Author Interview & Book Giveaway: The Whip by Karen Kondazian

Welcome Author Karen Kondazian

Karen Kondazian’s career as an actor, author and journalist is as diverse as it is long. She was born in Boston, Massachusetts. At the age of eight Karen was chosen to be one of the infamous children on Art Linkletter’s KIDS SAY THE DARNDEST THINGS. The opportunity to miss school during tapings was all it took for Karen to abandon her life’s goal of becoming a CIA spy and focus on acting. She completed her schooling at The London Academy of Music and Dramatic Arts (LAMDA), The University of Vienna and San Francisco State University, where she received her B.A., after which she began her acting career in New York. Her first professional work was in the award winning production of Michael Cacoyannis’ THE TROJAN WOMEN at the Circle in the Square Theatre. In 1979, she won the Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle Award for Best Actress in THE ROSE TATTOO, (in which her work as actor and producer so impressed Tennessee Williams that they became friends, and he gave her carte blanche to produce any of his work in his lifetime). Her theater career has included starring opposite Ed Harris in SWEET BIRD OF YOUTH, Richard Chamberlain in RICHARD II (dir. Jonathan Miller), Stacey Keach in HAMLET, (dir. Gordon Davidson). She also starred in the world premiere of MIXED BLESSINGS with Raul Esparza, and in Eduardo Machado’s off-Broadway play, BROKEN EGGS (world premiere). Her latest awards have been through her work at the Fountain Theatre in Los Angeles where she played Maria Callas in the Ovation Award winning, MASTER CLASS, ORPHEUS DESCENDING, NIGHT OF THE IGUANA, and THE MILK TRAIN DOESN’T STOP HERE ANYMORE, all directed by Simon Levy. She has appeared as series regular lead in CBS’s SHANNON and guest starred in over 50 television shows and films including, TNT’s JAMES DEAN with James Franco (dir. Mark Rydell), NYPD BLUE, FRAISER, YES GIORGIO with Luciano Pavarotti, and played Kate Holiday in THE SHOOTOUT AT OK CORRAL. She is a lifetime member of the Actors Studio and a member of the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. She is also a member of Women in Film. She occasionally teaches at the Lee Strasberg School of Theater and Film in Hollywood. Kondazian is a published writer. She is the author of the best-selling book THE ACTOR’S ENCYCLOPEDIA OF CASTING DIRECTORS. Her long running weekly column, “Sculpting Your Own Career” appeared in BACK STAGE WEST. THE WHIP, published November 2011, is her debut novel.!/TheWhipNovel


1. Please tell us in one sentence only, why we should read your book.

The underground steam that runs though The Whip asks an important question — if someone destroyed everything and everyone that you love in this world, could you forgive them… and if not, to what ends might you go.
2. Any other books in the works? Goals for future projects?

I am working now on a fictionalized memoir called Looking for Jack Kerouac. I have had a crazy life, been with some extraordinary men, almost died two times, but I was protected throughout to learn the lessons I had to learn. The book ultimately will be about a woman who lived by Maya Angelou’s words: “I believe the most important single thing, beyond discipline and creativity, is daring to dare.”

3. What inspired you to want to become a writer?

From the moment I read about Charlotte ‘Charley’ Parkhurst, (1812-1879) I became fascinated and obsessed by her story and by all the questions I had regarding her mysterious life. I knew someday I had to write about her. So six years ago, I decided that even thought I had never written a book, I thought what the hell, just write it and see what happens; just go into it without fear. Dare yourself to do it! It took me 6 years and 27 drafts. I was learning as I wrote; slowly, very slowly, finding her voice and finally
> discovering the amazing life force that was Charlotte “Charley’ Parkhurst.
4. What is your dream cast for your book?

It’s an interesting thing that every single person, to a one, who has read the book believe it should be a film. My dream? Clint Eastwood producing, Kathryn Bigelow to direct, Cate Blanchett for the role of Charley Parkhurst (did you see her play a man, Bob Dylan, and get nominated for an Academy Award in “I’m Not There”?) Also Kate Winslet and Charlize Theron; all three brilliant and brave actors! Perfect for Charley, in my opinion.

5. What’s one piece of advice you would give aspiring authors?

Find an idea or character to become obsessed with… because like an obsessive love affair, you think of nothing else, and that is how you must feel about your writing your book.

6. What is your favorite Quote?

“Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing. To keep our faces toward change and behave like free spirits in the presence of fate is strength undefeatable.”–Helen Keller

7. When you were little, what did you want to be when you “grew up”?

At eight years old I wanted to be a CIA spy!  But then I was chosen to be one of the precocious children on Art Linkletter’s “Kids Say The Darndest Things,” and I got to miss school and at lunch before the show I got to eat all the grilled cheese sandwiches and orange sherbet I wanted. So I announced on the air that I had changed my mind and I no longer wished to be a spy; that I had now decided to be an actress. And you know what? From that moment on, I never wavered. To this day I am grateful to say that I am still an actress. My acting training actually helped me immeasurably while writing The Whip.
8. Who are your favorite authors of all time?

Just a few whose company I am mad about: Chekhov, Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, Larry McMurtry, and Tennessee Williams. Williams and I met when he saw me in his play “The Rose Tattoo.” We became great friends and he gave me the rights to do any of his plays while he was alive. Williams’ courage as a writer to delve behind the mask and into the heart of us and reveal it with such lyricism and compassion takes my breath away.
9. What’s the best advice anyone has ever given you?

It came from another of my favorite writers, Nikos Kazansakis. He said in Zorba the Greek: “Madness — a man needs a little madness or else — he never dares cut the rope and be free.”

10. How do you react to a bad review?
As an actor, before the Internet, I would say, “ah well, tomorrow the review will be paper for the bottom of the bird cage!” Now I say, as both writer and actor, “Is there something I can learn from the review?” And many times I have ended up writing to the reviewer and have had some extraordinary correspondences back and forth. Sometimes you just have to say, if I accept the great reviews, then I must learn to accept the bad ones. After all, even the greatest writers have received bad notices. Everyone has an opinion, right? And if you put yourself out there, you cannot dare worry about pleasing anyone but yourself!

11. What is something people would be surprised to know about you?
As a girl I dated King Hussein of Jordan and his brother Prince Hassan. I was engaged to Tarzan in the movies, Lex Barker. I also am the one who taught Herve Villechaize, the midget in Fantasy Island: “De Plane, de Plane!” I was his dialogue coach.

The Whip

THE WHIP is inspired by the true story of a woman, Charlotte “Charley” Parkhurst (1812-1879) who lived most of her extraordinary life as a man. As a young woman in Rhode Island, she fell in love and had a child. Her husband was lynched and her baby killed. The destruction of her family drove her west to California, dressed as a man, to track the murder. Charley became a renowned stagecoach driver. She killed a famous outlaw, had a secret love affair, and lived with a housekeeper who, unaware of her true sex, fell in love with her. Charley was the first woman to vote in America (as a man). Her grave lies in Watsonville, California.

Giveaway Details
1 copy of The Whip
Open to US only
Ends 5/15/12

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