Wednesday, September 10, 2008
Today's guest blogger is Angus Munro. Angus is the author of A Full House - But Empty: A Memoir with a Message! Here, Angus discusses the challenges of publishing a memoir in the post James Frey's A Million Little Pieces world.
My book has been self-published through iUniverse and it represents my Memoirs. As a non-celebrity this was my best vehicle as traditional publishing companies and literary agents have little interest in accepting material from those of us who are unknown.
In terms of book promotional services, the onus lies with the writers to seek the best available avenues open to promote their book. Needless to say, as a total novice in this field, it has been a very challenging experience. However, in the process I have received some excellent book reviews and I have been working with some wonderful people whose services are readily available to persons such as myself. The key has been to find the right ones. And I believe that I have been fortunate in seeking some of those fine and talented individuals. Dorothy Thompson of Pump Up Your Book Promotion is one of the aforementioned and she has led me to The Book Connection.
Seemingly, the question as been posed to me, “ What have been the challenges of writing a memoir after the James Frey fiasco?” My first response – A very good question! However, one must furnish a little background before expressing one’s opinion. In other words, who is Angus Munro who has written a book with a contradictory title such as, A Full House – But Empty? I was raised by a single parent, my father, since the age of three, along with my two sisters. This occurred during the Great Depression and we were living in Vancouver, Canada.
Prior to those events, my father was a farm boy from a very wealthy family in Saskatchewan. When he married, his father leased separate farmland to get him started. When he received the proceeds from his first wheat crop, a wild poker game was ensuing at the local grain elevator. The end result was my father returning home with one can of strawberry jam to present to my mother. One can only imagine the thoughts that occurred during that exchange. Shortly thereafter, my father threw up his hands on farming and moved to Vancouver.
My grandfather died not too long after that incident and left his total estate to his other son. As the Depression deepened, my father went back to Saskatchewan to seek some financial help from his inherited brother. He returned to Vancouver failing to obtain any financial assistance from him. When he arrived at our apartment unexpectedly, he found my mother in bed with some cheater. The cheater jumped out of the nearest window and my father pointed the front door for my mother to exit. To complete this tragic picture, the following day, I was rushed to the hospital with acute appendicitis and was hospitalized for seven weeks. My poor financially and otherwise father.
At age thirteen I was in the seventh grade and wrongly accused of an incident which took place. I was extremely upset and refused to study. I played sick at every opportunity to avoid attending classes. I failed and had to repeat the seventh grade and I dropped out thereafter.
At age seventeen, I was working in a sawmill tossing lumber ends off of a conveyor belt – a total dead-end position. At that time, my father was an outside foreman for a large oil and coal company. He worked hard and was highly respected at work and in the community. However, he had that penchant for poker games and/or parties of which occurred in our home frequently on weekends and either one lasting all night.
On Saturday evening, a group from my father’s pub club arrived bringing a young theological student from the University of British Columbia. George, apart from studying theology, was very active in working civic pursuits – such as teen town organizations, etc. He and I became good friends. One quiet evening, during the week he stopped by and delivered a Dutch uncle speech to me. He informed me that I had above average intelligence and wondered why I was working in a dead-end job that had no future options. I informed him that I was a total failure and an uneducated grade-school dropout with no skills.
His response was, “You need to get off of your ass and get moving!” He further challenged my comments by saying he wanted to discuss my potential not the unfortunate circumstances relating to leaving school. He further stated that I needed to enroll at a local high school taking evening classes in typing and accounting to acquire some basic skills. Additionally, I needed to immediately seek a white-collar job at an entrance level that would have future promotional opportunities. His rhetoric was so compelling – I did exactly what he suggested.
To summarize, I eventually spent nine years in the petroleum industry in both Canada and the USA and I was being groomed for a junior executive position. I decided to change fields and spent thirty-nine years in hospital administration in both California and Alaska. As a director, my staffing complements were from fifty-five to seventy employees.
Comments re: James Frey Fiasco
Getting back to the James Frey situation it brings forth to me a lot of mixed thoughts. Based on my limited background, I became very successful – but in terms of my exposure – I revealed nothing to anyone regarding my limited educational background. On one hand I was a very successful and well-respected articulate person and on the other hand background wise – I felt as if I were a mole with a deep dark secret – a fraud. Upon retirement, I had both the independence and the maturity that afforded me the ability and fortitude to tell all – and the end result was – who the hell cares! And nobody did – they knew who I was as a person. Ironically, the writing and revisiting of my past was so cathartic and a great positive and productive journey.
Frankly, writing my own story has actually been a piece of cake. I am simply doing a review of my life and fortunately I have been blessed with a very good memory. And in taking that journey I am simply expressing my individual thoughts, perceptions and interpretations. Recently, a couple of my contemporaries, recalling the poker games and parties held at our house those many years ago – from their perspective thought we lived in the ‘in place’ all fun and games. They didn't do the cleanup – I did!
Currently, in this political scene and along with the cast of characters, books are being hailed and/or challenged regarding factual or nonfactual comments and/or segments. During the manuscript gathering sources, it is difficult to decipher, rumors, innuendo, half-truths, falsehoods, interpretations, whatever. In terms of researching a subject, there could be a natural tendency in some circles to seek dramatic events pro or con having a window for possible embellishments. If one is seeking it on their behalf, I believe this to be a half-baked story and of course, lacking both credibility and credence.
Material based on celebrity and/or prominent persons present or past, is always subject to be accepted, disputed, refuted or considered questionable, particularly if the subject has a somewhat controversial background. In a lot of situations, it is simply give or take. As an individual, I can only speak for myself. I was not proud of the fact that I left school early – regardless of the circumstances. Most of my colleagues and friends are very well educated persons and I wasn't about to freely tell all that I was merely a grade-school dropout. It certainly was not a badge of honor for me, even though I worked very hard, was well respected and successfully held good positions.
In writing my book, it was to be a very positive experience, overcoming some difficult periods, I was not looking for the ‘poor me syndrome.’ To begin with, I personally could never write fiction. I have absolutely and unequivocally no imagination. One of my physician friends, upon reading my book, suggested that I write another book – using my childhood cast of characters and dramatize it – finding a haunted house with ghosts or a similar scenario. This would be an unthinkable project for me, again no imagination. And I am personally and exclusively a nonfiction reader.
In the case of those that deliberately embellish their personal life experiences are probably looking for fame and fortune. Suggestively, it would be better spent in the world of fiction – in that case, who cares!
In this world, everything and anything is up for question. From a broader sense, we do not know where we came from and where we are going. Living in this very nebulous world my religious teaching is where I seek my comfort. Let it be!
The A FULL HOUSE BUT EMPTY VIRTUAL BOOK TOUR '08 will officially begin on September 2, '08 and end on September 26, '08. You can visit Angus' tour stops at www.virtualbooktours.wordpress.com in September to find out more about him and his new book!
As a special promotion for all our authors, Pump Up Your Book Promotion is giving away one FREE virtual book tour to a published author with a recent release or a $50 Amazon gift certificate to those not published who comments on our authors' blog stops. More prizes will be announced as they become available. The winner will be announced on our main blog at www.pumpupyourbookpromotion.wordpress.com on September 26!
This virtual book tour has been brought to you by: