Good Sentences

Angelique L'Amour Interview

November 26, 2019 Craig A. Hart, S. J. Varengo, Angelique L'Amour Season 1 Episode 2
Good Sentences
Angelique L'Amour Interview
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Good Sentences
Angelique L'Amour Interview
Nov 26, 2019 Season 1 Episode 2
Craig A. Hart, S. J. Varengo, Angelique L'Amour

Craig and Scott interview Angelique L'Amour, the daughter of famed author Louis L'Amour.

Show Notes Transcript

Craig and Scott interview Angelique L'Amour, the daughter of famed author Louis L'Amour.

Intro:

You're listening to Good Sentences, the podcast that's guaranteed to tickle your literary ear holes and make you wish you had listened to dear old mom when she said to put down those lawn darts and learn how to read. And now, here are your hosts, neither of whom listened to dear old mom. This is Craig A. Hart and S. J. Varengo.

Craig:

Scott, I have a name I want to run by you and see if you recognize it. Louis L'Amour, does that ring any bells?

Scott:

It really does because I grew up in a rural town where he was one of the most popular authors in my high school and I went to school with a lot of guys who were in the Future Farmers of America and stuff like that. So he really resonated with guys in my high school that probably otherwise wouldn't even pick up a book. So yes, I have heard of the man.

Craig:

I think that's important because I don't think he gets the recognition that he deserves for various reasons. One thing is that, you know, because he was so popular in the Western genre, I think his publishers wanted him to keep writing that. Not everybody's a Western fan, but I think one thing that is overlooked is that as you, as you mentioned how many people he drew into reading, there were people who wouldn't read anything else, but they would read Louis L'Amour. When you've sold hundreds of millions of books worldwide or however many he sold, I think it's game over. You've sort of proven your point in terms of how you're able to reach an audience and how you're able to reach a mass or readership and definitely one of the foremost writers of our time regardless of genre. And I think it's really cool that we have on the show today, his daughter Angelique L'Amour.

Scott:

Now I realize why you brought him up in the first place. I thought you were just making conversation.

Craig:

There's sometimes there's a method to my madness, believe it or not, not often, not often, but occasionally. And she's also a writer in her own right. She's a writing coach. She has an amazing life story of her own when it comes to battling and defeating breast cancer. That struck a chord with me because my own mother is also a breast cancer survivor, so I know partly what goes into that. I've seen the toll it can take on a human being and the spirit that it takes to conquer that horrific illness is not something to be taken lightly or glossed over. So she's, she is a heroine in her, in her own right, probably no doubt, inherited some of that indomitable spirit from her father who has an amazing life story. But without further ado, here is Angelique L'Amour on Good Sentences.

Craig:

Angelique L'Amour was born in Los Angeles, California, the daughter of author, Louis L'Amour. She grew up in the household of a prolific writer where writing and storytelling were a way of life. Angelique spent 20 years as a freelance editor working on academic papers, novels, film projects, as well as writing content for two websites. She also created and taught a creative writing program and has begun to release that as an online course. As a wife, mother of two and a breast cancer survivor, Angelique is currently hard at work getting back to her passion for fiction.

Craig:

Now you grew up surrounded by books and stories. In fact, on your website I was reading that you recalled breakfast time being a time when discussions of history, poetry and politics were common. Was this something that you relished as a child or did you find it strange or was it kind of just the way things were?

Angelique:

We used to race through breakfast because the person who got done first could stand over dad's left hand and he always had the book on his left side. So he'd have his book open and then he'd point to where he was on the page and that's how we learned to read. Mom read to us like all the kids' stuff, all the Dr. Seuss and all that kind of thing. And dad was reading, you know, histories and biographies and sometimes fiction that he felt we should be exposed to. So for us it was normal to have that. We had a lot of time with our dad. We were very, very, very lucky because he worked at home. He wasn't going to an office and commuting and doing all of that. He was just there. So we had a, we had kind of a great time, but we also had a very large vocabulary, very young and read at a very high level, very early as a result of just being constantly exposed to books. Constantly, he was reading aloud, he was writing, we had, I don't know, eight or 9,000 books in our house when we lived in the little house that I was born into. And then we moved to a bigger house and about 20,000 in that house. I don't know for sure, it might be 15 it might be 10 but it's just, there's books everywhere and it's, I mean, the room behind me over here behind, I'm trying to find my on camera behind that's, behind that shoulder is our, what we call formal living room. That is, we just came, my husband and I just bookshelved it. We have our TV and our dining and all in the other room. And the library is our front room of our house. We're readers.

Craig:

That's awesome. So even your family vacations were places where your father's story, where stories were based on, did you ever just want to go to a water park or did you love the outdoors and history as much as your father did?

