Monday, 1 July 2013

Brook Cottage Books is thrilled to be part of the Fiction Addiction Book Tour for How You Leave Texas by Alana Cash.

About the Author:

Alana Cash is an adventurer.  She's been on ride-alongs in New York City patrol cars. She’s kissed a man inside Norman Bates’ Psycho house. She trekked alone through war-torn Serbia.  She’s used her experiences as inspiration for her work as an acclaimed writer and filmmaker.  Some of her favorite accolades are:

  • She was one of 60 US teachers profiled on the PBS series, "A Writer's Exchange," for her talent as a teacher at the University of Texas Informal Classes 
  • Her feature film, "Tom's Wife," based on her novel of the same name, won awards all over the world
  • Her documentary "Anna Freud: Under Analysis," part of documentary trilogy on women in science, was translated into German for broadcast in Austria, Germany & Switzerland

She’s a native Texan and makes great chili.


 Thank you Alana for agreeing to sit in the interview chair today. Lets get started with the interrogation  interview.
JB: How you leave Texas is about four young women leaving their various hometowns etc. in search of something better. Are any of their characters based on anyone you know? 
Alana: Absolutely. The story with the most characters based on people I know/knew is “Frying Your Burger” – Zach is someone I knew.  Charlie Goodman, the angry producer is someone I knew (I knew several people like Charlie – one man used to fire his entire office staff every month).  Charlie’s secretary, Kiki, is someone I knew.  In fact, all the people at the studio are based on real people.  And all the homeless people in that story are based on real people.  The characters in the coffee shop – Mehta, Roberta, Jane – are all made up.  Danny is also made up. 
“Krystal’s Wedding” – I identify with Krystal.  I moved to LA (not New York) when I was very young and was on my own.  And, I did find a mentor who encouraged me to finish my degree at UCLA.  I don’t come from an alcoholic family, my dad was always very serious and sober, but my mother did like to borrow money.  And I did eventually move to New York and I was as enamoured of the City as Krystal was – living in history – and knew someone very much like Krystal’s roommate, Gina.
I don’t know any of the characters in “Camille’s Net Worth” or “Dam Broke.” 
JB: Where did you get the idea for the book from? Is it something that you’ve been  thinking about for a while?    
Alana: All the stories in the book started with questions with the exception of “Frying Your Burger” which is a satire on my experiences in the film industry.   
JB: From start to finish, how long did it take you to complete How You Leave Texas?   
Alana: Years.  I rewrote “Frying Your Burger” five times.  It was originally very stylistic and over 300 pages.  I was too close to it and with each rewrite, I removed more and more extraneous scenes and became more objective in telling the story.   
I also spent a long time writing “Camille’s Net Worth.”  The original story started with the question of what a woman would do if she got divorced and had no retirement plan?  She would plan to retire in jail.  However, once I actually developed Camille’s character – her relationship to her husband, her wonderful and supportive family and friends, the answer changed.  However, for years Camille had been living in denial of the state of her marriage and denial of her own desires.  You don’t just flop out of that, the way out is the way in, so she had to learn the lessons of denial.  When you deny yourself, others will also deny you.  As a person, I wanted Camille’s revenge against her husband to be a great adventure and I went off on a tangent with Camille becoming a vagabond on the run.  While that was an interesting story, it didn’t feel real to me as a writer.  So I set the story aside for a long while.  When I returned to it, I cut the story where it went off on that tangent.  From the cut-off point, I rewrote it to its more realistic conclusion.   
“Krystal’s Wedding” was also a story that I wrote and returned to.  Originally, it was just too sad with too much victimhood.  I cut the story in half, then rewrote the story with a nice character arc for Krystal and lot of descriptions of New York which made it far more appealing to me.
I wrote “Dam Broke” from start to finish in an hour.   
JB: Did any of the characters suddenly develop in a different way than you had originally planned or did you stick pretty much with what you had planned for each of them?   
Alana: In Camille’s Net Worth,” it was in developing her character that the actual story changed – not the other way around.  In “Krystal’s Wedding,” I realised that if Krystal had the gumption to go to New York alone, she had enough intelligence to know when to fold her hand with Hudson’s family.  So, I cut the wedding and rewrote the end of the story. 
JB: I love the title of the book. Was it always going to be called How You Leave Texas or did you play around with a couple of ideas for a title? 
Alana: I was goofing around trying to find a title and my son asked me what all the stories had in common and I said all the women leave Texas.  And he said, why not call it, “How You Leave Texas.”
JB: Lots of authors tell me they write every day. Are you that type of writer or do you write when inspiration strikes?
Alana: I wasn’t writing every day until recently.  I have to think about things a lot before I have any juice for writing.  But now that I’m blogging, I’m writing almost every day.  I have guest bloggers and I edit their work too.  It’s kind of a challenge to meet my own deadlines (Thursday and Sunday posts) but it’s so much fun to write about things that are true and always from a point of love.  
JB: You’ve had one of your novels, Tom’s Wife, made into a feature film. How did that come about and where you happy with the end result? 
Alana: I wrote and directed the feature, TOM’S WIFE and it won a lot of awards.  It turned out pretty well, but I did not enjoy the process and never wanted to make another film (I had written/directed three documentaries before that).   
JB: What’s next for you? Do you have a new book planned? 
Alana: I am currently working on a series of short stories about a girl growing up in a military family (which I did).  Oh boy.
And I love the blog.
JB: Any advice out there for any budding writers? 
Alana: Don’t waste your time fretting about publishing or acceptance.  Write from passion and enjoy it.
JB: From reading your bio, I see you like to go on little adventures yourself! Any more planned?
Alana: I’m thinking of taking a stand-up comedy class and taking tap-dance lessons.  I have the shoes already, still looking for the sense of humour. .And I’m planning a trip to Venice and Rome with my son. And, I’m planning to rent a house in Mexico for a month or so and really learn to speak en EspaƱola. And today it occurred to me to make home made ice cream and sell it from a truck.
Well lovely readers, I don’t know about you but Alana Cash and her enthusiasm for life has worn me out! Thank you Alana for appearing on the blog. Lots of luck with How You Leave Texas. As part of this tour there is a giveaway for 5 Camis and five t-shirts so just click on the Rafflecopter link to be in with a chance of winning.


