Tell us about yourself and how many books you have written.
I’m a retired professor of Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies at U.C. Davis. I’ve written five books of non fiction and a memoir, Tasting Home, which appeared with She Writes Press in 2013 and won twelve independent press awards. My latest book is fiction, Oink. A Food for Thought Mystery which is set on a campus non unlike that of UC Davis. It’s protagonist is Emily Addams, a foodie professor of women’s studies at Arbor State. Of course the book is not at all autobiographical. I’m at work on another in the series, Terroir which deals with women winemakers.
What is the name of your latest book and what inspired it?
Oink. A Food for Thought Mystery was inspired by real life events. (Not the poisoning!) In the 1990s budget cuts to the UC system were accompanied by an increasing focus on making a profit. Small programs like my own were threatened with defunding, but the women’s and the ethnic studies programs came together to resist and to form a community based on the value of mutual care, pleasure, and common cause. The book is a humorous send up of the university for its increasing devotion to greed and self-advance and a reminder of how community is essential to human life.
Do you have any unusual writing habits?
Well, I still draft on unlined paper using a 2 1/2 Ticonderoga pencil, though now I sometimes use a pen. Obviously, I began writing before computers existed. My brain is wired to paper and pencil.
What authors, or books have influenced you?
Tony Hillerman above all. What I like about him is that his novels are written from the perspective of people on the margins and that they deal with serious issues while also being entertaining. He gave me the idea of writing a campus mystery told from the point of view of those on the margins of university life.
What are you working on now?
I’m working on Terroir which is about secret contamination in the university and in the wine making industry. It’s also humorous and serious at the same time.
What is your best method or website when it comes to promoting your books?
I use boosted Facebook ads a lot and Facebook groups. I also maintain email lists of people who’ve expressed interest in my work.
Do you have any advice for new authors?
Take a writing class. It offers discipline, feedback, and a sense of community which are all extremely helpful. I’ve also belonged to several writing groups and they are very sustaining.
What is the best advice you have ever heard?
Annie Lamont’s says not to be afraid of writing a shitty first draft.
What are you reading now?
Out of Egypt for a writing group. To the Stars Through Difficulties. The First Bad Man.
What’s next for you as a writer?
I’m going to continue with the mystery series and try to rewrite the screenplay for my memoir.
If you were going to be stranded on a desert island and allowed to take 3 or 4 books with you what books would you bring?
The collected Chekhov, the collected Shakespeare, the collected Austen.