Betty: Wow, Jessica, I can’t believe your “dream child” is finally coming out. I–along with your many admirers –have been waiting months for this happy day. Congratulations on realizing your dream. I can’t wait to see the first issue of TSM.
Speaking of dreams, I hoped you would interview me, but never expected to be in the first edition. That’s a huge honor and I’m both humble and proud to have made the “cut,” especially since so many talented people are waiting in line to be interviewed by you and see their names in TSM. All I can say is thanks so-ooo much. I appreciate it!
Jessica: Currently, I know you’re working on a whole variety of projects, including the second Dream Reachers book. Tell us about DR2 and when is it expected to come out. And what other projects are you working on now?
Betty: Well, Jess, since DR was so well accepted, my co-author Chase Von and I decided to do another one; mainly because we want to inspire more people to strive to reach their dreams. We feel that reading about the obstacles that other people survive to “live their dream” will inspire them to push on–no matter what stands in the way. Since my stories in the first DR are of old interviews I had with some icons back in the day and Chase’s are current, contemporary interviews, I decided to go back to interviewing…like I did during my news career. I’m pleased to say that you will be featured in DR2, along with many other fascinating Dream Reachers, such as actress Katherin Kovin Pacino (Al’s stepmother), actor/director/producer Tony Tarantino (yes, Quentin’s father), top voice-over coach Joan Baker, four-times-world-champion boxer Hollie “Hot Stuff” Dunaway, European Popera superstar Romina Arena, Italian author/screenwriter Antonia Tosini, author/publisher Chase Von, and many more. I made certain to place you in good company. (laughs)
Jessica: You are a retired newspaper publisher, a long-time California journalist and you also hosted a cable TV talk show. You’ve interviewed a host of well-known people, including Clint Eastwood, Jane Russell, Dale Robertson, Tanya Tucker, Ted Kennedy and more. Wow! Reflecting upon all your interview experiences, what was your most memorable interview and why?
Betty: That’s a no-brainer, Jess — Clint Eastwood! Unless God drops Johnny Depp, Meryl Streep, Michelle Obama or George Clooney in my lap, I doubt if I’ll ever top Clint! (laughs) And truthfully, I doubt if even those famous people would change my mind about Clint…Seriously, before I interviewed Clint, I had met a few stars when working for the Imperial Beach Times (near San Diego). Two that I recall were cowboy actor Jim Davis, who later played a big role in TV’s Dallas, and actress Jo Morrow. Since I never talked in-depth with them or learned anything about their characters or personalities, Clint was actually the first big “star” that I spent time with.
Like all women, I was impressed with his good looks and “bed-room eyes.” After all, he was Rowdy Yates and “The Spaghetti Western” hunk in one tall, sexy bundle! (laughs) But that’s not the only reason he’s so unforgettable. It was his way of treating me (a journalist for a small newspaper) as though I were the only person in the world at the moment. He was so natural and down-to-earth that he made me feel very comfortable, which gave “wings” to my interview. I’ll never forget how kind he was and how complimentary, also. After that, I followed his career with interest and learned many things about achieving success from his “never-give-up and never-cave-in” attitude. I think of him as one of my early mentors and will always remember that defining time in my life!
Betty: You mean besides Clint? (laughs) I haven’t given this much thought, but I think I’d choose my very favorite author Pat Conroy. Not only would it be a thrill to meet him and discuss writing, but it would also be a chance to improve my skills: for instance, better characterization and how to write great, lyrical similes. He writes the best similes in the industry and I’m a simile freak! I’d make sure to get a picture with him, too, so I could plaster it all over creation, as I do the one with Clint. (laughs)
Can you imagine what a scoop that would be if I could land Conroy for Dream Reachers: Vol. 2? Hey, thanks for the idea, Jess. I am going to ask him for an interview. Wish me luck… Others I would love to meet (whether I get to interview them or not) are Al Pacino, Jimmy Carter, Maya Angelou, Steve Jobs, Morgan Freeman, Jennifer Aniston, Barbara Walters, Robert De Niro, Sean Connery, Meg Whitman, Andy Garcia…and your own picks: Neil Barlow and Michael J. Scott. I could take up pages listing everyone I’d like to interview…
Jessica: You’re the co-author with Chase Von of the book Dream Reachers, a collection of inspiring celebrity interviews that is available now for purchase at Amazon. And you’re the author of a few other books: Millennium Babe: The Prophecy, a supernatural mystery adventure; The Toonies Invade Silicon Valley, a young adult sci-fi fantasy adventure; and 1106 Grand Boulevard, an epic romantic thriller, plus many short stories. I’m not surprised that your books are adventurous because you’re a lady that has lived a life filled with adventure! What inspired you to write these types of books? Is there one in particular that stands out as a favorite for you? I know they’re out of print now. So, when are they expected to be in print again?
