Isadora Alman – Author Interview

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

Bluebirds of Impossible Paradises: A Sexual Odyssey of the Seventies is a departure from my usual writings in that it is a novel. Up ’til now I have been a nonfiction writer. It is the story of a heterosexual woman’s search for love happiness and, yes, sex, with several bisexual and gay men. It takes place in the 1970’s, a time when sex was more associated with pleasure than with sin or disease. Is it erotic?  I hope so, but I wouldn’t call it erotica at all.  This book is more a romance novel since at its core are intimate relationships of various kinds.

Tell us something about yourself.

I am a California licensed marriage and relationship therapist, a Board certified sexologist, and a syndicated sex and relationship columnist. My “Ask Isadora” column has been running in alternative weekly papers worldwide for more than 25 years. Web surfers can find my columns on my online free interactive Sexuality Forum at www.askisadora.com. I am the author of two collections of Q & A’s from my columns: Let’s Talk Sex, and Ask Isadora as well as Sex Information, May I Help You?, a peek behind the scenes of a sex help phone line which still flourishes in San Francisco today. Doing It: Real People Having Really Good Sex is a collection of helpful hints and titillating tidbits from column readers and Forum web site users.  I have also contributed chapters to several books including Herotica (Down There Press), Dick For A Day (Villard NY), The Moment Of Truth (Seal Press) and Single Woman Of A Certain Age (Inner Ocean Publishing, Inc.) I have been a talk show host and frequent TV and radio talk show guest, and a lecturer and workshop leader on a variety of communications topics. I conduct my private psychotherapy practice in Alameda,CA in the San Francisco Bay Area.

What inspired you to write this book?

I originally wrote the first draft of this book in the early 1980s when I was recovering from a disappointing love affair with a bisexual man.  When I spoke about it people I knew found the idea of a love affair between a heterosexual woman and a non-heterosexual man intriguing.  I’ve been working on this book on and off for years, polishing and rewriting according to what I learn about people, myself, and prevailing current ideology about sexual orientation. It didn’t start out being a “period piece” but in 2010 it most certainly is.

How did you publish this book? Why did you decide on that publisher?

I was unable to find a commercial publisher for it when I first tried in the 1980’s and again in the ’90’s.  I received feedback that the book wouldn’t appeal to straight readers, wouldn’t appeal to gay readers, was too sexually explicit and/or not explicit enough! I simply gave up and put the manuscript away.  A friend who recently put his book up on Amazon.com as an e-book did it for me. Another friend did the same for me at Amazon.com’s CreateSpace. I do not have the know-how, tech savvy or patience to do it myself.  I repaid my two friends with my undying gratitude and a good dinner or two.

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

I have always written, starting with keeping journals in my early teens throughout much of my adult years. I became a professional writer when my first Q & A sex and relationship column was published in the San Francisco Bay Guardian in 1984, the same year my first book about my experiences as a trainee on the hotline for San Francisco Sex Information was published.  The two are obviously related.

What do you believe is the hardest part of writing?

Just sitting down and doing it.  There are so many distractions when one works at home.

How do you do research for your books?

I am a professional psychotherapist specializing in communication and sexual issues and I have been for 25 years.  My whole professional and personal life can be considered research for what I write.

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

I enjoy reading novels about contemporary women facing life issues of relationships, love and sexuality.  My earliest favorite author was Erica Jong, not only because she wrote about these issues so honestly and boldly, but  because her heroine in Fear of Flying was also named Isadora!

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

Just recently I reconnected with a lover from my college years and now, 50 years later, we are living together.  The book is tentatively entitled our nicknames at that age – Ginger & Morty: A Love Affair Interrupted By Life.  He is also a writer (www.mortonchalfy.com) and we are doing this book as a her story/his story.

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

If you have something to say, write it.  Don’t be discouraged by the difficulties of finding an agent or a publisher.  All six of my books were placed without an agent and none of the three agents I did work with over the years ever placed a book for me. These days you can easily publish yourself.  Make sure you get a good editor before you do.  We all need SOME outside input.

What are you doing to promote your latest book?

I have a web site where my books are listed.  I belong to several writers’ sites.  I mention it whenever I speak or write for publication.  I am looking for opportunities for public readings.

Where can readers learn more about you and your book?

Please look for my on my Sexuality Forum – www.askisadora.com or at my profile at www.redroom.com. You can find some good reviews on Amazon.com’s Kindle site and on Amazon.com.