Francine L. Trevens – Author Interview

What is your most recent book? Tell us a bit about it.

Short Plays to Long Remember, 27 Plays By 14 Award Winning American Authors is an anthology of 27 plays by 14 award winning American authors from all over the country which I compiled. It was just released in March. These plays represent a wide range of contemporary authors and varying styles and agendas. I chose plays I felt had something to say about the world we live in and those of us who inhabit it. I am doing staged readings of different plays from the book, which range from under 10 minutes to just over 40 minutes, at different venues around New York, and am working with several authors on finding outlets in L A and New England and elsewhere.

Tell us something about yourself.

I was born in Brooklyn, dictated my first poem to my mom (I could not write yet) at 6, and have written and published poems, stories, plays, etc. since. I lived in Massachusetts for some years, which is where my two daughters were born, but returned to my native New York over 30 years ago.

I have worked as a theatre/dance critic, theatre publicist, producer of dinner theatre mysteries, director of other people’s plays, and currently write dance features for Art Times Journal. I love reading, gardening, antique doll collecting theatre and dance.

What inspired you to write this book?

I am literary executor for two deceased authors to whom I dedicated this book. I also publish the work of many other authors, some of whom are included in this volume. I feel the author may died, but the work deserves to live on and that was why I published this book, to keep some of theirs and some of mine alive.

Why did you decide to self-publish?

I know plays don’t sell well, although Jane Chambers’ “Last Summer at Bluefish Cove” and some of Doric Wilson’s plays continue to sell often. They both have short plays in the book. Since I inherited a publishing company, I felt it was fastest, easiest and hopefully ultimately more economically wise to publish myself, so TnT Classic Books just released the book.

How did you know you wanted to be a writer? How did you get started?

I knew I wanted to be a writer, because as Shelley said,”I just can’t stop,” from the time I composed my first poem at the age of just turned 6. I have never ceased writing, and have experimented in all types of writing, fiction, non fiction, celebrity interviews, plays, novels, short stories, kids stories, dinner theater segments in BEST PLAYS ANNUALS for all the years they ran, the musical theatre section of McGraw Hills’ Encyclopedia of World Drama, reviews, interviews, etc.

What do you believe is the hardest part of writing?

Needing to be alone and with lots of quiet time to dedicate to it. Writing comes as naturally to me as blinking. I don’t hit fallow periods or get writer’s block. What I get is insufficient time because so many other thing are of interest to me, especially theater and dance. It is a constant battle with time to write all the things that bombard my brain.

How do you do research for your books?

When wrote about dinner theater it was before computers so it was done through mail and phone calls and visits to theatre near to me. When I wrote about musical theatre for the McGraw Hill Encyclopedia, I read dozens of books about musical theatre before I began the article, and several of my friends still disagree with my decisions and findings. Now I basically check the web.

Did you learn anything from writing this book? What?

I learned most writers are terrible proofreaders, but they love to help get the book out and worked hard with me to fit the unusual format and to give me info to pass along to our publicist to get stories country wide. I learned that some were such supreme egoists they thought only of themselves when anything was attempted concerning the book. I knew all my authors in one context or another, but learned new facets of their personalities and sense of self importance or cooperation during the seven months we have worked on this book.

What are you reading now?

I am reading a psychologically based treatise on envy in the dining room. I am re-reading in the living room Kaleidoscope, a first novel that I read as a contest judge and which blew me away; it is the Atlas Shrugged of this century. In the bedroom I am reading GRANIA, the story of an Irish heroine, and in the bathroom I am reading a fantasy novel I bought to share with my two eldest grandsons, and have to be sure it is appropriate for them It is called The Sylvan Horn

What types of books do you like to read? Who are your favorite authors?

I like biographies, novels with a strong ethical commitment, mysteries to see if the author can fool me – which is rare – and plays.

My life long favorite authors are Oscar Wilde, Percy B. Shelley, Ayn Rand and more recently Alexander McCall Smith.

I like books to challenge me, amuse me and help me learn new things.

Are you working on your next book? What can you tell us about it?

A few years ago I published a fictionalized version of a number of strange paranormal occurrences in the lives of my family over a 100 year period called IMAGICS and other family stories. I am now working on a memoir which tells the actual events as opposed to the embellished fictionalized ones. It will be in several volumes – I am approaching 80 now so there’s a lot to remember. The first volume is called CONFESSIONS OF A DIRTY CHEW BASKET, a name I thought I was called when a little kid. I am also writing new stories about elves and leprechauns and druids, etc for a new volume for kids since it is 30 years since my first one was published.

What is the best advice you could give other writers about writing or publishing?

For me, writing is fun and exciting. It is art. Publishing is dreary repetitive detailed work which I do not enjoy. There is also an art to doing it well. My two poetry books were each designed in a unique style to convey the feelings I felt the poems were expressing. I do not plan to publish my work myself in the future. I shall continue to keep the books I published before, mine and those of others, in print, but do not want to do another new one. It is painstaking work and I would rather put the work into my writing. The pain is already in my aging body and that’s enough of that for me.

Advice on both counts – keep doing it. Don’t let anyone discourage you. As long as you enjoy writing work at it. As long as publishing serves your needs, learn more about it and perfect what you do. Be sure to have good publicity if you are publishing yourself, allow lots of time so that when something goes wrong – and it will – you have time to correct it. I rushed through the last book because I wanted it ready for book fairs and special events this Spring and as a result put too much pressure on myself and the authors and I made mistakes which make me cringe every time I open the book.

What are you doing to promote your latest book?

Our publicist is sending out releases about the book and its various authors. I am doing the series of readings of plays from the book to get people interested in it. I am setting up interviews such as this wherever and whenever I can. My authors are setting up book signings where they live.

My publishing company, TnT Classic Books, is trying to interest libraries in stocking it and colleges to order it. We are also working on getting more distribution in major book stores like Border’s and Barnes and Noble. I finally gave in and went on Amazon to sell some of the books we are currently marketing, because that’s where most people seem to buy these days. I also plan to turn SHORT PLAYS…into an ebook.

Where can readers learn more about you and your book?

Our Website, TnTClassicBooks.com, googling my name. Checking out Amazon, Drama Book Shop, Samuel French, Book Clearing House. Reading my articles on dance on line at www.arttimesjournal.com. I am on Facebook but go on only rarely, though I do bulletins on special events, such as our recent evening at Barnes and Noble, Lincoln Triangle branch in NYC where I read a play with Malachy McCourt, and our upcoming readings at LGBT Center and Dramatists Guild. Check their sites for dates.