Friday, November 6, 2009
Interview With Local Author: Nannette Rundle Carroll
How long have you lived in the Bay Area? Which parts?
I’ve lived in the Bay Area all my adult life. I first moved from NY to San Francisco (Ashbury Heights then the Marina then across from Golden Gate Park). From San Francisco I moved to Sausalito to an artist studio overlooking the bay. Then I moved to Oakland to a neighborhood near Piedmont Avenue. Finally I moved to Contra Costa County and have lived in this home longer than I ever lived anywhere! We are so lucky with our beautiful scenery, climate, and people!
When did you get your first book published?
November 2009. The Communication Problem Solver, Simple Tools and Techniques for Busy Managers (AMACOM Books)
What type of books do you write?
I write books that help people communicate and get along better at work so that they can concentrate on the work they are there to do. People generally pick jobs that interest them and develop their skills. When miscommunications and poor communications interfere, people can get upset and sidetracked. This is a communication book targeted to managers and helpful to anyone who wants to transform relationships. And the book discusses the concept of “managing up” which is proactively interacting with your boss instead of waiting for her or him to call you. So for that reason everyone needs this book to manage the relationship with his or her boss. This book ties together the concept of work relationships, step-by-step process skills, and collaborative conversations in delegating, feedback, and coaching.
My next book will be an expanded communication book for everyone. I write books that give people specific how-to tools, pepper them with real life stories, and inspire them to do their best work and be the best they can be.
Why do you write?
I love the process of “being lost” in words and ideas. I go to places I cannot anticipate. I’ve always been a conceptual thinker with a mission to help people communicate better. Writing pulls all that together for a worldwide audience. When I was six, I had a goal to meet everyone in the world. The book makes that dream rub elbows with reality.
I teach management and communication seminars to professionals who need to communicate 360º at work. Whether they manage people directly, or need to influence people who do not report to them, all people in the 21st century need to communicate well. Everyone needs to take the initiative to manage up and initiate a good relationship up with his or her boss and manage relationships sideways with coworkers. The response to my communication tips has been so overwhelming that it became apparent I could reach a larger audience through writing a book than on the speaking platform. My work is all about helping people be the best they can be and create happy work environments where people can be authentic and highly productive. In fact, many seminar participants have applied the communication principles at home and with friends and enjoyed stunning results.
How involved are you with the community?
I serve on the board of the California Writers Club and am a member of National Speakers Association. I’m also active in church activities.
What challenges have you faced as an author?
Peeling away the excuses of “no time” because I travel for business speaking engagements. Making writing a priority. Other challenges I face are outlining (I prefer to freeform it but that didn’t work for me) and project planning. There is so much to do in the whole process from pitching an idea to a New York editor to marketing the book. Project planning is needed to manage that. I’ve had a lot of corporate experience with planning so I know how to do it. It’s just carving out the planning time, disciplining myself to create a plan, and then following the plan and meeting my self-imposed schedules.
Who were some your influences as a writer?
My first influences were my parents. My dad was a storyteller of the oral tradition. My mom recorded everything in notebooks, journals, letters to her family, and writing her trip experiences. They introduced us to our Irish culture of storytelling. Dad also took us to the library on Saturdays and I read voraciously. High school and college professors influenced me because in every subject, we were also graded on our writing ability, vocabulary, and grammar. As an adult, creative writing teachers such as Camille Minichino, Elizabeth Koehler-Pentacoff, Charlotte Cook, James Dalessandro, Robert McKee influenced me. Also members of various critique groups to which I have belonged. The California Writers Club (celebrating its centennial) has been an invaluable resource for making author friends and learning more from speakers.
What types of books would you recommend for young readers?
