Q&A With Miranda Armstadt
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Q&A With Miranda Armstadt
This Q&A is with Miranda Armstadt for her debut novel Cut Back to Life which was inspired by her own life-changing spinal fusion surgery a few years back. Miranda’s background is in the entertainment industry which includes years as an actress, singer, CBS Affiliate TV news anchor, and digital online news editor.
Q: I watched your two-part interview with a North Carolina book club discussing Cut Back to Life, which I really enjoyed. Would it be fair to say that some advice you would give to aspiring authors is to write what they know? After all you had a background in the entertainment industry and you used what you knew to create a great fictional story.
A: Thank you Bianca for inviting me to answer questions and I’m glad to know you enjoyed the book club videos.
I think writing what you know is always going to be more authentic. That being said, if we only write what we know, we’d have a pretty limited scope.
Because of my news background, I am very adept at doing research. I also encourage anyone writing about what they have not personally experienced to find experts and ask them to give input and feedback.
These need not be professors — often it’s someone who’s done something for a living, or been through a specific experience. I have a whole coterie of these people I refer to for different aspects of my story.
Q: In your two-part interview with the book club, you said you never thought you’d be a fictional author since you were so used to being a factual writer. You also said you dove right into writing your first fiction novel. Were you ever scared about putting your work out there?
A: I’m not bright enough to be scared. To be serious: no, I wasn’t. With any kind of creative effort, you can’t get stuck on “what other people will like.” There will always be people on both ends of the spectrum: great fans and great haters. Let it all roll off.
Q: I read on your author website that you are writing your second novel–a historical fiction spy thriller inspired by your parents’ time with the US State Department during the 1950s Cold War Years. What was it like researching that topic? Have you come up with a title for this new novel?
A: It’s been absolutely fascinating, and sometimes, truly horrifying, reading about what has been done. When you lift the curtain of government and its intelligence arms, what you find is often not very pretty. I am now in my fourth year of research, and besides using volumes of family letters, my father’s State Dept. dossier, and many albums of photos they took over their years in Central Europe, I have spent many hours on the CIA website, as well as with Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) documents, and more. There are a lot of dark realities that went on during the Cold War, on all sides.
Yes, I do have a title for the new novel, but I am keeping it under wraps for now.
Q: What was it like being involved as a TV news anchor, and later having a career in the singing and acting fields? Did you ever run into sketchy people in show business? I know not everything in Hollywood is glamorous as demonstrated by the many cases that have come up via the #MeToo movement.
A: I was a TV anchor back in the ‘80s, so the whole world was quite different then. Even PCs weren’t yet common, there were no cell phones, no social media, no internet. What’s amazing to me is that — at least presentation-wise — TV news hasn’t changed its appearance in more than 50 years. It still looks basically the same as when I was doing it.
Sadly, yes, producers everywhere in show business are often sketchy indeed. I could tell you many stories. I never reached the A-list ranks of my ‘Cut Back to Life’ protagonist Anna Porter, so the realms of power were much smaller. I think the more power men have in Hollywood, in sports, in business, the freer they seem to feel to make whatever moves they want. And while we see a few egregious men dealt some prison time, most are not. And likely never will be. Money talks, as they old saying goes.
Q: How do you deal with writers’ block if you deal with it at all?
A: I don’t really get writers’ block. I do like to go back and forth between sections on my current work in progress — I think it helps refresh your enthusiasm as an author for the characters you are creating.
Q: Was the transition from being a news editor to being an author an easy or difficult one?
A: I was actually still editing news when I wrote ‘Cut Back to Life.’ I didn’t leave news for two years after I published that novel. So, I did have the luxury of the security of what I knew, while I tried on something I didn’t. Writing good fiction is always challenging because every new novel is like starting from scratch. In terms of who will like it or be interested in the story or like your writing style. You just have to do it because it’s there. As my firearms instructor often told me, “Don’t overthink it.”
Q: What is your advice to someone who wants to pursue being a TV news anchor, or a career as a digital news editor?
A: Well, they are two entirely different careers, and the TV news world is now little more than a beauty contest or an effort by TV stations to have someone who reflects what they think their audience demographic is. People do not realize that media and news are among the many tools that everyone from government on down use to sway the human thought process.
I read news now and my eyes roll back in my head. They can’t get even the most basic grammar right and clearly, most digital news doesn’t even employ editors anymore, based on the results.
So, I may not be the best person to ask about this. I think if “unbiased” — or at least less biased — news ever existed, that horse has long left the barn. As with politics, news channels now try to grab a sector who they can then sell to advertisers. News is a huge advertising moneymaker.
Q: I know you’re still writing your second novel right now as I mentioned above, but do you have ideas for what your next one after that would be about? Or is it too early to say yet?
A: I do, in fact, know what my next novel will be after this one: a sequel. I originally was going to do one monster epic, but it just became too long, so I have cut it down into two separate but connected novels. I already have about a fifth of the sequel written for this reason. I’m kind of glad to have a follow-up, because as excited as I will be to finally get this one published, I am sure there is also a feeling of loss after putting so much heart and soul into a project.
“Cut Back to Life” by Miranda Armstadt is available on Amazon: https://a.co/d/gATdstl
To watch the book club discussions referenced in this interview, please use the following YouTube links:
Book Club – Part One: https://youtu.be/3f3bcUtBCkE
Book Club – Part Two: https://youtu.be/bbC1zo8QV6g
To learn more about Miranda Armstadt, please visit her website: https://miranda-armstadt.com
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