Author Interview: ‘Goods and Effects’ by Al Schnupp

About the Book:

Devastated by the death of her husband and sons, Hannah Mercer sells the family farm and creates a store and living quarters in a delivery truck. As she travels several circuits selling her wares, Hannah becomes the heart of a network of interlinking lives: Nathan owns the motel where Hannah often parks her truck. Darla is a young and talented deaf artist, whose parents let her accompany Hannah on her rounds. Wanda, the sassy receptionist at a hardware distribution center, has larger ambitions. Naomi, wife of the pious Mennonite deacon, entertains fantasies of sexual freedom. Frank, a gentle farmer with a chronically-ill wife, harbors great affection for Hannah, but has troubling biases. LeRoy is a black farmer and talented singer, yet his family is subjected to racial terrorism. Velma owns a woodworking shop. Is she a good match for Vivian, Ronan County’s elegant, lesbian librarian?

Larry… Maddie … Tom… Molly. As time passes and Hannah’s relationships deepen, her faith diminishes but her vision of humanity expands. Hannah Mercer is a clever problem-solver, a shrewd schemer, a spinner of tender lies, an advocate for justice, and a dream weaver.

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Purchase Links:

Amazon – UK / US

Author Interview:

1.  Tell us a little about yourself and what got you in to writing?

I was trained in theatre and was a university professor for thirty years.  During that time, I directed and designed numerous plays and wrote about a dozen plays that were produced in university setting, regional venues and Off-Off-Broadway.  Analyzing and composing dialogue was a significant part of my theatre craft.  After retiring, I decided to try my hand at prose.  ZERO was originally a play; GOODS & EFFECTS was originally a screenplay.

2.  Do you have a favourite time and place where you write.

For the most part, when writing I lounge on the sofa with a clipboard and several sheets of paper.  My first pass is hand-written.  After composing several pages, I then move to the computer and type out the text.  After completing the first draft, the remainder of my work — revision and polishing — is done at the computer.  I find I do my best work in the morning.

3.  Where do your ideas come from?

Ideas come from every aspect of my life — from the events I experience, the books I read, the ideas I research, the things I imagine.  I especially enjoy writing dialogue.  Also, I am a fan of implying, not outright stating, subtext.  Many times during my solitary mountain walks I conceive ideas for developing a story.  I’ve written several plays inspired by actual persons.  These people tend to be female visual artists and/or activists.  Examples include Käthe Kollwitz (beloved German artist and activist), Peggy Guggenheim (art collector) and Ivy Bottini (LGBTQ icon and co-founder of NYC Chapter of NOW, National Organization for Women).  

4.  Do you have a plan in your head of where the story is going before you start writing or do you let it carry you along as you go?

I’ve tried writing using both methods.  In most cases, I begin with a place, a set of characters and an inciting incident.  Sometimes I outline a plot prior to writing.  At other times I let the writing be a journey, letting the characters take me where they wish to go, letting events unfold and organically inspire new events.

5.  What genre are your books and what drew you to that genre?

I write in a wide variety of genres: biographical, literary, women’s fiction, political satire, reworking classic Greek myths, fantasy.  Currently I am interested in exploring gentle stories filled with acts of kindness that celebrate diversity and inclusion.

6.  What dream cast would you like to see playing the character in your latest book?

Two novellas were released in Spring 2021: ZERO and GOODS & EFFECTS.  My ideal cast for ZERO is Bette Midler, Nathan Lane, Alan Cumming and Helena Bonham Carter.  For the role of Hannah in GOODS & EFFECTS, I would select Kate Winslet.

7.  Do you read much and if so who are your favourite authors?

I tend to read in spurts.  I may read 3 or 4 novels within several weeks.  Then, I will go for a spell of non-reading, instead, spending time painting or being consumed by other projects.  I am a fan of Fredrick Backman, Anthony Doerr and the Greek tragic playwrights.

8.  What books/s are you reading at present?

At the moment I am spending most of my time promoting my books, so I’ve taken a hiatus from reading.

9.  What is your favourite book and why?

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr.  This author captures an invisible magic on many levels.  It shows the goodness and horror of humanity.  The chapters are impeccably crafted, always ending with a perfect sentence, one that may reflect on the past, summarize the scene and set up further action.

10.  What advice would you give for someone thinking about becoming a writer?

Be prepared for rejection.  “No” to one’s work is a large part of a writer’s life.  One must persevere, hoping to connect with the right people who connect with the material.  Listen to your editor; try not to get defensive.  An editor has your best interest in heart.

11.  What are the best Social Media Sites for people to find out about you and your work?




About the Author:

Al Schnupp is a retired faculty member of the Theatre and Dance Department of California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo. Mr. Schnupp studied at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York City and holds a doctorate from UCLA. He performed in summer stock and directed or designed approximately eighty productions for academic and professional theatres. For two years he was scenic designer for Wichita State University Summer Theater.

Mr. Schnupp was the recipient of the Margo Jones National Playwriting Award for the play My Body, awarded by Texas Women’s University. His play, Censored, about the life of artist Käthe Kollwitz, was produced professionally at The Invisible Theatre. His improvisational game book Bravo! was published by Meriwether Published Ltd. The Stone Circle, a full-length adult puppet show, was co-authored and designed by Mr. Schnupp; the show was produced at the Center for Puppetry Arts in Atlanta and won an UNIMA International Citation of Excellence. Zero to Infinity, in its original form as a play, was selected to be performed at the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival, Region 8 Festival and was produced at Cayuga Community College. The Site was produced at the American Theatre of Actors in New York City and at Walkerspace in New York City. Living Stones was produced at Cal Poly and showcased in Los Angeles. Antigone and Letters to Soldiers Lost was produced at Cal Poly and in New York by Auburn Players.

He is the author of The MerryWinkle International Troupe of Vagabonds Performs a Delicious Potpourri of Fantastical Fairy Tales and Astonishing Folk Legends. His play CrossRoads won an Art Inspires grant and was produced in New York at Cayuga Community College. The Collection, a play about art collector Peggy Guggenheim that featured fifty interactive paintings, toured Central California. inclusivity – the Ivy Bottini Story was produced at Emerald Theatre in Memphis, Tennessee.

GOODS & EFFECTS, a novella, has been published by Golden Antelope Press. As a visual artist, Al participates in a variety of art and craft festivals in California and has shown his work in several galleries. Zero, a novella based on the play, Zero to Infinity, is published by Cabal Books.

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