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Inspired Wordsmith
eadieburke
Posts: 1,925
Registered: ‎01-27-2007

Re: Questions for Joseph Monninger

[ Edited ]

ambika22 wrote:

Hi Joe, first of all thanks for writing such an awesome book! I have finished it and really liked it.

I have a question about the crows stories. Did you invented them or are they part of some sort of mithology and legends?


 

The guy on "Millionaire" today should have read Joe's book. The question was "What type of corbids are known to use tools?"  Parrots, Penquins, Owls or Crows.

 

Of course, we all know the answer. Sorry to say he didn't and lost $15,000.

 

We certainly gain alot of useful information thru reading!

Eadie - A day out-of-doors, someone I loved to talk with, a good book and some simple food and music -- that would be rest. - Eleanor Roosevelt
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BookJunkieOK
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Re: Questions for Joseph Monninger

SPOILER ALERT

 

Dear Joe,

 

Thank you so much for writing this book!  My ex-husband and, consequently, my children are at-risk for Huntington's, so I thank you for bringing this to light. I thought it was beautifully written, and I love that you explored how it would affect their relationship.  My question is how did you decide that Mary would take her life instead of having the disease progress further?  Thank you again!

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GreenFairyLV
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Registered: ‎06-23-2009
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Re: Questions for Joseph Monninger

[ Edited ]

 

Is your wife anything like Mary?  Is Mary loosely based on her or anyone else you have known?

 

One of my favorite quotes so far, {page 104} " You're beautiful," I said. "Just now, running around like a nut, you were beautiful."

Author
Joseph-Monninger
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Registered: ‎10-28-2009
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Re: Questions for Joseph Monninger

Hi, Kate...Good luck at college!  Funny, but I never took a creative writing class as an undergrad.  I went to Temple University in Philadelphia on a football scholarship.  I thought I was going to be a pro quarterback!  Some years later, after a stint in the Peace Corps, I attended the University of New Hampshire's graduate fiction writing program.  That was my first experience with writing classes.

 

Writing classes can be useful, absolutely, but reading and writing on your own are the keys....keep doing what you're doing.  Read all sorts of things...not just in your comfort zone.  And pay attention to how books are constructed.  I could go on an on, but you get the idea.  I'm excited for you.  I'm sure you'll do great....J

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Bedelia
Posts: 31
Registered: ‎10-20-2007
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Re: Questions for Joseph Monninger

What's with all the naming of brands throughout the book? I found all the commercialism off-putting as a reader. Do you get free items if you write in a name brand - or are you paid for this?? I can see an occassional brand name being written if it helps the reader "see" or understand an exact item and it's very important to the plot, but you went overboard in this book. Otherwise, it was a very good story.
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thewanderingjew
Posts: 2,247
Registered: ‎12-18-2007
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Re: Questions for Joseph Monninger

Hi and welcome,

 

After you finish writing your novel, is it hard to deal with criticism? I feel as if the book almost becomes a living thing, like a child or a member of the family, and I am imagining that I would not want anyone to tell me how to change it, especially after I had decided that I had gotten it just right. The thought that comes to my mind is, I can criticize my mom (book), but don't you dare!


If the editor suggests a change, do you have to make it? Can you insist on leaving the book in its original form with the exception of typos and grammatical errors? Are all these things explicitly dealt with in a contract?

Does an author simply expect the criticism and corrections from the editor and therefore does it become second nature and not personal? I remember going to a breakfast where one author said she had to develop a thick skin to deal with rejections.

 

How did you decide to divide the book into the three sections. I felt Indonesia was a bridge and it kind of stopped or maybe interrupted the momentum for me. I wanted to rush through it to get to the other side so I could begin their final journey.

 

Are any of the characters personalities autobiographical or based on relatives or friends? Are they all made up from scratch?

 

Whew, I asked a lot of questions. Feel free to ignore any you don't want to answer.

 

Thanks

Author
Joseph-Monninger
Posts: 57
Registered: ‎10-28-2009
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Re: Questions for Joseph Monninger

Thanks for those wonderful questions.  Criticism....well, it's part of the job description, I suppose.  I've written two novels -- Second Season (a long time ago) and Baby, a young adult novel that came out in 2008 -- that had virtually no changes.  They are the rare exception.  What usually happens is that a novel, once accepted, is bent a little by the editor.  In most instances, the editing is needed.  Sometimes it's as simple as a confusing element....wrong season when you said earlier it was spring, etc.....but occasionally it's a larger issue.  I trust editors for the most part.  Most editors are hard working, honest, sincere people.  They are interested in books. Many of them are writers.  Looking back, I can only come up with a handful of times when I really didn't get what an editor was trying to suggest.  