Angelique:

So it's kind of, it's kind of a mixed bag. So normal life was getting a car drive to the middle of nowhere and walk around. We went also, we went, I, we also went to Ireland and England and we went to the Gaspe Peninsula, you know, drove around the Gaspe Peninsula in Canada. And we did that when I was, I think, and so the, the trips were patterned around two things. It was research and it was publicity. He would do wherever we went. He would try to do book signings and he would get on local news and he would do interviews and things like that. But a lot of times, and sometimes that was the driving force behind the trip. And sometimes it was, where did he need to go next? What did he need to visit or revisit? And I guess when I got to be 12, I started seventh grade at a very hoity-toity school. That was my choice. It was my choice to go to a private school and it was a private all girls school that my mother had gone to and people weren't doing what we were doing. A seventh grade teacher, English teacher who hated me with a passion went around the classroom, the first week of school and asked everybody to introduce themselves and say what their father did for a living. I didn't think this was weird because I had kind of grown up with a certain amount of interviewing going on and we had just done 60 Minutes the year before, so like, okay, whatever. And she got to me and she's like, and she was like, "And you are?" I'm like, "I'm Angelique L'Amour, my dad's an author." And she's like, "Well, what else does he do?" And I'm like, "Well, every day at three o'clock he works and skips rope." And she looks at me like I was just crazy. And I went home, I said like, "Dad, why did she think that was so weird?" And he said, "Oh honey," I was 12, you know, he said, "Most people don't make a living as a writer." Oh, okay. You know. But it hadn't occurred to me and our life was very modest. You know, our, our house that we lived in until I was nine was modest house on a tiny lot above the Sunset Strip in West Hollywood. And then we moved to Westwood and we had a much bigger house, but we had one car cause my dad didn't drive and we went to the middle of nowhere on a regular basis. And so when I was, when I was at that school at Westlake, which is now Harvard West, like I found myself with all these girls who rode English, I'd never been in an English saddle. I've never seen an English saddle. And the horses I tended to ride tended to run away with me cause they were never ridden by anybody. And my mother could ride anything. And so they were going places like Hawaii and they were going to Europe and they were doing all this stuff. And I was like, okay. And then we went to Hawaii and we went to Hawaii spring break of my seventh grade year and we stayed at the Kahala Hilton because dad was speaking to the English Teachers of America who were having their event on Oahu. But I had like this normal vacation and I like, I was really excited about this idea of like going to a beach and getting to like go in the water and just hang for more than a day and, and have this sort of normal experience and that, so that was really kind of wonderful.

Angelique:

But most of the time we were hiking and out in the middle of nowhere. It was wonderful. It was, you know, I would never give up those experiences for anything that was going to ask if you had a different perspective of it. Now looking back, perhaps you did at the time, you know, anything sounds, it sounds so silly. Okay. I had a flawless childhood, so my parents loved each other. They loved us. My brother and I fought like cats and dogs when we were younger, but we were also thrown together constantly. But when I never went to summer camp, so when we, we've spent time in the back of a car driving to the middle of nowhere and we spent time in motels all over the U S and so, and we were always sharing a room and we didn't have to share a room at home, which was great.

Angelique:

But you know, so we had normal, very normal, very almost Donna Reed-like childhood, except that dad was really, he was older and he was very calm and he was fascinating. So anything that he thought was a good idea was a good idea. You know, it was always like kind of really interesting. I mean, I do remember one trip we took when I was probably 10 or 11 and we left Durango, Colorado, and we drove up to Wyoming. We drove east across Colorado. We drove up into Wyoming. And that was a lot of very long days in the car. And I remember, you know, taking a Dramamine and reading my book for a lot of it cause we were just, it was just hours of just empty prairie. So during those times dad would sometimes read aloud. And so that was cool. And you know, we both can read a map really well, you know, navigate our way around the world with no problem and no internet if we need to. So I don't remember ever being bored and I don't ever remember why there was never really a room for a complaint because it was just what we did. As we got older, our lives got busier, but we still traveled. My brother, the year he was 17, he spent the summer in Colorado working on the Shalako property. And so he worked digging post holes and riding fence and doing all of that. And that's kind of around the time he stopped traveling with great regularity with mom and dad and me. But we still managed to take a trip a year, if not more. As we started to drive, they started to do more things, just the two of them. But yeah, we had a pretty awesome childhood.

Angelique:

I have this, you know, book of quotes from my dad's work and when it came out in 88 I think it was Bing Crosby's son had written this tell all and it was not flattering. When they were trying to get me interviews, they kept saying, well, you know, she's done this and it's his collection of quotes from 27 of her dad's novels and it was like this. And they're like, yeah, but what's wrong with their relationship? You know? And I'm like, they were saying we can't, we're having a devil of a time because people only want bad stuff. And you sitting there saying, dad was awesome, is really--

Scott:

Kind of boring, Angelique.

Angelique:

I mean, I can tell you like, we went on a trip to Wyoming, you know, we went off the side of a cliff in a truck on purpose being driven by an 11 year old boy. It was like he, he came to pick us. We went to, okay. My dad wanted to see this cave on this ranch where they had found a skeleton of a mountain man with a very, very, very old rifle. And somehow he had found out about this and he wanted to see it. And of course they were thrilled to have him, working ranch in Wyoming, we had to be, we didn't have a four wheel drive that we were traveling around and we travel around a station wagon. So the guy who owned the ranch sent his son to pick us up at the gate. And his son was my age and I was 10 or 11 okay. And he's got one of those giant pickup trucks with the two seats front and back. And my mother and Beau get in the back with this kid's dog.

Angelique:

I'm sitting in between the kid and my dad. And so we're going along and the windows are down and it's hot as heck. And every time brush comes in, the dog leaps to the side of the car that the brush comes in, grabs a hold of the brush, holds onto it until his head hits the back of the window. And then we get to this point and he goes, I got to tell you the road's washed out here. So I have to go around and we start and we're on, we're going off the edge of the mountain, literally like suspended in mid air before there's this ka-chunk as the wheels go down. And we go straight down this really steep hill. And I had been on all sorts of really bad four wheel drive roads with my mother driving, a champ. But I was sitting there going, dad, you can't see anything. There are moments like that that I remember, but they're just funny. Instead of, you know, anything, anything terrible. He's just not that guy and, and so that's what, that's what I can say is it was fascinating and it was, we met a lot of interesting people. We traveled to a lot of places that I probably could not find again without a lot of help from my brother, you know? But it was, it was awesome.

