Chase Von: Betty, you know this is truly an honor! So on behalf of the Student Operated Press and myself I thank you so much for finding the time to share with our readers! Jumping right into the fray, I want to say as a seasoned veteran reporter and long-time journalist, you know far more than I, but when I am reading up on people to present them with, hopefully, great questions, that will provide the reading audience with something they will enjoy, I can`t help but get a feeling for them.
Sometimes I`m primarily business, sometimes I joke a bit. Well honestly, I always joke, but again I get a feeling from researching and it kind of feels like questions I might ask one individual, wouldn`t go over so well if I asked the same ones of another individual. Having said that, I will be serious, but I also have my silly hat in close reach as well because you`re a riot! Have you always had this sense of humor, and how important do you think humor is to just life in general?
Betty: Well, Chase, you`re pretty funny yourself, and I, for one, enjoy your brand of humor too. (Grin!) Seriously, I think a sense of humor is vital to everyone`s happiness. And since humans are the only creatures that God granted the ability to laugh, I plan to use my gift and use it often. I find that when I`m laughing and joking around with my friends, all my irritations and resentments vanish and a sunny spirit takes hold.
Chase Von: You`ve lived a life most people could only imagine! We`ll get to you interviewing Clint Eastwood and Jane Russell a bit later. Both Huge Major Stars! But the truth of the matter is, you yourself are considered a star in the literary world as well! You`ve authored three books so far: "Millennium Babe: The Prophecy," a supernatural mystery adventure; "The Toonies Invade Silicon Valley," a Young Adult sci-fi fantasy adventure; and "1106 Grand Boulevard," an epic romantic thriller " plus too many short stories to list here. I understand you`re presently working on a horror novel!
Is humor something that you include in all your stories? Because about the only thing I have seen you being genuinely serious with when it comes to writing is when you do reviews on Amazon. (Smile).
Betty: Let me speak of my current WIPs (works in progress) first, and then I`ll get back to the humor question. Chase, I have already completed two children`s picture books " ""The Love Alphabet" and "The Dog Who Likes Cat Food" " "and am preparing them for submission ASAP. I`ve completed the third draft of a horror novel and a serial-killer thriller novel, also. Both of those need fine-tuning before I submit them, so I`m juggling a lot of storylines at the same time. I`m also on the second chapter of a Toonies sequel "The Toonies Invade New York."
I`m also seeking a new publisher for my Toonies and Grand books because I didn`t renew the contract with my current publisher. My problem at present is deciding which of the projects should take high priority: getting a new novel out there or getting two current ones back in print. It`s like a Catch-22. (Grin!)
As for humor in my works, there`s a zany weatherman in "Millennium Babe: The Prophecy" who`s a lot like Jim Carrey, so there`s tons of humor in that novel. Here`s what author Chad Thompson had to say about Babe: "Ms. Dravis`s breezy style sometimes threatens to undercut the seriousness of her theme (a prophecy fulfilled during modern days), but in the end it serves as a kind of innocence reminiscent of Vonnegut, though not as acerbic." Isn`t that cool, Chase? My Toonies has a lot of humor, too, but Grand is more serious. I always manage some humor, though, because I feel that any good book needs both drama and comedy mimicking life in all ways. And I love satire, so I write a lot of my short stories with my tongue planted firmly in my cheek!
Chase Von: I want to make something clear to those unfamiliar with your writing right now. I always find myself laughing when I read anything " "other than your reviews on Amazon and you even have a lot of humor in some of those " "but you take things that are serious and paint a picture around it or weave within it this incredible humor that you have been blessed with! But it is all extremely intelligently written! Can you share a short portion with our readers so they can get a brief taste, if they aren`t already familiar with your writing?
