Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Camille Claudel, a Novel

Ah, the summer is on the downhill slide now. My summer writing project is ending next week and Correna, my assistant, is getting ready to start college. You can actually tell that it is getting darker just a little bit earlier. But never fear, the Summer Great Book Giveaway continues!
I still need to hear from last week's winner so I can send your book to you! If I don't hear from S.H. by next week, I'll draw another winner.
Today, I have Alma H. Bond talking about writing her book, "Camille Claudel, a novel." Alma took an interesting and unique approach writing about a real person by not writing a biography, but instead turning into a novel.
Read how Alma's research was affected in her decision and why she decided to write a fictional novel rather than a biography. How do you win a book? It's easy. Just click on "comments" before 5 p.m. CST today and ask Alma a writing question. You don't even need an id, or to even sign in. However, I do ask that you leave your first name in case you win. It's a little difficult to send a book to "anonymous." If I randomly draw yours, Alma will answer your question and you'll win the book!
This week, I will be traveling, without Internet access, so I will not post the winner until Monday, July 28.

Tell us a little about yourself.
I am a psychoanalyst who retired from a flourishing Manhattan private practice to write full time. Since then I have had 15 books published. I am the mother of three and the grandmother of seven, with a new one coming along in Sept.
2. Let’s hear about your book, “Camille Claudel: A Novel.”
Here is some PR that was sent out by Major about the book:

Women of the 1800s were often seen as second-class or rejected in the business world, and especially in the artist world. But, very rarely do the stories in history books expose the severe impact on the women of that day. Author Alma H. Bond's new book "Camille Claudel, a Novel" offers a close look into the heart of a woman who aspired to be an artist during the 1800s, but was ultimately rejected despite her amazing talents.

You must have conducted quite a bit of research for this novel. Did you encounter any difficulties in finding the truth of the events in Claudel’s life and was this the reason you chose to do a novel rather than a non-fiction biography? Not too much is known about her. I read everything I could find about her in both English and French, and visited her home town where she lived and the asylum where she died.

Did your background as a psychoanalyst make a difference in your research and writing? Was it beneficial?
It makes a tremendous difference to everything I write. I believe it distinguishes me from my honored literary colleagues. I try to hide the psychological truth in words that a layman can understand.

Why did you choose to narrate from Claudel’s point of view?
I thought I can best demonstrate in her voice what went on in her emotions.

As a female writer, have you ever encountered a situation similar to that which Claudel dealt with in a male-dominated world? Do you think this is still an issue in the 21st century?
As a young psychoanalyst I found it much more difficult to start my practice than men of similar education and ability. Once it began, however, it flourished, until I earned more than any other female analyst I knew.

Having written 15 books, do you find it easier to get books published and noticed?
I get reviewed easier, but it is still difficult to find publishers. Although many talented writers cannot get published at all.

What did you do to promote your novel?
I sent out postcards to every list of sculptors I could find, as well as to many artists. I checked out their websites, and personally contacted any I thought sculpted like Camille Claudel. I advertised in many newspapers, including the NYTimes, and in art magazines, and sent out at least 50 review copies of the book.

What advice do you have for authors preparing to promote their books? The marketing is at least as important as the writing. What good is your masterpiece, if no one but your mother knows about it?

What's next for you?
I am presently writing a biography of Jacqueline Kennnedy Onassis.
My book, Margaret Mahler: A Biography of the Psychoanalyst was just published by McFarland Press.

Ok, readers and writers, Alma is awaiting your questions!


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Have you ever considered writing a novel about Jackie O rather than a biography?

7:51 AM CDT  
Anonymous Najua said...

Hi Alma,

How did you come to know of Camille Claudel and realized she had a story worth telling? Also aside from being able to provide accurate physical descriptions, how else did visiting her home town and the asylum where she died helped in the writing process. Finally, seeing that you write a lot of biographical work, does the publisher pay for your travelling expenses when you are researching a book or do you bear the cost yourself?

Sorry, I know those are a lot of questions. But would very much appreciate your response if you have the time.

Thank you,

1:37 AM CDT  

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