Caroline Bock-BEFORE MY EYES
Why do I picture Maurice Sendak on a private boat?
As Max, making mischief, exploring once again,
where the wild things are, the king of all wild
things? Sailing into the night?
May this transformational children's writer rest in peace.
May his stories live on and inspire future generations, as they
inspired me and so many others.
What children's story inspired you? Where the Wild Things Are ?
I think most of the world's LEGOS are actually at my house. And to all my new readers of LIE in the Netherlands -- welcome!! I'd love to hear what you think of my debut novel. Truly, the author of LIE.
The other morning I was walking through Harlem -- on my way to teaching at The City College of New York and saw this poem by ee cummings written in chalk on the sidewalk. So I stopped to take a picture and a blind man swung into me and I said I was sorry as if I was fault. He asked where was I going and I said campus and he said I could walk with him the rest of the way, and so I did, and we talked about how walking was better than driving any day. All along I was thinking: what a strange, wonderful day so far and what does a blind man know about the thrill of driving a fast car? I started thinking of how he became blind, was he always? did he lose his sight in a car crash? was acid thrown on his eyes, turning them white, scarred, useless? Did he know I was there and bump into me on purpose? Why did he leave me with a "be safe" as if I was the blind one on the streets of Harlem? And who the hell wrote on that sidewalk: I carry your heart/I carry it in my heart. Anything strange and wonderful happening out there in cyberspace today?
I am a skeptical believer when it comes to all things
astrology. What does that
mean? I read my horoscope
religiously. I have even had my
“chart” done -- by the insightful
and thoughtful Madam Lichtenstein.
But even so, I question how much is in the stars and how much is in
ourselves when it comes to the creative sphere.
In trying to figure this out, this week, I interviewed Madam
Lichtenstein aka Charlene Lichtenstein, author of HersScopes, now in its ninth
printing with Simon and Schuster, and creator and writer of the must-read
astrological blog Madame Lichtenstein’s Cosmic World at
sign is the most creative? Please
make it my sign: Scorpio.
Every sign has a certain level of creativity. For example: Libra in the social sphere
--creativity through beautiful things; Sagittarius --more international and
cosmopolitan; Taurus – might be inspired food or food writing in particular; and with Scorpio in the
area of passion and intensity. Something mysterious should inspire the Scorpion.
Okay, I’ll take
that. You are disciplined
and prolific with your blog, have
you ever faced writer’s block? Do
you have any advice?
Don’t force the writing process. Sit down and try free
thinking automatic thinking. Just
write anything. But of course,
there are some days that are more conducive to writing than others
For me stress adds to
writer’s block. Is there something
that you would suggest to alleviate a writer’s stress?
Aromatherapy. Citrus. Grapefruit or orange energize and
activate the brain.
Going back to your
comment about days that may be more “conducive” to creativity -- as a woman there are always times of
the month that are more productive creatively, but I don’t think you mean that,
Not exactly --
but I believe what you are speaking about the “void of course moons.” You can be more creative during the
void of the moon. What is the
“void of course moons?” The moon changes signs every couple of
days and at one point it will go through “tunnel” one side into the other. Those are not great times for decision making. Those times signal the strong
possibility of cloudy thinking, of
the propensity to focus on wrong things.
But it’s a great time to focus on other things, especially in the
creative fields such as writing. I have a chart of the “void of course moons” on my
When do you write?
With HerScopes, I found that I wrote much better in the
middle of the night. I would work all night: 11 o’clock I would sit down -- and I’d write until 5 o’clock in the
morning – in those moments of supreme quiet.
Speaking of night
time writing, I noticed on your website that the moon as a symbol in astrology
may be an important one to writers?
I always think of a T.S. Elliot line about “bleeding between
two lines” when I think of the character of the writer. You have your real life and then you
have your created space in the world that is of your writing – so writers
naturally bleed between two lives.
For example, if you are writing your memoir you are writing your life
and leading it at the same time.
The moon has this duality – and it could be related more closely to
Do you do readings
for writers? Should I get my Tarot
Cards read? My chart updated?
Yes, I do it
all! Tarot Readings. Charts. See my website for details.
writing has been described as honest, insightful, but also a bit “biting” or “snarky.” Would you agree?
I hope it’s fun to read – I like to have fun with it – I
even like being a little spicy too.
Though people take astrology seriously, and so do I. I can be very analytical. I believe I have this kind of writing in
me because I have a mixture of Scorpion and Sagittarian energy in me.
Last question: in
preparation for the week ahead, what do the stars tell us?
Starting this week, as the Sun enters Taurus and conjuncts
lucky Jupiter, the cosmos unleashes a chain of fortuitous events that are bound
to have long term implications for us. Not a moment too soon! Don’t
accept anything except first class. You will traveling on this particular dream
for a while and will need more leg room.
(reprinted from Madam Lichtenstein’s Cosmic World – for more details on your
sign go to thestarryeye.typepad.com)
I wonder if it’s the right time to start a new piece? The stars seem to say so! Are the stars in your writing
Truly, the author of LIE
Never Quit! That's what my fortune at the Chinese restaurant said tonight. Not quite a fortune, but a command I try to live by.
I drew the right fortune cookie. This past week, I had one of those weeks -- I taught two upper level communication classes at The City College of New York; gave a speech on writing fiction for young people that is "ripped from the headlines," to 50 or so wonderful young adult librarians in Suffolk County; and wrote a daily "guest editor blog" for the inspiring websiteshe writes
(check out my blog entries... from "what we talk about when we talk about Titles" to rejection letter immunity!).
In between it all, I was chief cook and bottle washer in the personal lives of an active 12-year-old (stressed from three days of state testing) and a 6-year-old (with a packed social calendar). I squeezed in some thinking (in the car) and creative writing (early in the morning) on a new idea and checked in regularly on my elderly dad (lunch time). So, I had to laugh when I got this fortune. I don't have time to even consider quitting. It's not an option. And most of all, I like my life -- it's my good fortune!!
Truly, the author of LIE.
Writing is easy… just
a matter of staring at blank page until your forehead bleeds-- Gene Fowler.
Gene Fowler was a screenwriter during the Golden Era of
Hollywood. Today, we’d have to modify his quote to read “staring at a blank
screen.” But the idea is the same. We struggle as writers. The screen stays
blank. We wish for blood. Worse yet, we have no one else to commiserate with
except other writers (thank goodness for she writes). We obsess. I obsessed
about the title for my debut novel and even changed it after it was sold to St.
My novel was originally titled: L.I.E.
......the rest of this article can be found at www.shewrites.com
-- where I am the guest editor all week!! This is an amazing website dedicated to building a community online for women writers. Check out the rest of my article on "What We Talk About When We Talk About Book Titles" at www.shewrites.com.
I will return to my poem -- "Idiot Box" -- next week!!
Truly, the author of LIE.
The Idiot Box
I loved the Hunger Games-- both the movie and the books -- though my female protagonists must work hard to be as brave, as defiant Katniss Everdeen
. Are the ones you write or imagine as powerful as Katniss, or let's say, more conflicted? My female characters seem always to be powerfully conflicted, struggling for answers, for truth. The voice in my poem, "The Idiot Box," is of a girl, one close to my heart, struggling to understand her childhood world. As promised, I've reprinted the opening and added the next section. Let me know what you think as this poem unfolds. It's all in honor of National Poetry Month
. More to come on "The Idiot Box" in upcoming days. Truly, the author of LIE.
My father called it
the Idiot Box
like it was a nickname, or
term of endearment.
I was twelve.
He called me
Toots, a nickname,
a term of endearment.
T.V. was always the Idiot Box.
The Idiot Box:
knobs, broken off,
a pair of pliers plucked the channels.
The Idiot Box:
black and white,
sculpted wire coat hangers
caught the signals.
The Idiot Box:
a Buddha on a woman’s
long dresser, my mother’s dresser,
along the wall in the living room,
bowed to a pair of plaid easy chairs,
and a burnt orange couch.
In front of The Idiot Box:
the bottom of her wheelchair
and was taken away,
a bad puppy,
out of sight.
Truly, the author of LIE.
Teenage dystopia. Zombies. Mommy Porn. LIE -- ?? Some days I think that I should just combine end-of-the-world, fleshing-eating, ebook x-rated fun -- and write that
book. Don't get me wrong, I am thrilled with the response from readers and critics that I have received forLIE,
my contemporary, realistic, young adult novel about the impact of a brutal hate crime. But at the same time, when one glances at amazon's "top 100" list -- and what writer doesn't occasionally?-- or, the NY Times Book Review, and try as one might, like a gambler, one compulsively runs down the scores, I mean the bestseller lists, one has to think: do I jump on that
writing bandwagon? Thing is I loved the Hunger Games
-- read the entire series. I plan to see the movie this Friday. I watch "The Walking Dead" and cheer --for zombies. I am debating whether to read the mommy porn -- several hundred pages of hot, steamy sex sounds exhausting. By the way, if you haven't checked, the top bestsellers on amazon are the Hunger Game
books, Walking Dead books and the 50 Shades series... So those are the thoughts before the school bus arrives, as I ponder what to write next. Any thoughts out there on trends in books these days? Truly, the author of LIE.
Kiss me I'm Irish! At least, today I am. In reality, I am a very American mix of different cultures (Italian, Polish, Russian). But today I am Irish -- and as this is St. Patrick's Day, I am celebrating all things green, including being an immigrant or, at least the grandchild of greenhorns. I thought of this a lot as I wrote LIE
-- my debut novel -- the idea that each generation has its new wave of immigrants, and each generation of Americans rejects that new wave of immigrants. My novel is about a hate crime in the suburbs against Hispanic immigrants. Yet, The New York Times, in an editorial today, "It's About Immigrants, Not Irishness"
points out that the Irish were along the first immigrants who were reviled by established Americans. In the mid-to-late 1800s, the waves of Irish fleeing from famine in Ireland, they were met in America by signs posted in front of businesses that stated: No Irish or Blacks need apply. They were ridiculed by established newspapers, made fun of in newspaper cartoons as drunks, and denigrated for their Catholic religion. But today, we celebrate being Irish, for all the great accomplishments of the Irish -- the writers and poets, the proud workers who built our railways and our major cities, and for their children and their children's children who contribute to the richness of America today. And as Peter Behrens, today's New York Times editorial writer, points out, perhaps we should all celebrate being immigrants as well. Erin Go Bragh!
Ireland Forever! Truly, the author ofLIE,
the critically-acclaimed young adult novel about a hate crime by white teens against Hispanic immigrants. LIE, from St. Martin's Press, is available in print and ebook versions.
BY MY FATHER – How it influenced my writing, helped me create strong male
characters, and made me think differently about men
I was raised by a single parent – a father, which I think makes
me think and write about men differently than a lot of writers. One recent result: I’ve
written a young adult novel with strong male points of view.
Inspired by real events, LIE
-- (St. Martin's Press, 2011) -- has
two main characters – seventeen-year-old Skylar and Sean. LIE is about the
aftermath of a brutal hate crime, about a group of white teen attacking
Hispanics for “fun” and everything going terribly wrong. Moreover, it’s the
struggle of Skylar and Sean to break from their friends, their community and
tell the truth -- or lie.
Writing both a male and female main characters was a challenge
-- and had me thinking a lot about what makes teens different. What
makes them act? What are the morals and ethics that they each respond to -- or
reject? There are ten distinct first person voices in LIE. In addition to the
teen voices, there are three fathers as a well as a high school coach,
struggling along with the teens about the consequences of this hate crime.
In LIE, it soon becomes clear that the words and actions of the
fathers have strongly influenced the actions of the teen boys. These teenagers,
even more than the girls, are looking toward the men in their lives as guiding
forces. The fathers stress sports over all else. They want to “win,” at all
costs for their sons, in sports and in life. One father’s bitter and angry prejudices
about race are juxtaposed against the idea of “winning” i.e. for one group of
people to “win” another must “lose,” and so his son, Jimmy, a Scholar-Athlete, leads a
group of his peers in a so-called “beaner-hopping” spree against
Hispanics, which turns terribly wrong.
Growing up, my father spent a lot of time talking about life,
about history, about the world and current events to his four children. He was
not at all a religious man, but he thought a lot about what was right in the
world and what was wrong in the world, and all the gray parts in between. He
was also a big, tough-talking guy from the Bronx. But what he said to me and to
my younger siblings was this, “Think before you act. Think of how what you’re
doing affects you and think about how it affects others.” Admittedly, he
probably said it more colorfully, but I knew what he meant and it informed my
moral core to this day. I am a writer because of my father, Morris Blech, who is still going strong at 81-years old.
I urge mothers, fathers as well as their teens to take a look at
my critically-acclaimed novel: LIE. Let me know what you think of the male
characters, about the fathers and sons.
Truly, author of LIE
available everywhere books
and ebooks are sold.