 

One thing about criticism that is new to me is the online reviews that pop up.  It's a funny thing.  Someone reads your novel and may or may not devote much time to considering it.  Or, who knows, they are feeling grumpy or the novel isn't to their taste.  Fair enough.  The tricky thing is that it remains a one way exchange.  The reviewer gets to say what she or he thinks, but the author can't make a rejoinder or he or she comes off like a pitiful whiner.  Now, with the advent of electronic media, the reviewer's review remains there for the life of the book....every time someone new comes along to look at the book, it's tainted by the reviewer  Was the review correct?  Did it hold water?  It doesn't matter.  It remains stuck to the book like a remora. And let's face it....we could bake a chocolate cake and put it in the center of the table, and not everyone is going to agree it's a good chocolate cake.  What I would want to ask readers who put up negative reviews is...why?  Why bother?  If I came to your house and didn't like the sofa or the wine, I wouldn't write it on a review board for you to see the rest of your life.  If I didn't have something good to say, goodness knows there are plenty of other ways to occupy my time.  People who lob in reviews don't take time, I think, to consider that there is a human on the other end who spent a good deal of time trying to do the best he or she could.  But I suspect my view on this is an older person's sensibility.

 

A long time ago I learned that one of my books was being reviewed fairly prominently in the NY Times Book Review.  The review comes out earlier than the rest of the paper...on Thursday, I think.  I took the review to a bar and ordered a beer and sat with the closed NY Times in front of me.  Finally, I opened it.  I knew that millions of people were going to look at the review.  I knew the review was going to frame the book in some way.  I read it squinting through my lashes,...and was gratified that it was a positive, even laudatory review.  When I walked out of the bar, though, I realized it was just one person's opinion.  Eventually I learned in this business that reviews very rarely sell a book.  Few people read a review, then say, gee, I have to go out and get that book.  

 

So, that's a long response.  I don't know if it quite gets to what you asked about.  Someone once told me that a crazy figure -- like 75% -- of the men at a baseball game believed they could get out of the stands and play for the Red Sox.  With literature, people sometimes think...if I had time, I could write that.  Or, I could do better.  Most of us don't watch professional figure skating, or gymnastics, and assume we could do as well as the performers.  With novels, people feel freer, I suspect, to criticize.  If they tried it, really tried it for a year or two, they would be much more careful about their opinions....

 

Hope I don't sound whiny....yikes!  Thanks for the question.

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Peppermill
Posts: 6,768
Registered: ‎04-04-2007
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Re: Questions for Joseph Monninger

[ Edited ]

 


Joseph-Monninger wrote:

Hi, Gigi....I think I pretended to read Thoreau in high school in order to be a proper hippie boy!  I was raised in New Jersey, but I quickly became drawn to the woods.  I spent days wandering around the old Watchung Reservation near Summit, New Jersey.  Gradually, my reading followed my interest.  Thoreau isn't easy sledding, as anyone who has read him knows, but he was an interesting man.  When I traveled down the Allagash I was aware of his affiliation with the river and the region.  I made a point of staying in the campground he had purportedly used.  Kind of silly, I guess, but symbolic, too.  Cobb does much the same thing.  Practically, Thoreau served as a reason for Cobb to be on the river.  He gave Cobb something to do.


 

 

Joe -- one of the web sites said things written about the Allagash had to include Thoreau.  My reaction was, if that was true, what a clever way Monninger achieved that. 

 

Did you at any time feel that since you were writing about the Allagash, you "had" to include Thoreau, or was it more just one of those things that worked, or ....

 

Thank you for joining us.  I consider EOTW a courageous piece of writing.

 

Pepper

"Seize the moments of happiness, love and be loved! That is the only reality in the world, all else is folly. It is the one thing we are interested in here." -- Leo Tolstoy
Wordsmith
literature
Posts: 499
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: Questions for Joseph Monninger

 


Joseph-Monninger wrote:

Well, you are awfully kind.  It means the world to hear that.

 

You know, the original idea for this novel was for a man and woman to meet on the river, fall for each other, then go their own way.  Then the man realized he let go the perfect woman and he tried to track her down.  I'm not sure how long that idea wandered around in my head, but it felt too thin to sustain a novel.

 

Here's a confession.  For a while we -- Kathy Sagan and I, my editor -- debated whether I had made the whole "come to Indonesia or not" element too complicated.  I still worry about it.  It may not have been important or necessary.  But it was kind of in the novel's DNA so I couldn't seem to get around it.  For Cobb -- at least in my mind -- the choice never really existed.  He was always going to stay with her.  

 

The odd thing about love stories, I think, is that they can't remain static.  We like seeing people fall in love, and we like the ending of their love...but the middle is difficult to dramatize.   Think of Romeo and Juliet.  We never saw them in their day to day life.  Unfortunately, many love stories fall back on the montage effect.. lovers running across fields and falling into each other's arms, eating ice cream, flying kites...As viewers or readers, we are supposed to get the idea that they are bound together.  It's just not very dramatic.

 

So the disease and the shadow of the disease helped off set that, I hope.  It gives the lovers an obstacle to overcome.  Ideally, it increases dramatic tension...

 

So that was my thinking.  Thanks for a great question.

 

Hi Joe,

Truthfully, I was tired of referring to you as Mr. Monninger in my posts.  I feel if we can get down to the nitty gritty with you, we should at least be on a first name basis.

 

First of all, this is a G-R-E-A-T novel and thank you for sharing it and yourself with us  I have been reading it slowly because I didn't want to miss anything.  Even though I knew that Mary died from the onset, my heart was with her down that first kayak ride when she loses her kayak.  I had to stop reading so my heart could find its correct rhythm.  Chapters 1-8 brought out a lot of emotions, it was deep, it was endearing and it was entertaining all in one.  Indonesia grounded me and provided the easy, forget-all-your-problems, come relax here mentality I needed to go on with the rest of the book and I'm glad you included it.  I think Mary and Cobb also needed it.  I have my thoughts on Freddy but will post them in that section.  Thank you again for a great book and you are doing great with your responses!


 

 

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lizabet1196
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Registered: ‎11-20-2008
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Re: Questions for Joseph Monninger

No question here.  I just wanted to take this opportunity to tell you how much I enjoyed reading your book.  I have been telling all my friends and family how wonderful it is. 

Author
Joseph-Monninger
Posts: 57
Registered: ‎10-28-2009
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Re: Questions for Joseph Monninger

Hi, Pepper...I love the Tolstoy quote by the way.

 

To your question: I didn't feel I had to include or not include Thoreau.  He's just a fact of life on the Allagash.  It made sense for Cobb to be on a bit of a sabbatical, researching Thoreau.  (By the way, Thoreau had a neck beard...and he was a pencil maker....how do you like that?)

Wordsmith
literature
Posts: 499
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: Questions for Joseph Monninger

 


literature wrote:

 


Joseph-Monninger wrote:

Well, you are awfully kind.  It means the world to hear that.

 

You know, the original idea for this novel was for a man and woman to meet on the river, fall for each other, then go their own way.  Then the man realized he let go the perfect woman and he tried to track her down.  I'm not sure how long that idea wandered around in my head, but it felt too thin to sustain a novel.

 

Here's a confession.  For a while we -- Kathy Sagan and I, my editor -- debated whether I had made the whole "come to Indonesia or not" element too complicated.  I still worry about it.  It may not have been important or necessary.  But it was kind of in the novel's DNA so I couldn't seem to get around it.  For Cobb -- at least in my mind -- the choice never really existed.  He was always going to stay with her.  

 

The odd thing about love stories, I think, is that they can't remain static.  We like seeing people fall in love, and we like the ending of their love...but the middle is difficult to dramatize.   Think of Romeo and Juliet.  We never saw them in their day to day life.  Unfortunately, many love stories fall back on the montage effect.. lovers running across fields and falling into each other's arms, eating ice cream, flying kites...As viewers or readers, we are supposed to get the idea that they are bound together.  It's just not very dramatic.

 

So the disease and the shadow of the disease helped off set that, I hope.  It gives the lovers an obstacle to overcome.  Ideally, it increases dramatic tension...

 

So that was my thinking.  Thanks for a great question.

 

Hi Joe,

Truthfully, I was tired of referring to you as Mr. Monninger in my posts.  I feel if we can get down to the nitty gritty with you, we should at least be on a first name basis.

 

First of all, this is a G-R-E-A-T novel and thank you for sharing it and yourself with us  I have been reading it slowly because I didn't want to miss anything.  Even though I knew that Mary died from the onset, my heart was with her down that first kayak ride when she loses her kayak.  I had to stop reading so my heart could find its correct rhythm.  Chapters 1-8 brought out a lot of emotions, it was deep, it was endearing and it was entertaining all in one.  Indonesia grounded me and provided the easy, forget-all-your-problems, come relax here mentality I needed to go on with the rest of the book and I'm glad you included it.  I think Mary and Cobb also needed it.  I have my thoughts on Freddy but will post them in that section.  Thank you again for a great book and you are doing great with your responses!

 

Hi again Joe,

I just read in one of your posts that you've done the Watchung Reservation in Summit NJ.  I remember reading that you were originally from central NJ.  I, too, live in central NJ (originally from NYC) and have hiked up by the Watchung Reservation a number of times.  I belonged to a walking group and have done many very interesting hikes in the NY/NJ/PA areas.


 

 


 

 

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thewanderingjew
Posts: 2,247
Registered: ‎12-18-2007
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Re: Questions for Joseph Monninger

[ Edited ]

 

Thank you for that excellent reply.
I was reading your other responses and I noticed that you referred to your book as a love story. For me it was much more than that. Although I haven't gotten to the end, I felt it was also a book about about how we face adversity, how we conduct ourselves in life, maybe even about how we choose to survive. Did I read it incorrectly or read too much into it?

