Saturday, May 19 Gaithersburg Book Festival 2012

Q&A with 2012 Featured Author Cathy Alter

Here’s a sneak peak at the upcoming book festival where I will be reading an essay from a new anthology called Wedding Cake for Breakfast. Go time is 4:30. Check out the festival website for more info and to plan out your day.

Where do you find inspiration?
I find people so endlessly fascinating. Everyone I meet is a potential story – from the kooky hippie who owns the gift shop in my neighborhood to the cast of seniors with whom I volunteer at the Christ Child Opportunity Shop. I think being curious about others is a way into understanding your own motivations, passions, and fears. Curiosity, for me, is one of the hallmarks of inspiration. The day I stop being interested in something or someone is the day I stop writing.

What advice do you have for aspiring authors?
There is really no better advice for aspiring writers than to write, to practice your craft, and, if possible, to develop a niche. If you have a hobby you love, knitting or gardening, become an expert in that hobby and write about it. It really helps, especially in the nonfiction market, to specialize. I love writing about pop culture, which means I watch and think about “The Bachelor” (Courtney!? Are you kidding me?!) way more than I ought to!

What are you reading right now?
At the moment, I am reading “The Discomfort Zone” by Jonathan Franzen. I am a mega Franzen fan—from his modern-day classic “The Corrections” to the complex and touching essay he wrote about his father in The New Yorker (and even to his completely misguided snubbing of Oprah)—I think he is the master of the written word. I knew he could write about other characters with humor and pathos so I was curious to see him focus his lens on himself – plus, what could be better than a memoir about his neurotic beginnings? In this book, Franzen writes with such a biting and caustic wit and with an almost fond self-awareness of his loser status, I felt an amazing kinship with him. Which helped me understand that maybe if I wrote about my own struggles with fitting in, as I tried to do in my own memoir, I’d be able to connect with readers in a similar way.

What book has inspired or affected you in some way?
Anne Lamott’s “Bird by Bird” is required reading for any writer, but when I read “Operating Instructions,” a chronicle of her first year as a mother, I felt both schooled as a writer and understood as a new mother. My baby boy is now 7-months old and I found myself using Lamott’s book as a roadmap of sorts. I also marveled at how raw and honest she was, admitting at one point she just felt like throwing her newborn son against the wall during one of his terrible crying jags (I’m not there yet, and luckily, Leo is a fantastically happy baby). Writing memoir is often an ugly process, where horrifying thoughts get put down on the page. In a way, Lamott was giving me permission to express and ultimately excise my own inner monster – a hugely relieving experience for a writer and a new mother.

If you could sit down at dinner with three other authors, living or dead, which three authors would you choose, and why?
If I was hosting a dinner party with three other authors I probably wouldn’t be able to eat a single bite. Writers, especially ones I admire, are my rock stars. But, since this is a fantasy, I will assume the role of cool and collected hostess. I would, of course, sit at the head of the table. To my left, Shalom Auslander. He is one pissed off dude and I like that in a person and especially in a writer. Raised in an ultra Orthodox community, Auslander was schooled in God’s unpredictable, vengeful, and bloodthirsty character, lessons he soon rejects. The aftermath, including his repudiation of both God and his family is bold and blasphemous and terrifically funny (if you can believe it) territory. I’d love to talk to him about the genesis of his new book, “Hope: A Tragedy” – in which his main character discovers an older Anne Frank living in his attic. That means naturally, to my right, is Anne Frank. What a lively debate those two would have, don’t you think? To carry on the theme, I would love to seat Christopher Hitchens at the head. For many reasons, of course, but mostly because he still deserves to be at the table. Plus, he’d probably bring a really good bottle of wine.

 

Pre-2011 Events

Featured

October 17, 2009
F. Scott Fitzgerald Literary Conference
w/Tim Wendel, author of Castro’s Curveball
8:30-10 AM
Theater Arts Building of Montgomery College
Rockville Campus

September 24, 2009
Reading at Barnes & Noble
7 PM
1851 Fountain Drive
Reston, VA 20190

September 23, 2009
6-7 PM
Fall for the Book
I’ll be reading along with David Shields, author of the amazing The Thing About Life Is That One Day You’ll Be Dead
George Mason University
visit www.fallforthebook.org for more information

August 4th, 2009
Lets Talk Live
News Channel 8 (check local listings for times)
July 27th, 2009
Better TV (check local listings for times)

July 29th, 2009
“Bulldog” Bill Feingold Unleashed
KNEWS Radio 10:15 PM PST

July 30th, 2009
The Paradise Radio Network
WCBQ-AM 1340 WHNC-AM 890 7:15 AM

July 28th, 2009
Up For Renewal US paperback release!

