Monday, January 01, 2018

Indie Author Interview: Wanda Adams Fischer

Indie Author Interview with Wanda Adams Fischer - Author of the Sports Fiction Novel Empty Seats.

Wanda Adams Fischer has loved baseball since she was eight years old. She's parlayed that into her first novel, which is not necessarily about her favorite team, the Boston Red Sox. When she's not writing, she's listening to folk music for her show on WAMC public radio, "The Hudson River Sampler," which she's done since 1982.

Interview with Wanda Adams Fischer

Author Wanda Adams Fischer
Author Wanda Adams Fischer
Alan Kealey (Indie Author News): How would you describe your writing background?
Wanda Adams Fischer: I was first a journalism major, then switched to English when journalism wasn't available in college (I had to finish my degree at night while working full-time). I spent most of my nearly 40-year professional career in public relations/marketing/media relations, although I made a few side trips into radio broadcast journalism. Prior to writing this novel, I hadn't attempted to write fiction since I was in the ninth grade--and that was a long time ago. I've taken a few writing workshops since I retired, most notably one with Martha Frankel in Woodstock, and she introduced me to Kitty Sheehan, who edited this novel.
When I was 15, I thought I wanted to be a sportswriter. Back then, options for women in sports-writing were slim. One day, after a game at Fenway Park between the Red Sox and the then-California Angels, I had a chance encounter with Rick Reichardt, who was then an outfields for the Angels, and told him of my plans. He cautioned me at the time that it would be a very difficult career path, given potential attitudes of professional athletes at the time. I replayed that "little movie" in my head, and, several days later, I wrote him a letter, thanking him for that advice, which changed my entire perspective on what I wanted to do with my life. I think, had I not taken his advice, I would have lost my love for sports. I did not have a thick enough skin to break that glass ceiling.

Who are your favorite writers, and who or what are your writing influences?
My favorite writers include Edwin O'Connor, Anne LaMotte, Willa Cather, Grantland Rice, Delores Kearns Goodwin, Sinclair Lewis, Robert Frost, and John Millington Synge. One of my favorite books is Edwin O'Connor's "The Edge of Sadness." Another is Willa Cather's "My Antonia." I also loved LaMotte's "Bird by Bird." I enjoy reading plays as well, and am interested in Irish literature, including plays and the short stories of Frank O'Connor.
I'm a singer and occasional songwriter. I study song lyrics as literature. When selecting music for my long-running folk music show, I need to find compelling lyrics in order to make songs fit together. If I cannot distinguish lyrics because songs are too overproduced (in my opinion), I often pass by that song in favor of something else in which the lyrics and meaning are crystal-clear. That's the only way I can put together a cohesive radio program.

"I've been writing since I was in the second grade."

When did you first know that you wanted to be a writer?
I've been writing since I was in the second grade. That's when I wrote my first letter to the editor! I don't know how good it was, or if it was even published, but I can remember putting it into an envelope and placing a two-cent (yes, that's how long ago it was) stamp on it, and stretching to get it into a mailbox. I wrote for my high school literary magazine and have written letters to the editor for as long as I can remember. I wrote for my high school yearbook and have written both professionally for my job in PR and what I would call "recreationally" for my own fun for years.

Tell us about your writing process. Do you have a writing routine?
I make every effort to write two hours per day, more when baseball's not in season. Yes, I confess, I am a baseball addict. I watch baseball on TV, and I go to minor league baseball games, so I do take notes about baseball to use in my writing. Now, in the off-season, I write more than two hours per day, except on Saturday, which is the day I do my radio show every week. I'm in my 70th year of life on this earth, so I need to preserve my energy for the radio show on Saturday.
Mostly I write at home with a laptop on my lap. Sometimes, if my house gets too chaotic (e.g., if we have workers at the house or if the grandchildren are visiting), I go to the library and write there. After having worked in a busy newsroom years ago, I can write just about anywhere. I need more quiet when I'm proofreading than when I'm writing. My desk/workplace is basically anywhere I have a laptop and anytime I have time. This comes from days in which I had to eek out a little time here or there to get things done. In radio, I've always been surrounded by clocks, ticking off not only minutes but also seconds, and I've learned to make those seconds count.

"The greatest joy of writing for me is creating characters [...]"

What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
The greatest joy of writing for me is creating characters and watching them come alive, mainly through dialogue, and placing them in locations I've visited. The hardest is keeping the chronology straight, both in my mind and on the page. No matter how much I outline, it never seems to come out the way I had originally intended. The story seems to take on a life of its own, almost in defiance of the outline.

