great, with people saying it’s the best researched Prince book out there. What a compliment!

How do you think Prince will be remembered decades from now?

Probably as the eccentric he’s seen as now, but hopefully also as a true revolutionary. He’s equally as important as Bowie, James Brown, Dylan, Sly Stone – you name it. Musically, he dominated the 80s, while the repercussions of his business decisions in the 90s are only really just being understood. I hope this book can start to make these things a little more explicit, and that Prince can start getting his due outside of – to many – just being the guy who wrote Purple Rain or When Doves cry, etc…

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

5 Questions with Matthew Fox, author of "Christian Mystics"


What inspired you to write this book?

If religion is going to have something to say to the younger generations it must shed much of its top-heavy churchiness and ask: What is necessary to take from the burning building of the church? What is really useful and important?

I think one of the most important contributions healthy religion can make is to turn out spiritual people--mystics (lovers of life) and prophets (defenders of the beauty of life). Jung says it is "to the mystics that we owe what is most beautiful in life." We all need nourishment and challenge and I think these mystics do that.

Which quote in the book really made an impact on you?

To be honest, they all do. But surely Dorothee Soelle's comment seems especially powerful for those who are watching the demise of the Roman Catholic church as we know it at this time and the hijacking of the Protestant tradition by fundamentalists or just plain boredom when she writes: every day I am afraid/that he died in vain/because he is buried in our churches/because we have betrayed his revolution/in our obedience to authority/and our fear of it.....

Which mystic touched you the most?

That's a bit like asking a parent: "Which child do you love the most?" I'm afraid. Meister Eckhart is one I have lived with the longest and deepest having written two books on him and having taught him for many years. But also, among pre-modern mystics, I have lived very long with Thomas Aquinas and my book on him, "Sheer Joy: Conversations with Thomas Aquinas on Creation Spirituality," is one of the few in-depth studies of his mystical-prophetic teachings. Also Hildegard of Bingen, whom I have written two books on speaks loudly today to so many who seek a green spirituality. Twentieth century includes Thomas Berry and Fr Bede Griffiths and Thomas Merton, Dorothy Day and more.

How can Christian Mysticism help out the world today?

First, this book is not just for Christians by any means. Mysticism is a common language based on experience of the Divine so what is in these pages people from other traditions can draw nourishment from I know (just as Christians or Jews can get excited on reading Rumi or Hafiz or the Tao te Ching, etc.)

The Dali Lama says the number one obstacle to interfaith is a bad relationship to one's own faith tradition and many Christians do not know their own mystical/prophetic tradition so this book hopefully can 1) awaken Christians to the treasure we hold that is so much deeper than "Jesus saves" or "obey the church" and 2) to have a deeper relationship to their spiritual lineage--the result would be far better relationships with other religions and more sharing in terms of social action and contemplative prayer. Thus peace might prevail more readily in the world and between religions.

Hopefully this book can challenge Christians and others to grow up spiritually and to renew religion the only way it has ever been renewed--by returning to the Source, by tasting the Spirit and by putting experience first. Then courage will rise, fear will not take over our hearts, and justice and compassion can replace empires as that which oversees the human heart and human relationships. We might actually create a global spirituality where the "celebration of life" is put before all else. And we might get over couchpotatoitis and make a difference in our world.

What new books are on the horizon for you?

In six weeks or so my book on the Roman Catholic Church called "The Pope's War: How Ratzinger's Secret Crusade Imperiled the Church and What Can Be Saved" is coming out. The last part of the book is about pushing the restart button on Christianity--that is the good news in the meltdown of the church that is happening before our eyes due in part but not totally to the scandal of pedophile priests and the hierarchical cover-up. I also deal of course with the condemnations of over 92 theologians, the support of extreme right wing groups like opus dei and legion of Christ and communion and liberation that have so dominated the present and past papacy. And the condemnation of liberation theology, probably the most Christ-like movement of the past 300 years.

Christianity can start all over for the 21st century and needs to offer a much simpler and more profound religion to the younger generation. This book on Christian Mystics speaks to the issue of "What to take from the burning building" because it reminds us of the depths of our heritage and how we are all called to be mystics and prophets.

Speaking personally, while writing the pope book I got so depressed by the subject matter that I had to interrupt the writing of the book to find some personal nourishment and the book on Christian Mystics provided that for me.

Monday, March 7, 2011

5 questions with Carolyn Kaufman, author of Writer's Guide to Psychology


What was the inspiration behind this book?

When I was getting my graduate degree in psychology, I realized that there was sometimes a big discrepancy between the way psychology was portrayed in the media and in how real psychology works. Though there are a few books that talk about the problem, they're geared toward people in psychology, so they don't explain how to correct the misconceptions.

To me, it seemed that to begin correcting misconceptions, we needed to focus on the people who create the media -- writers! So I wanted to create a fun, accessible, affordable guide to help writers begin to get their psych right. Since the book has been published, though, I've heard that people in psychology and people who are just interested in media misconceptions and/or psychology are also really enjoying it!

What aspect of psychology is often difficult for many to write?

I think the hardest thing is that there are just so many popular misconceptions that people don't realize are in fact inaccurate, so we tend to pass them on without realizing the information is wrong.

Besides that, I often hear writers saying they have trouble putting their characters through grueling experiences. They feel bad, or guilty about it. I encourage writers not to be afraid to dig into the darker sides of themselves to find the strength to put their characters through tough situations -- that's how our characters grow and change!

What part of this book was most interesting to write?

Since I had not personally worked in a psychiatric hospital, I really enjoyed meeting with people who have worked in those settings, and in getting tours of public and private hospitals. I learned a lot, and put all the fascinating details into Chapter 12, "Emergencies in Psychotherapy."

What are some of the positive compliments you've gotten on the book?

Wow, I've been so fortunate. People seem to be finding the book a great read in general, but I've also had lots of writers tell me they're finding the information really useful for their stories -- both those who write fiction and those who write nonfiction. I've really appreciated hearing that my experience as not just a psychologist but also as a writer has come through. That is, I'm not just an "expert" who decided to help writers out -- I'm a writer too, and I really have a sense of the kinds of details writers need to know for their stories. And of course, it's always wonderful to hear that people think your writing itself is top quality!

What's next for you?

I'd like to write another book about psychology for writers -- but this time, about psychology to help the writer personally deal with common issues like writer's block, insecurity, and procrastination. As with The Writer's Guide to Psychology, this book will be firmly grounded in research. I'm also working on queries for my novel-length fiction -- it's probably no surprise that my fiction contains lots of psychology!

5 Questions with Melissa Milgom, author of Still Life: Adventures in Taxidermy


What's the book all about for those who don't know?

Still Life is a chronicle of my 7-year journey among taxidermists and my quest to understand what drives them to duplicate what nature has already created. (This was as true in the 1700s when taxidermist preserved animals for the royal cabinets of kings as it is today at leading natural history museums.) In Still Life, I tagged along with a three-generation firm who has lovingly preserved creatures for the American Museum of Natural History’s dioramas for 50 years; Emily Mayer, the wickedly funny English sculptor who prepares animal replicas for art star Damien Hirst’s most provocative works; and Ken Walker, a Smithsonian taxidermist and bear trapper from Alberta who recreates extinct species using DNA research and ancient cave paintings for reference. In the end, the book is about obsession, their absurd drive to get it right.

How did this book come about?

I grew up a mile from Schwendemans Taxidermy Studio, the father and son firm that has worked with the American Museum of Natural History for fifty years. One day in 1994 after a safari gone awry, I wandered into their workshop with its stuffed owls, antelope heads, snake skeletons, and strange tools. I found the place completely engrossing and wanted to know more about this intriguing art form that thrives despite its fringe reputation.

What was the most shocking thing you came across while researching for the book?

Before Still Life, I thought taxidermists were kind of creepy, like Norman Bates in Psycho whose hobby was “stuffing things.” But the truth is far more complicating and more fascinating. Over the years I’ve come to understand what compels people to preserve dead animals: the answer turns out to be far different than what I expected when I first immersed myself in the taxidermy world: an absurd—almost fanatical—love of animals and the beauty of organic forms.

What did you learn from the process of putting the book together?

I had no idea how much I’d have to learn about the history of natural science. All of the great museums began as collections of dried specimens. Charles Darwin himself took taxidermy lessons; otherwise he never would have been unqualified to work as naturalist aboard the Beagle. I love the historical stuff, but I also wanted to understand what drives taxidermists today and that took time and patience because they don’t trust journalists, and, it turns out, for good reason.

What's next for you?

My new book idea is a true story of a magnificent obsession; it has plenty of impassioned characters, some wild uncanny stuff, but, sadly, no animals.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

5 Questions with Siue Moffat, author of Lickin' the Beaters 2


What inspired this book?

