Friday, November 12, 2010

Interview with Bill Mueller - Part II

Here's part II of my interview with W. E. "Bill" Mueller, author of Peaches and Cream:

DV: You are a versatile writer of essays as well as short stories. Your short stories have won several awards, and your essay in "The Liguorian" magazine is poignant and uplifting. Please tell us about your awards and some of your publishing credits.

WEM: Probably 2008 was as exciting as it gets. Toward the end of the year, Sept.-Oct. I received phone calls telling me I was Winner, First-Place, Numero Uno of the St. Louis Writers Guild short story contest, and also First-Place winner of "The Writer" magazine's short story contest. Both of those are open, nation-wide, indeed, world-wide contests. To this day, I'm still astounded. Also, in 2009 I won two Honorable Mentions in "Writer's Digest" genre short story contest. This contest attracts thousands of entries, and the publication can award as many as 100 Honorable Mentions. To win two of them is an accomplishment, I believe. I've had essays in Commonweal, a handful of book reviews in the Post-Dispatch (in '07-'08). My stories have appeared in 'Echoes of the Ozarks', the OWL anthology, in Lindenwood University's "Untamed Ink" quarterly, and a few other spots.

DV: Wow! You have had some wonderful accomplishments lately. Congratulations on your success and here's wishing you even more. Now, can you tell us a bit about your reading experiences. Growing up, who was your favorite author? Who are some of your favorites now?

WEM: Can't say I had a favorite childhood author. Favorite (fiction) authors are, first, James Lee Burke. He's a must read. Then there's a long list: Richard Russo, Elmore Leonard, E.L. Doctrow, Louise Erdrich. For short stories, I think you have to read Annie Proulx.

DV: That's an impressive list. James Lee Burke and Elmore Leonard are a couple of my favorites, too. Since this blog is about books, here's another question about them: Not counting your own book, what one book has made a difference in your life?

WEM: Dostoevsky's "Crime and Punishment." Be sure you get the translation by Constance Garnett. It is a beautiful story of love and redemption. I read the book in my sophomore year of college, finishing it in the reading room of the dorm, shamefully crying my eyes out. I've read it at least three times.

DV: Hmmm. "Crime and Punishment by Dostovesky." Lots of folks love those dead Russian writers, and maybe with "Crime and Punishment" having such an impact, that's why you write crime novels. Now, another question about writers: If you could meet one writer living or dead, who would it be and why?

WEM: That would be a toss-up between Dostoevsky and John Updike. I think I'll go with the Russian. Just on the basis of Crime and Punishment, The Brothers Karamozov, The Idiot, Notes from The Underground, The Possessed, and the story of Dostoevsky's life are enough to intrigue any serious writer (and reader).

DV: Back to your own book. How can readers purchase copies of Peaches and Cream?

WEM: Peaches and Cream can be ordered on Amazon, or at a Barnes & Noble, or Borders. A few St. Louis area book stores have it on the shelves, but it can be ordered at any legit bookstore. (Note: It also is available at Bill's publisher, High Hill Press.) E-mail

NOTE: If you want a signed copy of Bill's book, I also happen to know he will be at the St. Charles City-County Library District’s annual Local Author Open House on Thursday, November 18, from 4:30 to 8 p.m. at the Middendorf-Kredell Branch Library in O’Fallon, MO.

DV: What are you working on now?

WEM: I have completed at least another half-dozen short stories since Peaches and Cream came out. Currently, I am trying to expand a Zach Bannister story (Working the Crossword--which is in Peaches and Cream, and won 'The Writer' magazine first place award) into a novella. Got about 20,000 words done.

DV: Zach Bannister is a wonderful character and I remember "Working the Crossword" when you read it at critique group. It is a great story. Any final words of wisdom or advice about writing or life in general?

WEM: Revise and revise. Read at least 60 books a year, not all of them fiction. Revise and revise. Write what you don't know, but like. Revise and revise. Remember, it's all about story. Think of a good story. Fill it with characters. Make the reader ask, What happens next? revise and revise. I saw someone recently handing out a book with the title "Write a Book in a Month." That, my friends, is pure bull-hockey. Just remember the three R's: read, rite and revise.

DV: I agree about reading, riting, and revising. All three are critical. Wrapping things up, readers might want to know how to contact you with questions or comments.

WEM: I'm digitally-poor. E-mail me at Put 'Peaches and Cream' in the subject line or my computer might 'spam' your message.

Thanks, Bill, for taking time from your busy "reading, riting, and revising" schedule to visit with us.

Note: If you live in the local St. Charles metro area, Bill and I and several other writers belong to a Tuesday critique group which meets at the Rendezvous Cafe on Main Street in O'Fallon. Occasionally Bill will bring in one of his stories, which are always enjoyable. And don't forget he will be at the Middendorf-Kredell Library on November 18th.


  1. Thanks for the interview as it was inspiring. His list of favorite authors remind me on behind on my own reading. Oh, how to read it all including the Peaches book!

  2. Hi Claudia,
    Thank you for visiting and leaving a comment. I read a lot, too, but not quite 60 books a year. Maybe 50, but there's never enough time to read all the ones I would like to read.

  3. Wow! That's a lot of books!! I miss reading, and need to get it back into my routine. BTW, Donna, I LOVE your new blog background!! It is Perfecto!!

  4. Donna--Bill's comments about Crime and Punishment intrigue me enough to go out and buy a copy (she said sheepishly, knowing it is a book she should have already read decades ago).

    I agree with Becky...The new blog background looks great!

  5. Hi Becky,
    Thanks! It took me awhile to play around with the background, but I think it is more appealing.

    Hi Sioux,
    Wow! That's something. I have to admit (she also said sheepishly) I also have not read C&P, but I watch Law and Order on TV. Does that count?

  6. Hey Donna, wanted to stop by and let you know I took advantage of submiting a Senior Love Story then posted it here;
    Thanks for the tip!

  7. Hi Donna,
    Thanks for the rest of this interview. I saw your story at Walmart int he Christmas book. Woo-hoo!

  8. Hey, add me to that "sheepish" list, too! And I also watch Law & Order!! :)


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