Monday, November 14, 2011

Interviewing Samuel DiMatteo and Kristin Johnson

Today, I have co-authors Samuel DiMatteo and Kristin Johnson.

AUTHORS: Samuel DiMatteo and Kristin Johnson
BOOK TITLE: The High-Tech Gooseneck Putter
PUBLISHER: Outskirts Press

Please give me a brief synopsis of your book.
This award-winning book (Samuel DiMatteo was selected for the LeadingAge 50th Anniversary Exhibit for publishing his first book at the age of 77), The High Tech Gooseneck Putter, is a story of golf, geese, and love.

Meet Sami DeMani, a Canada gander with a legendary golf game. He’s on track to win the prestigious Waterfowl Tour — and put his nemesis, the ruthless Pete Swan Lake, in his place once and for all. But right as Sami prepares to take a critical swing, a surprise scare changes everything — ruining the shot and putting Sami in the hospital. 

What happens next dashes any hopes for golf glory — or does it? 

No longer able to play, Sami throws himself into coaching his nephew, Myles, in the game he loves. Then the golf pro hatches a plan to help his nephew win a tournament with the aid of the specially designed Gooseneck Putter. This breakthrough device has the potential to change everything — including the confidence of the golf prodigy who uses it. But none of them are prepared for what’s about to occur as the tension rises on the course. 

Along the way, Sami and Myles will learn a powerful lesson regarding sportsmanship, perseverance, love, and what really matters in the game of life. 

A heartwarming and inspirational tale, The High-Tech Gooseneck Putter is about the power of golf to boost self-esteem, change lives, and bring a community together.

Why did you decide to co-author this work?
Kristin: We just clicked from the minute we corresponded and spoke on the phone. I loved the premise of the story—I thought it was different and unusual. I’ve always loved animal and bird stories such as The Trumpet of the Swan, Black Beauty, and Charlotte’s Web. Samuel decided to write a silly dysfunctional family of geese that play golf, dance, are hard of hearing, and have speech problems. 

Samuel: I failed English in college. I had written twelve chapters of the book, and I needed some help with dialogue. So I did a search for ghostwriters, and I came upon this link, The Happy Guy Market, and I emailed this fellow David Lionheart, er, Leonhardt. And I knew that I was going to put whatever writer I met as my co-author.

Kristin: And I wanted to work with Samuel the minute he sang to me.

Samuel: I got the idea for the book when I was watching TV one day in 2002 and the reporter said there was a goose on a golf course collecting golf balls. And I thought, “What happened, did a golf ball hit her on the head or something? And does she have a family? Maybe she’s hatching the eggs.” And I imagined how the members of her flock wiggled and waggled, giggled and gaggled, and I envisioned this as a movie with that old song ‘I Must Go Where the Wild Goose Goes” by Frankie Laine in the opening scene. Then I imagined some romance and a gander golfer who was picked on cause he’s short, because I went through that. Sami DeMani, the brother of Meri, the goose that gets hit on the head, is a super golfer. He hips and he hops, he flips and he flops, then he stops (that’s a rhyme spoken by one of the other characters, a poet.) But I needed more dialogue to bring it to life. Kristin added dialogue, and she wrote about Dennie Flame, a dragon, Nibbles Nip, the beaver who makes the putter Myles needs to win the waterfowl tour, and a squirrel sportscaster.

Kristin: And Justin Bieber—er, Bearber—makes an appearance!

3.     How did you meet your writing partner(s)?
Samuel: I asked David for a writer to help me, and he sent me to Kristin, and I am so grateful. She is a real blessing.

Kristin: I’m grateful, too, and so are you! As you heard, Samuel and I “met” via a writing matchmaker. We have yet to meet in person—although he sent his sisters to my home in Hawaii when they were on a cruise to the islands in December 2010.

I have been subcontracting as a professional writer with The Happy Guy Marketing, owned by David and Chantal Leonhardt (which does mean Lionheart), for the past six years. David Leonhardt did Internet marketing before anyone knew what it was. David sent Samuel’s story to me in 2010. 

4.     How long have you all been writing and why did you decide to become writers?
Samuel: As I said, I failed English, but I’ve always written poetry and songs. I’m 77 now.
Kristin: A young 77! Truly. You should see him do media appearances. I have been writing professionally since 1995 and received my first co-authoring gig in 1998 with Sir Rupert A.L. Perrin, M.D. (gone but not forgotten), but I think I was born with either a pen or a computer in my hand.

5.     What genres do you each prefer to write and why?
Samuel: I write poetry. I wanted to write a children’s book to give the kids some positive role models and to share my story.

Kristin: I write all genres thanks to my clients, although my fondness and my eternal ambition lie with screenplays. And I love novels and plays. I have yet to write cyberpunk, urban fantasy (though that could change any day), vampire romance, western or war. 

6.     What are the difficulties of co-authoring a book?
Kristin and Samuel: None, in our experience!

Kristin: I think in general sometimes making yourself understood. If your co-author doesn’t understand something you’ve written or has a different interpretation. Then you would have to go back and see if you are writing clearly. 

