*Author Pamela Cory is here to tell us all about her award-winning novel and how she went from a singer and model to a published author!
Her book just won the USA Best Books 2011 Finalist Award for Chick Lit/Women’s Lit!
*Read on to enter for your chance to win a copy of her novel, Hassie Calhoun: A Las Vegas Novel of Innocence! –Giveaway ends Nov. 6th.–
1) You spent 15 years as a cabaret singer, model and voice coach. What was that like?
My first love from the time I was a small child was music. When other kids were playing games and participating in sports, I was playing the piano and producing talent shows in the back yard. As a young teen, I started studying voice and instantly knew that I wanted to be a singer. Although classically trained with a degree in vocal performance, my preference was the musical theater stage and I took every opportunity I had to work in local and regional theater. This eventually led to the Cabaret circuit in and around the southeast US. Through a local talent agency, I did television commercials and modeling, while teaching piano and coaching voice students on the side. These were great years of my life and, despite the struggle as a “starving artist”, I wouldn’t trade them for anything now.
2) You were pursuing your dreams! When did you decide to write your first book?
Life as a performer was glamorous and exciting until reality kicked in and I had to think seriously about a more financially lucrative career. I took an opportunity to relocate to London for a few years and set out to build a business that dealt with sourcing interior furnishings for hotels. This meant that I traveled around the world, met some amazing people and experienced many things that I never would have done without this foreign adventure.
What I haven’t mentioned so far is that I also always loved to write stories and was regularly told that I had a wonderful way with words. I had never really considered writing a book until I moved from London to Dubai with my husband almost seven years ago. He is a very busy architect in the region and I found myself looking for a new artistic outlet. I took a couple of writing courses online, out of which the idea for a novel was born. The rest, as they say, is history.
3) What a great history. So how did you go from writer to published author?
First, I should say that I consider myself very lucky to have become a published author so quickly. While visiting London a few years ago, I had the great fortune to meet a man who would become my writing coach. He is also a writer, editor and publisher, but told me from the get-go that working with him did not guarantee a publishing contract. We worked very hard for a couple of years and turned my original novel into a trilogy. He loved the first book and took it to his partners in the publishing company. Thankfully, they agreed with him and Hassie Calhoun: A Las Vegas Novel of Innocence hit the market this past June.
4) How long did it take you to write your novel?
From start to finish, I spent almost five years writing and readying the first book of the trilogy for publication. This involved a lot of re-plotting and revising and revising some more. I never set a deadline for finishing the manuscript because I wanted to take all the time that was required to get it is as good as it could be. But I did set personal goals for producing a chapter or a section and concentrated to reach those goals.
In the beginning, I followed the general advice to set a schedule for writing so many hours a day, at the same time every day, etc. This didn’t work for me. I am much more successful at writing when I am most motivated by a character or particular part of the plot or am simply just feeling creative. Sometimes I wake up ready to tackle the computer. Other days, I need to do something else in the morning and sit down to write at the end of the day. I do try to write something every day but if I’m really not drawn to the computer, I take the day off and read. (Remember, writers must read!)
5) That’s very true, do you have any more advice for aspiring writers?
The most important advice I’ve been given for becoming a writer is to follow my bliss. I think this is ultimately the driving force and affords the greatest reward in the end. If you have a good story that you think others would like to read, make it happen. But don’t be afraid to get help along the way. As you know by now, I did not study or major in journalism or creative writing so my passion for story telling came from within. But I needed help to get it on paper and finding an objective, talented writing coach was the best thing I ever did.
8 ) Thank you for sharing that advice, I think it’s important to note that every writer needs help in some form! Without further ado, tell me all about your debut novel, Hassie Calhoun: A Las Vegas Novel of Innocence:
The trilogy follows fifty years of a woman’s life. This first book deals with the very young Hassie as she leaves her home in small town Texas (age 17) and sets out to become a singer in Las Vegas. She is immediately thrown into a world that she is not equipped to handle and spends five years learning lessons about life, love and loss. The story is set in the old Sands Hotel where Frank Sinatra and the Rat Pack performed in the Copa Room. It is a very rich time in the entertainment era of Vegas but ultimately, her propensity for making bad decisions forces her away from the opportunity to fulfill her dream.
There are several messages and subtexts in this unusual take on a “coming of age” story. Ultimately, I think a lot of women can relate to Hassie at some time in their lives – though it’s not always comfortable to think about or admit, which is why readers are oftentimes frustrated with her choices or decisions. But just like real life, those early experiences help make the person that we become. Hassie leaves this book with the clear opportunity to correct her mistakes.
9) It sounds very compelling! How is the book rooted in your own struggles?
I am often asked if Hassie’s story is really my story. No, it isn’t but I don’t think I could convey the depth of her love for singing and her desire to succeed without having experienced the joy of performing myself. I didn’t push myself to achieve great things and in some ways, I may want her to succeed in a way that I didn’t. But mostly, the passion that follows her through the trilogy is genuine and firmly rooted in her love of the audience and her desire to bring joy through her music, whether it be as a singer or a songwriter. There’s no Cinderella story here. The entertainment business is tough and she meets it head on.
10) Since your novel is Book One of a Trilogy. Do you have any hints as to what’s in store for the next novel in your series?
One of the reasons that we decided to turn the novel into a trilogy is that it is such a big story. I am currently working on a serious revision of the second book, which takes place in 1985, set in NYC and possibly London. Hassie is in her early forties and in a completely different place in her life both personally and professionally. There is plenty of retrospective detail to fill in the years that have passed, some great new characters and a couple of twists and turns that readers of the first book shouldn’t expect. Does she achieve success as a singer and does she grow and learn from her mistakes? You’ll have to read it to find out!
11) I can’t wait! Before we depart, we want to know: If you could meet any author (dead or alive) who would it be?
I have read (and continue to read) a lot of great authors and love it when a book has the sort of profound effect that keeps it in my psyche for days. I recently read Colum McCann’s Let the Great World Spin, which had that kind of effect on me through his amazingly well drawn cast of characters. Strong, enigmatic characters are the reason I read and write and, in that vein, I would say that I would most love to meet F Scott Fitzgerald. He has created some of the greatest characters in fiction and I would particularly love to talk with him about Dick and Nicole Diver in Tender is the Night. I’ve read that book several times and am still not sure that I get all that he intended. Oh to have a smidgeon of his genius….
Love it! Thank you for stopping by The Write Stuff!
*To Enter for a Chance to Win a Copy of Hassie Calhoun: A Las Vegas Novel of Innocence:
Simply leave a comment answering the following bolded question!
Rules for this contest:
*You can enter anytime from right now up to Sunday (Nov. 6th). Those who comment will be entered to win. This giveaway is U.S. only–sorry! When you comment, you will be asked for your email address. This information will not be made public. It will only be used to contact the winner. You must provide your name.
For additional entries and chances to win:
*Subscribe to this blog!
*Become a member on Facebook: The Write Stuff
*Follow me on Twitter
*Twitter, Facebook, or Blog about the contest (you must provide a separate comment that you did this with a link).
Every name is assigned a random number. The more you enter, the more numbers are assigned to your name. The range of numbers is put into a Random Number Calculator and the winning number is chosen! I’ll announce the winners on Nov. 7th! Once contacted, the winners will have three days to email me their mailing addresses. If I do not receive a reply within the allotted time, I will pick another winner. Good luck!
*Are there any dreams or careers you would have liked to pursue (if you had the chance?)?
For Example: Acting. I’ve always thought I would have enjoyed theatre but I never had the guts to check it out!