Post #85 – Women’s Memoirs, Author Conversations – Kendra Bonnett and Matilda Butler
Women’s Memoirs Welcomes Author Paula Priamos
Women’s Memoirs: Kendra Bonnett and I are delighted to have Paula Priamos visit Women’s Memoirs today. Paula, we both congratulate you on the publication of The Shyster’s Daughter. We recently published a review of your memoir. And although I wasn’t the reviewer, I can add that I could not put your book down. Well, I did, but only until I could get some sleep and get back to it the next day.
We appreciate you letting us interview you about the writing of your memoir and as well as its marketing. Let’s get started:
Women’s Memoirs Question #1: Paula, you have published essays and written articles for newspapers so you certainly have had a lot of writing experience. At what point did you decide that it was time to write your memoir?
Paula Priamos: Personal essays are a great foray for a writer into a memoir. Completing an essay is far less daunting than an entire book. I wrote a couple of essays in particular about my relationship with my father and I knew by the second one I placed that it was time I structured a memoir about my life with him. Once I started accumulating pages, I had the momentum to finish the memoir.
Women’s Memoirs: Question #2. Many people worry about upsetting family members with their memoir. How did you handle family reaction? For example, did you let relatives read your memoir before it was published or change any of the names? What advice would you share with our readers about handling difficult or unflattering family stories in memoir writing?
Paula Priamos: A memoir is an intimate look at the writer’s own story and it should remain that way regardless of family reaction. No matter how flattering or unflattering relatives may come off they will undoubtedly be upset you wrote about them in the first place. I think it’s just hard for people in your life to see themselves as characters on the page.
I changed names and identifying characteristics of family members and reassured them that I was doing what I could to protect their anonymity. I would advise writers of memoir to make alterations to real people as they’re writing the memoir which is the way I did it. I would also advise writers to develop a thick rhino skin when it comes to writing about family members. It is your job as a memoirist to shape the truth into an intriguing story, period.
If you start worrying about what family members may think, the narrative will inevitably lose intensity and focus and, most importantly, it will no longer be your vision.
Women’s Memoirs: Question #3: This third question is related to my second one. You created a story device by grouping together some of the quotes from family members and some of your father’s acquaintances. You call these breaks in the story “What they Told Me After He Died.” At what point in your writing did you realize that this story device could help you move the story forward while helping the reader learn more about your father?
Paula Priamos: It was my intention for those quotes grouped together every couple of chapters to read like their own narrative. They give various perspectives on what other people in my father’s life thought of him and they’re a way for the reader to participate in my story, to figure out the mystery of what happened to my father along with me.
Women’s Memoirs: Question #4: The prologue to your memoir really grabs the reader and pulls him or her right into the middle of the story. At what point in your writing did you decide that would be the way to open your story?
Paula Priamos: That’s an interesting question because my husband, who is also a writer, said that I should leave what happens in the prologue for later in the narrative. But what happened to my father that night, the mystery behind his death is the crux of my story. The phone call he placed to me the night before he died is what haunts me and I wanted to start with that dramatic memory.
Women’s Memoirs: Question #5: Our readers are primarily women who want to write or are currently writing their memoirs. Many of them know that publishing is undergoing constant change and worry about their ability to market their books. Based on your experience, would you share your experiences and offer advice on how to approach marketing.
Paula Priamos: The publishing world is changing with the Internet which can be helpful to writers in spreading the word about their work. So many readers now purchase books through Amazon that it only makes sense for writers to market their books online. So I use Facebook, I keep up a website that has information about me and my book and links to published essays. I also write blog entries to keep readers wanting to return to my website. Writing blog entries is also a way for me to keep the cobwebs off my keyboard if I’m not writing as much on my new book as I should be.
As far as marketing goes, I also found a publicist who actually cares about authors and their books and she is much smarter than I am about the various outlets available to reach readers. A memoirist needs all the help she can get.
Women’s Memoirs: Paula, Kendra and I thank you for sharing your story and your thoughts on the promotion side of memoir writing.
We wish you much success with your book and look forward to working with you again in the future.
If you would like to purchase Paula’s new memoir, we appreciate you clicking on the Amazon box to the left. Women’s Memoirs makes a few pennies from each book sold from our links. The price to you, of course, is the same.
Do you prefer the Kindle version? If so, click on this link instead.