Betty: I`d be glad to, Chase! One example is how I turned my humor on myself (self-deprecation) when writing a short memoir of my interview with actor Clint Eastwood in the late `60s. I titled it "A Bad Hair Day," and you can tell by the title not all went as well as I would have liked. "lol " Not to tease your readers or anything, but for the sake of brevity of your interview space, I`d like to refer your readers to the Celebrities Section of my website. There they can read about the "Bad Hair Day" I had when I interviewed Clint Eastwood.
The link: http://bettydravisauthor.googlepages.com/celebrities
Chase Von: lol!!! Of all days to have a bad hair day! But I`ve seen that picture of Clint Eastwood looking at you all googly-eyed, so is there something else to this story you aren`t sharing? (Smile).
Betty Dravis: Truthfully, Chase, it all happened so fast that I didn`t realize how Clint was looking at me (and I at him "(Grin!) until I saw the photo. Later when I thought of his fingers embracing my throat that way "well, that`s when I had the delayed "goose bumps" "and believe you me, those "bumps" were as huge as those golden eggs in that old nursery rhyme. What a thrill! If I hadn`t been mesmerized at the time, I might have taken advantage of him. "hehehe "I`m only human, after all.
Chase Von: And how come you didn`t show up late for Clint Eastwood? Hmm? And how come you were late with Jane Russell, but didn`t have a bad hair day? Inquisitive minds want to know! (Smile). And on the serious tip, what was it like interviewing her? She`s another huge star and legend!
Betty Dravis: Well, Chase, you got me there! "lol " Seriously, I ran into a "road spill" en route to San Francisco where I was to sit in on the press conference with Jane Russell, so ended up late. If anyone cares to read that story, it`s posted on my web site under the CELEBRITIES section also; the link: http://bettydravisauthor.googlepages.com/
And you`re right, "Jane Russell was a huge star and another living legend. I found her to be charming, gracious and very kind. Did you know that for over thirty years now, she`s turned the extraordinary publicity of her acting career to focus on the plight of homeless children? She devotes her heart and soul to the placement of children in loving homes through her WAIF organization. She`s my kind of woman!
I felt so fortunate to have interviewed her and Clint Eastwood. I also interviewed other celebrities; a few of the stories are on my web site too. Those interviews were delightful highlights of my life. I plan to add more of the stories behind the interviews as I work on the web site in the future.
As for my hair on the day I interviewed Jane Russell, I was wearing a wig. They were in vogue then, and since the one I wore was too "bushy," you could say that was another bad hair day. " Oh, well, she`s a woman so I wasn`t too concerned. No points to be made with her. hehehe
Chase Von: Your book "1106 Grand Boulevard" has the picture of the actual house you lived in as the cover! What was your childhood like? And since you have been around a bit longer than some of us here, what do you think is the biggest thing that is most different now with kids coming up today, as opposed to when you were growing up?
Hamilton had a good educational system, which was an added blessing. Life was simpler in those days, despite my parents` strict Baptist principles. (We kids had a way of getting around those "lol ") The biggest difference I can see for children growing up in today`s world is the openness of the media regarding everything from sex to crime and warfare. The children are exposed to too much too young. It`s everywhere: in books, magazines, on TV and in the movies.
Betty Dravis: You`re right, Chase, the photo on the cover of Grand is my childhood home in Hamilton, Ohio and the address is the title of my third book. I took that photo when the heroine of my book, my sister Billie, and I were visiting our father in the early `80s. For old times` sake, he drove us past the home, and I shot that photo from the passenger side of his auto. My father`s silhouette frames the house, which made the perfect cover when later I wrote a book about my sister`s dramatic life with seven husbands. At that time I had no plans to write that book, so it just goes to show you how all things work together in the long run.
You ask about growing up in a small Midwestern town. Well, Chase, I count my blessings! My parents were good, hard-working Christians who took good care of us seven children and "loved us to pieces." Adding to the family cast were my grandparents and numerous aunts, uncles and cousins. I`m sure my parents had their share of problems, but they never bothered the children with "adult matters." Life was good!
