Happy to have syndicated humor columnist Dorothy Rosby on today to answer some fun questions.
I first got to know Dorothy when I lived in South Dakota and we were members of the Black Hills Writers Group. I'm excited to share her new book with you today.
Tell us about your new book!
I call Alexa’s a Spy and Other Things to Be Ticked off About part comical call to arms and part tongue-in cheek tirade. The tirade part is my ranting about all sorts of things that annoy us in our modern world--intrusive technology and noise, spammers and scammers, litter and clutter and so on. No mention of toilet paper shortages, Zoom meeting hackers and some of the other hassles we’re dealing with now because somehow I didn’t see those coming when I wrote the book.
The call to arms part is that, in some cases, I offer my opinion on what I think we should do about these “hassles of our time.”
What inspired you to write this book?
When things strike me a certain way, I always feel compelled to jot down a few notes about them. I think it’s that way with most writers. This book is about all sorts of things I’ve been annoyed by, ranted and raved about, written a lot of notes about and probably given way too much thought to. I’ve written humor columns or done humorous talks about all of them too. And finally about three years ago, I started expanding those into full length essays and putting the book together.
Where do your column/book ideas come from?
Everywhere--every conversation, every experience, bad and good, everything that gets under my skin or makes me smile. Unfortunately, the things that get under my skin make the funniest stories. I’ve written about speeding tickets a few times. They’re not funny at all when I get them. I’ve written about appliances dying, foot surgery and my difficulties with math, and now I’ve written at least three columns or blog posts about COVID-19. Definitely not funny. But in the retelling, those kinds of things can be very funny, in part because as a humor writer, I write about my own foolish or overly dramatic reactions and other people can relate to that—hopefully anyway.
You talk about clutter in your book and on your blog, so I have to ask…did you get any organizing done during this time? Did you tackle those closets? In all fairness I will say I’ve been locked down since March 12th here and if good intentions cleaned closets then I’d have the sparkly-est closets on earth. However, they don’t.
I’ve done a little, but not as much as I’d like. It took a global pandemic to make me realize that it wasn’t my busy social life that was keeping me from cleaning my closets after all.
So what have you been doing during your quarantine time? (Note: hope Dorothy doesn’t ask me the same question because there’s no good way to make watching old Murder She Wrote episodes sound productive.)
Having my book come out in the middle of this mess has provided me with a ton of marketing and business tasks to do—as well as a good excuse for why I haven’t gotten my closets clean. So I’ve used my time pretty well—mostly.
Having said that, I have to admit to watching a few episodes of Murder She Wrote myself. Also Monk, Castle, Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries and Midsomer Murders. I’m not just a mystery fan; I’m a mystery fanatic. If I were stuck in bed recovering from illness, I’d spend my days reading mysteries. And when I got tired of reading, I’d watch the Hallmark mystery channel, and during commercials, I’d mute the TV, stare out my window and imagine suspicious activity in my neighborhood.
We ran into each other at an Erma Bombeck event, so who are some of your favorite humor writers.
So many. I follow the Erma Bombeck Writers Workshop Facebook page and I’m a member of the National Society of Newspaper Columnist which also has a Facebook page. Both of those are great places to take a “humor” break anytime and read the latest column or blog post from a variety of humor writers from all over the country. It’s my way of avoiding actual work when I’m at my computer.
What other authors do you enjoy?
Naturally, a lot of mystery authors. I’m slowly making my way through Elizabeth George’s Inspector Lynley series and Anne Perry’s William Monk series. I LOVE them both.
I love to write humor and I love to read humor. But my favorite books to read are mysteries (surprise!) and those with a spiritual theme. I just finished reading Thomas Keating’s Open Mind, Open Heart and loved it.
Here’s a question I love asking: what book (that’s already published) do wish you could have written?
Well in keeping with my theme, I wish I’d written not just a book, but a whole series: Sue Grafton’s Alphabet Series. I love her main character, private detective, Kinsey Millhone. I want to be like her.
I write a series about a girl getting to date her music crush. Do you have a music crush now or from your teen years?
It’s a toss-up between Justin Hayward, formerly of the Moody Blues and Steve Perry from Journey. I still love their music and I love their voices and I’d be terribly tongue-tied if I ever met them in person.
If you weren’t a writer, what would your dream job be?
I’m blessed in that I actually had my other dream job. For 31 years, I did the public relations for a wonderful nonprofit that supports people with disabilities. It’s always been important to me to work for a purpose, to feel like I was using my talents, such as they are, to make the world better in some small way. I worked for a company with a big, beautiful mission—the kind of place that changes you for the better. For 24 of those years, I was also writing my humor column for publications in the West and Midwest. And much of that time, I was raising my son and caring for my mother who was 80 years older than my son. I was busy and tired. And it was my dream to eventually just focus on my humor writing. A little over a year ago, I was finally able to resign from the other job. I’m not sure it’s the best omen that I started my life as a fulltime writer on April Fool’s Day.
I lived in South Dakota for a while and I actually enjoyed snow days inside! What is your favorite snowed in activity?
I love a snow day. If I didn’t get tired of shoveling, I wouldn’t mind a lot more of them. I can do some of my favorite things on snow days: write, read mysteries, watch mysteries, make soup and eat soup.
I write a lot about funny (and cringe worthy) middle school and high school moments. What’s a moment from either middle school or high school that you wish you could go back and do over?
Here’s one that still makes me cringe. I used to do a little sewing when I was in middle and high school. And I once sewed what I thought was a pretty stylish skirt. It was fairly short, but not so much that my mother wouldn’t let me wear it. It was made from a heavy white denim fabric and it flared nicely, like a cheerleader skirt. What can I say? It was cool then. But the fabric was a bit stiff. One day my skirt was apparently folded under me as I sat and when I stood up, it stayed folded. I heard refrains of “I see London; I see France” up and down the hallway for months after that.
Did you always want to be a writer when you were growing up? Was there another career you considered?
I wanted to be a writer since I was a little girl and I journaled and wrote bad poetry and worse short stories as long as I can remember. But I spent too many years being too practical about my writing. I got a major journalism and minors in communication and English. And I did short stints at a small town newspaper and in radio news. I also did a lot of writing in my public relations career, everything from commercials and video scripts to newsletters and press releases. It was fine and it was good practice, but the kind of writing I do now is the kind I really love—the kind I was meant to do.
Find Dorothy's website here: www.dorothyrosby.com
Buy the book here:
Alexa’s a Spy and Other Things to Be Ticked off About:
Humorous Essays on the Hassles of Our Time
Author of funny, charming, and irresistible dramas.