Interview with Neal Katz, Author of Outrageous: The Victoria Woodhull Saga
Neal Katz is a serial entrepreneur and CEO. He harbors a passion for women’s rights and his lifestyle is centered on self-awareness and love. His novel “Outrageous: The Victoria Woodhull Saga, Volume One: Rise to Riches” (thevictoriawoodhullsaga.com) spotlights gender prejudice, exposes early manipulation of “free markets” and reveals how political power structures used prison and seizure of assets to prevent innovation and social change. Katz has pledged 50 percent of royalties from his book and all ancillary revenues to a foundation formed in tribute to Victoria Woodhull and her passion for woman rights. Katz promotes a new financial paradigm to create jobs, called Conscientious Credit Funding Organization (CCFO), which could provide renewable funding for diverse charitable endeavors, such as micro-finance, low-income housing, education and vocational training, and infrastructure renewal and development.
Where did you grow up?
I grew up in West Los Angeles, California where both my parents taught and studied at U.C.L.A.
When did you begin writing?
I began seriously writing for Business. I would create business plans, advertising campaigns, internal corporate proposals and investment proposals. I also drafted the registration statement, the SEC-1 on the Company I took public.
When I decided I wanted to write fiction, I found a copy of Dorothea Brande’s, Becoming a Writer. I followed the simple instructions and within 4–6 weeks I became a more productive writer. I consistently and passionately hone my abilities, and each time I write it gets better and better.
Do you write during the day, at night or whenever you can sneak a few moments?
There seem to be two time frames that work best for me, upon waking and late at night. I have never been one to adhere to schedules very well. I guess my best answer would be when the muse compels me to write.
What is this book about? Outrageous is about unfailingly believing in one’s self and a vision with such fortitude that any barrier can be overcome. The story depicts the horrific ways women were treated in Victorian America. The saga also covers how men in power use prison and the law to suppress the social, economic, and legal advancement of women. It also covers some of the original manipulations of Wall Street and the Gold Exchange—behaviors present today.
I call the book “herstorical faction,” because it is about an historical figure, Victoria Woodhull, and it is based on the events portrayed as I imagine she would experience them. Outrageous tells about the journey and the long, impactful lives of Victoria and her sister, Tennessee Celeste Claflin, who broke every barrier known to women of the day. They opened the first women-owned brokerage firm on Wall Street, and published the first women-owned newspaper. Victoria was the first woman invited to address Congress, and she was formally nominated and ran as a candidate for POTUS, in 1872.
What inspired you to write it?
There are many uncommon parallels between the lives of Victoria and Tennessee and my own. Having to create the full psychological reality of the two allowed me to deal and investigate the influence of early traumas in my own life. Ultimately it is a story of triumph and accomplishment, something I still aspire to.
Who is your favorite character from the book?
Would you ask a mother which is her favorite child? That said, there is one key character that is totally fictional, so I would say I gave her life more than the others. I’ll let the readers try to identify her.
Was the road to publication smooth sailing or a bumpy ride?
VERY bumpy! The industry is in chaos, which sometimes is necessary for a big shift. The amount of time it takes to sell a book—with a major publisher or indie—almost prohibits having the time to keep writing!
If you knew then, what you know now, is there anything you would have done differently?
Close to everything! Yes, I would have started marketing myself and my book from the moment I committed to writing it. The few times I hired less than the absolute best, I had to hire again. For a first time writer the choice of story editor is absolutely crucial. I was lucky I had a great one, same with cover and internal design. Copy editing is a challenging job, and I had to hire several individuals to accomplish this task, better to hire the best. Initially, I hired the wrong public relations firm, so be sure to carefully vet whom you hire and beware of those promising unrealistic results. The truth is, it could take many thousands of dollars before you sell one book.
What is the best investment you have made in promoting your book?
For producing a quality book, hiring a top-notch editor and having the cover professionally designed were both good investments. For promoting the sales of a book, I do not know yet.
What is one piece of advice you would like to share with aspiring authors everywhere?
Chocolate! Be honest and know your purpose for writing. IF it is to make money, stop and get a job as a volunteer in a school or hospital, or become a greeter at your local big box store, you will be $$$ ahead in the long run.
If this is a pursuit of passion and you are just starting, write! Then write, write, write and write some more. Then hire the best and toughest professional story or genre editor you can find and afford.
What is up next for you?
There are three more volumes in the saga to fully tell the whole story. One figure in the book stands out begging for a more detailed portrayal, and that is the robber baron industrialist, the Commodore Cornelius Vanderbilt.
Is there anything you would like to add?
Thank you. I would ask your readers to visit my charity, where half of my book royalties will be donated to create programs that economically improve the lives of single mothers in a sustainable manner. www.ccfoglobal.org