As I was finishing my first book - Lickin 'the Beaters: Low Fat Vegan Desserts Illustrated by 8 Fantastic Artists - I was getting tired of eating low fat desserts. I found a very old candy cookbook at this time and tried my hand at making vegan candy. I loved it and decided I needed to make a full fat, full sugar dessert book.

Which recipe is the one you're using most these days?

I've been giving out my Chocolate Mint Double Decker Cheezecake recipe a lot. It's this crazy concoction that has two layers of cheezecake - one mint and one chocolate. Topped with some candy canes and sitting in a chocolate cookie crust.

What's a misconception about dairy free desserts?

Most non-vegans are still not convinced that dairy free desserts are as tasty as dairy ones. It's an absolute misconception that cookbook authors like me and vegan bakers are constantly trying to set people straight on.

Do you envision dairy free desserts becoming more popular in the mainstream in years to come?

What's wonderful is that since I started my recipe books vegan food is gaining more popularity each year. Once "nonbelievers" have a taste of a great veggie burger, or a fabulously chewy chocolate cookie their minds are opened and misconceptions are thrown out the window. All it takes is a taste - that's pretty powerful!

What's next for you?

I'm continuing my chocolate business - Boardwalk Chocolates. I make vegan fair trade organic truffles, hollow figures, custom pieces etc. It's a good way to spread the delicious news of vegan goodies!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Robert W. Bly, author of “How to Write and Sell Simple Information for Fun and Profit”


What inspired this book?

My desire to teach nonfiction writers how to make a good living instead of a mediocre one.

How can a writer stand out in the crowd?

There are a number of ways; the surest is to write in a narrow niche market and dominate it.

Any sites you'd recommend to get freelance writing jobs or gigs?

No -- AVOID all online job sites. They treat writing as a price-based commodity.

What's a very abundant writing market that many might not know about?

Hobbies -- people will pay a lot for info on their hobbies

What's the most interesting writing gig you've done?

My book The "I Hate Kathie Lee Gifford" Book -- landed me on Hard copy

5 Questions with Joanne Baker, author of "50 Universe Ideas You Really Need to Know"


Which idea was the most interesting to write about?

The chapter on pulsars was fun to write about, because Jocelyn Bell's story of thinking she had discovered alien life as a graduate student is so compelling. Any student can imagine the mix of excitement and dread she must have felt at finding the pulsing radio signal from deep space, wondering whether she had made an embarrassing mistake or was party to some great breakthrough. The whole history of radio astronomy is fascinating too, coming out of post-war physics research.

What's a big misconception about the universe you clear up in this book?

People often ask what's outside the universe - but the universe includes everything. While it's not simple to clear this up - given there are plenty of wild theories of parallel universes and the like that are mind bending even to physicists - I hope I have given a flavour of the ways in which people have thought about the concept of the universe through history. Our horizon has expanded the more we have learned about the universe - it's vast scale was quite unimaginable even a century ago.

How did this book come about?

I wrote a similar book about physics. My background is in astronomy, and the chapters on astronomy in that book were bulging at the seams, so I thought it would be worthwhile to expand on those ideas in a separate book. Astronomy is such a rich subject, with a long history, that it needed a whole book to highlight its scope.

What is the future of the universe?

In short - we don't know. But there are several ingredients that would dictate it. If the universe is dominated by matter, then gravity will one day pull everything together and it may end in a 'big crunch' . Dark energy is a competing force, which would eventually pull everything in the universe apart - stars and planets and galaxies would all be stripped down to a bleak mist of subatomic particles. Or if both these forces - gravity and dark energy - are balanced, then the universe could gently keep expanding for ever. Astronomers are rushing to find out more about the dark energy term especially, as that was only discovered a decade or so ago so we don't know much about its effect.

What aspect of this book will people find most interesting?

Cosmology, the study of the universe as a whole, is fascinating to many people. But I hope that readers will also think about our solar system, and how much we are learning from space missions. The variety of landscapes and the possibility of crude foms of life on moons of Jupiter and Saturn are exciting and are inspiring missions in coming decades, to peer beneath the ice on Europa for example. Planets around other stars are also being discovered at a rapid rate, so astrobiology and exoplanets are areas to watch.

5 Questions with Tui Gordon, author of Revolutionary Women


How did this book come about?