Scott:

Yeah. That's cool. I don't know whether to be jealous of such a nice childhood or feel bad for the non marketability of it for you.

Angelique:

Larry King said I want to interview both of them and all of a sudden the PR people at what was then Bantam Doubleday Dell, now Penguin Random House. They're like, Oh well she's doing Larry King in June, so could she come see you in May? And they had this and the minute anybody heard the name Larry King, it was like instantaneously you became something important and then the value became there. So I have thanked him since I ran into him years later. I did do the interview and I ran into him years later and I said, I just have to thank you because you, you made my book tour happen by saying I want you guys. And he only ended up with me because my father passed away. But he was gracious and had me on.

Craig:

Yeah. Speaking of that, of that book, I distinctly remember checking that out of my local library and just once again, being astounded by the depth of your father's work and you know, I don't think he gets the credit that he deserves for being a thinker. Do you think that's because of his genre or why is that, you think?

Angelique:

I think that, I'm going to say this, there would never have been an opportunity, and I do believe this because I think dad changed the face of westerns and I do not think that Larry McMurtry's western would have had the opportunity to win the Pulitzer prize no matter how fabulous the book is, if it wasn't for the 30 years before of dad eking his way, convincing people that the western was not dime store material. And at the time when I was a little kid, you know, westerns weren't published in hardback and westerns were unimportant and dad used to say, you know, it's, it's great. You know, they think that two people in bed in New York is more important than the opening up of an entire continent.

Angelique:

Began the westward movement from, from Plymouth rock, from England. It began with Western movement. So I think he, he kept pushing it and before he hit the New York times bestseller list, he had to have a hard back Western. And before he hit the New York Times bestseller list, he'd already sold 55 million copies out, sold most of the books on the list with great regularity. So it was a, it took time and it took perseverance and it took him writing what he wrote. He wanted to tell the story of people and he used to say, you know, everybody talks about being reincarnated and they're always reincarnated. And they were always a prince or a king or a queen or a duchess. And he's like, you know, I think a reincarnated, you know, there are people who are farmers and blacksmiths and sailors and you know, not everybody was royalty.

Angelique:

And he really wanted to tell the story of people who were people. Average day, your every man in many respects. And so he started out in the pulp magazines and he started out writing everything. He wrote boxing stories and seafaring stories and stories about people hunting gold and westerns. And he wrote adventure stories and he wrote everything he could write. He rewrote the mother goose rhymes, slightly salaciously. He wrote treatments for TV shows. He wrote everything because that's what you did. And he was always selling. And he did, you know, detective stories. And, and then what happened was The Gift of Cochise got bought. He was asked to expand it into a novel. John Wayne made it into a movie and all of a sudden he was the guy who wrote westerns and he had a choice. And he could be the guy who wrote westerns and ride this train forward until he could get to the point where he could branch out more and more into what he'd always written.

Angelique:

And so he wrote westerns, but he, he started trying to push the envelope and he turned in The Walking Drum, which takes place in 1170. The first time he showed it to a publisher, it was like 74, 1974. And they were like, Oh no, no, no, no, no. We don't want to see that from you. So you know, he let it sit. And then it came out in '85, I think. By introducing the Sacketts, he got to go back and he got to sort of go, well, where did they come from? So let's bring the Sacketts over from England and maybe they won't notice that it's not a Western, but you know, that takes place in the 1500s. That's not a Western, it's about that conscious movement of people who are looking for better. So Trail of Memories quote book came out of a conversation I had with my dad when I was 14, and it took me 10 years until it was published.

Angelique:

I was given an assignment where I was to read three books over the summer and pull quotes from them and have them ready for the first day of school. It was the summer before 10th grade and I was switching schools, left the hoity toity one behind for it. They're going to hate me for saying that. But it was not the best fit for me. It goes both ways. I had some really good experiences there and I really found my love in my life at Marymount high school in Los Angeles. So, um, so I was thinking fair amount and I, I'm like, okay, fine. So I picked up, we were traveling to England, Ireland and Scotland and I picked up There Blows the Wind because I wanted to read something of dad's and I wanted to read something that took place there and he would, you know, wake me up by knocking on the door of my hotel room and telling me it was Tatton Chantry.

Angelique:

And he said, well, tell me about the quote thing. And I said, well, you know, I pulled these quotes and he's like, well, what did you pull out of There Blows the Wind? And so I told, I read them the three quotes and he was like, huh. He said, I have to tell you a story. I said, what? He said, well, I was speaking at an English teachers event and there were three of us, three authors that were speaking. And he said, the man got up, we didn't know the order, and he got up to speak and he said, and he started reading quotes. And then he said, who do you think wrote these words? And he said, I was sitting there going, I don't know who wrote that. And then he was, and he was kind of blown away and so this perfectly, but it took us a while and then it took me, I mean, I literally had to stop college and finish it because it was a new, enormous job in the days before real computers, pieces of paper, you know, that were like, yay big sitting on the floor of my apartment. And I was moving them around in categories. It was a nightmare. It was a very, very big deal to do. But that's where that came from. And I think it was the first exposure a lot of people had to him just not being the cowboy book guy, Western author, he, he would always get letters, he would get letters from single mothers. He would get letters saying, I'm raising my sons, uh, on based on the men in your books. I'm giving them your books to read. Telling them this is, this is how to be a man. This is, this is how to be a good person. And we'd get people writing in would write in and say, I never read a book until I read your book.

