Monday, May 11, 2009

Corinne Humphrey Interview

Corinne Humphrey is a multi-talent woman. She's a fantastic writer who has had articles in various national publications; she's a wonderful cook, who can make delicious food not only in her home, but on a mountain peak; and she's an awesome artist with a tender heart. Her book The Tao of Rudy has gained national attention, earned various awards and has influenced many children. I've gone to her home for plot parties, played golf with her, and have watched her career soar. I thought you would enjoy getting to know my good friend.

Have you always wanted to be a writer?
No, but I always liked art and I used to beg my parents to let me go to art school.

Tell us a little bit about your book.
The Tao of Rudy was totally inspired by a down-and-out shelter mutt I adopted. I was in the middle of a painting class when I got him, and I also was influenced by a Canadian Artist, Sheila Norgate, who had an exhibit called “Beaks and Muzzles” just birds and dogs. The Tao of Rudy features bold, whimsical illustrations paired with Rudy’s sage canine commentary on life, love and making your way in the world. “It Doesn’t Matter What Kind of Dog You Are;” “You Can Create the Life You Want;” “Find a Hero” and “Let Yourself Be Loved!” are just some of this mixed-breed’s messages that appeal to children and adults.

Tell us about Rudy. What’s his daily routine?
We have a nice routine, especially now that I’m working mostly from home. We get up early, and he goes out while I make the coffee and turn on the classical music (usually piano solos recorded by a friend of mine). He then waits patiently by the coffee machine and then we crawl back in bed for a half hour-45 minutes of meditation, music and gazing at the mountains. He gets petted a lot. I usually work on the computer for a few hours, then we take a nice hike before running errands, going to the bank where he gets doggy biscuits when he makes deposits, mailing off books, etc. I work again in the afternoon, and he naps, or now that the weather is warming up, we’ll sit on the patio for afternoon tea, before getting back to work. I like to paint in the afternoon. I write for PR clients (my bread and butter) in the evenings after dinner while he naps some more or keeps watch over the street from the front deck. Some days we’ll get a second walk in, or twice a month, Rudy and I go to obedience training.

What inspires you and motivates you to write the very most?
It’s fun! Rudy just makes me think of fun ideas, and if I’m wasting time on the couch, he’ll poke me, then go lie in the studio/office. Sometimes, it takes a couple times before I get the hint. He’ll follow me in there, and once I’m finally engaged in painting or packaging books or working on the computer, he’ll go off to bed. Each little success, whether it’s a interview, a book sale or the excitement of a new idea, feeds my energy and determination.
Is there an established writer you admire and emulate in your writing? Do you have a writing mentor?
I have been blessed to be included in some great writing groups over the years, but I don’t have a mentor. I’ve attended some great conferences, especially the annual Children’s Authors & Illustrators Conference at BYU, and that really pushed me to the finish line. Todd Parr, the author/illustrator of 12+ children’s books, really inspired me because he wasn’t a trained artist either, and he finally ignored the naysayers and focused on what he liked to do. He now has a Saturday TV show in addition to his books.

Location and life experience can sprinkle their influence in your writing. Tell us about where you grew up and a little about where you live now - city? Suburb? Country? Farm? If you could live anywhere you want to live, where would that be? I grew up in southwestern VA, in a small town with four stoplights. There was a war memorial, the Dogwood CafĂ©, some banks, churches, High’s Ice Cream Shoppe and Cundiff’s Drug Store where we’d hang out after school and eat French fries loaded with ketchup. My parents loved to travel, and every year we loaded up the station wagon, hitched up the little Apache tent trailer and went on big road trips across the country. Mom and Dad loved history, so we spent a lot of time visiting Civil War Battlefields and museums, and by the time I was a senior, I’d been to 46 states and most of the National Parks. .I attended college at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, VA with the original plan of getting a degree in Marine Biology and French so I could join Jacques Cousteau and his team. Unfortunately, I couldn’t pass chemistry to save my life, and I get seasick just looking at movies of the ocean, so I changed course and ended up with a Sociology degree. Immediately after graduation, I landed a job as flight attendant for Delta Airlines, and after initial training in Atlanta, I moved to Boston. I traveled like a fiend for 25 years for work and on vacations. That’s when I started doing freelance writing and photography, and I would [do this during] my layovers according to my photo agents’ requests. It was a great synergy, and I loved the constant movement and stimulation. I got tired of Boston winters and moved to San Diego, followed by other moves to Palo Alto, CA, Lake Tahoe and back to San Diego, before settling in Park City, Utah. I’ve never lived anywhere this long (11 years), and I like the small town atmosphere but with a level of sophistication that my home town lacked. The long winters are getting to me, so it would be nice to spend a couple of months in a warm beach town. Rudy’s never seen the ocean, so that would be fun. Some day I hope to live in Europe—Paris or northern Italy—or possibly Buenos Aires.

Bring us into your home and set the scene for us when you are writing and painting. What does it look like? On the couch, laptop, desk? Music? Lighting, handwriting?
I have an office/studio with a big, western-facing window that looks out at the mountains where I have my easel, bookshelves and a makeshift desk made of a board resting on two file cabinets. I use a laptop, but don’t really ever tote it anywhere. If I am working on longer pieces like novel or essays, I like to sit in cafes and write longhand, then eventually type it into the computer when I start editing and rewriting.

Do you watch television or movies? If so, what are your favorites? Do they inspire your writing?
I’d never owned a TV as an adult, but a friend forced one on me. J Without cable I only get three channels, and still I feel like I waste a lot of time watching stupid cop shows, so, no, TV does not inspire me at all. I love movies—particularly classic oldies, foreign films and some Sundance films. I like romantic comedies, clever thrillers or movies that have rich characters and fine cinematography.

How has having a book published changed your life?
The whole process has made me giggle, and it helped me transition away from the airlines and into a vocation that brings me joy. It has brought a lot of magic and new friendships into my life. Self-publishing The Tao of Rudy has also given me courage to trust my instincts and follow my dreams, and it has led to other things like motivational speaking and teaching after-school art/bookmaking classes to kids and teens for the Arts-Kids organization. It has allowed me to reach out and inspire children to create the lives they want.

Do you have any book signings, tours or special events planned to promote your book that readers might be interested in attending?
If so, when and where? Also tell about your blog and website. The Tao of Rudy is one of ten finalists for “Book of the Year Award” so I’m hoping to do a booksigning at BookExpo America at the end of May in New York City. Locally, I will be participating in the Children’s Book Festival on Saturday, May 16 at the main Salt Lake Library at 12:30 p.m.
Thanks for the wonderful interview, Corinne.
Check out Rudy's website: http://www.thetaoofrudy.com/

I'm going to try something different. For those who post comment for this interview I will hold a drawing. The winner will receive a "Look Outside Yourself" post card brought you to by Rudy and Corinne.

2 comments:

  1. Wonderful interview, Kathi. I first read about Corinne and Rudy on CraziBeautifulWomen.com. I haven't yet had a chance to get a copy of the book, but it's on my must have list!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thanks, Lori. Corinne is a CraziBeautifulWoman. :)

    ReplyDelete

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