Saturday, January 12, 2013

Daisy: Between a Rock and a Hard Place by Janis F Kearney: Interview


Welcome Janis!  Thanks so much for coming by today.  How did you start your writing career?


I have written just about all of my life. I loved writing and English in high school and as shy as I was, I loved getting up doing book reports...go figure. I also loved working in the library...thought I had died and gone to heaven, to be around so many books during the day. In college, I took up journalism because they didn't have a creative writing program. After college, I worked in state government in management then in public communications. The point is, I have written in one form or another most of my adult life. when my job didn't require writing, I did freelance articles. I became a newspaper manager, then publisher before I became an author. Becoming an author was my life mission. Now that I am...I just want to write forever.


What does your husband and family think of your writing career?


My husband thinks its great, but is surprised that you can't really get rich doing it (unless you're a huge name). My family thinks it's cool, but can't really believe that I call this a career or job. Overall, everyone is very supportive. I don't think writers are ever completely understood...even when they're loved.


When do you write?


 I write during the day unless I'm frantically trying to complete a book, then I might pull an all-nighter. Rarely will I do that, because I know my best writing is during the morning to mid-day. When I write at night, I will almost always have to go back and make major changes. I go to bed early, rise early and do my best work in the early part of the day. I write roughly 4-6 hours a day when I'm working on completing a project. I do not write everyday when I'm not working on a specific book project. I take a vacation from writing, so that I'm excited when I come back to it.


By whom are your books published?


My books are published by my small, independent publishing company Writing our World Publishing, LLC. My husband and I founded WOW! Press in 2004. We now have six books under our belt and working on two more for 2013.


Where do you research for my books?


I like personal interviews if I can get them; oral histories that have been documented; papers from the subject; other books on my subject - and their own books if they've written. University libraries are great resources, as are historical societies.


Do you hear from readers?


Yes, I do and I love hearing from readers. They ask questions much the ones you're asking. How did I decide to write my book, and more specific questions about my writing process. My fiction book, Once Upon a Time there was a Girl, generated a great deal of questions about the murdered victim, as well as my main character, Sheriff Mallory.


Daisy: Between a Rock and a Hard Place

Presidential diarist and author Janis F. Kearney transforms civil rights legend Daisy Gatson Bates’ life from black and white, to living color.  The author, who interviewed Bates many times; recreates her conversations and interviews to “fill in” places left un-filled, and colors incidents and experiences, to bring Daisy Bates to life. Kearney plums the mysterious murder of Bates’ mother, and the orphan’s childhood; the young woman’s prophetic decision to share a traveling salesman’s life; her non-traditional role as co-publisher of an award winning newspaper; and her leadership role at a time, and place where women rarely led.

Between a Rock and a Hard Place is Daisy’s “look back” at her life, and…finally, a self-analysis of how, and possibly, why she became the Daisy Gatson Bates for which she is known throughout the world.  Author Janis F. Kearney recounts the leader’s many friendships, relationships and associations that helps define who she was in the eyes of the world - from Presidents Kennedy, Johnson and Clinton; First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt; the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr.; Roy Wilson, NAACP President; Thurgood Marshall and Wiley Branton, NAACP attorneys, Maya Angelou and Jackie Robinson… and countless others.

The author met Daisy Bates in the summer of 1969, at the age of16. From that moment, the high school student dreamed of working for the woman her father called one of Arkansas’ greatest leaders – black or white.


"Thank you to Janis F. Kearney for shedding a critical light on an often forgotten civil rights heroine. Daisy Bates was a woman who refused to be defined by society's rules on both race and place in America. An often controversial figure, Bates lived life on her own terms, for which she paid dearly. She was an American hero who loved her country for all its greatness; but courageously proclaimed it could and should be better." ~Sharon La Cruise, Producer


Author Janis F. Kearney

Janis F. Kearney is a publisher, author, and oral historian. She was one of 19 children born to Arkansas Delta Sharecroppers T.J. and Ethel Kearney. She Graduated from the  University of Arkansas at Fayetteville with a B.A., in  Journalism, and completed 30 hours in public administration, and Journalism.  

She was hired by Daisy Bates in 1987 as Managing Editor of the Arkansas State Press.  In 1988, she purchased the newspaper.  She served as Personal Diarist to President Clinton from 1995 to 2001.  She was the country’s first personal diarist to a U.S. President, and during that time, she also served as White House liaison to the U.S. National Archives.   

In 2001, Janis moved with her husband Bob Nash to Chicago, where she began her writing life.  In 2003, Janis, with her husband’s support, founded Writing our World Press/WOW! Books  in 2003.  Her first book, Cotton Field of Dreams: A Memoir was published in 2004. Her other books include Something to Write Home About: Memories of a Presidential Diarist; Conversations: William Jefferson Clinton…from Hope to Harlem; and Once Upon a Time there was a Girl: a Murder at Mobile Bay, her first fiction. WOW! Books has also published two other authors. Her next book, Daisy: Between a Rock and a Hard Place, is scheduled for publication, December 2012.  Her third memoir, Sundays with TJ: 100 years of Memories on Varner Road,  and her second Once Upon a Time there was a Girl murder mystery are both slated for publication in Spring, 2013.


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