Betty: Millennium Babe: The Prophecy is still in print, Jess, and can be purchased at any online bookstore or ordered from local bookstores. But you’re right about my Toonies and Grand being out of print…due to my former publisher having heart problems and going out of business. That’s a shame because both books were selling fairly well and I’m losing money. (laughs) Actually, both are still listed on Amazon and other sites because there are still some left on the secondary market. Several publishers have expressed interest in publishing those two books again, but I’m working through the details at the moment. It’s hard to guess when they’ll be back in print. I’m working on several options, so I hope my fans are patient with me. A bit of good news on that front: I actually have to have new covers when a book is re-released and even though the publisher usually does that, I had the opportunity to have a new Toonies cover created by an award-winning children’s illustrator K. Michael Crawford. The good news is that I received the final cover yesterday. I’m sharing it with TSM today…for the very first public viewing of it. (I know it’s odd to have the cover out before the book, but having the great K. M. do a cover for me is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that I couldn’t turn down. She’s the one who illustrated the famous classic, Chicken Little, for Ideal Books so it’s truly an honor.) I hope your readers enjoy this sneak preview.
As for my inspiration to write, I have a very feisty, independent Muse (a lot like me?). She rides around on a bright pink Harley–decked out in silver-studded leathers, her long, blonde hair flowing three feet behind her–tossing all these bizarre ideas into my mind… One night her offerings are dark and moody (like in my Babe book), while the next day she tosses me light, airy, fun things (like Toonies and some humorous short stories). I never know what to expect from her, so I go where my imagination leads me.
So far I’ve written in the four genres you mentioned above, and since my two unpublished works of fiction are a serial-killer thriller (Dead Women Don’t Talk Back) and a horror (Evil Voices), I think I’ve covered most of the bases. Some would say I haven’t written a sci-fi yet, but Jennifer Wardrip, owner of TeensReadToo.com categorized Toonies as sci-fi in her review, so I guess it’s a tad that too. (laughs)
As for choosing a favorite book, that’s hard for any author. I love all my books for various reasons, but Toonies was the most fun to write and it actually was my best-seller so far. I think that’s partly because I’m a big kid at heart and partly because Steve “The Woz” Wozniak, Apple Co-founder, gave me permission to use him in a speaking role in the book. I actually grinned all the while I was typing scenes that included The Woz. Manipulating him throughout the book and picturing him romping with the good Toonies as he helped the kids and their parents capture the bad Toonies was almost as much fun as watching him dance on Dancing with the Stars. I think you’ll agree that the sprinkler scene is hilarious, Jess. (laughs)
Jessica: You also review many books on Amazon and are a top reviewer there. So, approximately how many books do you review per month? And how do you select them? Tell us about a few of the books you’ve reviewed on Amazon.