Overall, Samuel was super-supportive of my ideas, and I was responsive to his. I think if there is strong communication you can work together. I don’t mind someone being particular or specific about what they want as long as they are respectful of my creative efforts and the time it takes to give life to the book. This works both ways.

Samuel: Also we are in different time zones, but we still pulled off a great book. She’s based in Hawaii most of the time. See, I wore my Hawaiian shirt just for her. A-lo-ha!

Kristin: He does that whenever he’s on TV! It’s so cute. 

Since we were so far apart geographically writing the book, Samuel in Illinois and me in Hawaii—although I travel frequently and will be in either Canada or California as of this blog post—we had to communicate via email, which is common. In Hawaii I’m up by 7 am at the latest because it’s already noon where Samuel is, for example. We did the book entirely by correspondence, but Samuel is so lively and would send me several emails a day. I typically have four or five projects going so I thrived on it. At some point we should do a joint appearance.

7.     What are the benefits?
Kristin: Seeing Samuel in an Aloha shirt!

Samuel: Having someone who knows about texting! In one scene I wanted the young golf pro Myles, the nephew of this gander Sami that gos through all this heartrbreak, to text his mate Nyles. Myles was born when his mother hatched a golf ball. And I figured, the kids are always texting and they’re on the computer, so I asked Kristin to write a scene with Myles and Nyles texting each other.

8.     What is the process for jointly writing a book?
Kristin: It varies, but what I did was review Samuel’s first chapters. Then I would send him one chapter at a time, when I figured I reached a good stopping point.

Samuel: She also looked at the illustrations—

Kristin: Which everyone raves about.

Samuel: And found new details and new imagination in those pictures by James Borgett.

Kristin: Samuel would send loads of corrections, and after the book was done we jointly reviewed it. It took six months before we were finished, and then he submitted it to Outskirts Press. That took the collaboration to a new level, because now we were proofing galleys, looking at layout and deciding on covers. We finished the book in June 2010 and worked on the publication from August 2010 right up until publication.

Samuel: Samuel: I had several members on my 'team'. I had my teacher from the classes I took from the local college. I had Kristin. I had James Borgett, the illustrator, and also a woman named Joyce Nitsche, who wrote a poem titled "Fore! It Is Spring!" I asked her for permission to include the poem in the book, and it appears in the opening.

What are your plans for marketing the book and where can readers purchase the work?
Kristin: You can buy it at, and on in paperback and on Kindle.

Samuel: I’ve been doing local television spots, and we plan to approach golf schools, to reach the young people, as well as golfers.

Kristin: I have longstanding ties to Palm Springs, so I thought I’d approach golf museums, “rt of golf” shops and any junior golf associations in the area. Also, this blog tour. 

Where can readers learn more about you and your writing?
Samuel: On our Outskirts Press Web site and occasionally through Mather Lifeways.

Kristin: I contribute to You can check out my Author Page.

Any tips for other authors wanting to co-author?
SAMUEL: Have fun with it!

KRISTIN: Communication. It’s my number one co-authoring tool. Also: be flexible. Coauthoring is a ride like no other when it works. You get to combine your strengths and complement each other.

12.  Any other news you’d like to share?
Samuel: The High-Tech Gooseneck Putter has been selected as one of the featured exhibits for the LeadingAge 50th Anniversary Conference Exhibit, Celebrate Age, "Celebrate Age" exhibit at Leading Edge's 50th Anniversary Annual Meeting and Exposition in Washington D,C, on Oct. 16-19, 2011. Maya Angelou, Mary Robinson (the first woman president of Ireland) and Elie Wiesel are featured speakers. says, “LeadingAge is an association of 5,600 not-for-profit organizations dedicated to making America a better place to grow old. We advance policies, promote practices and conduct research that supports, enables and empowers people to live fully as they age. Our promise: Inspire. Serve. Advocate.

Nina Kuzniak and Bessie Sassen of Mathers More than a Café nominated me. Here is what they wrote:
Sam DiMatteo has repriored (tm), not retired! Mather Lifeways developed this term and it is defined as discovering the joy of new direction, rethinking shelved but not forgotten priorities, passions and dreams. Sam discovered much of his creative talent later in life and shares it generously with others. He co-leads a writer's group at Mather's-- More than a Cafe and they have started a writer blog online. He also recently be came certified in Laughter Yoga and teaches on the northwest side of Chicago. Last, but not the least, he has written a children's book called The High Tech Gooseneck Putter. It was released this year.

You can look up LeadingAge. There are several famous speakers. The featured speakers are Richard Jackson, Mary Robinson, Maya Angelou, and Elie Wiesel.

Kristin: That’s why we call it an award-winning book. And let’s not forget our illustrator, James Borgett, is 90! As for me, I’ve been called an old soul but I’m, let’s say, of a different generation. Samuel is young at heart.


  1. Penny, great interview - I learned a lot about Kristin and Samuel. I had the pleasure of featuring The High-Tech Gooseneck Putter over the summer on my blogstie.

    And, Kristin was kind enough to do an amazing review of my children's middle-grade book.

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