The seed of the idea was just an observation that the image of Che
Guevara is the symbol of "the revolutionary" in western pop culture.
One day I came across a Che Guevara which had been adapted to look
like a woman's face and it brought up the question "Who are our women
revolutionaries?" This book begins to answer that question!

Which woman really struck a chord with you?

All of them, for a plethora of reasons! The first one I researched was
Louise Michel and I was just really struck by how unafraid she was,
how ardent she was about change and how active and optimistic she was
even though she was intimately aware of how hopelessly misdirected the
society she lived in was.

Which women in today's society would you put in a book like this
decades from now?

Some of the women in the book are contemporaries of ours, Vandana
Shiva, Angela Davis, Malalai Joya etc. The book has 30 women who live
or have lived within the last 150 years, but of course there are
hundreds more possible candidates, who knows what amazing women will
be leading the revolutions of the future.

Which woman in the book is someone a lot of people have overlooked in the past?

All of the women have left their mark, perhaps a woman like Haydee
Santamaria of Cuba, who, although her influence was huge and her work
was vital, never cast herself as the figurehead of the revolution. Her
writings becoming more available has made it harder to overlook how
important her philosophy was and how passionate her struggle was.

What's next for you?

I'm in the early stages of a graphic novel, watch this space

5 Questions with Lori Dennis, author of Green Interior Design


What is the book all about?

The design, decoration and maintenance of environmentally and socially responsible, healthy interiors and gardens.

What inspired this book?

I speak about green design throughout the country and was always being asked, "isn't there a book where I can get this information?" I decided to write it.

Which green interior design item impresses you most?

Vintage or antiques furnishings. I like items that come with their own story and history.

Has the market for green interior design increased quite a bit over the past few years? Now prices that prices are closer to conventional products, who wouldn't chose an eco friendly item that is also good for your health? The market is exploding and becoming standard.

Which image in the book is your favorite?

I love the suzanni fabric on this old bench and the snowy mountains in the distance.


5 Questions with Teun Voeten, author of Tunnel People


What is the book all about, for those who don't know?

The book is an in depth portrait of a group of underground homeless people that were living in a rail road tunnel under Manhattan. I describe how they became homeless, their daily lives, their dreams and hopes for the future. I tried to be as honestly as possible without sensationalizing or romanticizing the issues.

What was the most interesting part about putting the book together?

Being original an anthropologist, I actually lived, worked and slept for 5 months with the tunnel people. I helped them collect empty cans, we cooked over open fires, we had a lot of parties and of course, extremely interesting conversations.

What did you learn from the tunnel people?

However dire your circumstances, however poor and downtrodden you are, the most important is not to see yourself as a victim. Make the best of what you have and keep up your dignity. A lot of tunnel people succeeded in doing so. Very admiring.

Which personality you cover in the book was most intriguing?

Bernard, who was nickname "Lord of the Tunnel. Not only was he very intelligent, but also outrageously funny and totally politically incorrect about his fellow homeless tunnel dwellers. Also, he was a great cook.

What's next for you?

I am working on a photo book on the drug violence in Mexico. A very difficult subject, but I think the current disintegration of Mexico, the total impunity and all pervasive corruption are very alarming developments that can have repercussions on a global scale.

For more information visit

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Q&A with Sanjiv Chopra, author of Doctor Chopra Says


What is the book all about, for those who don't know?

The book is about topics I and my co-author Dr. Alan Lotvin get asked about all the time by friends and even strangers we meet all the time.

Where do you get people talking to you the most about these subjects?

At cocktail parties, dinners, at airports when they find out we are Physicians.

What's the biggest lesson your learned from writing the book?

We knew lot of facts but it was great to solidify them and connect with some of the folks who had made the original and seminal discoveries and to talk to experts who shed light and knew all the Nuances.

What's next for you?

My next book has been completed and was just sent to the publisher. It's called The Ten Tenets of Leadership.

Monday, January 24, 2011

5 Questions with Marc Muchnick, author of No More Regrets


1.     How'd the book come about?
No More Regrets! came about as a result of a conversation with one of my best friends from college just six months before his untimely death.  Gary, who had Stage 4 cancer and was going through a brutal regimen of chemotherapy at the time, out of the blue asked me, “What’s your biggest regret?” The question sparked an intense conversation about how life is short and sometimes you don’t realize that until it’s too late.  Essentially, our regrets go with us to the grave.  Gary asked me to promise him that going forward I would live my life with no more regrets, and part of my commitment to doing that was to write this book so I could share Gary’s message with others.

