A few weeks ago, I signed up for an online book marketing seminar with Book Baby, the publisher I used for “Lucky, the Left Pawed Puppy.” As in most online courses, students can chat on in the sidebar while the course is going on. The idea of writers interviewing other writers on each other’s website came up in one of those sidebar discussions. There were two people that day who liked the idea, Tucker Lieberman, a Renaissance/ Multipotential kind of guy and me! Since that time, Tucker followed through with this concept and generously gave space on his website for a very nice interview with me. I am pleased to be able to offer my interview with Tucker here. Tucker lives with his spouse in Bogotá, Colombia and is involved in several projects including his short stories and non-fiction projects.
Tucker as a person with varied interests, you are involved in several projects. Tell us which projects you are working on at the moment and your hopes for them.
Fictional villains! I am preparing a small nonfiction book on this subject. This is something I’ve worked on privately for a couple decades, and I’m finally giving myself the chance to publish it. It aims to give fiction readers and writers a better understanding of why some characters, especially given certain representations of gender and race, have been villainized.
In poetry, I’m considering the image similarity between human bodies wrapped as mummies for burial and caterpillars that wrap themselves in cocoons to become butterflies. My hope is to find out why this image keeps speaking to me.
How does your degree in Philosophy inform and influence your writing?
I pay attention to the precise definitions of words. It’s important to use the same word in a consistent manner and to explicitly define it if it isn’t obvious. If I write about “happiness,” that word can’t be used at the beginning of the essay to refer to having close friends, in the middle of the essay to achieving a career goal, and at the end of the essay to the satisfaction of being an ethical person. Nor can the title imply that the essay will be about eating ice cream! These are different kinds of happiness. If I find myself doing this, I need to make more effort to explain what I mean and even to be willing to split my descriptions into separate essays.
I noticed you have experience in UI, User Interface. What tips do you have for writers in building their online presence and/or webpage?
On a practical level, the elements are simple. You need a website with just a few pages: a big photo and bio, an inventory of what’s for sale, maybe a free excerpt, a calendar of events if you make appearances, and a way to contact you, follow you on social media, and sign up for your mailing list. Your reader needs to know immediately what you have to offer them. Don’t force them to scroll or click too much. You need to set up Amazon and Goodreads author pages, and, if you have a blog somewhere, you can feed it automatically into these pages. Special promotions help, and the moment when you offer a discount can be a good time to remind people that you’d like an online review of your book.
If you have a complex array of creative material, remember that the way you privately classify your work is not necessarily the way your audience wants to access it.
You’re from the East Coast and now live in Bogotá, Colombia. I think readers would love to hear about your decision to relocate and a little about the process of doing so.
I had an online dating profile and someone who didn’t restrict his search geographically found me. I received a notification that he had looked at my profile. He lived in another country, but we started communicating anyway. When a match is very right and clear, it doesn’t matter. You can pick up and go. It took time to do it gracefully, but it did not require overthinking. I gave up my career and my condo, and now I live with my spouse and we spend our days writing.
How do your diverse interests play into your writing goals?
Career coach Emilie Wapnick, in a TED Talk in recent years, calls people like me “multipotentialites” or “multipods.” We have multiple interests. We are generalists or jack-of-all-trades. These words are sometimes pejoratives. And, yes, a common weakness is that we tend to spread ourselves thin and may draw energy from one big goal to another. Sometimes my engine of fascination works against my ability to set and achieve goals. I may become hyper-focused on an extremely narrow topic that interests no one else and isn’t marketable, or I may develop three different interests before breakfast. I know I am going to do this. Another range of creative distractions will surely befall me tomorrow morning before breakfast, and, anticipating this, I temper my willingness to set large goals for myself today. Fascination with multiple things may seem to slow me down. However, when I finally finish a project, I feel I’ve hit it out of the park because my message draws from deeply integrated understandings.
Right now, for example, I have a small freelance job to help an agency make an audio recording; I set up a giveaway for my new short story Pokerface; and this week I had ideas for a dozen new stories, essays, and poetry collections! Within the past couple of years, I have worked in life coaching and technology design. I’m preparing for a half-marathon and fire walking, I’m planning a visit to the States, and I’m also trying to make myself sit still so I can teach myself acoustic guitar and practice Spanish.
Because of your varied interests, what would you like to be known for the most? Do you see yourself as a writer, a philosopher, a cataloger, or a combination of all of your interests?
The labels don’t worry me. Last year, while working with a life coach, I decided that, for the near-term, I’d like to focus on “identifying the good, amplifying the useful.” This tagline is on my website (tuckerlieberman.com). “Good” and “useful” imply value judgments. I want to find and share valuable information.
What is the most important message you’d like to leave as your legacy?
I’m reminding everyone that “the way in which we talk about issues reveals our character and our agenda” and therefore it’s important to treat each other with humanity.
I’d like to thank Tucker Lieberman for this interview. It has been a pleasure to meet such a fascinating and kindly soul on this journey of online blog interviewing.