Writers Talk Shop, Novel, and Conference
Commentary by conference attendees
A Conversation Between Greg Haas and Michael Neff
Greg has served as a political advisor to presidential candidates, governors, and mayors for nearly 30 years. He has also advised a wide range of clients from Fortune 100 companies to small businesses, major league sports franchises and labor unions, as well as large metropolitan, small rural and suburban school districts. In those assignments he has developed successful strategies covering all aspects of community relations from crisis management through general public relations. Greg was the first person hired by the Clinton-Gore re-election campaign and has compiled an 8 and 2 record in statewide campaigns.
Algonkian is much more hands on not the big factories you find at other conferences. The pitches at other conferences are often just assembly lines. At one conference an editor told me he met with 20 writers in a three hour period. Algonkian gives you more time with editors and agents and you learn from other writers who are making their pitches
- Greg Haas
MN: What was your inspiration for your novel, The Butchers Thumb ?
GH: The Butcher's Thumb has long been on my mind. After nearly 30 years as a political consultant (much of it in Ohio a microcosm of the nation) I've watched and learned from some of the best political strategists in the world. I've spent a great deal of time listening to the people they influence. I felt I could tell a story about how the process works. Fiction gave me a chance to go where non-fiction wouldn't let me…inside people at both ends of the political food chains heads. The final inspiration came from a strange place Karl Rove spent a great deal of time in Ohio between 2001-04. He wasn't making speeches or raising money but listening to and studying the people in the nations most purple state.
MN: We gotta know more.
GH: While a mix of real and fictional events The Butcher's Thumb is not a rehashing of history but a timeless look at how people are manipulated to win elections and start wars. How the land, life lessons and religious beliefs shape opinions.
Kevin O'Brien is a true believer press secretary for President Will Kensington the incurious Governor of Texas known as Gods Will. His veep is the powerful and controlling Dixon Webb. Kevin is manipulated by his mentor Kenningston's master strategist, Mark Shay, Kevin soon discovers he is a pawn in an effort to expand the War in the Middle East after the re-election. Kevin's love interest Kris Johannsen, a photo journalist, helps Kevin find his morale compass and expose the plan.
MN: What made you choose to attend the Algonkian conference, or the NYC Pitch and Shop, or both?
GH: I was fortunate enough to attend both. I searched through the Writers Digest and across the web to find the right fit. I've attended other conferences but these two stood out. The conference is a great opportunity to learn from experts but also to meet and spend time with a diverse group of aspiring writers. The résumé's of these writers are impressive and many have already published. Spending a few intense day's with your fellow attendees is a great experience.
MN: Do you feel the novel is improved as a result?
GH: I've substantially refocused the premise and the novel improved as a result.
MN: What did you find most effective about the pitch sessions in New York and/or at Algonkian?
GH: I'd have to say pitching because it forces a whole new level of attention. You get some great advice from editors and agents.
MN: What did you find most effective about the Algonkian approach as a whole?
GH: Faculty choice was outstanding and as a result the story is much better. Mixing up the work with the pitches was effective. The assignments were challenging and rewarding. As a first time author the increased confidence has meant a lot.
MN: How would you compare Algonkian and NYC Pitch and Shop to other writer conferences?
GH: Algonkian is much more hands on not the big factories you find at other conferences. The pitches at other conferences are often just assembly lines. At one conference an editor told me he met with 20 writers in a three hour period. Algonkian gives you more time with editors and agents and you learn from other writers who are making their pitches
MN: Where does the novel go from here?
GH: The good news is that there is interest from both editors and agents. The editors are from a couple of large publishers. As a sometime fisherman it's fun to get bites.
About the interviewer:
Michael Neff is the creator and director of WebdelSol.Com and the Algonkian Writer Conferences.
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