Angelique:

My brother and my husband and I were in a hat store in Farmington, New Mexico because I needed a hat. And my brother was like, there's this great hat store. And I wanted a really big cowboy hat. So we're standing there and both, like, I realized that I had my wallet was sitting back at the house and I had my purse with nothing in it. My brother's like, Oh, I'll buy your hat. I said, okay. So he hands the guy who, who's been helping me, the credit card and he kind of stops for a second and he's this kind of big guy wearing his very, very perfectly pressed shirts with his very, very good jeans and his, you know, and he's like, just really clean cut, classic cowboy, New Mexico. Just a very, very nice looking guy. And he just said, he's standing there and he looks at my brother and he goes, are you his son? And Beau said, Yeah. And this is his daughter. And tears start to, well up in his eyes, he said, I never would've finished high school, never would've finished high school if it wasn't for your dad's books. You know, my teacher gave them to me and it was the thing that started me reading and you know, it's chilling and it's wonderful. But like, oddly enough, there are so many stories that we have heard over the years that are just like that.

Scott:

Right. I want to share a little something with you. I grew up in a very rural community and um, the, the biggest group that people participated in was Future Farmers of America. Okay. That'll give you an idea of, these were some guys that were probably not going to go to college. They were probably going to go right from high school to, to, you know, their family farm or whatever. But you would see them walking around with your dad's books in their hands and you know, I, I mean I, I've maintained contact with a few of them and they're not walking around with my books in their hands.

Angelique:

Sorry. Sorry about that. You know, it's a, it's an interesting thing because then, you know, my, my husband's stepfather passed away and we're sitting at the funeral and it's back East in New Jersey and I'm sitting at a table with like three lawyers that were his contemporaries. So they're older gentleman in there and they're lawyers and they're very East coast. Find out who I am and then are like, I need to talk to you. This is awesome. Christopher's like, this is interesting to me because it wasn't like the guy in New Mexico, now we've got New York lawyers, New Jersey lawyers that are sitting there going, I, you know, I went to Yale, I went to Princeton, I went to Harvard. And I'm a huge fan. I love hearing that. And I love hearing from fans and I, you know, there are a lot of women that are huge fans of my dad's. And that's a really common misconception. Until you meet, you know, six or eight of them that are women that are like going, Oh my gosh, I've read everything. I've read everything now because there's always, there's always enough romance, there's always a great looking guy. And always there's always an adventure. It's appealing. I think it's appealing to everybody.

Scott:

I agree. It really, that's a perfect summation of it. It doesn't matter what your background is. If you give his work a chance, it's gonna, it's gonna take you someplace cool.

Angelique:

Well, I think a good story is a good story. And if you tell the story well then people are gonna read it.

Scott:

That's what we've been doing wrong, Craig!

Angelique:

I think the story has to grab them in the first sentence. The secret for things. You have to figure out how to do the rest of it.

Scott:

Just doing my prep for tonight, I think it was just when I Googled your name and the little fact box came up and it has a lot of your aunts and uncles listed, but they all spell their name more Americanized. Now are they victims of Ellis Island or was that a conscious choice?

Angelique:

It's a really kind of weird story and I still haven't gotten to the bottom of it. The, the simple form is that my grandfather spelled it capital L , little a, capital M-O-R-E. His father spelled it that way also in certain records of him, it's spelled with an L apostrophe capital M-O-R-E. and before him it's just more ammo Ari, but they're French Canadian and came down into, uh, Minnesota and Michigan and that area. And when dad started writing, you know, he wanted a little more flair. So he went back to the actual correct. If you believe that the name is LA Amore. Okay. So in French, if you've got two A's, you take out one and you put an apostrophe, it's called a liason. So he did it that way and it's pretty that way. Um, there are French L'Amours in Brittany where our family comes from that spell it that way. They may not use the apostrophe and the capital, but they definitely are L-A-M. But it's like we went from Brittany to Scotland to Northern Ireland to America and Canada. So it's like not Ellis Island because it's way before that it's just, it's just this sort of as you go back across. So he went back to the French classic spelling of the, of the name because it seems like there was an L in there. I have a lot more information than he did about the L'Amours and the Moore simply because of ancestry.com and Google search things and find, you know, where everybody was born. So it's, he had a lot of family history in his head, but you know, and he, and that was a constant, um, disagreement between him and his eldest sister Edna. She was very insulted by him changing the spelling of the name and she was 14 or 15 when he was born. So she always felt that she was the authority on everything. Who ever knew her, including her own son, whoever thought that she didn't feel that she was the authority on everything. Very smart, which graduated from college in 1920, very smart woman. Everybody in between them passed away by 1954 and the two of them, the oldest and the youngest went on into the, now my, my aunt lived to be 107.

Craig:

So to get a little left turn here, I guess you also spent some time in the film industry. Was this something that you enjoyed?

Angelique:

Loved it.

Craig:

Did you love it?

