Author Q and A with Elizabeth Kerri Mahon

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Eliz­a­beth Kerri Mahon (blog | Twit­ter) did what many blog­gers dream but not dare — she turned her blog into a book. Not only that, I really liked her book "Scan­dalous Women" (book review) and Ms. Mahon was kind enough to answer a few ques­tions about social media, her expe­ri­ence going from a blog to a book and her favorite scan­dalous women.

Q. How did you get the idea to write a book about this sub­ject?
A. Wow, that's a great ques­tion. I had been plug­ging away at my writ­ing for a long time, mainly writ­ing YA and women's fic­tion and just rack­ing up rejec­tion let­ters. I was also blog­ging at my other blog now called Adven­tures of Gotham Gal. Frankly I was get­ting a lit­tle bored and more than a lit­tle dis­cour­aged. I've always loved his­tory, and one day it just hit me, why didn't I write about all these fas­ci­nat­ing women I was read­ing biogra­phies about? Thus Scan­dalous Women was born. I started writ­ing about them on Gotham Gal but then decided that these women deserved their own blog. I decided to call the blog (and the book) Scan­dalous Women because of all the women that I was writ­ing about were con­sid­ered Scan­dalous in their day, although we would prob­a­bly find them a bit tame today.

Q. Which fig­ure you wrote about has sur­prised / fas­ci­nated you the most?
A. Josephine Baker was one of the women that I was fas­ci­nated by. I had no idea until I started research­ing her that she had been involved with the Resis­tance and worked as a spy dur­ing WWII, nor did I know about her Civil Rights work dur­ing the 1950's. I just thought of her as a dancer who wore a banana skirt. I also found Camille Claudel and Zelda Fitzger­ald fas­ci­nat­ing because their work is so enter­twined with these dom­i­nat­ing male fig­ures of Rodin and F. Scott Fitzger­ald. Both women found their work over­shad­owed, and both ended up in asy­lums for the rest of their lives. It was really hard for me to stop research­ing, and to just sit down and write the book.

Q. You started out blog­ging about scan­dalous women, what does it take to turn your blog into a book?
A. It was actu­ally my friends who encour­aged me to turn Scan­dalous Women into a book. I had no plans when I first started the blog, and it wasn't until I was laid off by my day job that I actu­ally sat down and fig­ured out how to write a non-fiction book pro­posal. I was shocked when the first agent I sent the pro­posal to asked to rep­re­sent me. And then when we sold the book, I was over the moon. Then came the hard work of decid­ing who was going to be in the book and who wasn't. Even though I had writ­ten about some of these women on the blog, I went back and did more research and exten­sively rewrote those chap­ters. They are much dif­fer­ent than what I had ini­tially wrote. Then it was a mat­ter of trim­ming each chap­ter down to about 7 pages which was hard believe me but I had a word count and I tried not to go over it. I only had seven months to write and research the book, so I couldn't read as many biogra­phies as I wanted which was hard.

Q. You are active on the Social Media front. How do you find the expe­ri­ence? Any positive/negative expe­ri­ences in book pro­mo­tions?
I started using Twit­ter and Face­book about 2 years ago, and I find it a great expe­ri­ence. I set up a seper­ate page on Face­book solely for the book. Most of the feed­back has been pos­i­tive. It just takes up a great deal of time. I Twit­ter every day and I try to post inter­est­ing arti­cles on the Face­book page, not just about the book.

Q. What are the chal­lenges of book pro­mo­tions in the social media age?
A. Because most authors find out pretty quickly that most of they are going to have to do most of the pro­mo­tion them­selves, it becomes almost a full time job. Set­ting up a blog tour, which I did on my own, find­ing blog­gers like your­self to send review copies too. You really can't rely on your pub­lisher to pro­mote your book for you, you have to do about 75% of it on your own. That's where Twit­ter and Face­book are so valu­able.

Shame­less plug dis­guised as a ques­tion: Why do you love so much and often visit the web­site?
Wise gal answer: I love find­ing peo­ple who are just as pas­sion­ate about books as I am. And Man of La Book is a great, quirky blog.

Thank you for answer­ing my ques­tions, I love the answers and the expe­ri­ence is very interesting.

Zohar — Man of la Book

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