UNDER THE GREAT ELM – A Life of Luck & Wonder received a 4+ star review, making it an IndieReader Approved title.
Following find an interview with author Rich Flanders.
What is the name of the book and when was it published?
The book is UNDER THE GREAT ELM – A Life of Luck & Wonder, published March 3, 2022.
What’s the book’s first line?
‘’Bands of Sauk and Fox may have passed under its soaring boughs, maybe even Black Hawk himself.’’
What’s the book about? Give us the ‘’pitch.’’
‘’Swift, lyrical, often astonishing, this is a tale of high adventure, of love lost and found, a lifelong journey of enlightenment and remarkable interspecies encounters. Sweeping from the Illinois countryside to the plains and mountains of the American West, from the cafes of Paris to the Gaza Strip, and from the tropics of India to the rhythms of Broadway, this is a story of hope and inspiration for our time.’’
What inspired you to write this book? A particular person? An event?
I really didn’t set out to write a book, only to record certain extraordinary experiences that I wanted friends and family to know about. These experiences, some of which had stretched my understanding of ‘’reality,’’ needed to be preserved. As well, I sought some sort of through-line for the kaleidoscope of my life.
As I began to write, and remember, remarkable stories rolled out of high adventure and jaw-dropping serendipity, like the lost and found love story that weaves through my life. I began to take note of an incredible luck that had graced my journey, sometimes through the most harrowing moments. I also became aware of an abiding sense of wonder, with me since boyhood in Illinois. Clearly, here was a story worth telling. What would officially be labeled a ‘’memoir’’ was in actuality a spiritual odyssey, an adventure novel.
In a world in need of a lift, I felt it was important to share a different perspective. In shadow and in sun…luck and wonder.
What’s the main reason someone should really read this book?
It’s a story of trusting the heart and the flow of life, embracing the unknown and leaping into the current It’s a book that can uplift the spirit and stir a soul to move forward.
When did you first decide to become an author?
It’s the other way around. It wasn’t so much a decision. It was in the act of writing that I realized I was becoming an author.
Is this the first book you’ve written?
Yes. But throughout my life I have been writing, from essays and published poetry to newsletters. All, it turns out, in prep for a book.
What do you do for work when you’re not writing?
By profession, I have been an actor and singer, and I have had an independent distributorship with the Shaklee Corporation for 45 years which has sustained me through the ups and downs of show business.
How much time do you spend on your writing?
I find I write when inspired, and have no set writing schedule. I may be moved to write a review of a book that’s had an impact on me for Goodreads, or a blog piece about the human catastrophe in Ukraine ( ‘’Ask Not For Whom the Bell Tolls….’’)
What’s the best and hardest part of being an Indie?
The hardest part Is learning the ropes, from scratch, and then continuing to learn. The best part is having artistic control over your own product, from cover design to finding the right editor to making your finished book as high in quality as anything traditionally published.
What’s a great piece of advice that you can share with fellow indie authors?
Don’t compromise on the quality of the final product. Hire the best editor you can find, co-create with a bonafide graphic artist a definitive cover design, etc. No matter how tiring or frustrating it gets along the way, hold in mind your favorite copy of a beautiful published book as the ideal final product you’re striving for. Your book is your legacy. You want it to be regarded with respect and admiration.
Would you go traditional if a publisher came calling? If so, why?
I don’t have a set answer. It would depend on whether the same sort of artistic control I have as an indie could be guaranteed. If so, I might consider it, since so much of the hassle would then be off my shoulders and I’d be freer to just be a writer, not a marketer and publicist, etc.
Is there something in particular that motivates you (fame? fortune?)
I’ve never been driven by money, but fame, I’ll admit, has some appeal. But my main motivation is neither – It is self-expression, the desire to share what I know, to move a reader, to help effect change in them and, by extension, in the world. Also, most of us have a desire to be really seen and known, and a book – particularly a memoir or autobiography – can bring that about.
Which writer, living or dead, do you most admire?
Ernest Hemingway would probably top the list, perhaps the greatest writer of English prose since Shakespeare. But there are dozens. Somerset Maugham is a close second. Among living authors, Annie Proulx and Barbara Kingsolver are favorites.