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News, Views, Rantings & Ramblings by Carey Parrish

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Location: Georgia, United States

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Spotlight Interview with Novelist Arthur Wooten

Without question, Arthur Wooten is one of the most talented people I know. His writing is a national treasure. The list of hit titles from this man is stellar and just keeps right on growing. On Picking Fruit, Fruit Cocktail, Birthday Pie, Wise Bear William, Arthur Wooten’s Shorts, and most recently Leftovers have all found their way onto bestseller lists with ease. Arthur writes with a flair that is truly original and he is an inspiration for anyone looking to spread creative wings.

Arthur is also a very good friend. We’ve known each other for years now and about a month ago I had the great pleasure of seeing him again in New York City. I feel that Arthur is one of those special people who are just meant to be a part of my life. He encourages me to keep reaching for my own dreams by making his come true, again and again. Our mutual friend Charles Casillo once remarked to me that “Arthur is an angel.” I have to agree.

Whenever Arthur releases a new book, I always beat an email path to his door and ask for an interview. He always obliges as well. This time was no different. With Leftovers an Amazon bestseller, I was intrigued about how Arthur came to this book and I must admit that the amount of research and time he put into it is amazing. Like the man himself, Leftovers is an original. And that doesn’t have to be preserved in Tupperware either!

CP: Arthur, welcome back! Nice to chat with you again.
AW: Carey, it’s always a pleasure to visit with you. And our recent literary dinner in NYC was too much fun. What a great group of people, including yourself.
CP: Arthur, you make me blush. (Private joke.) You’ve had a major success with your new novel Leftovers. How do you relate to its popularity?
AW: Well, I’m thrilled of course. Leftovers was a big risk for me in that it’s a totally different book from all my others. I hoped that my followers would enjoy it but I also worked hard to find the target audience. I met lots of new “chic lit” bloggers/readers and because Leftovers is also based around Tupperware, I received the blessing of the company itself and I reached out to the top dealers around the world. And I’m so happy that they’ve all loved the story and are spreading news of the book at their Tupperware parties. Everything about Tupperware, including the creator of the home party plan system, Brownie Wise, is historically correct in Leftovers.
CP: Tell us a bit about Vivian Lawson and how you created her.
AW:  Leftovers is a riches to rags to riches love story. Vivian Lawson was born with a silver spoon in her MOTHER’S mouth. The novel takes place between 1954 and 1956 in a fictitious New England town, just north of Boston. Vivian’s father made millions with his woolen factories but his wife, Vivian’s mother, made sure that her daughter barely saw a penny of it, particularly after her father died.
   Thinking he loved her and wanting to get away from her mother, Vivian marries the wrong man. And being born into such wealth, Vivian’s life was orchestrated by a series of maids, each called by their number. Ex: Maid 1, Maid 2, etc. Vivian was not only ignored as a child, she wasn’t allowed to learn how to do anything domestically.
   End result, once she was married, she hadn’t a clue as to what to do. And in the mid-50s, being the supreme housewife was a goal many women strived for. Nor did Vivian know how to dress or apply make-up. She was a mess…but with a heart of gold and much too forgiving.
   She struggles with her marriage and her dream to have children just isn’t working out. And when her degrading husband goes one step too far Vivian shockingly throws him out. She’s left to fend for herself in a man’s world with no money and no skills.
   After hitting rock bottom and with the help of two good friends, Vivian has nowhere to go but up. And it’s Tupperware that allows her to discover her self-esteem, create financial security and ultimately find true love.
CP: Why do you think this character so resonates with readers?
AW: I think people relate to her because her struggle is timeless. Most of us have been in ill-fated romances or marriages. And I don’t know anyone who hasn’t had a dream and worked hard to achieve it. Some succeed, others don’t, but it’s a universal yearning for things to work out. To reach your goal – on all levels. Who doesn’t love a story where the underdog wins?
CP: Did you expect Leftovers to be such a hit?
AW: Carey, at this point in my writing career I try not to think of whether or not a project is going to be a hit. But when the reviews started coming in…and they are glowing…you do whisper to yourself…They like me. They really like me. (God bless Sally Field.)
CP: Are you planning another story with Vivian?
AW: Actually I haven’t thought about that. Hmmm…you have my gears spinning.
CP: Leftovers comes right on the heels of your successes with Birthday Pie, Wise Bear William, and Arthur Wooten’s Shorts. What do you have in store for your fans next?

AW: Next up, once again, is a totally different novel with a working title of Dizzy. Based upon a true story, it’s about a beloved Broadway diva who is struck down by a mysterious disease at the height of her career and is forced to reexamine her life and the people in it as she fights to survive. A story very close to my heart…literally.
CP: Let’s skip back to On Picking Fruit. There was talk of Curtis coming to life on the screen. What’s going on there?
AW: Sadly, nothing. I was in talks with Warner Bros. but ultimately they thought it was too edgy. Then Showtime came knocking but felt it wasn’t edgy enough. I’m hoping one day soon, whether it be On Picking Fruit or someone else’s project, that a show with a lead gay character appears on television again but right now we’re still just seeing them as supporting characters. You have to admit, we are in a very tentative and heated situation across the country when it comes to gay rights and I think Hollywood is nervous right now.
CP: And Birthday Pie? It was also talked of in film circles.
AW: Birthday Pie was in preproduction with Phylicia Rashad to star and her sister Debbie Allen to direct. Then the recession hit and the production company folded. Both Phylicia and Debbie are excited to stay with the project but as of yet, we haven’t found a new home for it.
CP: How about Leftovers? It would make a great film.
AW: Funny you say that, Leftovers was originally a screenplay and optioned by the same company that was producing Birthday Pie. Producers told me Nicole Kidman was interested in the property for several months but that seemed to fizzle out about the same time the company folded.
CP: What’s next for you, Arthur?
AW: Taking my time writing Dizzy. It’s also going to be written in an entirely new and different format for me. I’m breaking away from my traditional linear timeline of writing and exploring new concepts. As you know, I tend to write very quickly but I need to nurture this project very gently.

CP: What have you been doing in your free time lately?
AW: Living in NYC – museums, restaurants, theatre, travel. I just had three books come out in three months and I’m exhausted. This is a well-deserved and necessary break.
CP: Reading anything good?
AW: I’m enthralled by Brian Selznick’s Wonderstruck. You may recall he wrote The Invention Of Hugo Cabret that was then adapted to film and won several Oscars last year. I went to see One Man, Two Guvnors on Broadway recently and he sat next to me. We had met years ago when he was a puppeteer with Basil Twist and seeing him and catching up with everything reminded me that I wanted to get his latest book. It’s simply magical.
CP: What music are you listening to these days?
AW: Adele. Who isn’t? I love her, her music, her lyrics, her voice, her look. And I love her just as much in interviews. She’s so real, down to earth and relatable.
CP: How’s the shiatsu practice?
AW: Still going strong. This is my 28th year as a practitioner. I should give myself a gold watch. Or at the very least, a pair of gold knuckles – to give my hands a rest!
CP: Next time I’m in New York, I definitely want to have dinner with you again.
AW: Oh for sure, Carey. It was glorious to see you again.
CP: Arthur, thanks so much for this time.
AW: As always, the pleasure’s all mine.

Carey Parrish


Blogger Gregory G. Allen said...

Wonderful interview with you amazing men!!

June 11, 2012 at 8:52 AM  

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