2.     What's the main message of it?
The main premise of No More Regrets! is that while most of us have regrets, there is no time like the present to start living life without any more of them.  Regrets are the things we do that we wish we hadn’t done and the things we fail to do that we wish we had done, both of which result in unhappiness, disappointment, or remorse.  Thus, to avoid having regrets in the future, we need to ask ourselves two very important questions as a routine part of our decision-making process:
·      Will I have regrets if I do it (or don’t do it)?
·      Will I avoid having regrets if I do it (or don’t do it)?
I provide 30 practical ways in this book for banishing regret from our lives altogether.

.    Why do people live with regret?
Most people live with regret because they can’t find a way to forgive themselves. Essentially they become prisoners to their regret, which takes a lot of energy and can be both stressful and depressing.  If we want to free ourselves from the chains of regret, we must move on from the past because we can’t change what’s already happened.  Instead we need to focus on what we have the power to change today as well as in the future.

4.     What's the biggest regret people have on their deathbed, and how can it be avoided?
My research shows that there are some common themes to regret:
·      We get stuck in ruts.
·      We take some things or people in our lives for granted.
·      We sacrifice our authenticity.
·      We stop growing, learning, and evolving.
·      We become overly self-absorbed, insensitive, and judgmental.
As people get older, especially as they near the end of life, our regrets tend to be more about the things we haven’t done but wish we had done.  Some examples include spending more time with family, taking more vacations, following a lifelong dream or passion, and being more authentic.  One thing is for sure, you don’t hear too many people in their final days of life say that they wished they could have worked harder or missed fewer days at work.

5.     Do you have any regrets?
Of course, but I’m trying not to have any more of them!  The year I missed my missed my kids’ first day of school is one of my biggest regrets. Every year prior to that it was a family tradition for my wife and I to make the kids a big breakfast and take pictures of them in their “first day” clothes. It was one of those times where work just got in the way – perhaps it couldn’t be helped but I sure felt disappointed. Not only had I let my kids down, but I had let myself down. Since then I’ve tried to plan ahead so that I can avoid repeating this scenario. I realize I can’t be there for everything in my kids’ lives, but I don’t want to sell my soul to my job either.

5 Questions with Jennifer Maughan, author of "100 Meals for $5 or Less"


Have you tried every meal in the book?
The best part about writing this book was gathering recipes and ideas from family and friends about their favorite budget meals. I knew I couldn't stand beside any recipe that I hadn't tried myself, so I gladly gathered recipes that fit the criteria for the book and made them for my family over the course of a year. The big hits found a place in the book, but there are so many delicious budget recipes out there that once readers know what to look for in a meal recipe, they can add to their own personal budget meal favorites.

Which meal was the most fun to make?
My three children love to help in the kitchen, so to me, the most fun meals to make are the ones where they can contribute significantly. One of our favorites from the book, Chicken Rolls (p. 85), requires you to slice the tops off of round dinner rolls, pull out the roll innards to make little bowls, fill the roll with a creamy chicken and veggie mixture, sprinkle them with cheese, then bake.

Another personal favorite from the book is Cyndi's Curried Coconut Chicken (p. 132). This is my sister Cyndi's signature dish and it's simple and delicious. I love how this dish smells as it is cooking. Using ingredients like coconut milk, stewed tomatoes and curry powder, this recipe transforms chicken into an exotic, filling meal for pennies.

What's the best compliment you've received on your work?
While I love getting compliments about a particular recipe in the book, the most satisfying compliments to me are from readers who really internalize the budget meal methods. The first part of the book teaches readers about how to plan budget menus, smart shopping techniques and being efficient in the kitchen. One reader emailed me that because of the book, she was not only seeing serious reductions in her grocery bill, but serious reductions in stress with herself and her family concerning shopping and meals.

What chef inspires you most?
What's inspiring to me is when regular men and women create good memories in the kitchen for their families. Look at the kitchens of a single person entertaining friends, a young couple with little children, or the parents who end up feeding a few extra teenagers -- it's the simple, hearty, healthful meals that make a connection that families and friend share.

What's next for you?
I haven't stopped searching for budget recipes even though the book is completed. It's too much fun to challenge myself to not only prepare healthy and delicious meals, but to save money to spend elsewhere.

5 Questions with John D. Luerssen, author of U2 FAQ



How'd the book come about?