A First Dictionary of Cultural Literacy by E.D. Hirsch, Jr. and his other books on what educated children need to know will lead to great conversations and choices of literature. Read poetry, mystery, plays, adventure, King Arthur and classical mythology, value-based books such as The Value of Believing in Yourself: The Story of Louis Pasteur by Spencer Johnson, M.D. (part of a series by Value Communications, Inc.) Try books by Dr. Seuss, Roald Dahl, Elizabeth Koehler-Pentacoff, R.L. Stine, Tomie de Paola, and Shel Silberstein. Introduce them to children’s versions of Shakespeare, books published by Child’s Play, bible stories, fairy tales and Aesop’s Fables. Wonderful books are: Uncle Wiggily’s Picture Book by Howard R. Garis, The Raggedy Ann & Andy series by Johnny Gruelle, A Little Princess and The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett, Madeline by Ludwig Bemelmans, C.S. Lewis’s The Chronicles of Narnia, Alice in Wonderland, The Wizard of Oz, Louis Sachar’s Wayside School books, The Boxcar Children--build on whatever interests them—biographies, science, the arts, history, technology, humor, etc. and build on it. Inspire them to a sense of awe that hooks them into reading.
What do you think is the best way to get young people excited to read?
Start newborns with picture books and read often every day. Have lots of books available. If your budget is tight, you can get them at thrift stores, charity and garage sales. Follow your toddler’s lead about what she or he likes. When they say, “Again!” always reread what they ask for. Then introduce books of similar topics or characters to expand the repertoire. Emphasize reading instead of TV or video games. Read together. Our family used to buy three copies of plays or books and read them out loud together—even on vacations. Go to the library for story time and browsing and hang out there and read. Be a reader yourself. Have bookshelves filled with books and let the little ones touch, play with, make piles with and eventually read the books. Ask them dictate their own stories so you can write them down for them. And draw exactly what they tell you to draw where on the page they tell you—be a good listener and don’t interject your own opinion. When they can write and draw, encourage them to record and illustrate their own stories. Take them to plays, act out your own family plays, and watch opera together on PBS. Watch PBS shows together like “The Importance of Being Ernest”—my 9 year old watched it repeatedly! Expose them to great literature and stories well told—you never know what the hook will be for them.
Who are some of your favorite authors?
Shakespeare, John Irving, Richard Russo, Camille Minichino, Carl Hiaasen, T. S. Eliot, James Joyce, Agatha Christie, John Grisham, Annie Prouxl, Nuala O’Faolain, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Richard Carlson, Michael Soon Lee, and Daniel Pink. Other great authors are Tony Alessandra, Sam Horn, and Jim Cathcart.
What are some of your favorite books?
Empire Falls by Richard Russo; Fr. Joe: The Man Who Saved My Soul by Tony Hendra; A Widow for One Year by John Irving; Jesus, CEO by Laurie Beth Jones; Both Ways is the Only Way I Want It by Maile Meloy. I’m currently reading Twilight --Los Angeles, 1992 by Anna Deavere Smith. Books about relationships, lighthouses, architecture, art, Ireland, trains, mystery, suspense, history, and conceptual ideas intrigue me.
In reading your book and reading your response to the questions I was surprised to not see Malcolm Gladwell's name anywhere. Besides the obvious structural differences of the book, Communication Problem solver reads a lot like The Tipping Point or Blink. The way you write and the way you explain things I find to be very similar. Have you ever read any of his books? If so, what are your thoughts?
Wow--what a compliment to compare my book to those of Malcolm Gladwell's. No, I have not read any of his books. But now I'll have to check them out! Thanks for the comparison.
Do you have a website we can visit?
Where can we find your book?
Barnes & Noble, Borders, Clayton Books, and other bookstores as well as online at numerous sites globally including Amazon.com and Barnesandnoble.com
My book signing at Clayton Books is Sunday 11/22 @ 3:00 p.m. with an author friend of mine, Michael Soon Lee (he wrote the foreword to my book).
The next book signing is Saturday 11/28 at Barnes & Noble Pleasant Hill from 11:00 a.m. until 1:00 p.m. (It's a CWC event).