Wanda, please tell us a little about your Sports Fiction Novel Empty Seats.
What inspired me to write this book has been attending many minor league baseball games and watching how many talented players show up at the beginning of the season, work really hard, and yet are weeded out in the process. One of the boys who'd been in my son's Little League years ago actually made it to Major League Baseball, and we followed his career while he was in MLB. Slowly, though, his star faded, despite how hard he worked to become a star. I've been a baseball fan since 1956, and I began thinking how hard it must be to have these aspirations--to work so hard throughout one's life, to feel those pressures, and then leave home at the age of 18 (or even younger) without the benefit of parental guidance, sometimes without even speaking the same language, and try to compete for that chance to make it to the big time.

Empty Seats (Wanda Adams Fischer)
Click to Read an Excerpt

With baseball as the backdrop, I thought about what life was like in 1972, before cell phones, before the Internet, before instantaneous communication, and how these young men also had to worry about being drafted to serve in Vietnam. They might have run away to Canada, if their draft number had been low. They had to make split-second decisions that would follow them throughout their lives--some that would be prudent, some that would be disastrous, just like any other young person who left home at the age of 18 (e.g., going into the military, to college, to become an au pair, travel in Europe, etc.).
Baseball is the motif, but life is the reason. I had watched many young people struggle with these issues, and now I fear my grandchildren will soon face similar obstacles.

Who do you see as your target audience?
The audience for this book is general; however, I believe young adults and/or high school students would find this book interesting. My daughter teaches middle school, and I was thinking as I was writing that this book would be valuable for some of the students she'd taught in the past. I specifically kept the chapters short so that they could be read in short "bursts."

What makes your book special?
What makes this book special, I believe, is that I could not find another piece of fiction that took the same approach. That doesn't mean such a novel doesn't exist; it just means my research didn't produce another one to which I could refer.

"I'm still learning about publishing [...]"

How would you describe the success of your self-published books so far?
This book has been relatively successful, I believe, thanks in large part to my marketing/PR background. However, I'm still learning about publishing, self-publishing, and many other avenues. This is my only book so far, but I am working on two books related to this one. I hesitate to call them "sequels," although some may consider them to be. The first is about the grandmother of one of my characters, whom I created to have been a suffragist from Georgia. The second looks at the three main characters in "Empty Seats" 41 years later.

"I rely on having actual books in my hand."

Where do you see the book market in 5 or 10 years? Will there be only eBooks and will book stores disappear like record stores disappeared?
Since I'm so new to this publishing business, I cannot predict where the future lies. I don't own an e-reading device; I rely on having actual books in my hand. We have so many books in our house, we don't really know what to do with them. Same goes for music CDs and record albums.

Do you write full-time or do you have a day job? When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
I don't have a "day" job, per se, although I do a radio show once a week on WAMC-FM, a National Public Radio affiliate headquartered in Albany, NY. I've done this show since September 18, 1982, and did a similar show in Worcester, Massachusetts, for four years prior to moving to Schenectady, NY, in 1979. I sing and play guitar and have recorded on CD, called "Singing Along with the Radio" (2003). I play competitive tennis and read to first graders in the Schenectady School District in my spare time. I've been married to the same person since 1973; we have two grown children and four grandchildren.

How can readers connect with you?
Readers can connect with me via Twitter at @EmptySeatsNovel, or via my general website, which is, or via Facebook at Facebook/EmptySeatsNovel.

Thank you very much for the Interview, Wanda.

About the Book Empty Seats

Empty Seats (Wanda Adams Fischer)
Click to Read an Excerpt
They were all stars in their hometowns.

Then they were drafted to play minor league ball, thinking it would be an easy ride to playing in the big time. Little did they know that they'd be vying for a spot with every other talented kid who aspired to play professional baseball.

Young, inexperienced, immature, and without the support of their families and friends, they're often faced with split-second decisions.

Not always on the baseball diamond.

- "Wanda’s writing reflects her life-long love affair with the game of baseball. Her characters bring to mind players I can remember following as they worked their way up through the minor leagues. Some of them seem like they could very well step off the pages of her book, straight into one of my songs. There is a realism to this work of fiction that clearly demonstrates the depth of knowledge Wanda has for the game." - Reader Review

Links to the Book

Link to the Paperback Empty Seats on Amazon

Link to the eBook Empty Seats on Amazon

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