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The following is a transcript of an interview for Brill’s Contentville website.

Contentville’s Author Q&A With Charlene Lichtenstein
Charlene Lichtenstein is the author of HerScopes; A Guide to Astrology For Lesbians (Fireside, June 2000).

How did you get the idea for your new book?
I wish I could say that it was an idea fermenting in my fertile imagination for years, but the truth is that I was contacted by Carrie Thornton (then of Simon & Schuster) who had seen my work in a couple of newspapers and loved my writing style. I was asked to send in a proposal and a sample chapter and the rest is history... or is it herstory?

How long did it take you to write it?
About 9 months of sleepless nights and three crates of Nutter Butters.

What is your favorite chapter or passage in the book and why?
It’s a toss up between the Introduction, which I wrote last, and Sagittarius, which I wrote first. When I wrote the Introduction it meant that I was in the home stretch and it also put all the individual sign chapters into context. Sagittarius was my first chapter and, in a wave of initial optimism, it led me to believe that all signs would be easy to write. Ha!

Which chapter or passage was hardest to write and why?
Libra. They are the most beloved of all the signs (at least they think so) and I had a hard time coming up with their weaknesses... however I eventually managed to find a few.

As a writer, what is your greatest strength? Your greatest weakness?
I would like to think that my greatest strength is a combination of depth of perception into the human soul and a prescient understanding of human nature, but it is more than likely my ability to go for the cheap, crass laugh.
Greatest weakness? Lack of any ego whatsoever. People walk all over me. Sigh!

When and where do you write?
My best writing seems to take place very late at night and very early in the morning. Maybe that's because there is nothing particularly good on television then. I have a small, claustrophobic workspace that’s full of new age tsochkas, papers and books.

What's the strangest habit you have while you’re working on a book?
Aside from dancing in the nude to klezmer? Absolutely nothing.

How did your editor help or hurt your book? What did he or she do?
My editor Carrie left Simon & Schuster before my book was finished and Marcella Landres, my current editor, inherited the project. I am very lucky; she has been a tremendous source of support as well as a great lover of astrology. The stars were obviously well aligned.
My book was immediately accepted in the proposal stage and ultimately required very little rewrite so this is obviously a dangerous first experience for me. I am probably spoiled, even though my family would find that hard to believe. Ahem.

What is the best advice about writing anyone ever gave you, and who gave it?
Frankly the best advice I have received was about the business of writing; A friend of mine who wrote a computer language textbook told me to never, ever, give up the aquatic ballet rights to a book. He did so with his and has regretted it ever since. While I managed to retain these rights, I was forced to give up the theme park ride rights. This decision continues to haunt me.

If you weren't a writer, what would you do?
It is more of matter of what I can do. Waitressing again? Hmmm, maybe not. How about layabout and girl gigolo?

Which is the best city or town to give a reading in? Which is the worst?
Best: New York — you can get a crowd, even at 4am, to sit for anything.
Worst: New York — everybody is a critic!

What is the best book you’ve read this year?
"Examining Hitler" — Do you know Hitler had moon in Capricorn?

Who’s the best book reviewer in the country?
Unofficially, my parents. They love everything I write — or so they say to my face.

What was your favorite movie of last year?
Toss up between Being John Malkovich and Boys Don’t Cry.

What is your favorite magazine?
The Mountain Astrologer, The Advocate. On the web; Looking Deeper Magazine and Salon.

What is the one TV show you cannot live without? (No reruns, please.)
Law & Order — a real New York show that is filmed in the city. I am also a great fan of leased access tv.

What else do we absolutely have to know about you?
1. My website is www.AccessNewAge.com
2. I have been writing horoscopes for discerning newspapers and magazines since 1989.
3. I have a small mole on my inner thigh.

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