Chase Von: Also Grand and your Toonies book have both gotten many rave reviews! And I`ve heard from our mutual friend, Chrissy K. McVay, author of "Souls Of The North Wind," that there was talk of making "The Toonies Invade Silicon Valley" into a movie. Can you tell us a little about that?
Betty: Ohmigosh, Chase, when my publisher phoned to tell me that a famous movie production company had called for copies of the Toonies, I thought I was going to faint. I`m not at liberty to give the company name, but I held my breath for about six weeks while they considered it for an animated film. Sadly, the timing wasn`t right and they ultimately returned it. They said it had great "visuals" and would make a great animated movie, but some other project with more urgency came up and well, that was that! But, I remain optimistic. It`s my dream for Toonies " or any of my books " to become a movie!
Chase Von: I read some of your rave reviews. Author J. Buchanan called Toonies "the next movie toon phenomenon," and said Hollywood should recognize it as a "guaranteed motion picture gold-mine" for its marketing potential. And one of Amazon`s top reviewers, Todd Burger, said the unique description of your characters was "reminiscent of some of Baum`s magnificent creations in his classic Oz series." How does it feel to be compared to the mighty Baum?
Betty Dravis: Wow, Chase, you`ve really done your homework! I`m impressed! Thanks for mentioning those two fabulous compliments. I`m in awe of Burger`s comparison, of course, but I feel undeserving of that praise. "The Wizard of Oz" is a true classic. It`s humbling that anyone would mention my Toonies in the same sentence as Oz. I love my Toonies characters, but " Whoaaaaaaa. That review blew me away.
As for what Author Jerome Buchanan said about marketing ops, he started my imagination soaring. I could picture my Toonies characters as marketing products. Actually, I can see Uncle Wom, Doog Toonie and the ape-bird Mischief Makers as toys to be sold in Toys `R Us and as giveaways by Jack-in-the-Box and Mickey Dee`s. I hold that "dream bubble" still in my mind. Perhaps some day...? hmmmmmm " Dream on, Betty!
Chase Von: I`ve always advised my friends and family to "Dream Big," Betty.
Betty Dravis: Yes Dare to Dream Big, as author Cheryl Kaye Tardif advised me.
Chase Von: Is a movie also something you are considering for "1106 Grand Boulevard" as well? And although when it comes to screen plays and things, they prefer you don`t say who you think should play whom, if you had your way, who do you think would best portray your sister, which is who the novel is actually based on?
Betty Dravis: That`s every author`s dream to have his or her book made into a movie, so the answer is a definite YES! So if any of your fans are directors or producers (or know anyone who is), my e-mail address is: BettyDravis@gmail.com " Send them my way " fast! When one of my books becomes a film, I`ll buy you a fast sports car. "lol ? Oh, and if Grand is made into a movie, I would love to have Sandra Bullock play the role of Billie Jean. She`s wholesome and beautiful, yet sexy, too, so she would make a perfect Billie Jean.
Chase Von: Who are some of the authors you yourself most admire?
Betty Dravis: I love everything from juvenile fiction (adore children`s picture books and YA) to horrors, thrillers and general audience books. I`m not big on romances, but I still have my faves in that category, too, including a few author friends who are up-and-coming in that genre. I`m not big on poetry, but I find your book, "Your Chance To Hear The Last Panther Speak" fascinating. It`s different and so-ooo from your heart. It`s YOU, Chase. I wrote a review of it that I hope your fans will read.
My very favorite all-time author, living or dead, is the great Pat Conroy. His stories are so thrilling and real, and I love his similes. He has a poetic, rhythmical style of writing that enthralls me. The man is a genius. I also love Dean Koontz, Stephen King, John Saul, James Patterson and Maxine Paetro the usual beloved "biggies." Of up-and-coming authors, I adore Chris Platt`s young adult novels, Christy Tillery-French`s "Bodyguard" series, Chrissy McVay`s Indian cultural books, Cheryl Kaye Tardif`s novels, especially her "Whale Song," Mary Lou Cheatham`s cookbooks, Laurel-Rain Snow`s "women`s friendship" books, and David Rehak`s more "daring" fare. This list could go on and on because I`m partial to helping new authors achieve their goals. If I missed anyone, I`m sorry.
Oops " "almost forgot David Michael Slater who has written so many children`s books that I adore: "Cheese Louise," "The Ring Bear," "The Flour Girl," and now has a longer YA novel that`s destined for glory: "The Book of Nonsense." It was just released in October and is already winning awards. Go, David!
Chase Von: And because you`re not only an acclaimed author, an honorary Kentucky Colonel, a former member of Romance Writers of America and Sigma Delta Chi, a top Amazon Reviewer, but also a former newspaper publisher and long-time California journalist, who has also hosted a Cable TV talk show...
What do you think about the news of today? Not to guide your answer but I find myself seeking alternative sources instead of listening to the majors because it just feels like it is News Entertainment to me.
Betty Dravis: Thanks, Chase, for your confidence in me. I agree with you wholeheartedly: in order to get unbiased news in today`s world one has to be more selective where one gets the news. I still enjoy watching the prime-time evening news programs because they summarize the day`s events quite well, but my alternate choices are panel discussions such as Barbara Walters`s "The View," CNN and educational channels. In this way, I receive various viewpoints and more detailed analysis about world events. And there`s nothing I enjoy more than reading local news in the small daily paper " over a nice cup of morning tea. That gets my day off to a fine start.
Chase Von: Also, excluding the Great Depression, have you ever seen this country in a worse condition all the way around, from the mortgage crisis to the bail out to the over-extended troops and so on, and do you think that a change in Washington`s leadership is going to really change anything?
Betty Dravis: Well, I may be getting older, Chase, but I`m not exactly a horse-and-buggy girl, you know. (Grin!) I was an infant during the Depression and my parents struggled through it just as other working-class Americans did. But seriously, no, I`ve never seen our great country in worse condition all around. It`s terrible...frightening...what`s going on! But I like to remain optimistic and hope that our President-elect Barack Obama will be able to make a difference. I think he`s an honest, sincere man " "fully dedicated to the citizens of our country " "and that he`ll try mightily to make a difference. I further feel that in order to accomplish anything, both political parties must learn to work together in better harmony for the good of all. I pray that God continues to bless our great country and "sheds his light on thee," as it says in the patriotic song "America the Beautiful."
Chase Von: On a lighter note, I saw photos on your Amazon Profile blog of you and your best friend Linda Bulger dressed up like "Gangster Girls" when she visited you in California. (Smile). If you had said to me, "Go get me a Cabana Cigar, the best and right now, see, and you hurry up about it, see?" "Well, I`d of jumped to do your bidding; you looked THAT authentic. But your friend? Sorry, she just looked huggable. (Smile). She also needs a little more coaching on her Gangster "lean," if you know what I mean. (Smile).
Betty Dravis: Aw-www, Chase, quit picking on Linny. She was visiting all the way from Maine, you know, and didn`t bring her full Mafia gear. Whereas, my closet was right here and I had access to the right clothing for the role. And are you saying I`m NOT huggable? Better be careful, buddy, my Don has a long reach "and Linda`s even longer. (Haven`t you ever heard of "Whitey" Bulger?) If not, you should "Google" him. "hehehe "
Chase Von: Uh-oh, I better change the subject. (Smile.) How do you stay so fit and healthy and what are some of your favorite meals? Because I also saw where ya`ll fired up the grill, as well! Heh, Heh :)
Betty Dravis: Don`t let my photos fool you. I just happen to come from a very photogenic family, Chase. It`s the high cheekbones, y`know. (Chuckles ") As for food, my favorite is lobster, of course, but I love salads, most Mexican food, and just about anything.
