An Interview With Lisa Winkler: Author, Journalist & Educator
Sylvia: Hi Lisa. So excited to meet you! Thank you so much for taking time with us to talk about your book. . Please give our readers a brief introduction of yourself and a little about your book.
Lisa: Thank you Sylvia! I have worked as a journalist and an educator. I wrote “The Kentucky Derby’s Forgotten Jockeys” for Smithsonian Magazine’s website, www.smithsonian.com. (April 24, 2009). Two essays have been published in anthologies: “I’m Going to College- Not You!: Surviving the College Search with My Child.” (St. Martin’s Press, 2010), and “Knit One, Purl Two: Life Lessons from Knitting” in Wisdom of our Mothers. (Familia Books, 2010). A newspaper reporter before becoming a teacher, I write for professional journals and for Education Update, a newspaper based in New York City. (www.educationupdate.com). My interviews include authors, college presidents, scientists, and artists, among others, including Miles Dean in February 2009. I met Dean while serving as an educational consultant in Newark, NJ public schools and interviewed him for many months. I hold a BA from Vassar College and an MA in Urban Education from New Jersey City University. I have three children, three grandchildren, and love to cycle, knit, read, write, and cook.
Sylvia: Wow, that a great life! What inspired you to write your first book?
Lisa: When I met Miles Dean, I became captivated with his journey and all the history he honored that I had never learned. As an urban educator, I felt his inspirational message- never give up on one’s dream, combined with his mission- to celebrate the contributions of African Americans in the development of the US, and would make a great story for the students we both taught.
Sylvia: Yes, a great story to share with young people. Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
Lisa: There are many messages. Overall, I want readers to be educated and entertained. There’s the message of having a dream, and not giving up, even if it takes years or decades to fulfill. There’s the message that our history is a shared history- all ethnicities, men and women, contributed to the growth of this great nation.
Sylvia: To dream is to empower! Do you have any advice for other writers?
Lisa: Never give up. It takes tons of patience, fortitude and sometimes luck to get published. With self-publishing there are many options to get your work out, but it’s a very tough (and can be expensive) road. Believing in your story is paramount. If you have passion for it, others will too. Also, there’s no “quick fix.” While an occasional book might sell hundreds of copies the first week, thousands the first month and so on, most don’t. I believe marketing really becomes a personal adventure: why would someone want to read my book? I view it as my journey: one sale, one reader, one book at a time.
Sylvia: What marketing techniques have you used to sell your books and which ones have been most successful?
Lisa: I’m trying to take advantage of social networking. It takes time! I also hired a book promoter for a temporary period. He wrote the press release and has gotten me a few radio interviews.
Sylvia: Well good! It is important to align yourself with people who can help you get the word out about your book. Why should we buy your book?
Lisa: It’s a story about an ordinary man who accomplished something extraordinary. I think there’s a romantic aspect of the cross-country journey, no matter what form of transportation that many people don’t really grasp. Reading my book, readers learn some history they might not know, understand what it’s like to ride a horse every day for 6 months, about five to six hours a day, and what it’s like to be in a new place practically every night. The geography and people of the US are fascinating.
Sylvia: Is there a special place that you prefer when you write?
Lisa: I work best at my home desk.
Sylvia: What projects are you currently working on?
Lisa: In addition to marketing, I enrolled in a memoir writing class and I try to keep up with my blog. I’m also writing the study guide for educators to accompany the book. It includes writing and dramatic activities, discussion questions and research topics and more.
Sylvia: What is your POWER WORD? Why this word?
Lisa: If I had to select one word that sustained me through the entire book process, it would be CONFIDENCE. There were many times when I felt this book would never see the light of day. I kept digging deep into my well of confidence and my belief that it was worthwhile.
Sylvia: Why were you the person to write this book?
Lisa: I’ve been asked this. There’s a curiosity about me as a white woman writing this story about anAfrican American man. When I first met Miles, I immediately felt his story could be a book. Originally it was written in first person and would have been more his memoir. But I wasn’t getting enough information from him and having not gone on the journey it became more difficult to create the scenes. By switching to third person point of view, which some people haven’t liked, I felt I could tell a better story.
Sylvia: Lisa, this has been great. Thank you for your time. I enjoyed learning more about you and your book. Please let our readers know how to contact you.
Lisa: You are welcome. Here’s the book information: