Archive | 10:07 AM

Interview with Author Veronica Kirin

22 Jun

I posted my review of Veronica Kirin’s Stories of Elders last week. As I mentioned, I know Kirin personally and am good friends with her brother. I asked her if she’d mind doing a brief virtual interview with me and she agreed. So I’m happy to present you with the following interview diving more into Kirin’s book and her experiences along with it. Enjoy!

S: What was the most surprising thing you heard during your interviews?
VK: I had just watched Interstellar before conducting the national interviews.  I was surprised to hear several elders describe scenes from the movie, except they were describing the dust bowl.  I didn’t know the power lines would interact with the dust and spark into the sky.  I didn’t know that the dust was so thick that it came into the house through any crack possible.  It was amazing to talk to Hal Royer and hear him say he still wipes out a glass before he fills it with water, 70 years later.  These conversions made clear my own ignorance about our history, despite being an anthropologist.  I want to note that each interview was approximately one hour long.  I couldn’t include the entire interview of each person in the book, and so I created a podcast for those who want to go deeper and hear more from the elders.  They can find it here:  https://storiesofelders.com/podcast-2/

S: How did you choose the topics to cover in the book?
VK: The chapter topics were those that came up the most often across interviews.  The goal of the book is to highlight the major areas of our culture and society altered by technology.  As an anthropologist I acknowledge my own ignorance on the topic, and looked to the experts I interviewed to highlight what was most changed.  That ultimately led to the areas of focus for the book.

S: You share some of your personal stories along with the Elders stories. Why did you choose to do this?
VK: Some have criticized me for this, but I had two major reasons to include myself in the journey.  The first was to create a relatable narrative to those who were undoubtedly curious about how I executed the project.  Even those that have read the book ask what it was like, how did I meet people, and how have I changed.  The publisher thought that including some of the journey in the book would help carry the reader from one narrative to the next and humanize the work that went into the creation of the book.  The second purpose of my narrative is to connect younger readers to the stories.  I wrote this book because I think understanding history is critical, especially as we live through a major paradigm shift, but I worried that Millennials and Gen Zeds wouldn’t be interested unless they heard themselves in the story as well.  My personal evolution throughout the journey bridges that gap.

S: Why do you think you were uniquely positioned to write this book?
VK: My degree is in anthropology, but I live my life as an entrepreneur.  It took every skill of an entrepreneur to build and execute on this project.  I ran a successful Kickstarter campaign to raise the funds for the travel and publishing.  I had to network to find supporters as well as interviewees.  I also leveraged my network to find a publisher who could see the vision of the book and would help make it a reality.  My skills as a former website developer helped me create an online presence for the book and promote it years after its initial publish date.  The anthropologist is the visionary, the one who can see societal change and how critical this narrative will be to future generations, but the entrepreneur is the one who made it a reality.

S: What gave you the idea for using Kickstarter to raise funds to finish this project? What did those funds cover? How did you reward your donors?
VK: I didn’t personally have the cash to take time from my business (as a solo-preneur, time off doesn’t just cost money, it also costs income) to travel for the research for this book.  But I knew I had to go in person to meet the elders, as that is what was expected of an interview in their generation. Kickstarter would not only create the funds needed for the project, but also create a following.  It took an enormous amount of work, but it was a success and I’d do it again.  Donors received a range of rewards, from signed artwork quoting those interviews I’d already completed, to a signed copy of the hardcover book when it was published.

S: Can you please describe the publishing process you went through? Did you have a proposal or a completed book when you started looking to publish?
VK: I met my publisher on a podcast I co-host shortly after I had a completed manuscript draft.  They specialize in unique non-fiction, which is perfect for my work.  Shortly after the interview, the publisher flew to meet me at my home and discuss the project.  We signed a contract a week later.  This is not a conventional story, but it makes clear how critical my network as an entrepreneur was to the success of the book.

S: How did you decide to do an audiobook? Can you describe the recording process?
VK: My publisher demanded I create an audiobook.  They had the stats to back it up.  Audiobooks are very popular, and being able to offer that format has certainly boosted my sales.  I didn’t love the process of recording, but I had a great team.  I can’t recommend enough having both an audio engineer AND a reader to follow along as you record to ensure you don’t misread or mispronounce words.  What we hear in our minds is often different than what is on the page.  Having a reader made all the difference in the process.

S: Can you talk about your next project, Stories of COVID?
VK: Stories of COVID™ falls right in line with Stories of Elders, but instead of documenting a 50-year paradigm shift, I’m documenting a 5-month shift.  Furthermore, the interviews are worldwide, rather than focused on the United States.  I’ve interviewed 73 people since the end of March and, as you know, there’s no end in sight.  I look forward to writing this book.  It will be a challenge, but I already can see it forming.  Those that are curious about the stories I’m gathering can hear them on the podcast:  https://anchor.fm/stories-of-covid

 

Thanks again to Veronica for granting me this interview! It’s always interesting to learn more about writers, what inspires them, and their process. You can pick up a copy of her book on Amazon.

Until next time, write on.

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