Author Bill Schubart: Bookstore, Library and Book Club Discussions
Bill is a respected public speaker, writer and public radio commentator. As a former chair of the Vermont Arts Council, Vermont Library Commission, The Vermont Folklife Center, and current chair of the VT College of Fine Arts, long known for the excellence of its writing programs, he is an engaging speaker, always evolving his talks into conversations with his audiences. He can be reached at Bill@Schubart.com or 802 482 3287. He lives in Hinesburg, VT
1. Writing from a Sense of Place: How does an author’s natural landscape and built community reflect itself in his or her work? What are the implications for language, description, or story? How does the author’s affinity for or alienation from his or her family and community affect what they write? Bill will speak from experience growing up in two completely different cultures: initially, in a New York City family of assimilationist, German Jews – peopled with artists, publishers, and bankers – and then in the small agricultural community of Morrisville, Vermont where he grew up in a French-Canadian, Catholic family. The impacts of these two cultures on the child necessarily shapes the adult and, in the case of his newest novel, Photographic Memory, plays out in the written word. The same can be said about his earlier collection of short stories, The Lamoille Stories, soon-to-be released Lamoille Stories II, and his first novel, Panhead.
2. Writing in Another’s Voice: Perhaps one of the most difficult tasks of a fiction writer is writing in the first-person voice of another being. I Am Baybie is Bill’s only attempt at this. The novel has received critical praise from the writing community and has brought his work to the attention of literary agents. One well-known novelist said of it, “It’s the most American book I’ve read since Lonesome Dove.” Writing in the first-person, Bill narrates the tale of the Reverend Nadine “Baybie” Hoover and her partner Virginia Brown, two blind street singers who sang for many years under the awning of Bloomingdale’s department store in Manhattan. Bill came to know them when he recorded an album of their singing in 1975. I Am Baybie is a fictionalized account of their lives, told in their own voices. For a comfortable, sighted male author to write in the voice of blind and occasionally homeless women from the Midwest whose lives have been a succession of tragedies was challenging and required searching for the common human experience we share.
3. Write What You’ve Lived: The publication in 2010 of Bill’s short story collection, Fat People, has been very well received, both in the fiction and addiction recovery communities. Written because Bill is a “fat person,” many of the stories are deeply personal, carrying the pain of his own experience, such as the obese child arriving at boarding school at 13 and, along with his newly arrived classmates, having to be photographed nude for “posture pictures.” Or the tale of an 800-pound priest who refuses to leave the water when he goes swimming for the first time in years, as he first experiences the weightlessness of flotation. The book offers no promises, diets, or recovery nostrums for the obesity epidemic. The author’s goal was simply to share the experiences of those struggling with eating disorders. This is one of the more popular discussions he leads.
4. Self-publishing Today: Until recently, authors chose between dealing with publishing’s gatekeepers – editors and agents, or vanity publishing – paying someone to overlook your literary shortcomings and make and publish your book under their imprint. The old world of the gatekeepers broke down into “coherent” publishing brands like Grove Press and Harlequin Romance and “incoherent” publishing brands like Harper-Collins and Random House. With coherent brands, the consumer knew intuitively the type of book the brand published, while with incoherent brands the consumer knew only that the brand published books. There were illustrious houses like Knopf and Farrar Straus, known for topflight literature and then there was perhaps the best known vanity publisher, Vantage Press. Today, the vacuum between vanity publishing and conventional publishing has been populated with authors choosing to self-publish. This is made possible by the removal of the long-standing and costly barrier-to-entry, offset printing an initial inventory that may or may not sell. Authors now have the more cost-effective option to print-on-demand. Self-publishing is flourishing across the spectrum from true vanity publication to self-publishers of critically acclaimed works. Bill will discuss his choice to self-publish and the challenges, opportunities, exigencies, and costs that self-publishing presents for an author.
The Lamoille Stories – ISBN: 978-0-9897121-0-1
Fat People - ISBN: 978-0-615-39751-1
Panhead - ISBN: 978-0-9834852-6-1
I Am Baybie – ISBN: 978-0-9834852-9-2
Photographic Memory – ISBN: 978-0-9834852-8-5
The Lamoille Stories II – ISBN: 978-0-9897121-3-2 (September)