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Interview with Buffi Neal

Have you always wanted to be a writer?
No.  I never considered myself a writer until recently.  When I was young I used to write poems and I always kept a journal and diary.  In my twenties I became a good story teller and found that my life stories were unusual and entertaining.  In my thirties, after two divorces, I felt an indescribable need to write.  I just needed to learn how.  I’m still learning and often don’t call myself a writer at all.
What genre do you write and why?
I write narrative nonfiction because that’s what I like to read.  My books are memoirs, told as stories.  For me, it is much easier to write what I already know and not have to create anything.  The process of keeping the story true and making the reader care is the challenge that drives me.
Wonderfully Dysfunctional: A Series of Memoirs currently contains three books. Please tell us a bit about each.
The first book in the Wonderfully Dysfunctional™ series, It Must be Genetic, is an introduction to my quirky family.  It tells of a woman who laughs at funerals.  A gypsy mother who refuses to wear a bra and a father who has two wives.  A brother who sleeps under the coffee table and a sister who was kidnapped.  A homosexual minister, a missing uncle and a feisty, red-headed grandmother who was longing to leave it all.  I was on a journey to find normal, but found myself instead.  It’s about acceptance, forgiveness and the great capacity to love. 
It Must be Genetic courts the reader with stories of the past, leaving them satisfied, but wanting to know more.  They will fall in love with the characters of my family, like they fell in love with Tibby and Carmen in Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, like they fell in love with Idgie Threadgoode in Fried Green Tomatoes.  What was that lawsuit about and what did the family do with the money?  What was the real story behind my sister’s year long paralysis and how did the doctors heal her?  What does it feel like to have a father who is leading a double life and what happens when the two families accidentally meet?  Why did my mother leave her religion and country to live on a kibbutz in Israel?
With each book in the Wonderfully Dysfunctional™ series, the reader will become more fascinated by the life of my unusual family.  Future books will tell of my father’s struggle with alcohol and his raging temper (The Sound of Ice in a Glass).  Lighter stories will include my brother and me getting arrested as teenagers, sitting on the roof waiting to throw snowballs at cars, and our mother throwing the turkey and mashed potatoes across the kitchen (1982: Out Past Curfew).  Stories of our impoverished youth (Toilet Paper Optional) tell of my younger brother shaving off one eyebrow and the baby of the family chasing her best friend down the street with a dog chain.  The stories are abundant, unbelievable, heartwarming and most genuinely true.

You have a very nice website http://www.imbuffi.com/ Did you design it yourself?
Thank you.  I designed my own website and blog.  My formal background is in computer science and I’ve worked in the field for over twenty years.  I’m much more qualified to build large computer systems for the financial industry, but can manage some web design too.  I wish I’d taken less engineering courses and more graphical design and writing courses in college.
You also have a personal blog. Why did you decide to have both a website and personal blog?
The website is very static and the blog is interactive.  With the blog, I can talk to readers and get feedback.  When I started the blog I had no idea what a blog even was.  Every month the message of the blog evolves and I become a better writer.  The purpose remains to gather a list of potential readers for my book.
On your blog you currently have a poll connected with your book. How did you come up with the idea and how will you use the results?
The poll was an idea that I came up with.  I’m always making marketing plans for my book.  I needed a way to see if there really would be an interest in my memoir.  I didn’t want to blindly send my manuscript out to agents without knowing my demographic.  More people are signing up to be notified when my book is published every day.  These people help push me along when I feel like quitting.

As a mother, how do you find time to write?
I ran my own business from home for many years so I’m used to sitting in front of the computer all day long.  I keep a schedule and make writing and marketing my fulltime job.  Like many in America, I was laid off from work over a year ago, which was a blessing disguised in wolf’s clothing.  I’ve made great use of the time off to write the book and for the first time ever I’m here when my children come home from school.  Since my layoff we are living happier with less.

Where can people find out more about you and your work?
Email:  imbuffi@yahoo.com

Anything else you'd like to add?
Writing has made me free.  Letting other’s read what I’ve written has changed my life.  I learn more each day how to court a reader and I cringe at my old writing style.  I am on a journey of which perfection is unattainable. 
Thank you so much for allowing me to be a guest.  It is truly an honor.

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