Angie Azur is a YA Sci-fi Writer.
Writer for PALEO Magazine.
Former Intern at the Andrea Brown Literary Agency.
SCBWI & COWG Member.


Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Interview with Tom Corwin: Creative Consultant, Musician, & Author




     I met Tom on our children's elementary school playground two years ago. It was meant to be. A writer and a man with a bookmobile make the perfect match. Over the next few years I've seen Tom volunteer with our local Mill Valley Library, and help bring awareness around the US about the lack of books many children have. 

    Tom is a master of all trades creative. He's a music producer, movie maker, and an author. With all this creativity Tom is consulting other creative types in need. 

Tom's bio for creative consulting: 


     There are times when we recognize the need to change direction to create a story that more closely matches our dreams and aspirations. 

      I work with creatives in transition; from those striving to move their game up to the next level, to individuals who are feeling stuck and are striving to get back into productive flow.  

    Together we look at what's working, explore what might work better, and develop a plan that supports you in shifting your life in ways that bring deeper rewards, satisfaction and connection.

      Creative coaching is a one on one process that facilitates clarity, insight and a definitive sense of how to make the most of your next chapter.  

   In addition to my independent coaching work, I am a consultant with Bottom Line Solutions, an executive coaching firm based in Washington, DC.    



Below are the questions I asked him:


What exactly is a creative consultant?

I focus on two aspects of creative consulting. 

1) I work with creatives - authors, producers, directors, marketing executives, and others -- to help them move their individual projects and overall creative lives forward. These are individuals who either want support in elevating their work to the next level, or those who are stuck and want guidance in re-engaging with their artistic selves. 

2) I provide consultation for a variety of projects that require creative input, ranging from films, to events, to art installations and live shows, for individuals, for profit and non-profit organizations. 


    What are your credentials for coaching creative people in transitions?

I’ve worked as a creative for over 25 years. As a touring musician, a music producer/engineer, an author and filmmaker. I know the territory first hand, including the ebbs and flows of a creative life.  

I have always had a deep intuitive sense of people and process, and I’ m credentialed by The Academy of Coaching and NLP (an ICF accredited institution).


    Give an example of what you would do for a writer in need of help?

The work is always based on the desires and needs of the client, so it’s very individualized. When clients need help with overall direction, we’ll look at the whole picture: where they are now, where they’d like to be and what’s at play emotionally and technically.  We’ll review what’s working and what could work better, where they are supported and where they could benefit from more support. 

A healthy creative life is a loop that thrives on both input and output. We need inspiration (input) as well as a healthy outlet for expression. In the course of being human, sometimes we lose track of the importance of that cycle and our process suffers.

After an honest look at what’s on the table, we explore all the angles, untapped resources and self-imposed limitations. We may use some tools and exercises to uncover what they’d love to see next in their creative lives. Then we’ll come up with a plan to move the vision forward with concrete  steps. This is a safe space to open up and dream big. I support them through the process as they achieve greater success.

    You’ve written 2 books, Mostly Bob, and Mr. Fooster Traveling on a Whim. Why should readers read them?


MOSTLY BOB is a short and sweet book, a postcard really --  born of a very personal moment in my life. It is also a tribute to extraordinary determination, undiscovered potential and the possibility of change. It was written about Bob, my Golden Retriever, but the themes apply equally to human experience.  It speaks to the power and heart that often live just beneath the surface of first impressions.  


   
   MR. FOOSTER, the protagonist of my second book, has a pure curiosity, innocence and lack of pretense. The book is observational, whimsical and follows this odd mute man on a walking journey. In his own way, MR.FOOSTER has a profound impact on the souls who cross his path. 

It was inspired by the beautiful work of artist Craig Frazier, who agreed to illustrate the book. Doubleday marketed the book as an illustrated novel for adults, drawn to the play of metaphor throughout the story.


    Explain your writing style. How do you come up with a project?

I’m a strong believer in following the muse. I’m usually drawn into projects by a driving curiosity.  I’m not always sure where it comes from, but there are certain ideas I am unable to resist. I know when it happens.  I become obsessed.


    Do you use an outline when you write? Why or why not?

I tend to follow a project where it leads. In the case of MR. FOOSTER, the publisher bought it before it was complete. They were interested to know where MR. FOOSTER was going, so that drove me to the outline process. It was interesting to look at options of where the story might go, and weigh them against each other. 


    What time do you get up and what do you eat for breakfast?

Well, my hours are presently ruled by our nine year-old son. I usually wake up before him, between 6-6:30, knowing as soon as he wakes, the day inevitably begins.  I often don’t eat breakfast, but I rarely miss my cup of coffee.  