I have been following U2 for nearly 30 years. From about 1981 to 1987, they were one of my favorite bands alongside groups like The Clash, The Replacements, R.E.M. Elvis Costello, The Cure and Echo & the Bunnymen. I kind of lost interest around the time of Rattle & Hum a bit but Achtung Baby rekindled my fascination. I also loved 'All That You Can't Leave Behind'. Anyway, I had written a book on Weezer called 'Rivers Edge' a few years ago for ECW Press that got a lot of attention and in the years since I've kept busy writing about music for Spinner and magazines like American Songwriter.

Somehow Robert Rodriguez -- who launched the FAQ series for Backbeat with The Fab Four FAQ and Fab Four FAQ 2.0 -- sought me out and asked if I would be interested in contributing to the series. I came up with a short list of bands like Radiohead and Bruce Springsteen and U2 was at the top of the list. I drafted a quick proposal and they asked me to write it but the deadline was a little tight. This was in December 2009. I turned in the first complete draft on April 1st. I tweaked it a little into the summer and it went to press in late September. We made it out for the back half of 2010 which was the plan. It was adventurous but I'm thrilled with how it turned out.

What's the most interesting fact about U2 most people don't know?

Bono and The Edge almost walked away from it all.

Most people may not remember that U2's Christianity was a key driver in the group at the outset. Bono, The Edge and Larry plus some friends and members of their crew were involved in a Dublin based Bible group ran by a guy named Chris Rowe called The Shalom. The band's bassist, Adam Clayton, was the lone dissenter and resident partier at the time who hung with the group because he loved rock & roll and the camaraderie of his mates. But after U2 first cracked the U.S. with Boy and went home to work on the October album in the summer of 1981, The Edge and Bono -- who had become local stars in Dublin and Ireland in general by now -- were feeling pressure by The Shalom's leaders to give up playing rock & roll. Mind you, they rarely drank, never did drugs nor hook up with groupies -- all of which was  pretty unorthodox for popular bands at the time. The point is that they never embraced the lifestyle.

Soon enough, Larry Mullen started to think The Shalom was off base trying to tell them what to do and he left the group -- which by now had set up a camp with tents and communal living which Bono and Edge were trying to help to finance, even though they still had little money. Anyway, one afternoon The Edge had been swayed by the pressure and told Bono that he's quitting the band. He's dedicating his life to Christ. And Bono tells Edge he's quitting U2 with him.

So they go to break the news to Paul McGuinness, who has just booked another North American tour. McGuinness can't believe what he's hearing. He tells them to go away for a few hours and think about the decision some more and when they return he guilts them into staying with the group because they have all these commitments to their crew, record label, booking agency, etc. Once they are out on the road, headlining East Coast venues they resume life as normal and never look back. By early 1982 they were opening for The J. Geils Band.

What makes U2 such a special band?

They may have come from other mothers but Bono, Adam, Larry and Edge are a band of brothers. They all know each other's weaknesses and strengths and cumulatively they make some of the greatest music in the world. Bono may seem like an ego maniac to some, but its only these three others -- plus manager Paul McGuinness -- who can bring him down to size. And sometimes, with a band as big as U2 -- that's exactly what's required. Name another band that has had the same founding membership for 35 years. It's very hard to do.

What was the most interesting thing you learned about them from this book?

For me, I think the neatest revellation actually comes in the Forward, which John Griffith, formerly of the Red Rockers, wrote for me. He talks about being out on the Unforgettable Fire tour opening for U2 in 1985, as their popularity was cresting in advance of Live Aid. For some reason, the Red Rockers' own tour manager went off the rails and took off with their gear and clothes and basically left them high and dry. Bono got word of it and the band donated four thousand bucks -- a lot of money in 1985 -- so that they could carry on and finish the tour with some dignity. I thought that said a lot about who they were then and who they became. From their commitments to Amnesty International and Greenpeace to Bono's commitments to absolving third world debt and trying to get AIDS medicines to Africans, they may have become the biggest band in the world, but they also are the biggest band in the world with a conscience.

What's next for you?

I am currently at work on a Springsteen FAQ for Backbeat which I'm super excited about. As a New Jersey native weaned on Bruce, I can't think of a greater honor. I think that's coming out in 2012. I'm also launching my own series of Rock & Roll Quote Books this year. Between all that, my day job, my wife and kids and my constant tinkering on and obsessing over a 9 year old Volvo convertible, I'm hoping to still have time left over to paint my house this year. Seriously.