Past events

August 6th, 2pm EST
Broadminded, a pop culture and entertainment show heard on XM155 (US, CAN)

August 14th, 3:30pm EST
A Chef’s Table, WHYY Radio, Philadelphia, NPR affiliate, Nationally Syndicated. Interview with host Jim Coleman

July 10th - Click here for more on Cathy’s segment with Kathie Lee on the TODAY Show
Kathie meets Cathy in the 10 o’clock hour.

July 8th – Reading at Barnes and Noble Washington DC – M Street Georgetown 7:30pm
Thank you for the great turn out – what a wonderful evening!

Cathy Alter book reading and signing at Georgetown Barnes and Noble

Cathy Alter book reading and signing at Georgetown Barnes and Noble

Cathy Alter book reading and signing at Georgetown Barnes and Noble

Cathy Alter book reading and signing at Georgetown Barnes and Noble

Cathy Alter book reading and signing at Georgetown Barnes and Noble

Cathy Alter book reading and signing at Georgetown Barnes and Noble

Cathy Alter book reading and signing at Georgetown Barnes and Noble

Thanks to Betsy Lowther for the great photos!

Mark Judge’s video of the event >>

Friday July 11th
9:00 – 9:30 PM ET LIVE
TALK OF THE TOWN WITH EVIE. KKZZ KVTAAM1520, Los Angeles, CA

Saturday July 12th
12:20 – 12:40 PM ET, LIVE
SECOND SATURDAY MAGAZINE, WPKM RADIO, Independent Public Radio, Bridgeport, CT & Montauk, NY

Monday July 14th

Channel 8 NEWS interview

7:35 – 8:00 AM ET LIVE
THE DIANE JONES SHOW. KLPW Radio in Washington, MO

8:50 – 9:05 AM ET, TAPED
THE MORNING SHOW, WGVU Radio, Grand Rapids, MI, NPR affiliate

11:00 – 11:30 AM ET TAPED
VIEWPOINTS. Media Tracks. Nationally Syndicated

Tuesday July 15th
3:30 – 4:00 PM ET TAPED
THE MORNING SHOW KAXE Radio, NPR in Grand Rapid, MN

Wednesday July 16th

Canada AM – TV interview

10:05 – 10:25 AM ET LIVE
THE ROUND TABLE. WAMC, National Productions, NPR, Albany, NY

11:06 – 11:20 AM ET LIVE
THE IDEA EXCHANGE, WBEV Radio, Madison & Central WI

5:15 – 5:30 PM ET LIVE
THE GARY O’BRIEN SHOW, WDWS Radio, 1400 AM-News Talk, Champaign, IL

Thursday July 17th
12:30 – 1;30 PM ET LIVE
AUTHOR AUTHORS! WETA.ORG/ NPR & PBSAffiliate in Arlington, VA – on radio and video

Friday July 18th
8:20 – 8:30 AM ET LIVE
MORNINGS WITH RAY & DIANE, WTIC-AM NEWS/TALK 1080, Hartford, CT

11:00 – 11:30 AM ET, TAPED
HEARSAY WITH CATHY LEWIS, WHRV/WHRO Radio, Norfolk, VA, NPR affiliate

7:50 – 8:00 PM ET LIVE
THE JOURNEY HOME, KSFR Radio, Santa Fe Public Radio Santa Fe/Albuquerque, New Mexico

Monday July 21st
10:00 – 10: 15 AM ET LIVE
A TOUCH OF GRAY, NATIONAL

Tuesday July 22nd -
Reading at Joseph Beth bookstore, Lexington KY
Cathy will also be recording on Lexington Tonic NPR radio show - air date TBD.

Tuesday July 22 WLEX-TV
Lexington, KY

Wednesday July 23 WHAS-11

Louisville, KY