Welcome to Ms. Dean Robertson
Where are you from and where do you live now? I grew up on 200 acres of North Georgia woods; now I live in a 1928 co-op in an urban neighbourhood in Norfolk, Virginia.
Please tell us a little about your writing – for example genre, title, etc. The easiest answer is that my first book, Looking for Lydia; Looking for God is a memoir. It is also a sometimes unconventional discussion of some familiar Bible stories; the history of an assisted living facility that was built and chartered in 1921 in a southern city by a carpetbagger from Pennsylvania; the stories of the women who live in the Home today and who participated in a Bible study for two years; and the narrative of my obsessive search for the Lydia of the title.
Do you have a favourite character? If so why? I think probably two, and for the same reasons: Dorothea Brooke in George Eliot’s Middlemarch, and Drusilla in Faulkner’s The Unvanquished—because they are intelligent, passionate, naïve, and slightly mad.
Do you self-edit? If so why is that the case? Do you believe a book suffers without being professionally edited? I edit myself and ask others to edit my work with me in the same way I went over all student essays and taught students to work with their own essays over 30+ years of teaching—by reading out loud, line-by-line, over and over and over. Any language is at least half music and, while I may not know right away what’s wrong or how to fix it, I will hear the sour note which forces me to pause and reconsider. I had a quite amazing experience with my cousin editing this book, which I’m happy to relate in detail. I am currently editing a friend’s children’s book and we spend a couple of hours a day on the phone, both looking at the manuscript, reading aloud, discussing, and rewriting. It’s the first time she’s ever done this, and she simply says, “It works!”
On the other hand, my senior editor at Koehler Books, while he didn’t find much that needed changing, was brilliant and came up with some absolutely genius ideas for restructuring that I never would have thought of.
Do you think indie/self-published authors are viewed differently to traditionally published authors? Why do you think this might be? No question self-published authors are viewed differently. Several places where I’ve submitted my book for review have indicated, up front, that they don’t review self-published authors. Their stated reason is a lack of professional editing. I suspect that it is also a vestige of the good-old-boys network of the nearly defunct big houses. Sloppy editing seems all too common. The noise of the Manhattan publishers is the last roar of a dying lion.
Do you read work by self-published authors? Yes, I do, but usually only on the recommendation of someone I trust. Let’s face it, even professionally edited books these days too often have inexcusable errors. And I find carelessly overlooked typos annoying, uncorrected errors in grammar and usage nearly unbearable.
When buying a book do you read the reviews? I read reviews selectively by reviewers or in publications I know and respect. I don’t always agree, but I always learn from those reviews—The New Yorker and The NY Times Book Review are my personal favorites.
What are your reviews on authors reviewing other authors? Who better? I suppose professional competitiveness exists; I just don’t have it and I choose to assume the best of my fellow authors on that score.
What experiences can a book provide that a movie or video game cannot? The full use of the creative imagination; movies and video games try their best to do that job for us. A serious look at the world through the eyes of both characters and narrator.
A break from the noise of the world we live in.
What three pieces of advice would you give to new writers? Continue; continue; continue
Most authors like to read, what have you recently finished reading? Did you enjoy it? Ishiguro’s Buried Giant, and I’m re-reading it immediately. I don’t know if that means I enjoyed it or that I’m intrigued and puzzled by it. Elaine Pagels’ Revelations: Visions, Prophecy, & Politics in the Book of Revelation—the best work of theology I have read in years.
Do you have any pets? One cat, Isaac. I have always had cats, had 5 llamas for 10 years, and spent a few years keeping bees.
Can you give us a silly fact about yourself? I just bought a pair of hot pink leggings—at age 69+.
Book links, website/blog and author links: