An Interview with Magdalena Ball: Author & Radio Host
Sylvia: Hi Magdalena, it is such a pleasure to interview you. Please give our readers a brief introduction of yourself and a little about your book.
Magdalena: Thank you Sylvia. My name is Magdalena Ball and I was born in New York City, where I grew up. After gaining an honors degree in English Literature from the City University of New York (CCNY), I moved to Oxford to study English Literature at a postgraduate level. After a brief return to the US, I then migrated to NSW Australia, where I now reside on a rural property with my husband and three children. While in Australia I received a Master’s degree in Business from Charles Sturt University and a Marketing degree from the University of Newcastle.
I run The Compulsive Reader review site. I am also the author of the poetry books Repulsion Thrust and Quark Soup, the novels Black Cow and Sleep Before Evening, a nonfiction book The Art of Assessment, and, in collaboration with Carolyn Howard-Johnson, Deeper Into the Pond, Blooming Red, Cherished Pulse, She Wore Emerald Then, and Imagining the Future. In addition, I run a radio show, The Compulsive Reader Talks.
Sylvia: What inspired you to write your first book?
Magdalena: I’ve been writing since I was a little girl. I think I’ve always been inspired by my love of reading and a desire to participate in the process of creating stories and meaning with words. My first novel however, was inspired by the birth of my first child – a sense that the time was right for me to turn the stories and poetry I’d been writing for pleasure into something larger and more lasting. Somehow a door was opened for me (along with my uterus…) – perhaps it was the extended leave of absence from a demanding day job (maternity leave) or maybe it was just the sense that I’d come to a place in my life of self-acceptance and creativity and was able to overcome my insecurity and finally take the plunge and plot out and then fully craft a full novel.
Sylvia: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
Magdalena: In my current novel Black Cow the key messages are around the power of creativity and the need to ensure that we don’t subsume our creative ability and power into the daily grind and desperation for financial gain.
Sylvia: Do you have any advice for other writers?
Magdalena: Yes – I’d say don’t wait for inspiration. Don’t wait for the right time. Don’t wait until you’re ready to write. Just get on with it, push through the insecurity and fear and view the process as a practice. It’s so easy to be daunted by the idea of a novel or even a short story. It’s easy to be discouraged by the mass of wonderful books already out there, but if you’ve got something to say, then you owe the world your words. Nothing is perfect the first time, and even famous, well-experienced authors deal with fear and insecurity every day. The only way to get to where you want to be is to write through it.
Sylvia: What marketing techniques have you used to sell your books and which ones have been most successful?
Magdalena: I’ve probably tried just about everything from Facebook ads to blog tours, in-person events; Skype based promotions, and library workshops. The best ones for me are those that last. I find that blog tours are very effective because they last indefinitely. I also have had some success recently with Pinterest, and in particular sharing information like music and settings from my novels.
Sylvia: Why should we buy your book?
Magdalena: I’ll use a few reviews of the book to answer this question! The first is from Joan Schweighardt, editor, ghost-writer, book publicist, agent and author of four novels:
“Most people don’t simply wake up one morning and realize that they’ve veered away from their ideals and set themselves squarely in the middle of the path leading back to them. In reality such an awakening is gradual, fuelled by series of seemingly disconnected incidents; and the road back, if one can even get there, is more like a game of Giant Steps than a straight trajectory. Black Cow examines the possibility of lifestyle change through the actions of the Archer family. Fast-paced, gorgeously-written and stunningly perceptive, Black Cow is not only a great read; it is a timely and important one.”
A second from author and Editor Doug Osborne:
“The prose style is brilliant. It is clever and insightful in describing and personalizing the angst of the modern world. Classic…it reminds me of John Steinbeck’s Cannery Row in its ability to capture the moment in history in a personal way.”
- More reviews can be found here: http://magdalenaball.com/wordpress/?page_id=175
- A free excerpt is here: http://www.bewritebooks.com/mb/BlackCow/BlackCow.html
Sylvia: Is there a special place that you prefer when you write?
Magdalena: No – I can write anywhere and I really have to be able to work at any spare moment. I’ve got a busy day job and 3 active children, and life can be pretty hectic. If I waited to be in a special place with lovely serenity and lots of time and space I’d never do any writing. I just need my laptop and a few minutes and I’m off doing something.
Sylvia: I bet, especially with little ones. I have 5 and definitely understand. I saw a cute picture of you sitting on the floor with in your home on your laptop. That’s what I call flexibility. What projects are you currently working on?
Magdalena: I’m currently working on two big books. The first is a poetry cookbook that I’m writing in collaboration with Carolyn Howard-Johnson. The book will involve pairing poetry with original chef based recipes and I’m hoping that the end result is an attractive gift recipe book that is a pleasure to read and wonderful to cook from. The second is my third novel which is set in Australia and the US, and will involve a linguistics professor who finds herself travelling back and forth between the US Borscht Belt in the Catskills in 1940s and modern day Australia. It’s quite a challenge for me!
Sylvia: What is your POWER WORD? Why this word?
Magdalena: What an interesting question! I never thought about a power word since words themselves are my tools – I’m drawn to all sorts of words, but one thing that I strive for in my life, in my work and am always leaning towards (even if it isn’t always my natural state) is “clarity”. I like to see things clearly in a balanced way and hope that my work reflects it. When I feel unclear I do exercises like yoga, deep breathing and swimming to get back to that clarity.
Sylvia: Wow, love that word as well. Thank you so much for sharing your life with us. Where can we learn more about your books?
Magdalena: Thank you Sylvia. I can be contacted:
- Twitter: https://twitter.com/magdalenaball
- Compulsive Reader: http://www.compulsivereader.com/html
- Radio Show: http://maggieball.podbean.com/html