 

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CleverTwenty
Posts: 28
Registered: ‎10-25-2009
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Re: Questions for Joseph Monninger

I am thrilled I was given the chance to read this. I wanted to thank you!

 

 

I have one question that has been eating at me...but that question has to wait.

 

As for now I am just curious, Why pick the name Mary and Jonathan AKA Cobb?

Http://cleverlyinked.blogspot.com
Author
Joseph-Monninger
Posts: 57
Registered: ‎10-28-2009
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Re: Questions for Joseph Monninger

I loved the Watchung Reservation....great place.  I wrote a novel called New Jersey that took place at least in part there....

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emmagrace
Posts: 162
Registered: ‎12-04-2008
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Re: Questions for Joseph Monninger

Hello Mr. Monniger! It looks like all of the questions I have had so far have been answered at this time. I just wanted to say thanks for allowing us to have a first look at your book. I am really enjoying this story!!

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ssizemore
Posts: 70
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: Questions for Joseph Monninger


Joseph-Monninger wrote:

I do smell like honey when I am in the woods....


 

Hi, Joe-

I absolutely love your book and I love reading of the inspiration for it.  I do feel as though it is somewhat mystical and all of the lore is intriguing.

I can tell that you have a fabulous sense of humor and a very clear idea of the characters and sense of place----magical Maine!!

I spent the weekend at our mountain cabin in North Georgia and was awakened by the calling of crows.  Needless to say, it was much more meaningful to me after reading your book.  I have finished--couldn't stop at the stopping place.  It is wonderful and I will certainly recommend it to my book club.

Thanks for this opportunity.

Sandy

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Peppermill
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Registered: ‎04-04-2007
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Re: Questions for Joseph Monninger

(By the way, Thoreau had a neck beard...and he was a pencil maker....how do you like that?)

 

:smileyvery-happy:

 

Thx for your comment on the Tolstoy quote.  I can't seem to get myself to use another one. Certainly, a rich, full, fortunate life can take us to an appreciation of that view.

 

I do very much like your characters -- and that seems so rare in so many books.  I have stated among the posts that I wondered if part of the lack of character faults portrayed was a realization by the writer (you) that a character in the early stages of grieving a loved one is unlikely to dwell on negatives.  Was there any such conscious effort to recreate the language of a grieving Cobb on your part, or is the goodness more a reflection of your own inherent worldview about people, or .....?

 

Pepper

 

PS -- Literature and Joe -- I live in Central NJ, but have done more hiking in VT (and not much of that, although lots of skiing) than in spots like Watchung Reservation.


Joseph-Monninger wrote:

Hi, Pepper...I love the Tolstoy quote by the way.

 

To your question: I didn't feel I had to include or not include Thoreau.  He's just a fact of life on the Allagash.  It made sense for Cobb to be on a bit of a sabbatical, researching Thoreau.  (By the way, Thoreau had a neck beard...and he was a pencil maker....how do you like that?) {Bold added.}


"Seize the moments of happiness, love and be loved! That is the only reality in the world, all else is folly. It is the one thing we are interested in here." -- Leo Tolstoy
Author
Joseph-Monninger
Posts: 57
Registered: ‎10-28-2009
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Re: Questions for Joseph Monninger

I hope it's more than a love story, but I also hope at least it's a love story.  There's an old saying that character is plot.  We watch our favorite TV shows to see the characters react to situations.  Seinfeld comes to mind....the characters bring us back to the show.  The sequence of events is second in important ways to the interaction of characters.

 

So....yes, a love story.  And I hope more....

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Peppermill
Posts: 6,768
Registered: ‎04-04-2007
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Re: Questions for Joseph Monninger

[ Edited ]

 


Joseph-Monninger wrote:

I loved the Watchung Reservation....great place.  I wrote a novel called New Jersey that took place at least in part there....


 

Has that novel been published? Okay, here's the B&N link, but there is no image: New Jersey

  

 

 

Here are a couple of more articles on Watchung Reservation for those in other parts of the world:

 

Union County Parks

 

Watchung Reservation  (Ignore the complaints, note the pictures and some of the descriptions.)

 

Watchung Reservation Trail Map -- this is a huge file that takes a bit to download.  It shows the scope of the area and its trails, but no photos.

 

Its Wikipedia article outlines some of the controversies and struggles with land usage (including I-78 through the northern border) that have plagued maintaining a natural area like this so close to suburban areas and NYC. (I hadn't known that there was once a military defense area within its borders.)

"Seize the moments of happiness, love and be loved! That is the only reality in the world, all else is folly. It is the one thing we are interested in here." -- Leo Tolstoy