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!