Linda’s Book Obsession Interviews Donna Baier Stein, Author of “Scenes From the Heartland: Stories Based on Lithographs​ by Thomas Hart Benton, Part of Suzy Approved Book Tours

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Linda’s Book Obsession Interviews Donna Baier Stein for Suzy Approved Book Tours

  1. What was your motivation in becoming an author and writer? What did you do before you were a writer?

I wanted to be a writer since childhood. I wrote a story called “Melissa in Book World” when I was seven years old, about a little girl living underwater in a world of books. I went to graduate school in English but at the time did not want to be a professor. My father was very active in direct marketing (he defined the term and was called the Father of Zip Code Marketing), and he suggested I think about becoming a copywriter. I worked at Times Mirror Magazines for 3 years writing copy for their book clubs, then worked at an ad agency in DC, then began freelancing. I was a freelance direct mail copywriter for 30 years, always writing stories and poems “on the side.” I wrote for most of the environmental groups (World Wildlife Fund, The Nature Conservancy, etc.), Smithsonian, Time-Life, and more. I now work on my own writing full-time. I got an MFA from Johns Hopkins when I was 40. I wrote two books about copywriting and have now published four books of fiction and poetry.

  1. What motivated or inspired you to write? I love books, reading, words, language. And it’s sometimes easier for me to articulate my thoughts on the page rather than out loud 🙂
  2. How did you go about researching for your book? I do a lot of research. I had a book of Benton’s lithographs with information about the time and place each piece was created. I then began research that setting, usually online. I love to do historical research and love the way we serendipitously stumble onto facts that make it into the stories.
  3. What are your goals for readers to take away after reading?   With this book, I think my goal was to show how we all share a common humanity. I began this collection wanting to steer away from autobiographical fiction yet found parts of my own psyche coming through characters who lived very different lives than my own. Even people from a different era, in very different circumstances, shared many of my own worries, joys, challenges, and passions.


  1. What is a typical day of your life?

On most days, I do yoga and meditate then walk the dog, eat breakfast, and sit down at my computer. My best writing time is 10-2. Afternoons and evenings are for research, editing, correspondence, bills, phone calls, etc. As a freelance copywriter, I long ago gave up the artificial boundaries of the weekend/workweek or workday/non-work evenings. I work pretty much every day except when I’m traveling. I also teach writing for two evenings a week.

  1. What are your hobbies or things you do in your downtime?

See friends, watch movies, visit my grown kids, play with my dog, travel. I love going into NYC to see plays.

  1. What can you tell us of any new writing projects that you might have? I’m working on a novel about a fictional woman who had an affair with Sarah Bernhardt’s scoundrel husband Jacques Damala. Some of the characters who appear are Nikola Tesla, Swami Vivekananda, and William James. It’s set in the last 19th century in New York and Paris.
  2. What are your favorite genres of books that you like to read? Literary fiction.

9     What advice can you give to someone that wants to be a writer? Keep going. And trust what’s inside you.

  1. If your book were adapted to the screen, what actors, actresses could you envision for the main characters? There are so many characters in this collection of stories. For Helen, I’d choose Jennifer Lawrence. For Ruth, I’d choose Julianne Moore. For Alvin, Johnny Depp.
  2. How would you like the readers to connect with you? I’d love readers to sign up for my newsletter at www.donnabaierstein.comor follow me at any of the following links: 

Donna Baier Stein
Author & Publisher


All best,





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