7 Questions With Author Cherie Magnus
Cherie Magnus, a California native, returned to Los Angeles in 2014 after teaching tango in Buenos Aires, Argentina, for 11 years. Before her life as an expatriate, she was a dance research librarian in the Los Angeles Central Library and a dance critic for local newspapers before moving to France, Mexico, and then to Argentina in 2003.
Many of her articles on dance, books, travel and international culture have been published in magazines, professional journals, and several anthologies, such as Solamente en San Miguel, Cris K.A. DiMarco, ed., and Chicken Soup for the Soul: Reboot Your Life, Amy Newmark and Claire Cook, eds.
A Finalist in the Buenos Aires Tango Championships of 2006, she has appeared in two video documentaries with her Argentinian partner, Ruben Aybar. She has a blog Tangocherie, on expat life, Buenos Aires culture, and tango from 2008-2014. The prequel to The Church of Tango — Arabesque: Dancing on the Edge in Los Angeles — was published December 2014.
Intoxicating Tango: My Years in Buenos Aires will be released at the end of 2019.
A two-time breast cancer survivor, at each crossroad in her life, she made difficult choices of paths to take, resulting in three memoirs of “death, dance, destiny,” sometimes with love along the way. With each problem that arose, she tried to dance her way through it.
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What’s your definition of the first draft?
For me the first draft is a literal brain dump. I put down everything, absolutely everything that has to do with the new manuscript. I edit nothing, just write it all down.
Then I go back and try to make sense of it, eliminating scenes, adding explanations, reordering text. That’s then the second draft, which I have development edited. Then I do a third draft, and development edited again. After that, ideally, rewritten and revised again, I send it off for a line edit.
What are some common stereotypes related to the genre you’re writing in?
I’ve read all of the “tango books” and “tango memoirs” out there, and pretty much they are all of the “Ooh the sexy, sensuous, mysterious tango dance, ooh it’s so wonderful” variety. “Intoxicating Tango” is more of an expose of the machismo that goes along with life and the tango in Buenos Aires.
What should readers expect from your next book?
Intoxicating Tango: My Years in Buenos Aires shows how an addiction, even to one like a dance, can make you do things you ordinarily wouldn’t do, just to get another ‘fix.”
I pull back the red velvet curtain of the toxic masculinity that is a part of all life in Argentina, and most especially in the tango, along with the “viveza criolla,” or “artful lying” that is an accepted part of the culture.
In between it’s the story of a middle-aged American expat trying to rebuild her life in a diametrically foreign culture after the too-early death of her beloved husband and her own two bouts with breast cancer.
What are the steps you usually take from writing the first draft to publishing?
My first two memoirs were easier in that, aside from a professional editor, I did most of the other work myself. I knew exactly what I wanted for the covers, so I found photographer friends to shoot them.
I used CreateSpace and Fiverr for the formatting. However the writing part is always the same: write first draft, editor edits, revise and write second draft, editor edits, revise and write third draft, line edit, proofread, format. For my new book I’m using more professionals as I feel this is the best one yet and I want it to be as good as it can be.
There are a lot of of experts behind the book, editors, development editors, proofreaders, beta readers, etc. How did you find the perfect crew to work on your new book?
I used the same London editor I had used for the previous two memoirs. Then I searched online for a cover artist and line editor (I’ll be looking for someone to format in the near future.) Self-publishers have to be careful out there, as there are many websites dedicated to make money off of the ignorance and inexperience of newbies. Everyone promises to do a great job for you for a price, but what guarantee is there?
And the fees vary tremendously. A writer should really do her homework to figure out the fair going rate for what needs to be done. Lots of queries, referrals, recommendations. I found my line editor by asking several to do sample edits on the same 5 pages of text.
It was amazing how different they all were. I went with the one who seemed to be on the same page as I was. The cover artist has a great resume, and I thought his price was beyond fair. The only thing was I had to accept that he is an illustrator and so the cover would be drawn/painted not a photograph like my previous two.
But he and I seemed to understand each other, I liked how responsive he was to my emails, so I went with him. The main thing is that I chose professionals from websites that vet their people.
I think Reedsy is a good place to begin. The only thing with these kinds of sites, is that they demand a cut, so whatever the agreed upon price between you and the professional, Reedsy tacks on 10%.
Many authors have experienced trolling or cyberbullying upon publishing their manuscripts. Could you share your experience & some useful advice for all authors going through these unfortunate issues?
I got a few negative comments on my first two books, like, “Why does this author think anyone would be interested in her sex life?”, and “It’s impossible that all of this horrible stuff actually happened to her, just one person.”, and “I wanted to read about the tango, not cancer, or an old lady with Alzheimer’s.” They didn’t bother me at all.
However I expect negativity with my new one, because I’m criticizing the male chauvinism and artful lying that are parts of the culture in Argentina. I also name names of abusers, and many of them are famous in the tango community. But in this #MeToo era, they must be called out.
How long do you self-edit your manuscript before sending it to a proofreader/beta reader/editor?
I work on it until I can’t stand to look at it anymore.
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