Nevertheless, after they met at a recording studio on 42nd Street (yes, that 42nd Street), they teamed up as Brooker and O’Dougherty and began a decades-long collaboration on a variety of theater, film, TV and video projects, performing, writing, directing, managing, and producing.
Football is for Lovers (which can be found at http://www.footballforlovers.com) marks Bob and Kaye’s debut as book authors.
Q: Welcome to Beyond the Books, Bob and Kaye. Can we start out by telling us whether you are published for the first time or are you multi-published?
A: Although we’ve been writing performance-oriented stuff – like scripts and songs and skits – for many years, this is the only book we’ve had published.
Q: What was the name of your very first book regardless of whether it was published or not and, if not published, why?
A: This book – Football is for Lovers – is not only the first we’ve had published. It’s the first we’ve ever written. But it’s been so much fun; you can bet it won’t be our last. In fact, we’re already at work on our second.
Q: For your first published book, how many rejections did you go through before you either found a mainstream publisher, self-published it, or paid a vanity press to publish it?
A: When we decided to write Football is for Lovers, it was really not about finding a publisher. One week, we were getting ready to go into a studio to complete work on a new album Bob was recording. The next week, we were in a local hospital with Bob recovering from a stroke. His left side – including his left vocal chord – was paralyzed. Hmmmm. Time to reinvent ourselves, yes? So, since we’d been writing as a team for years – although mostly for the stage – we decided to convert ourselves into authors. Once we’d gotten the book underway, we just went online and found ourselves a publisher.
Q: How did the rejections make you feel and what did you do to overcome the blows?
A: We were about to say, since we didn’t look for a publisher, we were never rejected. But heaven knows, we had our share of hard knocks when we were writing for the stage. Probably the worst was when we had written a musical, Harlem Sweet, based on the works of the Poet Laureate of Harlem, Langston Hughes. Since Langston wrote by walking through Harlem and listening to the people, much of his poetry was really conversation. And since he was very much involved with music, his poetry also translated well into songs.
We saw his work as a musical waiting to happen. It required a lot of research – which was a joy – but it did take years to complete. Still, it was worth it and, when it was finished, the executor of the Langston Hughes Estate loved it. He told us he couldn’t wait for our off-Broadway debut. Now, although we had obtained rights to the works before we started on the project, there turned out to be additional legal issues that had to be resolved. Only problem was, the lawyer for the theatre group who was producing our musical and the lawyer for the Hughes Estate hated each other’s guts.
Still, the executor was completely on our side, and told us not to worry even though he had not yet gotten the final papers to sign. So we began auditions in a little theatre on Forty-Second Street. It was the most glorious blue-sky October day you could imagine when we got the call from our lawyer: the estate executor – a man in his fifties – had suddenly dropped dead. The ensuing legal hassle put an end to the production. So. Maybe you can see why we didn’t try to find a publisher for our book. After that experience, keeping things in our own hands always seems like a good idea.
Q: When your first book was published, who published it and why did you choose them?
A: We chose Mill City Press because, after researching possibilities online, we decided they offered the most bang for the buck. And we haven’t been disappointed. As we said, we’ve begun work on our second book – also non-fiction humor – He’s Not the Guy (God Didn’t Do It!), and we intend to work with Mill City once again.
Q: How did it make you feel to become published for the first time and how did you celebrate?
A: Actually, the biggest thrill was when we began writing for the stage. Hearing actors saying the lines we had written, bringing our characters to life, was pretty awesome. But – holding that first physical copy of Football is for Lovers had us grinning big time, too. Like they say in that beer commercial: it’s all good!
Q: What was the first thing you did as for as promotion when you were published for the first time?
A: We set up a website, studied the whole site optimization thing, wrote promotional articles . . . and kept thinking how great it would be if we could just write and have someone else do the selling.
Q: If you had to do it over again, would you have chosen another route to be published?
A: No. We were set on the self-publishing route from the beginning. We wanted to get going, not wait for someone to ‘choose’ us.
Q: Have you been published since then and how have you grown as an author?
A: We’re still working on our second book, He’s Not the Guy (God Didn’t Do It!). Of course, Football is for Lovers is certainly about two subjects we have a real feeling for – love and football. But the opportunity to put our ideas – in fact, our ideology – down on paper is a pretty exciting thing. And since our ideology extends beyond football, we figure we’ll be writing for a long, long time. The love part? Well, that pretty much is our ideology . . .
Q: Looking back since the early days when you were trying to get published, what do you think you could have done differently to speed things up? What kind of mistakes could you have avoided?
A: Writing a book and selling a book are two different things. Writing has always been almost as natural as breathing. Marketing . . . well, we might have been better served if we’d taken a few marketing courses . . .
Q: What has been the biggest accomplishment you have achieved since becoming published?
A: Our biggest accomplishment since becoming published has nothing to do with our book. Since Bob’s stroke, besides our writing goals, we’ve been into the walking and talking thing. Bob’s making it around the track at the local football field, using his left hand on the computer keyboard (well, at least the shift key for capitals), and almost being able to carry a tune again have been our greatest accomplishments. We do like to drink to that! Often!
Q: If you could have chosen another profession, what would that profession be?
A: Well, of course, we did choose another profession. So this already is the ‘other profession.’ Although, to some degree, they both involve writing of one kind or another. So if it could be neither of those, that is, writing for the stage or writing a book . . . I guess we’d just find another form of writing. Political commentary comes to mind . . . The questions that, to us, scream to be asked by TV interviewers, but aren’t, just about drive us around the bend . . .
Q: Would you give up being an author for that profession or have you combined the best of both worlds?
A: Funny. It just occurred to us. In the end, it keeps coming back to the words. Writing has always been . . . well, what we do. Stringing words together. Giving them to actors to speak. Putting them down on paper. And for Bob, for most of his life, singing them. So for us it would always be a combination of whatever we were up to at the moment – sports or politics or music – and the words that expressed our beliefs about the current subject of choice.
Q: How do you see yourself in ten years?
A: Still writing humorous non-fiction. But by then, we’ll have become well-enough established so that we can just do the writing and leave the marketing to someone else.
Any final words for writers who dream of being published one day?
A: It’s so corny we almost hate to say it. But we will anyway: do what you love. And that applies to everyone, not just writers. We’ve been around a long time, and it seems to us that one of the most crucial elements for a joyful life is having a sense of purpose. Figure out what that purpose is – or maybe it’s more like choosing it . . . In any case, stay with it. Sorry. We can’t resist.
Did you by any chance see the Steve Martin movie, The Jerk? Much as we believe in this whole ‘purpose’ thing, it’s hard for us to write down the word without giving a little smirk to Mr. Martin. In case you haven’t seen the movie, our hero, a country bumpkin, sets out to find his place in the world, armed only with his family’s advice to ‘find his purpose.’ When he hooks up with a tattooed biker chick and discovers the . . . uh . . . joys of the flesh, he believes he has found his purpose.
So don’t worry if it takes you a few tries to get this purpose thing right. There will probably be distractions along the way. Enjoy them.