Friday, September 6, 2019

Interview with F.I. Goldhaber

How did you start writing?

When I was a child. I voraciously consumed stories and poems even before I learned to read. I told tales—both invented and realto whoever would listen (or just myself) as soon I discovered how to talk. When I learned how to form letters, I wrote them down.

Throughout my school years, I always carried a notebook and pen with me so I could scribble down poems. From fifth grade, I wanted to be a writer. When I started looking at career options, I chose journalism specifically because I could get paid to write.

You wear many hats (poet, journalist, editor, etc.).  Which role do you like best and why?

I enjoy writing and telling stories. Everything else I do as part of the process of getting words and stories to readers.

You publish the majority of your work as an indie.  When did you start going that route and what draws you to it?

How do you define "majority"? Much of my work (including the bulk of my fiction which I write under pseudonyms) appeared in print, audio, and/or electronic publications before I published it myself. My first three (and fifth) novels (transgressive and erotic fiction) were published by traditional small presses.

I started putting my backlist of short stories, many of which had only appeared in print, up for sale in 2011 as individual ebooks. Then I collected four to seven stories with a common theme into print books.

I was never happy with the covers of my first three novels and I still had to do most of the marketing myself. So in '11, I also invoked the clauses in those three contracts that allowed me to take my rights back and republished them myself with better covers (and better sales).

Of my five poetry collections still in print, only one was published by someone else first, but more than half (or more) of the poems in each collection appeared in other publications first.

I identify as a hybrid author, finding the best way to get my words to readers whether it's a small press, a big publisher, or indie publishing the work myself.

You do a fair amount of public speaking.  Do you have any tips for writers who want to improve their performances/presentations?

Rehearse. Repeatedly. In front of a camera if you have that option, so you can watch yourself and learn where you can improve. The more comfortable you are with what you have to say, the more confident you are in your presentation, the more relaxed you will be and the better your program will be received.

Beyond that, every speaking opportunity has different audiences and desired outcomes. Are you speaking to a group of teens or a group of seniors; business people or fellow writers? Are you looking to entice people into buying your book? Or are you trying to teach them something? Or do you want to inspire them to become politically active? Each audience and each goal requires a different approach.

How often do you collaborate with your spouse on a book?  How do you decide who tackles what aspect of a project?

We collaborate on almost everything, but not always to the extent that we include the others' name on our work. For example, because of my marketing background I edit a lot of the promotional copy for his YouTube channel. In turn I rely on his military background whenever I write a battle scene or a fight.

When we each contribute enough to a story to put both of our names on it, the name which appears first is where the story started. So, "Watching the Door" which won Third Place in the 2016 Baen Fantasy Adventure Award is by Joel and F.I. Goldhaber but "Hit & Run" is by F.I. and Joel Goldhaber.

In addition, Joel designs many of my book covers, including my poetry collections, all the Goldhaber indie published short fiction, and the more recent pseudonymous novels.

It should be noted, that I was born a Goldhaber. My spouse took my name when we married.

Have you ever encountered ableism or other prejudice in the publishing industry?  If so, how did you handle it?

Most of the work I did as a writer in settings outside my home (reporting/editing for newspapers, marketing communications for business, etc.) was before any of my disabilities (resulting from injury and age) occurred. When you write at your own workstationcarefully constructed to meet your abilities/needsand most of your contact with others in the publishing industry is via phone and email, your disabilities are mostly invisible.

My disabilities do prevent me from traveling, and that has cost me some opportunities. But, within the local community I have found no hesitation to accommodate my needs at readings and other speaking engagements.

What is/was the biggest obstacle in your writing career?  How do/did you work around it?

Gender. I started at a time when others identified me as female and very few women were able to break out of newspaper lifestyle sections. More than once, a job I applied for went to a less qualified male.

I used my initials to disguise my gender, which helped with readers. (One woman in West Virginia called the paper asking for Mr. Goldhaber and when I assured her that I had written the article in question, she told me that I wrote like a man. And meant it as a compliment.) But, it didn't change the prejudices in the newsrooms.
Biography: F.I. Goldhaber's words capture people, places, and politics with a photographer's eye and a poet's soul. As a reporter, editor, business writer, and marketing communications consultant, they produced news stories, feature articles, editorial columns, and reviews for newspapers, corporations, governments, and non-profits in five states. Now paper, electronic, and audio magazines, books, newspapers, calendars, and street signs display their poetry, fiction, and essays. More than 100 of their poems appear in sixty plus publications, including four collections.

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