Thursday, July 23, 2015

Suite T, Free Tea and Harper Lee

By Annette Cole Mastron, Communications Director for Southern Writers Magazine

Southern Writers Magazine's blog, Suite T is a play on the words “sweet tea,” the unofficial beverage of the south. In fact, today you can get free sweet tea at McAlister's Deli, found in many southern cities and states. It's free tea day. Yippee!

If I knew Harper Lee, I'd go pick her up and take her to get a free tea and lunch. It would be fun to sit out on a shaded patio, under a rotating ceiling fan, and chat with her for a couple of hours. Most would want to talk about the hullabaloo about her last published book, Go Set a Watchman. My daughter is currently reading it, so I'm waiting my turn.

My interview questions for the award-winning author of To Kill a Mockingbird, would not have much to do about her books, but rather the ever evolving book industry and her long friendship with childhood friend, Truman Capote.

For someone born in 1926, Harper Lee has seen a lot of change the world and in the book industry. It would be so interesting to get her insight on just how the process has changed. Also knowing her recent release was originally rejected by an editor around 1959 and it was suggested to change the view point of the protagonist to that of the child, Scout gives one pause. This revision is what made To Kill a Mockingbird the award winner it is.

As an author, I want to know how Ms. Lee dealt with the initial rejection. Did she experience writers block? Does she still write? If not, why did she stop? Did her overnight success with To Kill a Mockingbird, make her hesitant to submit another book for publication? What do you think of the book industry today?

I challenge you to use this as a writing exercise. Pick an author and pretend you are sipping free tea with them and play interviewer. Write out your questions. Then, check the Internet and see if the author has answered these questions before. With the questions and answers, you should have enough information for a short article on your favorite author.

While I sip my free McAlister's Deli tea, I will research a favorite author, Harper Lee, and then write a short article. It's a three-part writing exercise that will expand and stretch my writing.

What author would you chose to sip free tea with while conducting an interview?