Angelique:

Not film so much? No. I mean, I did film, but I mean I was an actress. I was a performer. I loved being on stage. I loved live audience in particular. That was really where I did the most. And I had a blast doing it. Um, but I always wrote, I was always writing, I was writing songs and I was writing short stories and I thought about writing plays, but I never really did it. I got really frustrated because I kept auditioning for Night Court and not getting chosen. Like they had me in for three different parts and they would have me in multiple times. Finally, I sat down and actually wrote myself my own three part episode. Didn't manage to sell it to them, but I did dabble in, in screenwriting. But for me, I was always writing something. So as much as I loved being on stage, and as much as that was just a wonderful outlet, by the time I hit 30, I was aging out of Los Angeles and I kind of had two choices and one was moving to New York, which my husband really didn't want to do. And I really didn't really want to do or just go ahead and have a family because I've married this amazing guy when I was 26 and at that time, LA skewed very young. And I mean if you talk to anybody who's my contemporary, you know, um, you know, Julia Roberts and Nicole Kidman and all of them, they, we all know what it used to, what used to happen is that if you didn't get started by the age of 18 and even if you did, you had this desert period in your thirties and forties. They're not having that, but the whole world changed. And, um, but at that time, TV was king in Los Angeles and I was not booking and I was, I'm 5'10", does not help to be a tall actress. Um, and so, you know, it was kind of like Christopher kind of looked at me one day and said, you know, what if every fear in your life was taken away, what would you do? And I kind of went, what? What If every fear in your life was taken away? What would you do? And I said, have a baby. And he said, Well, that's my thought too, and I was like, okay, well let's get going with this family thing because I have this amazing relationship and one of my dear friends from the age of nine said to me, you should just write those books. Like you were reading all the time, all those little mystery books that you were reading when we were growing up.

Angelique:

And so I started writing and I sat in acting class and I was waiting, they were moving furniture around. It's setting up for the next scene that was going to be done. And I just thought, how many books have I thought about writing that I haven't even, you know, like I haven't written, but I thought about writing and I came up with something like, I don't know, 23 or 17 or some astronomical, ridiculous number. And I thought, huh, maybe it's time. Maybe that's maybe that's what's telling me. So I quit acting and I had three auditions in that first year where I knew absolutely everybody, had every connection in the world, did amazing auditions, felt really good about everything, didn't get anything. I've quit and I, and it was like, I'm done and people are asking me. So I went, but I was kind of like, you know, I wasn't pregnant yet, but you know, we were hoping and I was just like, okay, whatever. I'll go on it and see what happens. And I thought, okay, so thank you God, you gave me this moment to be really clear that I know I'm at the top of my game. Like my craft is strong. I know what I'm doing. I get called back on everything, but I was walking into auditions and losing them because I was 5'10", I was walking in on auditions and losing them because of whatever, because you know they could get somebody who had oodles of credit just was, I was like, it's time. It's just time to go have life and see what happens. My grandmother was an actress in the silents, my mother was an actress in the fifties, I was an actress and eighties and nineties and you know our oldest is in New York acting. I don't know, it's just, it's a, we have two family crafts, one is acting and one is writing. So that's the, you know, we're the cobbler kids here just went down.

Scott:

I can't let you get away without asking. On behalf of my wife is Sam Elliott as dreamy in person as he is on screen?

Angelique:

Sam's a lovely man. He is a lovely, lovely man. I was really, really lucky to meet him and Tom Selleck when I was 14 and then to work with them when I was 18 on my very first movie. And then to work with Sam again, uh, right before I got married. Um, they're just, he's just, he's just, they're both really lovely people. Their wives are terrific, you know, they're just a really, you know, I run into Sam every once in a while and I see Catherine every once in a while and it just, it's just always wonderful. You know, I'm very giving people and yes, he does have a voice that's that deep.

Scott:

Oh yeah, definitely. I actually saw an interview with him very recently. I think he was on the CBS morning show recently and he just comes off as being a great, great guy. He really does.

Angelique:

He's really laid back and he's really generous. You know, the people who have been in the business for a long time and been as successful as Sam has been, as successful as Tom are very generous performers and they're generous people and they're gracious. And Sam is, and Sam is like that. Like I, you know, it just, just really nice and Catherine is just lovely,

Craig:

Let's talk about your writing a little bit more and I'm going to have Scott lead us into that.

Scott:

Actually the question I had was more about your, your teaching creative writing. You know, your, your website says that you taught students from eight to 80. Is there one thing in that, in that age group, you know, which is a pretty wide age group that you found was the area you needed to address most often with writers. Is there one thing that you helped a lot of writers overcome?

Angelique:

I would say that there were maybe three things that stick out. One, one is a confidence and the idea of just getting it on the paper, whatever it is, just get it on the paper. The other is what I feel the strongest and the most confident at teaching is creating characters. That that's my thing. But I mean, you know, I've done it on paper and I've done it as an actress. So to me it's, it's gold and I, and I love it and I, we do not bond with the events. In a story, we bond with the people and how they deal with it. It is why Lin Manuel Miranda made a whole generation of kids care about the beginning of the treasury, right? He made Aaron Burr and Alexander Hamilton into people that they could understand and, and the focus is on that. So for me, it's, and to not be afraid to just sort of dive in.

