Writing my book and now this blog has helped me meet so many fantastic people, and one of them is Staci Frenes. I can't wait for you to meet her. She's a singer-songwriter who knows how to make an interview entertaining. I hope you enjoy meeting her and enter the MUSIC GIVEAWAY!!!!!! we have at the bottom of this post.
Dave Newell: Which would you prefer - one normal-sized Snickers bar or three fun-size Snickers bars? Advantages to both, I know.
Staci Frenes: I have to go with one normal sized bar. You can take as big or small a bite as you please, and the payoff is unquestioningly better. More nuts, more caramel, more chocolate (if you can manage a really large bite. Which I frequently do.) Can I also say I’m a little freaked out that you picked Snickers out of all the candy bars in the universe? It’s my favorite!
DN: I'm eating a Snickers now. It was what first came to mind so don't be freaked out. Let’s say we (You, me, and my readers) meet up at a coffee shop to talk books. What can we buy you to drink and what book do you bring for us to borrow? I brought you your choice of To Kill a Mockingbird or The Winter of Our Discontent.
SF: Not to be weird about this, but in addition to pegging me as a Snickers person, you ALSO have just chosen one of my ALL TIME FAVORITE BOOKS. To Kill a Mockingbird!!! Although I do have to mention that unlike most of the world I really didn’t love the movie version starring Gregory Peck. In my imagination, Atticus wasn’t so handsome. Scout wasn’t so tomboyish. Boo wasn’t so normal looking and Mayella Ewell wasn’t so pretty. But what can you do?
Ok, let me show you which books I brought. But first, I’ll have a ½ caff vanilla latte with an extra shot of espresso.
Two of my recent favorites are Let the Great World Spin and The Fault in our Stars. I judge the impact a book has by how long the story and characters stay alive in my head after I finish it. I can’t think of two characters I’ve loved more in a long time than Hazel and Gus (TFIOS). I can’t think of a more beautiful and heartbreaking story than LTGWS.
DN: You’re a self-taught musician. Was it a natural progression from other talents you had?
SF: I loved to write as a kid. Anything. Poems, stories, “Dear Diary…..” you name it. Around my adolescent years I started hearing some of my writings as melodies, not just words on a page. Neither of my parents are musical so it’s a little strange that I’d develop that interest and tendency growing up in the household I did, but I’ve just kind of always felt the pull toward songwriting and to do that, I knew I had to learn to play either piano or guitar to give those melodies a musical context. So, I begged my parents for lessons which I took for a while then mostly continued by ear.
DN: Do you have a word you’re never sure how to spell? Appropriately, mine is “Embarrassed.”
SF: Several! Just today I used the word “surgery” in an e-mail and had to look at it like four times to make sure I hadn’t written “sugary”. And I mean, how awkward would that have been?
DN: I can see the prayer request email now: "Please pray for Bob. He's having major sugary tomorrow." Enough of that silliness for now - you used to be an English teacher. Did you ever make your students diagram sentences? If so, why are you cold-hearted?
SF: This is the truth: I never ever taught sentence diagramming because I NEVER LEARNED HOW TO DO IT!! Isn’t that sad? It’s a lost art, I’m told. I wouldn’t know.
DN: Aside from this interview, what has been the highlight of your musical career?
SF: Hmmm…..there isn’t really ONE thing that I can point to and say, that was the pinnacle. It’s fun when I hear of my songs getting placed on TV shows, or used in unlikely places like for an airline or a hospital. But honestly? Not to get all mushy about it but I think the best thing is when someone says, Your music gave me hope, or inspired me in a difficult time. I can’t think of anything more rewarding and fulfilling than that. There are a few of those that stand out in my memory and remind me why I love doing music.
DN: Did you ever think of going back to teaching?
SF: I got into teaching because I needed a “day job” that paid the bills while I tried to figure out how to do that with music. There were things I loved about it and miss, but for the most part once I left teaching and went full-time in music, I felt like I’d found my true calling. When I’m not able to do what I love most, which is writing and singing, I get irritable and grouchy and discontent. Nobody really wants to see me like that. It’s not pretty.
DN: Where is it you want your music to take you?
SF: I’m already there! I get to play for a variety of audiences in a variety of venues. Any time someone sits down to listen I’ll whip out a guitar and sing.
DN: What albums do you available and where can we follow you?
SF: My latest release is called Everything You Love Comes Alive and it is without a single doubt, my best one yet. Or at least I think so. You can read about it on my website and buy it at my music page.
I’ve got a lovely little Christmas EP out as well, which I think everyone should add to
their holiday collection. It’s called Wise Men and Angels (which I sometimes misspell
as “angles”—not the same thing).
At that same site, you can see and listen to other releases, too. I think I’ve got seven up there. You can also find my latest releases on iTunes, Amazon, and anywhere else on the worldwide net that sells music.
I've got a Facebook page which I'd love your readers to "Like." In fact, if they do, they'll get a free download of a song of mine that's aired recently on America's Top Model.
DN: Thank you for meeting us here today at the coffee shop. Would you like one of the pastries to go?
SF: The pumpkin scone looks yummy!
DN: This has been a lot of fun, but we're not done yet. Scroll down for your chance to win either her album Everything You Love Comes Alive or Wise Men and Angels.
Fill out the form below to win one of Staci's albums! All you need to do is fill in your name, email address and write "Staci Frenes Giveaway" as the subject line. Add a little message to the bottom to wish me or Staci a happy holiday. Or let us know why Milky Way is better than Snickers. Or let us know what tricks your dog can do. Don't forget to go to Staci's Facebook page for your free song download! The contest will end on 11/28/12.