Interview with Nonfiction Humor Authors Bob Brooker & Kaye O'Doughtery

Bob is an old saloon singer who, as Bobby Brookes, recorded for RCA Victor and Capital back in the day; Kaye has trouble carrying a tune in a bucket. Nevertheless, after they met at a recording studio on 42nd Street (yes, that 42nd Street), they teamed up, as Brooker and O'Dougherty, to collaborate on a variety of theater, film, TV and video projects over the ensuing decades.

A while back, they took a break to complete their college educations, with Kaye being graduated in 2003 from St. Peter's College in Englewood Cliffs, NJ, and Bob magna cum laude from Montclair State in 2004. Football is for Lovers (which can be found at marks Bob and Kaye's debut as book authors.

Welcome to The Writer's Life, Bob and Kaye Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and how long you’ve been writing?

A: We've always been writing. It's what we do. But for most of our adult lives, it was geared to the performing arts: plays, lyrics, skits . . . things like that. But when Bob had a stroke back in 2004 – three months after being graduated magna cum laude from Montclair State, and on the weekend before he was scheduled to go into a studio to finish recording a new album – it looked like we needed to come up with a Plan B.

Since Bob's left side – including his left vocal chord – was paralyzed, we needed something we could do sitting down and with our mouths shut. Football is for Lovers seemed to fill the bill.

Can you please tell us about your book and why you wrote it?

A: We wrote Football is for Lovers because, after Bob's stroke, it was pretty obvious that we had to reinvent ourselves. But as we see it, reinvention is a part of life, so that was fine. Now we're book authors. Good for us. But why, specifically, Football is for Lovers? Well, we're sports fans. We love football.

And we could see that an unfortunate number of our fellow human beings were having a problem with football season. Clicker wars. Hurt feelings. Alienation. Like that. So we thought Football is for Lovers might serve as an antidote to these false divisions. It sort of reminded us of Congress. An even sadder situation. But if we could help in the relationship arena . . . well, that was a start. Congress . . . oh, well. We can only do what we can do.

What kind of research was involved in writing Football is for Lovers?

A: A whole lot! To begin with, the 'educational' part of the book – explaining the game of football – is precise and accurate. We respect the game, and with this, we do not play. But. The book is also full of factoids that can make you sound extremely clever at cocktail parties. Stuff like Terrell Owens' middle name. And for whom the Cleveland Browns are named. Ah-ha! You think you know the answer. But we think you don't. Wanna make a bet?

Has it been a bumpy ride to becoming a published author or has it been pretty well smooth sailing?

A: Look. Three months after his graduation from Montclair State, on the Sunday before Bob was scheduled to finish recording a new album, he had a stroke. Just like that, life on the wicked stage as we had known it for decades was at an end. Writing a book, at this point, was a cruise on an ocean liner. We only hope it doesn't turn out to be the Titanic.

For this particular book, how long did it take from the time you signed the contract to its release?

A: We like doing things on our own, so looking for a publisher to choose us was not on our agenda. A long time ago, we really tried to do everything by the book. In the early days of our partnership, we wrote a really gorgeous musical – Harlem Sweet – based on the writings of the Poet Laureate of Harlem, Langston Hughes. Yes, we did make sure we had the rights before we began.

Nevertheless, after putting in several years on the project, when we were actually in the process of casting the show, because two lawyers hated each other's guts, the project drowned in a sea of legalese. So now we try to make our route as direct – and as much our own - as possible.

In this case, we had decided before we put the first word on paper that we would self-publish. So the time it took us to have the book published was the time it took us to write and edit the book. Which was about nine months. Interesting, no?

Do you have an agent and, if so, would you mind sharing who he/is is? If not, have you ever had an agent or do you even feel it’s necessary to have one?

A: We love the idea of writing a book and having someone else do the selling. So, no: we do not have an agent. But if there's anyone out there who would like to fill that position, please give us a call. Or an e-mail. Smoke signals will do.

Do you plan subsequent books?

A: Yes. In fact, we've already begun our second book – also humorous non-fiction – He's Not the Guy (God Didn't Do It!). It troubles us when we hear those stories about things like, say, a building collapsing and ninety-nine people being killed. And the sole survivor says, "It was a miracle! God saved me!" So - uh – exactly what does that mean? God killed the other ninety-nine? We think not. And we intend to set the record straight.

Can you describe your most favorite place to write?

A: There was a time when we thought the only way to write was curled up in our favorite chair with a yellow legal pad and a pencil. Now, we've become computer junkies. After all, growing up in an era of carbon copies, who could resist the option to copy, cut, and paste? Oh, be still, our hearts.

The cushions of the old easy chair are no competition for the ability to move whole paragraphs at will. The seating arrangements may be a bit stiffer, but what the heck. Plus we have some lovely photographic art on the wall just beyond the computer – our favorite being Beggar with Arms Extended by the late more-than-great Frank Gohlke - and, since we live on the New Jersey palisades, the mighty Hudson flowing by our window on the right. Life is good.

If money was no object, what would be the first thing you would invest in to promote your book?

A: Remember the singer Peter Lemongello? Who knew who the heck he was? But you have to wonder how many records he sold with his TV ads. So, yeah: we'd love to do a national TV commercial. Preferably at half time during the Super Bowl.

How important do you think self-promotion is and in what ways have you been promoting your book offline and online?

A: Unfortunately, we accept the fact that self-promotion is important. We have an acquaintance who happens to be a really talented writer of romance fiction. But she is also positively brilliant at promotion. She does the e-mails and the blog and like that. Frankly, we'd rather just write. This whole social networking thing makes us just a little bit nauseous. Could be we're looking at it all wrong.

After all, we still love hanging out at the local pub and debating whatever. And that's social networking, no? But this whole Twitter and Tweet and FaceBook thing . . . honestly, we'd rather not. And yet, we do want to reach our audience. Because we would like to make that connection. To talk to . . . well, all of you. But we come from a time when privacy was prized. Oy. What to do. We need an agent . . .

What’s the most common reason you believe new writers give up their dream of becoming published and did you almost give up?

A: You write something you know is really good. Like our Harlem Sweet. Yes, it was. No kidding. Only you can't get it going. Then you see crap out there that makes it. You know your stuff is better. Makes you want to cry. But, hey: that's life.

Little kids die of cancer before they have the chance to so much as learn their A-B-Cs. Some are born into such lousy situations in, say, inner cities here in America, that if they grow up at all, it's only to struggle through hard, limited lives anyway. So your Pulitzer Prize-worthy book or play or film or whatever has been overlooked.

Given the mountains other people are faced with . . . mountains some of them have even managed to climb . . . well, we figure you'll find a way to scale your own Mt. Everest. If you just keep going. So buy a box of tissues and keep writing. Or buy a box of tissues and stop writing. Trust us: the world doesn't care. Do you?

Any final words of wisdom for those of us who would like to be published?

A: Faith. Hope. Love. What else is there?

Thank you for your interview, Bob and Kaye. I wish you much success!

A: Thank you.

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