Chase Von: I recently got a manuscript that was written by my grandfather. I haven`t finished reading it, but I am digging what I have read so far. It`s like a snapshot of history! In one part he speaks of a boy getting his first pair of pants when he is fourteen! In another he talks about if a person didn`t smoke or chew tobacco, they would find out that at the end of the year they could buy themselves a brand new pair of shoes. (Smile).
How well do you think a book like that " "written with down-home country wisdom by a man who farmed all his life " "would sell in today`s market? Because I am going to be publishing it for my Mom, even though he is now deceased.
Betty Dravis: If you write it as a memoir with care, precision and clarity, then present it in dramatic fashion, it could sell well, but most of selling is in the marketing, as you know. My favorite self-quote is: "Writing a book is like sliding down a rainbow; marketing it is like trudging through a field of chewed bubblegum on a hot, sticky day." In other words, writing a book is fun; marketing it is hard work. Nonetheless, I find it admirable that you wish to honor your grandfather in that way; that will make your mother happy too. Best of luck with that project. I`d love to read it one day.
Chase Von: What are some of the causes you feel most strongly about?
Betty Dravis: I have a dear, dear grandson who suffered a spinal injury in an accident. He and his family are active in the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation for Stem Cell Research. In fact, a portion of the proceeds of "1106 Grand Boulevard" has been ear-marked for SCR. To learn more about my grandson Seth, go to this link:
SCR and Diabetes, Cancer, and Breast Cancer causes are my pet charities. I also have a soft spot for Veterans and support them whenever I can.
Chase Von: How important is family to you?
Betty Dravis: God, family and friends are the most important things in my life. My children, grandchildren and friends keep me happy, and grounded in reality. They motivate me and keep me moving ever onward, ever upward. But before anything or anyone comes God because He`s the one who has blessed me with loving children and wonderful friends.
I also love to read, write and review books, as you might know. I`m an Amazon Top 1000 Reviewer and am branching out into reviewing for Midwest Book Reviews, TeensReadToo and GoodReads, three of my favorite websites for authors. I would be lost without my writing, and I know you will relate to that. (Big grin!)
Chase Von: What would you say if you were standing in front of a microphone that could be heard by every child on the planet " "and regardless of what language it was they spoke, they would understand you? What positive advice would you give the children, if that were possible?
Betty Dravis: You know, Chase, this is a very hard-to-answer question because there are so many things children need to know in order to make it in today`s world. "(sigh) "Considering that these children speak many individual languages, the most universal thing to say would be "LOVE." I think everyone knows the meaning of that word, and, when you get right down to the nitty-gritty, love is the primary moving force for good in the entire world "always has been, always will be! If I had access to TV to reach the world`s children, to get my point across, I would have children, dogs and cats with me, and I`d demonstrate love by hugging and kissing the children and stroking and nuzzling the pets with great affection.
But you know, Chase, talking love is easy. What we need to do is to follow our words with action by endeavoring to see that everyone in the world has food in their bellies and roofs over their heads. That not only tells them about love, it shows them love.
Chase Von: Where can our readers find out more about you? Your various web sites and links to your books and other information?
Betty Dravis: First, Chase, thanks for this welcome opportunity to reach your vast audience with news of my writing. I appreciate it. I`m impressed by the caliber of your guests and wish you continued success with this interesting, entertaining format. After speaking with you, I can see why you`re so popular!
Keep up the awesome work.
My primary Web site is: http://bettydravisauthor.googlepages.com/
My Amazon Profile Web site is:
My other cool sites that may interest your readers are:
Chase Von: On behalf of The Operated Student Press and myself, Betty, this has truly been an honor! I`m also looking forward to your audio interview with Judy because you are such a joy! May God continue to bless you, and you know I`ll be in touch!
Love and light always to you and yours!
Betty Dravis: Thanks for the kind words of inspiration, Chase. It has been my pleasure to speak with you. I`ll let everyone know about your program " via my Amazon blog and other avenues. You rock!
Read Dream Reachers Featuring Judyth Piazza