Nina Knapp – Author Interview

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

My new book is Reel Food From Reel Women: Our Favorite Dishes. It is a collection of favorite recipes from women in the entertainment industry, as well as from friends. It has everything from Key Lime Pie Ice Cream (Katherine Fugate), to Rajmah (Nisha Ganatra). In the book I have also included biographies of the women which makes for interesting reading. It is 128 pages and in full color.

Tell us something about yourself.

I currently live in Albuquerque, New Mexico, but my family are all from Idaho and Oregon. I have worked in education for 27 years (and retiring soon!), and I am also involved with independent filmmaking and screenwriting. I have won a couple screenwriting awards, and produced/directed, or cinematographer or co-wrote three award-winning short films. These films are listed on imdb.com (Internet Movie Data Base): http://www.imdb.com/name/nm1523779/

I have always wanted to be a writer, so when I hit age 45, I began attending workshops on writing novels and screenwriting. I found I enjoyed screenwriting the best, but I do have two novels I’m working on. Let’s face it, the filmmaking “bug” hit me hard.

What inspired you to write this book?

There are two answers to this: 1) I wanted to find a way to highlight the work of women in entertainment that I admire. 2) I needed a way to raise funds for a feature film I hope to shoot in the Spring of 2011. As an independent filmmaker living in New Mexico, the hardest part is raising film funds, It’s actually the hardest part for ANY truly independent filmmaker. So, I am very hopeful that the book will do well, and the profits can go toward this project.

How did you publish this book?

I chose print-on-demand for my cookbook. Among the many possibilites out there, I found CreateSpace online. As I read the benefits they would provide, as well as the low cost, I felt this was the best and easiest avenue for me. One plus was that your content would automatically be placed on Amazon.com.

No matter who a new author publishes with these days, we are expected to do our own marketing. By publishing with CreateSpace my book became available on Amazon.com and in bookstores within two weeks of sending them the final copy! Additionally, I am able to purchase author copies at a very reasonable cost.

I should mention that the book came out beautifully. And that is in large part due to the graphic design team I hired for this project, Russel Garcia and Chayne Avery. They are wonderful artists and we worked well together on “the look” of the book. And, also due to the expertise and care CreateSpace provided.

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

I have wanted to write since I was about 10 years old and took more of an interest in reading on topics of my own choosing. Actually, what I really wanted was to become a Photo Journalist. But, I let other influences push me into education. It’s been a great career, don’t get me wrong, but really not my dream.

I love getting lost in other people’s worlds, in the words on the printed page (I have yet to delve into e-books), and I love creating those things for myself.

Now that I’m older and can financially follow my interests in writing and filmmaking (classes, workshops, etc.), that is what I am moving toward more and more. I’m 59 now, so it’s a late start, but I have no regrets.

What do you believe is the hardest part of writing?

It’s something you have to do alone, and often friends and family don’t understand this need for alone time, for quiet time and reflection. That’s proven the hardest for me.

How do you do research for your books?

It depends on what I’m working on. For instance, I’m working on a novel that is loosely based on the life of my maternal grandmother. The story takes place mostly in the 1930’s. So, I have purchased on books covering this time period, watched documentaries and films covering the era (including Grapes of Wrath), and spent a good deal of time in the library with my very helpful librarian.

On my screenplays, I have relied on my own imagination so far. I haven’t written on topics that required research.

Here is a thought for new writers; Make your local librarian your new best friend. When I first walked into the library and said, “I’m working on a book on…” the librarian was excited and happy to help a writer. She told me it added a little excitement to her day every time I, or any writer, walked through the door. So, the lesson here is, utilize their knowledge and expertise when needing to research any topic.

Did you learn anything from writing this book? What?

I learned to not have unreasonable expectations. For my particular book, I had to learn to be patient while waiting for that recipe to be sent, or the biography, or the headshot. But, it was well worth it!

What are you reading now?

Currently, I am reading Eat, Pray, Love, and enjoying it a great deal. On my bookstand, awaiting attention is Book of the Dead by Patricia Cornwell.

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

I prefer mysteries, thrillers, and sci fi/fantasy for my personal reading. My favorite authors are Marion Zimmer Bradley (deceased), Dean Koontz, John Saul, Patricia Cornwell, and Mary Higgins Clark. I also enjoyed The Road by Cormac McCarthy, so I plan to read more of his work in the future.

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

I am working on a new book with the working title, The White Horse. It is the story I referred to earlier about the early life of my grandmother.

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

Besides the act of writing, make sure you study how to market your book. Build a presence on Twitter, Facebook and other social media. You can’t just create accounts, you have to actively search for people to follow, or to invite to be your “friend.” Find people with common interests first, and the rest will follow. But it is something you have to always work at.

Also, create a list of other avenues for promotion; local print media and bookstores, independent or public radio stations where you might be able to secure interviews, magazines that relate to your topic or genre, etc. It’s all important.

Last, learn how to write a good press release for yourself that you’ll need when contacting your list.

In my mind, it doesn’t matter if you have the potential to be the next Stephen King, if you don’t generate interest in your work it won’t happen. Marketing is key to doing just that.

What are you doing to promote your latest book?

Similar to what I just mentioned above. I have both twitter and facebook accounts. I decided against MySpace as I felt the other two were easier to use. I have sent promotional copies of the book to several radio stations that interview people in the arts and entertainment world, and to 3 key monthly magazines. I have also sent promotional copies to book review bloggers that have a large following in my genre. As a result, I’m getting noticed on the internet, and I have a radio interview scheduled for July 14th. And that’s in just the first 3 weeks of publication. I have also scheduled a book launch party for July 17th for all local recipe contributors, as well as friends.

Where can readers learn more about you and your book?

Reel Food From Reel Women can be purchased directly from my website at http://reelrecipes.com. There is also a free recipe that can be printed from the book’s website.

It is also available at Amazon.com.

This book can also be ordered through your favorite local bookstore.