I am pleased to be able to share this fun, honest and insightful interview that I had with the fabulous Alberto Ferreras.
First, here is a little about Alberto:
A New York City based writer, filmmaker and performance artist. He has directed and produced the critically acclaimed “Habla” series for HBO, and his independent film work has been presented all over the world, including the prestigious Berlin Film Festival. As a performance artist he is known for playing “Doctor Truth”, a character who makes himself available in public spaces to answer any question with complete honesty.
“B as in Beauty ” is his first novel.
Here’s what you’ve been waiting for; a peek into the life and mind of the successful author of B as in Beauty:
BCM: Who or what was your inspiration for the character, Beauty?
AF: Beauty is a combination of all the great women I’ve met in my life: my mom, my sisters, my friends… I hear them talking about the same issues, complaining about the same things: relationships, self-image, work… They are all so strong, and yet so fragile. They can swim across the ocean, but sometimes they drown in a drop of water. B is inspired by all their stories and adventures. But one particular friend of mine really met a Russian Madame when she was doing her taxes… the difference is that she never called her. B feels that she has nothing to lose and that’s why she calls her.
BCM: How long did it take you to write B as in Beauty?
AF: I wrote the book very fast—in about three months—and almost in a trance. First I wrote it as a screenplay, and then I turned it into a novel, because I realized how much fun B’s voice would be on the page. She made me laugh as I was writing her lines. My wonderful editors—first Andie Avila and then Selina McLemore—helped me a great deal in taking that first draft to higher level.
BCM: How were you able to get inside a woman’s mind?
AF: Being a gay guy, I’ve been fortunate enough to have open conversations with women that a straight guy would never be able to have. I feel that I can step back and look at the issues of heterosexual relationships with a different perspective. For instance: why can’t women take the initiative in a relationship? Why can’t women propose? As a gay guy I had to question a lot of issues that had to do with gender and society, and I’m trying to share what I’ve learned and reflected upon.
I also believe that women and gay men have one important thing in common: we get punished for being sexual. Straight man can sleep with as many women as they want, and it never tarnishes their reputation… but according to “society”, a guy who sleeps with guys is a “pervert”, and a woman who goes out with one too many guys is a “slut”. For society, straight men can do no wrong, but gays and women are punished for being sexual.
BCM: What are some of your favourite movies?
AF: I’m a big fan of classic American movies, and I watch TCM all the time. There’s a few movies that I can watch over and over: Bob Fosse’s “All That Jazz”, Orson Welles’ “Citizen Kane”, the early Woody Allen’s films—specially “Crimes and Misdemeanors”, “Manhattan”, “Stardust Memories”— I love Lina Wertmuller’s “Swept Away” and “Seven Beauties”, and of course—the great inspiration for this book—Federico Fellini’s “Cabiria”, “Juliet of the Spirits”, “Amarcord”, “Eight and a Half”, and “La Dolce Vita”.
BCM: What did you want to be when you grew up?
AF: I was a compulsive reader when I was a kid, so I wanted to become a writer, that’s why I studied journalism in college. I wrote my first play when I was 19, and it got very good reviews, but, making a living as a writer is challenging, so I ended up working as a writer for TV shows, making movie trailers, and eventually directing commercials. I think it all became part of my training as a storyteller. When I finally came up with a story that I was passionate about, it wasn’t hard for me to sit down and write it.
BCM: How did you research the fetish-portion of the story?
AF: A few years ago I directed a documentary about a group of men whose fetish is to enlarge the size of their genitals with silicone injections (I know, it’s totally freaky). The protagonist had injected more than 2 pounds of silicone in his genitals. While making the movie, I became good friends with this guy and I realized that far from being “a sexual predator” he was just a regular guy—actually one of the nicest, most respectful, and shy people that I have ever met. That experience definitely shaped my perception of the “fetish” crowd. Then the film was often shown in special programs and festivals where other “fetish” films were presented, so I ended up learning a lot of information that never makes it to the 6 o clock news. I have a lot of sympathy for fetishists, it’s not an easy life.
