About Iris Dorbian:
I’m a former actress turned business blogger/journalist. My articles have appeared in a wide number of outlets that include the Wall Street Journal, Reuters, Venture Capital Journal, DMNews, CFO.com, Playbill, Backstage, Theatermania, Live Design, Media Industry Newsletter and PR News. From 1999 to 2007, I was the editor-in-chief of Stage Directions. I’m the author of “Great Producers: Visionaries of the American Theater,” which was published by Allworth Press in August 2008. My personal essays have been published in Blue Lyra Review, B O D Y, Embodied Effigies, Jewish Literary Journal, Skirt! Diverse Voices Quarterly and Gothesque Magazine. And, I have a master’s degree in journalism from Columbia University.
I’ve been a member of the American Theater Critics Association, the Drama Desk and the League of Professional Theater Women.
As a reader, I love to dip into biographies, memoirs, nonfiction and literary/contemporary fiction. I’m not a huge fan of genre novels although I respect them (and have read them from time to time).
My favorite authors always depend on the mood I’m currently in. For the past few years, I’ve LOVED reading Philip Roth novels. He is a master. Last year, I read and greatly enjoyed Cheryl Strayed “Wild” (the movie is good–the book is even better). Previously, my favorites have included F. Scott Fitzgerald, Anne Tyler and Doris Lessing. Also, as a teen/young adult, I adored Thomas Hardy.
What inspires you to write?
I assume you mean creative writing (which for me encompasses personal essays and my coming of age novel, “Love, Loss and Longing in the Age of Reagan”) as opposed to my journalistic writings? For my creative writing, I like to write when I have something to say, something I desperately and passionately want to communicate and convey to readers. I see my writing as a vehicle of cathartic self-expression but also as a way to reach out to people and connect with them viscerally when it comes to so many issues that we humans have to deal with on a regular basis.
Tell us about your writing process.
For my personal essay, I generally have an idea of what I want to say before I put virtual pen (ala the computer keyboard) to virtual paper (the blank screen). For longer works, like “Love, Loss and Longing in the Age of Reagan,” I also will have an idea beforehand of what the story will be about, its major beats and conclusion. So I guess you can say I outline in my head. But I do a lot of editing/revising once I’m finished with a draft. There have been some instances, particularly with “Love, Loss and Longing in the Age of Reagan,” in which I eliminated characters and chapters because I felt when reading and analyzing a draft, they were superfluous and not serving the story in any substantive way.
For Fiction Writers: Do you listen (or talk to) to your characters?
Not really. My book, “Love, Loss and Longing in the Age of Reagan” is a fictionalized account of my turbulent college years in New York City in the early 1980s. A lot of what Edie, the main character, goes through in the book I went through myself. Also, the characters who surround Edie, such as her best friend and roommate Chloe, are based on people I knew back then. Yet there are a lot of differences as well. Certain plots were added/changed/embellished and certain characters, such as Edie’s first “love” Peter, were toned down from the original draft. Also, certain events in the book never transpired when I was in college.
What advice would you give other writers?
Write what you know is a good maxim but also write what you’re curious about as well. And when you work on your first draft, don’t edit yourself too much. Give in to your creativity. You might think what you’re writing is absolute crap; but you might change your mind later when you’re finished with the draft and you re-read what you’ve written.
How did you decide how to publish your books?
My first book, “Great Producers: Visionaries of the American Theater” was traditionally published (via Allworth Press) in August 2008. I had been in discussion with the publisher’s acquisitions editor about writing a book. I was throwing out ideas to her until she came up with the idea of writing a book about hugely successful theater producers. I liked it and then wrote a proposal on it, which was later accepted. I got the contract in October 2006 and submitted the manuscript right before the year-long deadline in September 2007.
Because I work full-time, getting traditionally published took away a lot of time I would normally have had to invest in coming up with a comprehensive marketing plan for the book. Although I was able to leverage my contacts in the theater world to promote the book, my publisher was also adept at spreading the word about it via traditional marketing materials (i.e.press releases, etc.). The book has done well, is available in Kindle and was even turned into an audiobook via my parent publisher Skyhorse Publishing’s agreement with Audible, a top audiobook publisher.
My reason for self-publishing my second book, “Love, Loss and Longing in the Age of Reagan” was something I had been contemplating for a long while before I actually went ahead and did it. Even though I knew based on my previous experience with a traditional publisher, that it would be more difficult to spread the word about my book given the saturation of self-published books as well as the lack of support afforded by a traditional publisher, I thought I would try it anyway. Call it my experimental foray into self-publishing.
I do think some books, such as genre novels, can do and have done very well in this space. They have a strong and loyal following. But my book, a coming of age novel in which there is there no conventional romance (although lots of drug use and some sex scenes/sex talk) and no traditional happily ever-after ending (although the main character does gain what she was looking for in a positive context), has been problematic for some readers. But I do firmly believe that a lot of the issues that Edie and her friends struggle with in my book are issues that young people, past, present and in the future, wrestle with as they make the rough and tumble transition from childhood to adulthood.
What do you think about the future of book publishing?
I think as traditional publishing becomes increasingly more risk-averse, relying on celebrity authors and popular genre writers to generate revenue streams, more authors will be opting to self-publish their books.
I also think the form–book publishing–will become even more multi-platform in the future.
What do you use?: Professional Editor, Professional Cover Designer
What genres do you write?: Nonfiction, Memoir, New Adult/Coming of Age
What formats are your books in?: eBook
All information in this post is presented “as is” supplied by the author. We don’t edit, to allow you, the reader, to hear the author in their own voice.