Betty: Reviewing on Amazon is a true learning experience, Jess. Most people don’t know it, but Amazon is a highly political place with so many rules, regulations and rivalries that it keeps the very serious reviewers in turmoil most of the time. I try to avoid that, but at times can’t help but be “embroiled.” Amazon also has a special program called Amazon Vine™. The Exclusive Club of Influential Amazon Voices. I’m happy to have been selected to be a “blossom on the Vine,” as I call myself, because we get free books for review purposes; some are advance review copies (ARCs). They also have other new products for review, such as high-tech products, DVDs and even pots-and-pans. When the newsletter arrives via email, we reviewers run to check the “best” offerings before they’re all taken. (laughs)
In addition to receiving Vine books, I also receive review requests from authors and I even break down from time to time and buy some. (laughs) But there is never a shortage of reading material. I enjoy a variety of genres and actually review everything from children’s picture books to Stephen King horrors. Three books I recently reviewed that I enjoyed very much are John Sandford’s Storm Prey, Jenna Blum’s Stormchasers and James Patterson’s latest offering (with co-author Maxine Paetro, whom I admire greatly).
Coincidentally, on the day you asked this question, I had just posted my 600th review, which is a milestone… Since you asked, I checked my records and found that I posted my first Amazon review in November of 2004, so that means I’ve been reviewing for Amazon for almost six years. Roughly figuring, that’s a hundred reviews a year, or approximately two reviews per week. There are times, though, when I do five or more reviews a week and times when I do none for a week or so. It depends on my deadlines and personal schedule.
Betty: I give the main credit to God because He gave me a natural writing ability and the gift-of-gab to go with it. (laughs) Also, I must mention my high school writing instructor for recognizing something in me when she consistently chose my assignments as “best in class.” She planted the idea that I could be a writer, but my supportive family and friends nourished my earliest efforts when I started writing poetry and essays at around age eleven.
Jessica: Recently, you mentioned that you did some modeling too. Having seen older pictures of you, you certainly were very beautiful, Betty. And, of course, you still are. Tell us a little bit about your modeling days.
Betty: Thanks, Jess…That means a lot to me at this late age. (laughs) At the urging of friends, I started modeling after I had my first child. To prepare, I took a course at the House of Charm in Sacramento, California and they landed me several modeling jobs. At one of those jobs, local talk-show host Gene Nelson spotted me modeling beside a sports car at a Convention Center exhibition and asked me to model clothes from local boutiques on his KCCC TV show. I also modeled in a few runway shows. I was only five feet, five inches tall, so they said I couldn’t model high-fashion, so they used me as a sports-clothes model. Ironically, as soon as I got pregnant again, I quit modeling and never went back to it, opting to have six children instead. (laughs)
Jessica: If you had the power to do something in the world today, what would it be and why?
Betty: That’s a tough one to answer, Jess, since the world needs so much. However, charity begins at home, so if I could, I would steer our country back to God and good, clean, moral living. I believe that when our country once again honors God, He will rain blessings down on us. The same applies to the world…
Jessica: What is one of your favorite quotes (or lines) that inspires you?
Betty: As you might have guessed, Jess, it’s a Bible verse (King James version): “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”
If you don’t mind, I’d also like to share a quote by a great woman I admired in my young adulthood, Eleanor Roosevelt, wife of President Franklin D. Roosevelt: “The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.” She is credited with many wise quotes, but that one fits the philosophy of our Dream Reachers books, so seems appropriate for this specific time in my life.
Jessica: Anything else you’d like to share? And where can our readers find out more about you and your books?
Betty: Since I love my family dearly and they are everything to me, I’d like to share that I have four surviving children, two angels in Heaven, nine grandchildren, four great-grands and one great-great…I thank God everyday for placing them in my life.
Readers can reach me at my main website which is: http://www.bettydravis.com and on Amazon’s Author Central: http://tinyurl.com/25s2xtv I’m also on Dames of Dialogue, Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, Myspace, Nextcat and many other social networks. There’s also a fantastic trailer of Dream Reachers on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/user/bettydravis Canadian author Kelly Komm created the trailer and the lovely background music is “This is My Dream” by singer/pianist/composer Kashy Keegan.
Jessica: Thanks so much again for doing this interview and wish you the best of luck with DR2 and all your other projects.
Betty: Oh, Jess, thank you for having me here. I’m truly blessed by this opportunity to be in the first issue of Talent Spotlight Magazine. Wait till I show it to my friends and family! Please continue bringing us the best new artists and for helping them blossom. Sweet dreams…