Category Archives: Author Interviews

William Gonzalez on Escaping Negativity and Writing Award-Winning Pieces

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Salvadoran American writer William A. Gonzalez is a true testament to the fact that written art can be created out of any life circumstance, no matter how dire or unfortunate.

His self-published book, Black Bubblegum, is filled with authentic ghetto literary pieces—short stories, memoirs, and poetry pieces—that effectively depict inner city life from the perspective of “black bubblegum” splattered across a concrete sidewalk. This unique approach and inspirational soulfulness has recently earned him a first-place finish in the Wild Card category of the New England Book Festival.

William was born in the inner city, and his teenage years were spent “dipping in and dipping out” of liquor stores in his community. He has been exposed to gangs, drugs, and other forms of crime.

Instead of indulging in negativity, he uses these vivid memories to paint pictures of reality that are sure to inspire other people living in struggling communities across America and the world.

Source: Xlibris Author Spotlight

 

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Interview With Author Lorraine Pestell (A Life Singular – Part One, Contemporary Romance)

Starting Young: A Self-Published Author Headed for Something Great

I got my first cat when I was 7, so Cat-Boy kind of grew up from that love I’ve always had for cats.

Xlibris author Michael MorganAt 20, self-published author Jim Compton—more commonly known by his pen name Michael Morgan—already has a lot of things going for him.

Aside from publishing his first book at the young age of 16, he has acted in live stage plays, been a contributing author to The Santa Claus Project, published his first article in 2009, and has four self-published books (and more to come) to his name.

This month, Xlibris sits down with Michael to talk about his self-published books, all of which constitute the Cat-Boy series. When asked about his literary inspirations, he mentions his affinity for felines. He also draws inspiration from people that he knows, basing several of his characters on such people: General Joe is based on the popular Sheriff Arpaio, and Leopard Girl is based on his mother. Real venues are also used as settings for his stories like the Pizza Old Roma in downtown Glendale.

Michael has high hopes for his books, dreaming that they will become so popular to that even The Simpsons will make fun of them.

Read the full feature on the Xlibris Blog.

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Original source here: Xlibris Author Spotlight Michael Morgan

Red Star Line: The ship that saved Albert Einstein’s life?

(CNN) — The world’s most famous scientist, with his iconic wild hair, crumpled suit, and pens peeking from breast pocket, poses not in a laboratory — but on the deck of a ship.

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Albert Einstein poses on the deck of the SS Belgenland, 1930. He was one of 2.5 million passengers who sailed between Europe and North America with the Red Star Line shipping company from 1873 to 1934. He resigned from the Prussian Academy of Sciences on the ship’s stationary — the letter now appears in the new $25 million Red Star Line Museum in Belgium. (CNN)

It’s a candid image of Albert Einstein in his leisure time, taken on one of many trips aboard Red Star Line vessels between Europe and America in the 1930s.

Three years after this photograph was taken, the Nazis came into power in Einstein’s homeland Germany, and he traveled to the U.S. on one of these huge passenger steamers for good, in a journey that may well have saved the Jewish physicist’s life.

The Nobel Prize winning scientist was one of 2.5 million people who sailed across the Atlantic with the boat company between 1873 and 1934 — a quarter of them Jewish.

Now their remarkable stories — many escaping persecution in Europe and investing their savings in a better life in the New World — have been immortalized in a new $25 million Red Star Line Museum in Antwerp, Belgium.

“The most important artifact we’re showing is the actual building — it was the control center for all third class passengers,” said museum co-ordinator Luc Verheyen, of the renovated red brick warehouses on the Rhine Quay, which until now had been left to rot.

“Inside we have a collection of ship models, stories, pictures, letters, even a Belgian waffle iron, and the piano of composer Irving Berlin — it shows something about what was important to people of the time.”

Lifesaver

Along with Einstein and Irving Berlin — the composer of famous songs “White Christmas” and “There’s No Business Like Show Business” — was another passenger who fled Europe to forge a successful career in the U.S.

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Today there are believed to be just five surviving Red Star Line passengers, including 85-year-old Sonia Pressman Fuentes, pictured here as a child with her mother Hinda, father Zysia, and brother Hermann. (CNN)

Lawyer, author and prominent feminist, Sonia Pressman Fuentes, was just five years old when her family traveled from Antwerp to New York in 1934. Today she is believed to be one of just five surviving Red Star Line passengers, and the only who attended the museum’s opening last month.

The daughter of Jewish Polish clothing merchants living in Berlin, 85-year-old Fuentes says she would have died at the hands of the Nazis if her family hadn’t caught the SS Westernland that fateful day.

“It was a lifesaver, absolutely,” said the mother-of-one, adding that the Antwerp authorities had planned to deport the family before they boarded the ship.

“There’s no question of the role the Red Star Line played in the lives of people who escaped the Holocaust.”

Historic journey

While Fuentes was too young to remember the 10-day journey across the Atlantic, her 18-year-old brother Hermann, who had convinced the family to join him in Antwerp, kept a diary of the voyage, copies of which now appear in the museum.

“My brother wrote that we were seasick the whole time,” says Fuentes, and indeed, life on the ships was cramped and dreary for third class passengers.

“In the early years, third class passengers were in large, communal cabins without water or light. They could go outside for some air once a day,” said Verheyen. “But towards the end, it got a lot better and they started investing in small dormitories with six people in a room.”

“First class however, was more like a luxury hotel, with huge ballrooms for dancing.”

There’s no question of the role the Red Star Line played in the lives of people who escaped the Holocaust
Sonia Pressman Fuentes

With a third class ticket valued at around $1,300 in today’s money, a laborer would have had to work 75 days to cover the cost.

Third class passengers also had to undergo rigorous health checks before boarding, with anyone refused entry at Ellis Island immigration center in New York sent back at the expense of the shipping line.

Passengers would take hour-long showers with hot vinegar and benzene, cleaning them of lice, while their luggage was disinfected in large steam sterilizing machines.

Ship-shape

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New life has been breathed into the red brick buildings, which had been abandoned on the Rhine Quay. They include a viewing tower shaped like a ship’s funnel. (CNN)

Founded by Antwerp and Philadelphia ship brokers almost 150 years ago, the Red Star Line heralded a golden era for transatlantic ocean travel, and during its heyday two vessels left for North America each week.

“People left Europe for a variety of reasons — poverty, the rise of industrialism meant a lot of small family businesses went bankrupt, political or racial persecution, and adventurers with small capital who had heard about the prosperity on the other side of the ocean,” said Verheyen.

For Fuentes, the most emotional moment of her return to Antwerp, was standing at the very same water’s edge where her family set sail 80 years ago.

“If it wasn’t for that journey I wouldn’t have had a life, or a daughter,” she said. “My brother wouldn’t have had children and grandchildren and great grandchildren. My parents wouldn’t have had lives, none of that would have happened if we hadn’t traveled on the Red Star Line.”

Read full article here via CNN http://edition.cnn.com/2013/10/22/sport/red-star-line-museum-albert-einstein-ship/