BCM: Who are you favourite authors?
AF: My favorite author’s are Jorge Luis Borges, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, JD Salinger, David Sedaris, Julio Cortazar, Manuel Puig, Franz Kafka, Oscar Wilde… I read a lot of graphic novels too, I love Osamu Tezuka’s “Buddah”, Garth Ennis’ “Preacher”, and Charles Schulz’s “Peanuts”. Schulz was a genius. Oh, and guess what? Isabel Allende was my neighbor when I was a kid. I spent a lot of time in her apartment because her son Nicolas and I were school friends.
BCM: What is your favourite television show or TV series?
AF: Actually I hear more radio—NPR—than anything else, but I watch a lot of Comedy Central shows, like “South Park,” “the Daily Show,” and the hysterically funny “Strangers with Candy”. I also like “Chelsea Lately” and “Project Runway,” but my favorite TV show is “The Antique Road Show”, even though I’ve never bought an antique in my life. When I’m depressed I watch back-to-back episodes of “The Golden Girls”. It’s like comfort food.
BCM: What are your favourite foods?
AF: I’m big on chocolate (no pun intended). I like really fancy chocolate like Teuscher and troffles from La Maison au Chocolat. I believe that there’s no problem that won’t melt away with a spoonful of Nutella.
BCM: What is your favourite drink, ie: Vodka on the rocks, A Manhattan, etc.?
AF: I think that it was Picasso who said that Martini’s are like boobs: 1 is not enough, 3 are two many, but 2 are perfect, and I have to agree with that. Vodka Martinis are high on my list (I’m afraid of gin) but every once in a while I crave sake or bourbon. My philosophy is “never mix never worry” so I never mix alcohols or sugars in my drinks (so no appletinis, cosmos, or even rum and coke).
BCM: At what age did you begin your writing career; non professional and professional?
AF: I’ve been writing since I was 8. When I was 12, a couple of friends and I created a very popular magazine in high school and I ended up writing 80 percent of the stories in it. When I was 19 I wrote my first play—and got pretty good reviews—, and I started working for magazines as a freelance writer. When I was 24 I started working in television and I did a lot of commercials, promos, behind the scenes, documentaries. The strangest writing job I ever did was doing lyrics for Madonna—I did the Spanish version of her song “What it feels like for a Girl”—it was a wonderful experience (but didn’t make as much money as I thought it would!). I would have loved to write music for a living but the music business is very difficult.
BCM: What do you do to relax and unwind after a long day?
AF: I watch the Home Shopping Network—but I never buy anything—isn’t that weird?
BCM: What were you hoping that your readers would take away from B as In Beauty?
AF: I think we are constantly bombarded with messages of youth and beauty. The media is always filling our minds with reasons to feel insecure. I would like the reader to understand how important is to live in the present, and never put your life on hold. We have to live in the present. Don’t wait until you lose the weight—or until you get the hair transplant—to go out and live your life. If you are looking for love, you’ll find it when the time is right. Life is very short and we shouldn’t put our lives on hold for anything or anybody.
BCM: Are you planning to write more books in the future?
AF: I’m doing research for my second novel I think I’m up to something good but—can’t talk about it!
BCM: What would be your dream vacation?
AF: A place where I can write in the morning, swim in the afternoon, and read in the evening. And if there’s a dive nearby where they mix a decent martini, I might never leave.
BCM: Is there anything else you would like to share with us?
AF: One of the best things about the Internet is that it creates communities. I’m amazed at all the bloggers and readers out there talking so seriously and honestly about books—while the mass media pays so little attention to them. So thanks, hugs, keep reading, keep writing and keep blogging!!!
I would like to thank Alberto Ferreras for graciously agreeing to this interview. I hope you’ve enjoyed reading it; make sure you pick up a copy of B as in Beauty.
To read my review on this wonderful book please click here.
For more about Alberto and B as in Beauty please visit his website.
Copyright © Book Reviews By Bobbie — Bobbie Crawford-McCoy