Please note: This is my last author interview for 2019. Going forward, I’ve put this feature on hiatus as I have several books I’m working on for publication in 2020. Thanks for reading and supporting these amazing authors.

Hello everyone! This week, I’m thrilled to bring you a new author. I asked him to pick three or four questions from my huge list HERE, which he did.

The best way to learn more about writing is to learn from other successful authors.

Please meet my guest author, Clifford Browder:

Clifford Browder is a writer living in New York. He has published two biographies, a critical study, and four novels in his Metropolis series of historical fiction set in nineteenth-century New York: The Pleasuring of Men (Gival Press, 2011), Bill Hope: His Story (Anaphora Literary Press, 2017); Dark Knowledge (Anaphora Literary Press, 2018); and The Eye That Never Sleeps (Black Rose Writing, 2019).

His blog, No Place for Normal: New York, is about anything and everything New York. His nonfiction title No Place for Normal: New York / Stories from the Most Exciting City in the World (Mill City Press, 2015) is a collection of posts from his blog that won first place in the Travel category of the 2015-2016 Reader Views Literary Awards; the Tenth Annual National Indie Excellence Award for Regional Non-Fiction; and Honorable Mention in the Culture category of the Eric Hoffer Book Awards for 2016. Another collection of posts from his blog, Fascinating New Yorkers: Power Freaks, Mobsters, Liberated Women, Creators, Queers and Crazies (Black Rose Writing, 2018) presents short biographies of people who lived or died in New York. His poetry has appeared in various journals online and in print. 

A longtime New York resident, Browder thinks New York is the most exciting city in the world. He has never owned a television, a car, or a cell phone. Mostly vegan, he is fascinated by slime molds and a mushroom known as Destroying Angel, never kills spiders, and eats garlic to fend off vampires.

Amazon Author Page: Clifford Browder

Hello, Clifford. Nice to meet you. Do you want each of your books to stand on its own, or are you trying to build a body of work with connections between each book?

I write historical fiction and nonfiction.  All my historical novels are part of my Metropolis series of fiction set in nineteenth-century New York.  Each can standalone, but characters in one often reappear in another.  Sometimes the same event is witnessed by different characters in different works, each with a perspective suited to the character.

All these books share the same nineteenth-century New York background, especially the 1860s and 1870s.  Those years were incredibly exciting, being characterized by

  • A great belief in Progress, or Go Ahead, inspired by inventions like the steamboat, railroads, and gaslight.
  • The Civil War, which brought feverish speculation in gold on Wall Street, and a three-day anti-draft riot with fires and pillaging and lynchings.
  • A postwar boom with railroads being built everywhere, Boss Tweed and abortionists, and palace steamboats and cancans and champagne.
  • The Panic of 1873, bringing bankruptcy and ruin to many, and a devastating six-year depression.

My nonfiction also deals with New York, past and present, and comprises posts from my blog, “No Place for Normal: New York,” adapted to become chapters in a book.  These works can stand on their own. 

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No Place for Normal: New York / Stories from the Most Exciting City in the World covers such topics as alcoholics, grave robbers, Occupy Wall Street, the Gay Pride Parade, my mugging in Central Park, and an artist who makes art out of a blackened human toe. 

Fascinating New Yorkers: Power Freaks, Mobsters, Liberated Women, Creators, Queers, and Crazies offers biographical sketches of people who lived or died in New York, including J.P. Morgan and his nose; Andy Warhol and his sex life; Polly Adler, Queen of Tarts; Cardinal Spellman (was he or wasn’t he?); and Quentin Crisp, the stately homo of England.

How fascinating! What is your take on the importance of a good cover and title?

Both are absolutely essential.  The cover must catch the eye instantly and make the potential reader stop, absorb the cover and title, look at the back-cover blub, and start looking inside. 

I have seen this work at book fairs.  One of my books has bright colors that attract the eye; anyone coming to the stand sees that one first and looks at it.  Then the title gets their attention: the words NEW YORK in bold black letters against a light background. 

This prompts people to read the full title: No Place for Normal: New York / Stories from the Most Exciting City in the World.  It doesn’t hurt that a circular gold medal pasted on the cover says WINNER in bold black letters, identifying the book as a first-place winner in its category in the Indie Excellence Book Awards.  Then people read the back-cover blurb and open the book.  This title outsells all my other books at book fairs.

I prefer titles without subtitles for fiction: The Pleasuring of Men, Dark Knowledge, Bill Hope, The Eye That Never Sleeps.  The title must intrigue potential readers, make them want to know more. 

But for nonfiction, I consider a subtitle essential: Fascinating New Yorkers: Power Freaks, Mobsters, Liberated Women, Creators, Queers and Crazies.  I count on the subtitle, combined with the cover illustration, to get them to read the blurb and then open the book.

Those are all great points. Do you blog? How does blogging help you sell books?

I do a blog called “No Place for Normal: New York.”  I publish a new post every Sunday, and occasionally a midweek post as well.  The subjects are anything and everything: New York, past and present. My recent posts covered such topics as:

  • Kill: the word’s different meanings, public executions, abortion and the death penalty, my war with cockroaches, etc.
  • How we Americans do and don’t celebrate the July 4.
  • World Pride Day: Hope or Hype?
  • Tales of the legendary Plaza Hotel.
  • Madonna: my take on her, having been prompted by a young friend to experience her on YouTube.
  • An idyllic walk to the Hudson River: people-watching at a local restaurant near my West Village building, then a walk down West 11th Street toward the river, with a stop at an art gallery, followed by a look at the silver-flecked surface of the river, a visit to Pier 46 and its sunbathers, and on the way back, an encounter with a widowed older woman who asked to take my arm when crossing the street.

These posts have given me two nonfiction titles to date, with a third in the offing.  The blog has a small but loyal following, many of whom buy my fiction and nonfiction. 

I use the blog to advertise my titles and my appearance at local book fairs, but there is a limit to what it can do to sell my books.  To increase my sales, I need to do more online, for that is where the big sales are.  I’m exploring the possibilities now.

Thanks so much for allowing me this time with your readers.

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How to Connect with Cliff Browder

Blog: No Place for Normal: New York –

Facebook: Clifford Browder

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Thank you for stopping by to meet Clifford Browder.