How You Leave Texas is a volume of three short stories and a novella about four young women who leave Midland, Austin, Fort Worth and Mayville, Texas for New York, California, Jakarta, and in one instance, jail.  The young women seek escape from boredom and sorrow and they find it.  Hilarious, tragic, and revelatory, the stories are about extraordinary women with ordinary lives
Synopsis of individual stories:
Dam Broke – On the night of their high school graduation, Annabelle and Mickey ride a scooter in pouring rain as they reveal closely held secrets. (6 pages).
In sixth grade, I abandoned the reading glasses for a blond wig and a fake mole above my top lip. Mickey started wearing sunglasses indoors and carrying business cards.
Camille’s Net Worth – On the day she turns 40, Camille’s life goes from bored to worse in uncontrolled demolition.  She accepts an exciting job opportunity and travels back and forth to Indonesia.  The job isn’t what is appears, but the irony of how things turn out causes Camille to laugh until she has tears rolling down her face. (42 pages).
“I’m not going to spend much time repeating myself,” Camille said, “I want you to remove whatever you want to keep from this house. You can store your stuff in a rental truck if you need to until you find a new home, but you will be gone from here by midnight and never return.”
“You can’t do that!”
“If you are not gone by midnight, I will set fire to the house.”
Krystal’s Wedding – Krystal leaves her seriously flawed family in Midland, heading for New York City, where she takes a few slippery steps.  Krystal’s mother encourages her to find a husband in order to escape her loud roommate in Hell’s Kitchen and her boring job. However, Krystal actually gets her footing in New York and in life when she is offered a new, fulfilling direction (21 pages).
Krystal felt safer with Hudson there, but it must be as clear to him and his family as it was to her that theirs was a match of china and paper plates. As Krystal faked a sip of the champagne with a name she couldn’t read because it was printed in twirly letters in French, she wondered how hard his mother would try to prevent Hudson from getting too serious …
Frying Your Burger – Nicky and three irreverent friends spend mornings at a coffee shop tossing repartee on love, sex, and religion.  For a short while, Nicky is caught up with a sexy Hollywood player, becoming a pawn in the battle of egos between two movie directors trying to ruin each others careers.  The affair flares, then fizzles, but Nicky lands on her feet (108 pages).
I went into the room marked Cashier and got into a long line. And there he was. Grinning that grin. He should have had a license for it. It was that bright. I stood next to him in my white t-shirt and white pants looking like someone straight out of the “hospital orderly fashion catalogue.” It was all I had clean that day.


2 Responses so far.

  1. Sheryl says:

    Oh, we so need to remind ourselves of this: 'Don’t waste your time fretting about publishing or acceptance. Write from passion and enjoy it'. Alana I think you have found your sense of humour. You have to have one in this business. Hugely entertaining post. Well done you! And thanks for sharing, JB! :) xx

  2. Great interview ladies.

    Thanks for being a part of Alan's tour JB.

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