Angelique:

And when I say the eight to 80 thing is I, I was given a lot of latitude. I was asked to teach creative writing to sixth graders and it was a volunteer job. This is how this all started. And I was really excited to do it. And I, I was given total freedom in how I created this class, but it was a year long class and oddly enough ended up being the year I was dealing with cancer. But it was kind of great because I was really excited every day, even if I felt lousy. I was excited about teaching these kids. And so when I, but when I started working the summer before I, before I was diagnosed, I started teaching, like creating this course. And I started realizing that as long as you can write a sentence, you can write a story. So that means that a seven year old, eight year old who's just learning how to read and just learning how to put sentences together and actually physically write letters and physically write sentences and paragraphs, they can write a story that is satisfying to them. And the same is true with an adult. The same is true with a sixth grader. And in my sixth grade class I had kids with learning disabilities. I had kids who never read a book, um, you know, like, Hey, did you read? And I had kids who loved to read. I had kids who were total jocks and kids who were very much not. And they all got it. And they all grew and their stories became bigger and lusher and more interesting. So, you know, my lesson is get it on the paper. And the other thing I would say is if you're going to give it to somebody to read it, what I would always tell the kids is I never used--number one, I never used a red pen when I worked with them. So I don't use a red pen. I use purple or something else, but I didn't use it because I wanted them to see it as a collaboration and to realize that, you know, I would say, here's my idea and I would say this to you if I was working with you, "Here's my idea. At the very least, try it and feel free to toss it in the garbage, but try it actually physically, write what I'm telling you to write and see what happens." Because most beginning writers do what my dad was doing at the beginning and they write around a story or they start with a lot of backstory. And I was working with a woman that I know who has, she's writing a memoir about becoming a widow at a very young age, and a widow who watched her husband die being hit by a car on his motorcycle while she was on a motorcycle behind him. That was it. And I, and she gave me the first five pages and I said, give me the first five pages. I'll tell you what I think. You tell me what you think and we'll see if we're gonna work together.

Angelique:

And so she took the, she took the, she gave me the first five pages and I, and I went and met with her and I said, why am I not reading about the accident? Why am I reading about your marriage? That's fine, but that's not where you begin. You have to begin with that accident. She's like, I can't write that accident. I said, you have to write that accident. Even if it doesn't end up in the book, you have to write it because you have to get that out of you and find out what parts of that are the things that spurred you forward. You know, being 28 or whatever she was when he passed away. I said there's that is one of those moments in time where time stretches and he could do that and you can step away from it in that time stretching. But you have to have that moment and the fact that you're scared to write it keeps you from writing the whole story. It keeps you from writing the rest of the book because you don't know why you're writing it. Like you have to know why. Why today? Why is this moment happening now? Whether you're writing a memoir or you're writing fiction, you have to know why this moment is making this person do this thing. What is the instigator and, and it's, it's true with with any, any story. If you think about the beginning of any story, if you, if it's something that grabs you right away, it's because something is happening that makes today like not, not like any other day.

Craig:

Well that's so good. That's so good. And I think, you know, there's some things about something, something about writing that is so cathartic and that, you know, can help, has helped me and has helped countless others deal with tragic things that have happened to them. And it's just, there's something about getting those words on paper that can make, I don't know, maybe make it real to us because our mind has a way of walling that bad things off, kind of a self preservation technique. And there's something about breaking through that with the power of language that helps us as human beings to deal with that. And so speaking of dark times in your life now, you've accomplished a lot in your life, but I think one of the things that may be your greatest achievement is to have survived the monster of breast cancer. And my own mother is also a survivor. So I guess I know what it's like to, to watch that happen and the toll it can have on not only them, but their support system and all of that. How did you keep your spirits up during those days?

Angelique:

Okay, so I'm an optimist to begin with. So there's, there's that. I'm not a passivist, I would never say I was best mist. It was really interesting. It, you know, when I go back to this actual, like the big ticket moment is not finding the lump in my breast. So that was, that was bad. A big ticket moment is hearing my doctor say over the phone, you have cancer. And I, and I, and I, I stood there, you know, when I got it, I said, okay, okay, so what did we do next? And he said, you come see me on Tuesday. And I said, okay, I'll come see you on Tuesday and put me on the phone with the secretary. And I made the appointment, I got off the phone and the next phone call I made was, well we first called my girls godfather who had survived malignant melanoma at 21.

Angelique:

He's now in his, he's like a late sixties. And he's like amazing. And um, you know, he wasn't supposed to make it and he's obviously made it for a long time. So we called him and, and then I called the minister who [inaudible], who baptized my kids. And she is a religious science minister and religious science is not Christian science. We believe in doctors, religious sciences, this philosophy of positive thinking that your thoughts create your reality, which you know, so mind body connection, it's the secret. It's all of that is all this like we can manifest anything. You have a choice. And I was very aware that I had this choice. I could be positive or I could be negative and it was my choice. So I was choosing to be positive and I just, I said, I need to wrap my mind around this and I need your help to give me some things to hold onto mentally.

Angelique:

And so she said, you're already healed. And I was like, okay, you are an alternatively hole. And I said, okay, I'm going to hold onto these. And I knew at that moment that by making this choice to be positive, I was given a gift. Okay? So we're going to step back six months before I was touring Pepperdine university and I with a bunch of kids on a field trip and on the wall of one of the science labs was a quote from swindle. Didn't know who that was. That was were we're all given a set of um, Oh God, Oh God, why can't I ever get a week? Even a great opportunities, brilliantly disguised as impossible situations. Okay. I'm paraphrasing. And I, and I, and I wrote it down. I didn't even have my phone with me. I'm like scribbling on a piece of paper, borrowing a pencil from like, you know, one of the science students and I, I thought I have this opportunity to teach my daughters what to do when something really crappy happens by my thought deed and action by the creation of how, how I create this family.

