Interview with Carol Es, Author of #Memoir 'Shrapnel in the San Fernando Valley' #interview @esart

Today's guest is Carol Es, author of the new memoir/biography Shrapnel in the San Fernando Valley. Carol is here to talk about her book, writing and what surprised her about getting her book published.

Welcome to The Writer's Life! 

I’m happy to be here and talk about all things booky.

Now that your book has been published, we’d love to find out more about the process.  Can we begin by having you take us at the beginning?  When did you come up with the idea to write your book?

Long ago, when there were still a few dinosaurs around, I thought about writing a memoir, or at least write something ironic about my odd family. Even as a young child. I knew something was off. For one thing, we’d already moved a dozen times by the time I was nine. That’s just weird.

I’d been writing short stories since I was a teenager, and I finally made a serious attempt at the book about 10 years ago after a major life transition. At first it was going to be a fiction project, but the subject matter was too important to hide behind fictionalizing it, or even embellishing. I needed to speak out, if not for me, then for other victims of abuse.

Who is your publisher and how did you find them or did you self-publish?

I’m a hybrid. With my partner, I created my own Indy publishing company. We are called Desert Dog Books.

Is there anything that surprised you about getting your first book published?

From experience, I knew that running a business, especially a press, was going to be hard work. However, I didn’t expect it to put me on the road to self-acceptance. What I mean by that is: because it’s been so difficult and exhausting, I’m faced with having to embrace my limitations. There’s no more go-go-go. It’s made me focus on self-care and a higher quality of life.

Do you believe a book cover plays an important role in the selling process?

I really do. People can judge a book almost predominantly by its cover. A cover can make or break a sale, especially for an unknown author. I see the cover art as the very first impression, but probably a third of the selling process: the title and the pitch on the back and your other strong contenders.

I had by cover image designed to be eye-catching, aesthetic, colorful, and striking—all without being too triggering. The subject matter in the book is triggering enough (for some). I was also well studied in what covers were doing well in my genre.people were searching for in my genre.

How hard was it to write a book like this and do you have any tips that you could pass on which would make the journey easier for other writers?

This was by far the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life and I’ve been through plenty, as noted in my book. Before you begin, and if you’re already sure you’ll definitely be publishing it in the end (Personally, I wasn’t so sure), you have to be both ruthless and hold the integrity to your truth in the highest esteem and be considerate of others at the same time. My advice is to start your rough drafts as honest and without apology as entirely possibly. Just write like there is no tomorrow and like spelling and grammar meant nothing. Don’t stop and edit.

 I kept a progress blog during the last couple of years while I worked on my memoir. I made sure it was for public consumption, and a place I could look back on reflect, and try not repeat the same mistakes. I’ve also written tips and advice on how to be an honest writer and navigate writing in the nonfiction genre.

What other books are you working on and when will they be published?

I am always working on short stories. They are somewhat autobiographical fiction, or creative nonfiction. I actually don’t know what they are called, but they are neither fiction or nonfiction. If I get enough good ones together, I’ll publish a collection of them.

What’s one fact about your book that would surprise people?

It’s been re-written 35 times.

Finally, what message are you trying to get across with your book?

I don’t have a “message,” but I hope my readers can find relatable connections to my story within the raw emotion I’ve tried to express—if anything so that they know they are not alone.
Thank you again for this interview!  Do you have any final words?

I’m grateful for these very thoughtful questions. Thank you!

About the Author

Self-taught artist, writer and musician, Carol Es is known primarily for creating personal narratives within a wide spectrum of media. A native Los Angelina, she often uses past experience as fuel for her subject matter.  Writing on art, her articles have appeared in Huffington Post, Whitehot Magazine, and Coagula Art Journal; her prose published with small presses — Bottle of Smoke Press, Islands Fold, and Chance Press among them. Additionally, she makes handmade Artist’s books which have been acquired for such collections as the Getty and the National Museum of Women in the Arts.
Carol is a two-time recipient of the ARC Grant from the Durfee Foundation, the Pollock-Krasner, and a Wynn Newhouse Award for her art. She’s also earned grants from Asylum Arts and the National Arts and Disability Center/California Arts Council for writing. In 2019, she won the Bruce Geller Memorial Prize (WORD Grant) from the American Jewish University.

About the Book:

Author: Carol Es
Publisher: Desert Dog Books
Pages: 356
Genre: Memoir/Biography

Shrapnel in the San Fernando Valley is a guided tour through a Tilt-A-Whirl life that takes so many turns that you may find yourself looking up from the pages and wondering how the hell one person managed to fit them all into 40-odd years. And many of them are odd years indeed. From a rootless, abusive childhood and mental illness through serious and successful careers in music and art, much of which were achieved while being involved in a notoriously destructive mind-control cult. Carol Es presents her story straight up. No padding, no parachute, no dancing around the hard stuff. Through the darkness, she somehow finds a glimmer of light by looking the big bad wolf straight in the eye, and it is liberating. When you dare to deal with truth, you are free. Free to find the humor that is just underneath everything and the joy that comes with taking the bumpy ride.

Illustrated with original sketches throughout, Shrapnel in the San Fernando Valley is not just another survivor's tale, it’s a creative perspective through moments of vulnerability where the most raw and intimate revelations are laid bare. As an artist and a woman finding self-worth, it’s truly a courageous, relatable story that will keep you engaged to the very end.



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