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Saturday, March 31, 2012

Interview with Seraphy Pelligrini of Chicago Stories: West of Western

An Interview with Seraphy Pelligrini

Ex-Marine and Darkpool agent, now an architect in Chicago, Seraphy Pelligrini answers James Liston's ("Inside the Actor's Studio") ten questions.

I wasn't sure she'd be there until I reached Jerrod & Etwin, the storied architectural investment firm where Seraphy worked, and found her red Jeep Cherokee in the lot.
After many unanswered calls and  e-mails, I called in a favor from my friend and her boss, Max Chiligiris. She specified we meet in her office.
When I reached the second floor balcony, I found her expecting me. The door stood open. Seraphy was across the room at her window, a slim figure in a black turtleneck and jeans silhouetted against the grey light of early March. She sensed my arrival and turned from studying the grubby industrial riverfront below. Beautiful in an unstudied way, with that Black Irish coloring that needed no makeup.
"Max tells me I have to do this."
"It's to promote the book."
"Isn't that your job?"
"I'm not the one readers want to know about."
She frowned. "I hate things like this. Can’t they just read the damned book?"
"I'll be gentle."
"That's what they all say," she said with a wry smile. "Let me take your coat." She waved a hand at the client's chair in front of her desk. "Sit," she said and  held out a hand for my coat.
I glanced around. Nice office, big enough to move around in, with an antique drafting board on one side and a large desk and chair on the other. Flat files for drawings, a bookcase full of technical manuals, architectural history books and murder mysteries. Framed architectural photos and renderings on the walls. No photos. My Burbury joined the battered bomber jacket and navy pea jacket in the closet.
She sat across the desk from me, folding her hands in her lap. She wasn't going to make this easy.
"I have a few questions I borrowed from James Liston. What's your favorite word?"
"Excuse me?"
"Just answer the question."
"Cappuccino." Suddenly she grinned. "Yeah, my favorite word is definitely cappuccino. Or sometimes latte."
"What is your least favorite word?"
"Right now? Max."
"Because he's making you do this?"
"You're so perceptive."
I grinned. "What is your least favorite word, seriously?"
"What turns you on, creatively, spiritually or emotionally?"
"Besides coffee?" She looked me up and down and her blue/gray eyes sparkled. "Leather, maybe?" She made it a question and I felt myself reddening. 
"Sorry, I couldn't resist. Um, good design, I think. Things that feel like they were always there and always will be. A certain kind of authenticity."
"What turns you off?"
"Ugliness, of form or spirit."
"What sound or noise do you love?"
 "An espresso machine spitting and hissing."
 "Do I detect a theme here? What sound or noise do you hate?"
"What's your favorite curse word?"
"Shit! Not really a favorite, just seems to be the go-to word."
"What profession other than you own would you like to attempt?"
"There is no other for me."
"What profession would you not like?"
"Any other."
"My last question: if God exists, what would you like to hear Him say when you arrive at the pearly gates?"
"Your father's waiting for you."
She looked at me, her eyes glistening. "That it?"
"That's it. Thanks for seeing me."
She nodded and watched me get my coat.  I heard her sigh of relief as I went out the door.


Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Revising . . . never ends . . .

I did go to Marjorie Rynearson's Story Structure Workshop. Marjorie met with the eight of us in a conference room on the north side of the Loop. Since she's a well-known actress who also has written and directed plays of her own, I hoped her thearical background would offer me a fresh approach to my own writing, and it did. I love characters, but struggle with plots. I've read the plot doctors and tried graphing things out and so on, but wound up with plots lacking flow and life.
Marjorie started with motivation--what does the principle character want? This is the actor's first question. I wish I'd attended one of these workshops a long time ago. Each of us wrote a bit, then the group commented on the offering. I should say the participants were all somewhat experienced writers, actors, editors, etc, so the critiques were to the point. I dragged out the beginning of a book I wrote two years ago that had been languishing in my computer memory, one of those stories that just don't go anywhere. Okay, I thought, nothing to lose here. I'll try it from Marjorie's perspective. Rethinking one of my major characters. Hmm. The first paragraphs came to life. It's not the greatest writing since Hemingway, but its a hell of a lot better than the first draft. I'm going to work on that one as soon as I get Ravenswood sent off to my editor. In a week, if all goes well. 

I've had two weekends with the KDP Select free promo and am a happy camper. Hundreds and hundreds of 'sales'! I'm hoping the readers will love the book and some will even write reviews for Kindle. It's hard for me to ask folks for reviews, but it's looking like I may have to. Maybe start with those who've emailed me that they love Seraphy?  Or the ones who've told me they'll write a review?  Or you guys who read this blog?  Yes, you.

Nearly finished with this revision of Ravenswood. Each time through, I have new insights into my characters. Hmm. this revision thng could go on for years . . . but I do want to get this second installment of Seraphy's adventures up on Kindle by June. Thank God for deadlines, even those I make for myself.