Angelique:

How I keep this family going, how the energy in the house. I have this thing that I can do. And if they get a D on a test, if their boyfriend dumps in the night before prom, if they lose a job, they want, if God forbid they ever hear the words I did, they will have a template whether they know it or not. They were seven and 11 and they were girls and I had very feminine cancer. 2,400 men a year get diagnosed with breast cancer, 240,000 women in the universe. So you know, okay, very feminine cancer. Sorry guys. It's just not as common in men. So I thought, I have this opportunity and I am going to make the best of it. I was negative. I was terrified, but I did not indulge for very long. And my husband used to do this thing that they used to drive me crazy.

Angelique:

I get upset about something before cancer and he say, Angela, where are your feet? And I say, well, and he'd say, where are your feet still off your feet? Stop my feet. And he'd say, right here, right now, that's all that's going on. You know, so I'm sitting here, we haven't told the girls yet. They're at school. I'm not telling them till I go to the doctor and we know what the plan is, right. Because I need to know what the plan is. I'm having surgery, I, you know, like am I having chemo? Like what am I, when am I going to tell them I'm getting my ducks in a row, I'm finding a babysitter because I know I'm going to need the help. And I just got really upset and I walked into my husband's office and I thought if he says, where are your feet?

Angelique:

And I've walked into this office and I said, I am really, really angry and I really, really scared. And he looked at me and he said, you're entitled. He did that all. I went away. Like it just went, oof. And I thought, this is amazing. This is okay. Like, you know. And he said, no, we can get through this as long as we get through this way through and get through everything, which is one step at a time, one moment at a time, one second at a time, one breath at a time. You know, and right here, right now, everything is fine, you know, and at that moment I had cancer in my body, but we were going to get rid of it. That was the first thing we were going to do. So also, I'm such an areas and I like information. So tell me how we're gonna do it.

Angelique:

Give me a plan. Let me set it up. Let me get it organized and let me do it and I will be fine. But under it all driving it all was that I did not want to get this all over my kids. I did not want them to see it as scary. I did not want them to fear it. Uh, I did not want their lives to stop. I did not want the house to become about cancer. Give it a capital letter. I didn't have a party. You know, I know a lot of women who feel very good about having a party before their mastectomies. Like I was like just get it over with. But mostly that was because they, the first date they offered me was October 30th and I had a seven and an 11 year old when I fell. And they're like, okay, how about October 9th except that was like in 10 days.

Angelique:

So I was, you know, chicken with my head cut off, running back and forth into LA as a live an hour and 10 minutes outside to having tests, having scans, I mean, blood work, doing everything I had to do so I can have this surgery on the 9th of October, you know. And we did, we managed to keep their lives going. It was not all about cancer. I was very open. Everybody knew I wanted the girls to be able to go to and talk to anybody they needed to. But that was very much based on number one, if you keep it, if you keep a secret in house with a kid, like you can't, they know off whatever it is, right. Number one. Number two, the fastest way to find my kids was for me to go into the bathroom.

Angelique:

I had two girls, there were seven in 11 like if I go into the bathroom, I'm like, mom, you know, they were gonna see scars. They were going to see bandages. Like it was just like, yeah, I was going to lose my hair and I just could not be bothered with the energy it was going to take to maintain some sort of hidden disease. I couldn't do it. Some people can do it. Hats off. I couldn't, it's not me. So that's, that's really how we did. And I wrote my blog, I started my blog and my blog, the first very first entry on my blog is that swindle quote. And I just, I wrote my way out. I'm like, you know, if I felt upset, I wrote about being positive. If I felt scared, I wrote about being brave. It wasn't that I wasn't at three o'clock in the morning was a really nasty time for me, but I would write and it would, it would dissipate as I did that I would reach out and I would help somebody else.

Angelique:

I would reach out to someone who had helped me out to a lovely woman come into my life whose kids were about the same age as mine when she was diagnosed. And she just, she was great. She like was a person and she was living in Connecticut. So I would, I could go three o'clock in the morning, I could actually talk to her [inaudible] back and forth because she was, you know, it was six to her. So it was like normal. So that's how I did it. I was helping people, I was reaching out to people, I was helping people, I was talking to people and I was giving back what I was, you know, what was given to me by so many, well, you get breast cancer. There are so many amazing women that come up to you, take you into the bathrooms and show you their reconstruction. I mean, I know for you guys that sounds like a really great thing, but for me it was like a really great thing. There's just, there's just a camaraderie unfortunately because there's so many of us. I was, I was very blessed

Speaker 2:

when you've built on that cause you've, you know, went on, become an awareness advocate for those suffering from the disease. You've written a book to go along with those efforts called chemo cupcakes and carpools. Could you tell us a little bit about that book?

Angelique:

So chemo cafes in carpals, um, came out of another book I was writing. So I'm working on sort of my spiritual growth, like the, the idea of why you asked me how did I keep my attitude that's in another book. And I was trying to put this with all these helpful hints for how to get from Monday to Sunday as a mom or a parent mom or dad with cancer. And I made it clunky. It w it wasn't the spiritual side of it was just being stopped every, you know, every chapter or two by this other information. So I thought, I'm just going to take it apart. It, nobody I knew had done any self-publishing. So I took this class, uh, given by a woman named Kristen joy or Christian joy called Kindle and a 30, and it taught you how to self publish a book. And I thought this is what I'm going to do.

