Monday, August 3, 2020

Interview and Review with the Cinderella Blues author, Obren Bokich

 If you are looking for a heart warming, modern day fairytale then you will love the Cinderella Blues. I loved the main character Kat who is a hopeless romantic. She is also quirky and fun. The poor girl just doesn’t have luck in the love department and just when things start to go right, they go wrong. Then she finds a friend to confide in, but this friend has more interest in her than she does in him. What will happen to hopeful, romantic Kat? You will just have to find out. So if you love modern-day romance, then you’ll enjoy this light read. 

Cinderella Blues 

Obren Bokich

Genre: Modern Day Fairytale, Romance


Book Blurb:

 The phenomena whereby otherwise intelligent, capable, successful professional women are convinced they need rescuing by a prince.


Where are you from? Tell us a little about yourself!

I grew up on a farm just outside Boise in a family with deep Idaho roots. My grandparents homesteaded there, my grandfather was a prominent attorney, senator and gubernatorial candidate, and my grandmother was a librarian who helped to create the Idaho State Library. Nearly every wall in our home was covered with books—I once guesstimated there were 3,000 volumes. Our favorite card game was Authors, and nearly all the books in the game were only a few steps away. I started spending my allowance on book clubs when I was eight, and when the boxes with fresh paperbacks arrived in the mail it was like Christmas in April (or July or October). The first thing I always did was smell them (I still have to do this with children’s books—the fresh ink scent from all those colors is amazing).

Tell us about your book? How did it get started?

I guess now would be a good time to address the elephant in the room—a guy writing a Chick Lit novel. One of my editor’s initial comments when she read it was that I might want to publish it with a female pseudonym (she also asked how my wife felt about being married to a man who knows so much about women, one of the nicest compliments I’ve every had). I think it’s likely you’ve reviewed a novel by a “female” author who was anything but, and I personally know a woman screenwriter whose violent Action screenplays have a male “written by” on the title page. I understand why it’s done, but don’t approve, and I honestly never even considered it for this novel. I had a strong feminist mother who was firm that women and men are equal in every respect. Not only do I agree with that, but I feel it works both ways—there are no rules that should be closed to anyone because of gender—whether one can ablely do the job should be the only criteria. This was my response to her, plus that The Cinderella Blues is a love letter for my sisters, not sisters in the sense of literal siblings, my dear sister was killed by a drunk driver when she was fourteen, but for the women with whom I’ve shared friendship, and sometimes much more. And it’s a testament that I’ve really listened to them and paid attention (both important tools for a writer).

The germ of the idea for the story came from one of those sisters, a lovely woman who was one of the first serious relationships I had after my previous marriage. Like Kat in the Cinderella Blues, she’d just emerged from an eight year relationship with a guy who didn’t know she was there. And, like Kat, she’d coasted in the relationship by pouring so much of her life into her job. The incubator was meeting a number of intelligent, capable, successful professional women who were convinced they needed rescuing by a prince, (that’s the back cover blurb as the “definition” of The Cinderella Blues).

How do you create your characters?

I create my characters the way an actor does, I look for that character in people I’ve known or observed, and I look in my own life for shared experience. When I had the idea for my first play I decided I couldn’t be a playwright without understanding actors’ problems, so I studied acting with an truly great actor and director named Wendall Phillips. The surprising thing about the experience was that secondarily I gained important tools for creating real, living breathing characters, and not just, “Who am I, what am I, where am I and what do I want?” By using the sense memory exercise you can go back in your life to a similar moment that you want to create and feel, smell, hear and see that moment, and experience the emotion of it in real time.

But “living and breathing”? That’s the rub, right? Only real people live and breathe. There’s a moment in one of my favorite films, “The Whole Wide World,” the adaptation of Novalyne Price’s memoir about her relationship with Robert Howard, the creator of Conan The Barabarian, that expresses it perfectly. Price has been cultivating Howard because of her own writing ambitions. In fact, she was writing Romance stories, tales of princes and pirates. The scene takes place in the coffee shop in the only hotel in the tiny Texas town where they live. She she has finally worked up the nerve to ask him to read her work and he reluctantly gives her his critique, that she should write about what she knows, not galleons and royalty riding around in carriages. She replies, “Well I haven’t seen any giant snakes or buxom naked women frolicking through the Texas hills lately,” referring to his sword and sorcery novels. “Oh, but I have,” he says. If you don’t believe it when you write it, the reader will instantly know it isn’t real.

This is especially vital with dialogue. When I read someone’s dialogue I can tell immediately if the conversation is real. I don’t mean if real people actually had it (it’s not supposed to be a documentary), I mean if the writer was inside the skin of each character listening to the other character when they were talking. This is the most important tool I learned from acting: listening—the difference between two people standing on a stage reciting memorized lines and two people actually having a conversation. A writer who isn’t listening just has characters saying things to move the story along.

What inspires you?

My wife inspires me. My dog inspires me. The Santa Monica Mountain Conservancy and my mountain bike inspire me. Blues and electronic music inspire me. A book or film that expertly combines art, philosophy and entertainment inspires me.

Where do you write? Is there something you need in order to write (music, drinks?)

I’m always suspicious when I see someone tapping away on a laptop at a Starbucks. I need quiet. Not solitude, most of the initial rough draft is done on in pencil on a legal pad sitting on the bed at night with my wife sitting next to me reading, but there can’t be any noisy distractions. In the morning, fortified with green tea, I sit down at the computer and massage my scribblings into the story.

How do you get your ideas for writing?

From the idea place. Seriously. An idea comes to you, like, hey, that would be an interesting story. There are times when it feels like someone else is doing the writing, that I’m just a stylus or something.

What do you like to read?

Writers who have inspired me include Evelyn Waugh, Kingsly Amis, Paul Theroux, Maxine Kingston, de Maupassant, Flaubert, McCarthy and Markham (OK, I’ll admit, “Cooper” in The Cinderella Blues’ might be semi-autobiographical), Kafka, JP Donleavy, Dorothy Parker, Saki, Raymond Carver, Truman Capote and Maurice Sendak. I just read the Dragon Tattoo girl series and Sarah Silverman’s pee book.

What would your advice be for authors or aspiring in regards to writing?

  1. Don’t talk about the stories you want to write. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had people tell me they have an idea for a children’s book, play, film or novel, and when they start to tell me the story it scares me, because that germ of an idea is so vulnerable at that point, so easy to crush.
  2. Start writing, and finish it come hell or high water. Don’t start anything else until it’s done.
  3.  Promise yourself you won’t show anyone your work, including the rough draft, until it’s done. This silences your internal critic so you can allow yourself to work.
  4. Don’t start editing until you’ve completed the first draft. I can’t stress enough how important this is. When I started writing I had half a dozen projects started, all seven extremely well-edited pages long. When I sit down to work in the morning I don’t allow myself to read anything I’ve written prior to the previous day. Exception: when I need to synchronize elements of the story I’ll go back and fix them. But I don’t read it through until the first draft is finished. Writing that first draft has to be about creating, not editing, because when you start editing that idea angel flies straight back to heaven.
  5. One of my favorite Bob Dylan lines is, “I’ll know my song well before I start singing.” Thoroughly outline your story before you start, so you know exactly where you’re going, beginning, middle and end.

Anything else you’d like to share?

The Cinderella Blues is a sweet, funny, heartfelt story. I hope your readers enjoy it.

Denise Alicea
the authorDenise Alicea
This blog was created by Denise in September 2008 to blog about writing, book reviews, and technology. Slowly, but surely this blog expanded to what it has become now, a central for book reviews of all kinds interviews, contests, and of course promotional venue for authors, etc

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