Friday, February 17, 2012

Dishing it up with Consuelo Saah Baehr

Today I have the pleasure of dishing it up with Consuelo Saah Baehr. She is a repurposed writer who got off the couch several months ago, formatted her out-of-print backlist books published them on Amazon and now sell them in the Kindle store. The idea of publishing another book with a traditional publisher was so daunting, she remained silent for several years until e-publishing set her free.

Add caption
JET: Can you tell us about your most recent book?

Consuelo: One Hundred Open Houses (most recent) was a book I wrote when I was sure I would never write again. I couldn't make my mind settle down. I couldn't make my body settle down. Both of these are necessary to write a full length novel. My agent, Charlotte Sheedy got me to write this book over lunch in a pleasant restaurant in Sag Harbor, New York. We had started out at a different restaurant but she couldn't find anything she liked on the menu so we moved across the street to another restaurant. She mentioned a book that was currently popular. You could do a book like that, she said. I was sure I couldn't. Of course, you could, she insisted. Bolstered by several gulps of Merlot, I agreed to begin. For the next several months I pulled this book out of me inch by inch. I was jumpy, the book was jumpy. I wasn't used to sitting still. I wasn't used to thinking things through and being honest. I have no reliable memory of how the book progressed from chapter to chapter. When I had only a few pages left, I was finally able to write smoothly and quickly. One day the book was done. When I read it through I fell madly in love with what I had written.

JET: What’s been your most challenging hurdle on the road to publication?

Consuelo: I was sending Op-Ed essays to the New York Times. They accepted the fifth submission. In the three line bio at the bottom I put that the essay was from a book in progress. In a couple of days I had several offers and sold the book that I had yet to finish writing.

JET: What was your favorite moment in the journey?

Consuelo: My favorite moment was coming home from shopping and finding a note from the babysitter on the back of the phone bill. “Howard Goldberg called. N Y Times.” My six-year old son had spoken to him. “Is this about my mother’s writing? he asked, “You should take it. She wants you to.”

JET: Which authors had the most influence over you growing up?

Consuelo: F Scott Fitzgerald for his insight into the way we live and his sentence structure. Here’s an example. “The evening progressed from phase to phase with the sheer nervous dread of the moment itself.” He’s talking about the dinner at Gatsby’s house in “The Great Gatsby.” I like some of Ann Tyler’s “Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant.” E. L. Doctorow’s book Ragtime was a triumph for the simple declarative sentence. Love Sue Grafton’s alphabet P.I. series. I guess the last few are contemporaries but they definitely have influenced me.

JET: When did you know you wanted to take the plunge into the writing world?

Consuelo: I have always wanted to be a writer. When I was about seven I was in a convent boarding school and there was a book in that sparse library titled Chum. It was about an orphan girl who discovers her mother is a famous actress. I considered the plot fantastic and realized that if I were a writer I could write any fantastic set of circumstances that I wanted.

JET: What’s the craziest thing you’ve done in the name of book research? Most interesting fact you uncovered?

Consuelo: For my most recent novel, One Hundred Open Houses, I visited more than 100 open houses for apartments in New York City. It was an eye-opening experience and taught me that most apartments in New York City are not fit for human habitation.

JET: Of all the novels and stories you’ve written - which one is your favorite? Why?

Consuelo: I have two favorites. Daughters is an epic novel loosely based on my paternal grandparents lives as Palestinians living in a little Christian village ten miles north of Jerusalem . I used oral history, the diaries of the Society of Friends and the memoirs of a number of well-known writers who lived in Jerusalem during that time. I am very proud of the authenticity of the details and of the seamless manner in which they were woven into a very interesting and dramatic family saga. Readers love this book.

JET: Any advice for the novices out there?

Consuelo: I always recommend that any would be writer start by submitting short essays to their local newspaper. Getting into print quickly gives you the courage to try again and repetition is what makes writing better. I learned how to write efficiently while I was a copywriter for the Macy Corporation writing newspaper ads every day about everything from handbags to electroplated charms.

JET: All right - now that I’ve hammered you with the big questions, let’s tackle my favorite (and geeky) quick ten…starting with…Paper or Plastic?

Consuelo: Paper (not so much for ecological reasons although that’s good, too) I love the brown paper that bags are made of.

JET: Steak or Tofu?

Consuelo: Steak

JET: Beach or Mountains?

Consuelo: Definitely beach.

JET: Country or Rock-n-Roll?

Consuelo: Rock-n-Roll

JET: Leather or Lace?

Consuelo: Neither.

JET: Angels or Demons?

Consuelo: Demons.

JET: Paper or Digital?

Consuelo: Digital.

JET: Silent Film Classics or Cheesy B Rated Horror?

Consuelo: Silent Film Classics

JET: Twilight or True Blood

Consuelo: Twilight

JET: Coffee or Tea?

Consuelo: Coffee

JET: Thank you for indulging me. Before we wrap this up, can you tell us what you're working on now? What's next?

Consuelo: I have two titles-in-progress. The novelization of a screenplay titled: Softgoods about two suburban women who unwittingly sell “hot” designer clothes. Also halfway through a “woman sleuth” novel titled “Tough As Nails.”

I am always writing on my blog, The Repurposed Writer.

JET: Thank you so much for taking the time to chat on my blog. Folks, you can find out more about Consuelo Saah Baehr and her work at the following places:

Amazon U.S. Kindle Store:


Until Next time…



No comments: