An Interview with Bob Zielsdorf, cont'd
with a Kiss.

Though the work was done for the book, I'm profoundly grateful for it on a personal level as well. 
Letters and other handwritten documents arepriceless legacies of the past; today’s digital 
technologies allow us to preserve and share them  in ways earlier generations never dreamed 
were possible. I encourage everyone who has such memorabilia to preserve it carefully like the 
treasure that it is. 

Was having Fran share her thoughts as the “last word” of the book part of your plans 
from the start?

Not at all. But during the process of writing my story, my editor, Suzanne Fox, continually 
encouraged me to add more feminine viewpoints. And when I finished, my agent, Mel Parker,
 was very insistent about it. We tried a couple of different ways to include Fran's experiences and
 viewpoints. Finally I just said that Fran often gets the last word anyway, so why not here? She
 was a really good sport about the project, and I think that including her reflections from today as
 well as her actual letters from the past adds immeasurably to the book.

What surprised you most about the process of writing a book?

I knew it would be hard work, I just didn't know how hard. The manuscript went through two 
major revisions and lots of smaller ones. And I never really understood the role of an editor in the 
creative process until now. At first, I pretty much thought I'd sit down, think up words, write them down, and I'd have a book. Not even close! The collaborative process was not only 
astoundingly productive, it was fun.

What advice could you give to others thinking of writing a book about their lives?

Start by doubling or tripling your estimate of how long it will take you—and be prepared to extend it yet again! Even if you are very disciplined about the work, the truth is that the insights about the content and structure necessary to write a good book can take time. Second, build a great team. While drafting the actual pages is a solitary task, the whole process of book creation shouldn’t be. Choosing the right people to give you objective feedback, technical help, and professional copy-editing and proofing makes the book better and the process more fun. 

Third, avoid perfectionism. If you judge yourself too harshly in the early stages, you’ll give up too soon. You have to be willing be make mistakes and messes, and draft material than may later need to be revised or even tossed. Finally, read! You can learn a tremendous amount about effective book structure and writing from reading others’ work. And I believe that if we as authors want people to buy our books, we should do the same for our fellow writers.

What kinds of books do you yourself like to read?

I read both fiction and non-fiction. In fiction, I like spy novels (I’m currently reading the Gabiel Allon series by Daniel Silva) and stories based on historical fact (most recently The Rising Tide by Jeff Sharra). I enjoy suspense, and appreciate stories where the good guy eventually wins. {continued}

Eventually, book designer CJ Madigan made professional scans of all of the letters and envelopes, creating a clear naming system for each file along the way; Nancy Brown, who once worked for me, transcribed their content so that it could be shared in the book with or without an accompanying image of the original letter.​ All of this was painstaking and time-consuming work, but absolutely necessary for the creation of Sealed 
Sealed with a Kiss is a charming coming of age story told from two points of view, his and hers. Set against the backdrop of the relatively innocent 1950s and 60s, this tale is a history lesson as well as a lesson and in the ups and downs of a relationship.  Sealed With A Kiss is written with humor, insight and truthfulness. It is a gift to anyone who appreciates a good, old-fashioned love story. Bravo, Bob and Fran. 
               —Suzy Farbman, author of GodSigns
               and Back from Betrayal

Contents copyright Bob Zielsdorf 2014. Site design by BookStrategy. Site hosted at Homestead.