Angelique:

So I'm going to make this a little book that's like 89 pages long. That is what I call the nuts and bolts guide to being a parent while going through cancer treatment and surgery. I put it together and I self published it. That is chemo cupcakes and carpools. And I, and I, it was basically came out of a lot of emails would go from me to other people. It came out of people writing to me. It came from blog posts. It was sort of how did I manage this? How did, what kind of help did I need? Um, how did I deal with that side effect? How did I deal with, you know, forgetting that I had things on the stove because chemo brain is a real thing. It's not this joke. I mean, it is a joke, you know, I refer to the days after chemo was having a chemo over.

Angelique:

Um, I refer, I don't like new normal. I, I just don't. So I, you know, I have, I have other, other terminology for that. And for right now my chemo brain is taking it out of my mind, but it's like chemo, chemo, normal. I mean, it's like, it's like there's a thing that happens. You get so inflamed in your head that you don't remember things. I would blank out in the middle of a sentence. I would be listening to someone talking to me and I'm like going, I have no idea what they've just said to me. So I'm just gonna buy quiet and I'm going to wait until I catch up again. I listened and I nod my head and I, it was kinda like when I was dating, my first boyfriend is classical pianist and he'd go on about problems in Beethoven, Chopin, and I would just go, because I was just in LA and I learned a lot about classical music, I have to say. But I was like, you know, I didn't know much at the beginning of that relationship. And we're still friends. So you know, if he watches this as a first time, he's going to know.

Angelique:

Yes. But I would, you know, so I, I had ways of dealing with things, you know, one of them, I wrote everything down. I gave myself visual cues. But all of that's in that book because it's the things that people were asking me, how do I remember to do this? How do I do this? How do we keep this straight? How am I going to help my kids deal with, what do I say to my kids? How do I talk to my kids? You know, I have friends, women I know who don't mention it to their children. I have women who never been seen bald by even their spouses. And that wasn't me. So it isn't my experience. It's maybe helpful to someone who has metastatic cancer, but I don't know that it is because I don't, and I didn't and I'm grateful. But it is my experience.

Angelique:

And that's what that book is. And that's what the two, there's two companion pieces. One is a gratitude journal because I firmly believe that everybody makes too big a deal out of a gratitude journal and like it has to be this big thing. And I'm like, sometimes it's just about lip balm, you know, or that your glasses are on your face. Like you don't have to be, it doesn't have to be big ticket items. Right. And the other one is this home organizer, which I wish I had done, which is, you know, where do my kids need to be and who needs to be where and who's the teen parent and who's the class parents and where are their uniforms for soccer and all of that stuff. Because we were dealing with two soccer teams and two kids and thankfully one school at that point.

Angelique:

You know, I just hope it's helpful and you know, people buy it and I, I'm grateful that they do. And you know, I haven't made my money back yet, but they're like $2 from each sale. But I'm really grateful that I could get it out, you know, and available. So I can say go buy the book and it will, I have a friend who's reading it because her husband's going through cancer and cancer treatment. Actually I've had two friends who have read it while their spouses were going through cancer treatment and it has helped them so

Speaker 2:

well we have kept you about twice as long I think as I promised. So I apologize for that. And now you've just been so interesting. I couldn't bear to, to end this. I, I, I do apologize for running way over the promise time, but I don't want to let you go without asking you if there's anything you're working on right now that you can share with us, something that we can look forward to from you,

Angelique:

you can look forward to. I have three projects that are hot right now that I'm working on right now. One is a middle-grade mystery and it was the first thing I ever attempted to write. So I'm working on that and I have a picture book that I'm, don't know anything about writing picture books, but I met a really wonderful illustrator last summer at a conference, Steve Bjorkman and he like gave me the two minute lesson in how to write a picture book. And it was great because it really helped me do things and that he sketched characters for me just like for fun, like just tossed off a whole bunch of pirates and handed them to me like an hour later. And I was like, thank you.

Angelique:

Um, and then I had this, uh, nonfiction memoir of my sort of spiritual journey through cancer. And that one I have put aside, I put aside for about a year and I'm going to go back into it probably in the next couple of months and then I'm going to send it off to an editor that I've been working with on that I don't know where I'm going, self publishing or traditional. Uh, I may throw things at traditional and see what happens. I'm lucky because I do think I'll get read, but I don't know. You know, you never know if it's good enough to keep your foot in the door, you know, we'll say the door will get opened, but then it's, you know, then we have to see if the work stands on its own. But I also, I also may choose to self publish. So no yet that's, that's my, that's my thing. But my main goal and my main focus is really writing for kids at this point. Yeah. I have a historical that's, I keep looking at it as, it's like, like your September, somebody got these guys up and running and off to people who can give me opinions.

Speaker 2:

Whatever your route you choose, we'll definitely look forward to those. Um, so angelic. Lamar, thank you so much for coming on the show. I really appreciate your time.

Angelique:

I really appreciate you guys. Thank you so much. It's a great chance to have a conversation about writing and books and life.

Speaker 2:

Absolutely. Well, maybe we can keep in touch in the chat again at some other time.