    You are the owner and brains of the documentary, Behind the Wheel of the Bookmobile. What is a bookmobile? 

 Bookmobiles are libraries on wheels. They were originally conceived in 1905 by Mary Titcolm, a librarian in Maryland, to provide access to books for people in outlying communities who otherwise wouldn’t be able to get to the library. A bookmobile would be assigned a weekly route and parked at specific places at certain hours every week. So, for example, you could walk by 12th street and Vine on Tuesday’s between 3-5pm and get a book. (This was especially luxurious if you lived at 12th and Vine.) 



There were librarians on board to help you find books and If the bookmobile didn’t have what you wanted in stock, the librarians would order it for you and bring it the following week.
One of the people who happened up the steps of my bookmobile, described how a bookmobile exactly resembling mine, would come to his family’s rural Mississippi farm once a week. “It was during the civil rights era and I was not allowed into the library, because I was African American, but the bookmobile librarian didn’t care what color I was... I discovered the world on the bookmobile.” 

When I asked him what he did now, he humbly responded that he did “some work for the Library of Congress.” This, shall we say, was a bit of an understatement. Ralph W. Eubanks, it turns out, is currently the Director of Publishing for the Library of Congress, as well as a published author in his own right.  

(You can find this interview and others posted on my site Bookmobiletravels.com.)


    Why did you decide to buy your own bookmobile and film a documentary?

This is the perfect example of a project that lit a fire in me in an instant.  After hearing from a friend that a library outside of Chicago was decommissioning and selling its classic Moroney bookmobile, I became possessed by the idea of purchasing it and filming authors as they took shifts driving the bookmobile across country while talking about the books that have influenced their lives.  It turned out that writers liked the idea and over 40 bestselling authors signed on to support the project and be filmed. 


What is your goal for your documentary and the bookmobile?

Currently the bookmobile is in re-imagination. I am looking for ways for its life on the road to continue to promote the conversation about the power of the written word. I’m seeking funding and new partners to support bringing these great authors’ stories to the public.  This beautiful, vintage bookmobile serves in the meantime, as a fabulous mobile office.


How can readers get involved to help with your projects?  

I am putting together a package that allows donors to support individual author shoots. For instance, you can be the producer of our segment with Michael Chabon, by specifically funding our shoot with him. Each author’s piece, with post-production, comes in at about $5000. If you’re interested or you know someone who’s passionate about books and would like to offer support of any kind, I’d love to hear from them. You can read more about the project at bookmobiletravels.com



What do books mean to you?

I see books as vehicles of enlightenment. They have the power to take us out of ourselves into new worlds, real and expansive. They contain the bounty of history, endless entertainment, knowledge and enrichment. All this and they sit within our grasp at anytime. (I’ve heard there are analog versions that can even be read without access to electricity and devices.)   

There is an introspective quality to reading a book that makes it richer and more engaging than film or TV.  When we read, we are participants in the process, rather than passive observers, as we are when viewing stories on a screen. I believe what we read has the capacity to reach more deeply into our lives than other forms of media. 


Who are you reading right now?

I’ve been on a non-fiction bent lately. Right now, I’m reading “Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power,” by Jon Meacham.  Jefferson had an insatiable curiosity, intellect, lived fully and had a powerful impact on history.  

Before that I read a biography called “The Black Count” by Tom Reiss. It’s about the father of Alexandre Dumas (author of ”The Three Musketeers” and “The Count of Monte Cristo”). He was the son of a black slave who came to lead more than 50,000 men at the height of the French Revolution. This biography reads like a swashbuckling novel.


Where do you see publishing heading? And is it a good place?  

There are positives and negatives to the way the publishing industry is unfolding. On one hand, getting eyes on your work is no longer determined exclusively by the publishing industry. There are so many avenues and options for self-publishing. For those really comfortable with online promotion, there’s more opportunity than there’s ever been. 

On the other side of the coin, there is less risk being taken by traditional publishers on new up and coming writers, fewer books being published and less money spent on advances. This makes it harder to make a living as a writer. In the end, the publishing industry is still figuring out how to adapt and succeed in this extraordinary time of transition. 


How can my blog readers help you to become an even bigger success?

If they’re interested in creative support with their process and projects. They can contact me at tom@tomcorwin.com
They can also check out my books and projects at tomcorwin.com and if they’re moved, share them with their friends, family and personal networks. I’d love to hear from your readers who should feel free to drop me a note!


Any big news?

Some fun projects in the hopper. To be shared soon.

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