Former actress and theater director Christina Hamlett is an award winning author, media relations expert, script consultant and professional ghostwriter whose credits to date include 30 books, 154 plays, 5 optioned feature films, and hundreds of articles and interviews. I am pleased to welcome Ms. Hamlett into the Author’s Spotlight to discuss her non-fiction business book, Media Magnetism: How to Attract the Favorable Publicity You Want and Deserve.
Before we begin our interview, I would like to provide our reading audience with a brief synopsis of Media Magnetism.
What is it all business owners, authors, entrepreneurs and nonprofits want and need, but don’t know how to use – and keep – once they get it? Attracting (and maximizing) media opportunities is as much an art as it is a science if you want to sparkle in the spotlight. Two dozen media industry experts offer tips, resources and guidelines in the newly released Media Magnetism: How to Attract the Favorable Publicity Want and Deserve, a must-have book for anyone who wants to learn how to make influential connections, become sound-bite savvy, survive awkward moments, design a great website, and manage a cost-effective PR campaign.
Welcome Christina! How did you come up with the idea for this book? It was actually inspired by a packet of dental floss. (You probably weren’t expecting that answer, were you?) I had been sent to do a feature interview with a prominent Southern California philanthropist. Within a few minutes of setting up my tape recorder, he pulled out a packet of dental floss and proceeded to aggressively floss his teeth for the next 20 minutes, leaving ooky piles of floss shrapnel next to my microphone. Hmmm. What possesses an otherwise intelligent adult to perform personal hygiene during an interview with a journalist? Did he have somewhere more important to be after our meeting and wanted to save a trip to the bathroom? Did he think I wasn’t watching him? Or was this a reflection of his attitude toward the press? When I began telling this story to some of my colleagues, they had even more bizarre stories to share. This led to the realization that as accomplished as some people are in their field of endeavor – be it writing, selling cupcakes, or running a restaurant – they become total idiots once you put them in the spotlight of a media moment. Accordingly, I decided to tap the expertise of two dozen media relations colleagues across the country to provide insider tips on how to not only attract media attention but also use it as effectively as possible.
Who would you say had the most influence on your passion for the written word? As an only child in a wealthy family, I spent a lot of time entertaining myself by reading books and writing dialogue for my puppets and Barbie dolls. I even wrote what I thought was a very heartfelt letter to the Mouseketeers and invited them to come and live with us. (I assumed they were orphans because  Walt was way too old to be their father and  they always wore the same outfits.) Unfortunately, the mailman brought it back; I’m guessing it was because of my hand-drawn stamp on the envelope.
Throughout school I was fortunate to have instructors who encouraged my writing talents. Even my history teachers were amused with my answers on essay tests. When asked, for instance, to describe the events leading up to the battle of such-and-such, I’d often rabbit on in great detail about what the soldiers had for breakfast (usually waffles), what the weather was doing, and the names of their horses. (I’m sure this was an early sign of destiny that I’d one day become a media spinmeister since I artfully neglected to ever give a year, a place or who, exactly, they were fighting.)
As an adult, however, I was blessed the most to be mentored in the craft of playwriting for 20 years by the late Sylvia Burack, founder of The Writer and Plays Magazine. She taught me everything I know about crafting an entertaining story, peopling it with interesting characters, and putting words in their mouths. Not a day goes by that I don’t feel her looking over my shoulder and either nodding in approval or raising an eyebrow and saying, “Are you quite sure that’s your best work?” Everyone – regardless of their career choices – should be so lucky as to have a Sylvia encouraging them to pursue their dreams.
What is your day job? Happily, my day job is being a full-time writer and consultant. I have an incredibly short commute (from the kitchen and through the French doors of my home office), there’s no dress code, every day is Take Your Dog To Work Day, and I never have to ask anyone for permission for time off for a getaway vacation with the hugsman. I also put in much longer hours and enjoy what I’m doing far more than I ever did working for someone else.
How do you overcome writer’s block? I’ve actually never suffered from writer’s block – even when I first started out. That’s not to say I don’t occasionally write myself into mental cul-de-sacs on what a character should do next or how to order the content chapters in a how-to. When that happens, there’s always another project – and in a completely different medium – I can switch over to for a while. The key is not to stop writing, but to keep writing, even if it’s something as silly as penning your grocery list as a lyric poem. Since questions about writer’s block often arise in the workshops and online classes I teach, I usually recommend techniques such as flash fiction, rewriting newspaper stories, coming up with faux interview questions for historical luminaries, editing/shortening famous speeches without losing their core message, reading the classifieds (especially the lonely hearts) and making up stories about the people who placed them, trying a new recipe, or going on a trip and seeing the world through a different pair of eyes.
What are you currently working on? In addition to a plethora of monthly articles, interviews and blogs for online venues and trade publications throughout the world, I’m currently working on two full-length plays, two one-acts, a political thriller (novel) called Exit Strategy and a chick-lit romance titled All But the Midnight Kiss.
Please provide links to find your book.
For more of Christina Hamlett’s interview, please join me at www.farmingdale.patch.com.
Katie McKnight is the author of a suspenseful-romance novel entitled Secrets Revealed. For more information on Katie, her novel or to learn more about the Author Spotlight, please contact her at www.katie-mcknight-author.com or www.Facebook.com/katiemcknightauthorpage.