July 17, 2012

interview with the author of 'the cowboy singer'

Change the Word is pleased to welcome Paula Tiberius, author of The Cowboy Singer, today as part of her Chick Lit Plus tour. I was already inclined to like Paula after receiving an email from her, in which she shared my enthusiasm for barbraries. That obviously shows good taste, so I was excited to dig into her novel. After reading her novel and doing this interview, I am pleased my initial impression was confirmed. Thank you for being here, Paula.

Change the Word: How did you come up with the idea for The Cowboy Singer?
Paula Tiberius: When I was a few months pregnant with my daughter, a friend of mine started sending me Harlequin romance novels. I don't know if it was because of the extra relaxation time I had or what, but I read a whole bunch of them in a row and they were so sinfully fun. I was in the middle of a few different screenplays at the time that were kind of stalled, and so suddenly trying my hand at writing romance gave me tons of motivation! I looked down at my belly and began to imagine what it would be like to be having the baby on my own, and falling in love along the way.

CTW: What kind of prep work did you do before writing?
PT: My trip to Austin the year before helped a lot in terms of the setting, and being pregnant myself provided a constant stream of details on that front. In terms of writing prep, I started with a list of chapter headings that took the story from beginning to end in a nutshell, then fleshed those out before beginning to write.

CTW: What was the biggest challenge you faced while writing the novel? How did you overcome it?
PT: It took me a while to figure out how to get James out of April's face for a while so that she could really miss him and get that panicky feeling where she realizes she can't live without him. The conflict wasn't really working when there was no reason they couldn't be together. But forcing him to choose between April and his own daughter - that's conflict you can write a country song about! I finally figured it out through brainstorming - just writing down every stupid and silly idea until all of a sudden one of them isn't so silly. That usually works for me. Sometimes I have to call in the big guns and actually run it by another person.

CTW: What is the best lesson you have learned as a writer?
PT: I've learned to stick up for my ideas and not allow others to shoot them down, especially when they're undeveloped. The second piece of wisdom there is to keep your ideas to yourself until they're strong enough to withstand feedback! If you don't respect your ideas and give them enough space to grow, then you're cutting off the oxygen supply to your creativity and you'll just shrink back and never do anything.

CTW: What books would we find on your bookshelf?
PT: I just finished reading White Lies and Custard Cream by Susan Alison. It's hilarious! Now I've downloaded Kathleen Kole's Favorable Conditions. On my physical bookshelf are a lot of art books and books on how to meditate - books for which you need to actually feel the pages...

CTW: If you could meet one fictional character, who would it be and why?
PT: I'd love to get drunk with Elizabeth Taylor playing Martha from Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf. That would be a wild night!

CTW: That would be a riot. What's next for you and your writing career?
PT: I'm working on novelizing a romantic comedy screenplay of mine called Good Taste. It's a very interesting process because there are so many inner thoughts and so much detail left out when you write for the screen, and you suddenly get to put all that in. It's very liberating to be able to describe furniture, and let the audience in on what's going a character's head without the stigma of 'over-voice,' which many screenwriters view as cheating.

CTW: What advice do you have for aspiring authors?
PT: Write every day, and don't give up. Everything else will fall into place.

Read my review of The Cowboy Singer here.

About the Author
Paula Tiberius is an author, screenwriter, filmmaker, musician and mom living in North Hollywood, California with her musician husband Richard, their daughter Violet, and their German Shepherd, Jackson. Paula wrote and directed the award-winning feature film Goldirocks in Toronto, which came out theatrically in 2004, played on Pay TV and Cable in Canada and is currently available on Netflix, distributed by R Squared Films. To learn more about Goldirocks, visit www.goldirocks.com You can read more from Paula Tiberius at her website  www.paulatiberius.com/blog, where you’ll find lots of thought-provoking blogs, vegetarian recipes and more. The Cowboy Singer is her first novel.

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