Good to Know
In our interview, Volpe shared some fascinating facts about himself:
"My first job was an undertaker's apprentice -- I learned the art of disguise and the power of illusion."
"I loved painting pictures when I was a child and playing the piano. Music is very important for our growth and awareness. I believe that we can achieve our goals by tuning in to our sixth sense."
"The only reason I have become successful in my life is because I chose the road less traveled. Trust yourself, no matter what happens. That is the message I would like to leave readers of this page."
"I have my favorite ways to unwind -- meditating, breathing, taking baths, and surrounding myself with beauty -- but the best way to eliminate stress in one's life is to do what one loves to do; if we follow that path, all else will follow."
"There is only one thing more that I would like to say, and it has to do with honesty. My story (Framed) is about self-deception, and I learned the hard way that truth, honor, and freedom are the greatest gifts we have. I can now enjoy my life in ways I never knew because I am open and free to love and be loved."
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In the summer of 2004, we asked authors featured in Meet the Writers to give us a list of their all-time favorite summer reads, and tell us what makes them just right for the season. Here's Tod Volpe's list:
The Alchemist by Paulo Coehlo -- This is a fable about following your dream that re-inspires me every time I read it. A quick and
light summer read.
The DaVinci Code by Dan Brown -- Everyone is telling me that this is a must read. It combines fine art with mystery and is particular dramatic because it is based on many proven theories.
A Spectacle of Corruption by David Liss – Historical fiction that is peppered with espionage and scullduggery takes me into other times and places. This page turner turns a day at the beach into an adventure.
The Red Tent by Anita Diamant -- Stories inspired by the Bible fascinate me and this transcends time and brings a feminine touch to the word of God. It's a compelling tale that is richly researched and an engrossing read.
The Count Of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas -- I love re reading this classic story of struggle and wish fulfillment. Although some might find it heavy reading I find it re-affirming.
Dracula by Bram Stoker -- This novel of mystery, horror, love, death as well as sin and redemption told indirectly through letters, diary entries and telegrams is a charming and provocative read.
Time and Again by Jack Finney -- This time travel book is wonderful escapist reading. It starts a little be slowly but then takes off and is completely engrossing.
The Five People You Meet In Heaven by Mitch Albom -- I love books that explore the unexpected connections in our lives. As I re-read sections that I found this book thought provoking and strangly comforting.
Tough Jews by Rich Cohen -- This expose of organized crime makes a compatible/comparative read to Framed.
Don't Sweat The Small Stuff by Richard Carlson -- This wisdom filled book of one liners and pithy insights definitly keeps one's perspective when it comes to not letting the little things take on more power than they should.
In the fall of 2003, Tod Volpe took some time out to talk with us about his favorite books, authors, and interests, as well as his own fascinating story, the basis for his art world exposé, Framed: America's Art Dealer to the Star Tells All.
What was the book that most influenced your life or your career as a writer -- and why?
Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse, because it taught me how to let go of the illusion of life and focus on what is real. It was also the journey of a man seeking to free his own soul. In working on Framed for 15 years and going through the transformation that resulted in letting go of the illusions of my own life, I believe I experienced a kind of sacrificial burning of the inner spirit as Siddhartha did in order to free myself and become who I am today -- not who I was when I was consumed with fame and fortune. Siddhartha left what most people would perceive as being the good life to find something deeper. In essence, this is what happened to me, in a spiritual sense. On the earthly plane, the story is quite different but equally thought provoking.
What are your ten favorite books, and what makes them special to you?
The Little Lame Prince by Miss Mulock -- It was the first book I read as a child and affected me in a very deep way. I believe it was a metaphor for my mother's belief that I was able to fulfill my dreams -- which, in fact, were her dreams.
Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson -- This book impacted my sense of adventure.
Peter Pan by J. M. Barrie -- This book gave me the incentive to believe in my dreams and the power of the imagination.
A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens -- This story gives me a sense of security in that the world that we all want to live in where family, hearth, and home still exists -- despite the travails we are subjected to on a daily basis.
The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck -- It shows the true side of hardship in American life and how one man's spirit can overcome the odds.
Jonathan Livingston Seagull by Richard Bach -- It shows that we can be different and can influence others to be the same.
A Bridge Across Forever by Richard Bach -- Tells us that we can find our true love on earth.
The Bible -- The stories in this book are unsurpassed in their inspiration and messages.
Fear into Power by Tony Robbins -- One of the truly great inspirational books of all time.
The Inner Game of Tennis by W. Timothy Gallwey -- It teaches you how to play the game of life from within.
What are some of your favorite films, and what makes them unforgettable to you?
Lost Horizons -- The story of one man's journey to find his Shangri-La.
The Miracle of the Bells -- Shows us how one man's faith can save a person's dream.
Rocky -- The story of someone with so much courage that he beat the odds.
The Flight of the Phoenix -- Demonstrates how people can work together to create a way out of a situation that seems hopeless.
A Bridge Too Far -- One of the truly great films that deals with people's never-ending fight for freedom.
The Shawshank Redemption -- For its depiction of how good overcomes evil.
What types of music do you like? Is there any particular kind you like to listen to when you're writing?Fusion Jazz
Bach's Preludes and Fugues
Sir Edward Elgar (the Pomp and Circumstance waltz)
I generally do not listen to music to write, only to stimulate my imagination before putting my ideas on paper. I find silence the greatest space to access the information in the unconscious. Our surroundings do have a profound affect on our creativity, though. I try and put myself in a place that is close in spirit to the work I am doing.
If you had a book club, what would it be reading -- and why?
Books on spiritual transformation and the truth (true stories) about people's lives. We are living in chaotic times, and it is the best time in our history to learn about ourselves and inspire others to grow based on our experiences and those who have journeyed before us.
What are your favorite kinds of books to give -- and get -- as gifts?
Books about bigger-than-life subjects -- for instance, H. G. Wells's The Time Machine or From the Earth to the Moon -- anything that inspires the imagination. Or, books on finding one's true love or longing for it, like Emily Brontë's Wuthering Heights.
Do you have any special writing rituals? For example, what do you have on your desk when you're writing?
I usually keep sacred things near me: photos of my family and/or things that have traveled with me, crystals or art objects that relate to places I've been or people I have known. I believe objects hold a great deal of power for us.
What are you working on now?
The Sandman -- a modern-day version of The Wizard of Oz on the same scale as Harry Potter, about a man who escorts souls from this world to the next; it's a kind of life-and-death story that will enable people to see life --- and death -- differently.
Many writers are hardly "overnight success" stories. How long did it take for you to get where you are today? Any rejection-slip horror stories or inspirational anecdotes?
I have been working on Framed for 15 years. It took an army of people to get this book published and many years of struggling and sacrifice. No, it did not come easily, but when we are determined we can overcome all obstacles. At first try, almost every publisher in New York rejected this book; now it is getting worldwide acclaim. All it takes is for one person to say yes and believe in us. In my case, I had many people, but three stand out among the rest: Sterling Lord, Bill Campbell, and Steve Riggio.
If you could choose one new writer to be "discovered," who would it be -- and why?
Jane Bernard. She is a fine writer who is trying to get her book Fine Tuning -- about accessing the heart and intuition -- to people. She does not have a media platform, which makes it hard for publishers to recognize her work. She has been writing for 30 years and deserves to have her work shared with others.
What tips or advice do you have for writers still looking to be discovered?
Never give up -- eventually you will succeed if you continue to believe in yourself and ask God for help. I believe in the power of prayer. It works miracles because we access deep internal energy when we reach within for the answers.
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