Congratulations on your beautiful new book, “Nobody Will Like This Book”. Could you tell us a little about the idea behind it and about your writing journey; how it started out, whether it changed much along the way?
Thank you for calling it beautiful! I was having fun creating my book “The Dancing Fish” (poems and drawings), and I wanted to do something similar as the next project. I had learned that putting limitations on a project can help fire up creativity, and I wondered if I could make a children’s book that’s different than the picture books I’ve seen. The book itself would be the character. In the first draft, the book didn’t have any illustrations. I thought it would be more interesting with drawings, so I added those. Several ideas for “different” pages didn’t make it to the second and third drafts, since I didn’t want the book to be too long to read to kids – they might’ve gotten bored.
What led you to write your first novel? Was there anything that surprised you about writing speculative fiction (or being a writer)? Share your writing routines with us.
My first novella started as a short story: “Don’t Lose Your Head.” I put the short story away for a while, and when I re-read it, I wanted to see what happened next. Part of the story was born when I saw an unusual art exhibit of tall jars containing what looked like human hair. Added to that was the advice of an author (I can’t remember his name) at a book festival: “Write something that scares you.” Alan is the main character in the story, and his actions occasionally surprised me during writing. I didn’t want him to be a purely good hero. As for my routine: I write in the morning since that’s when my creativity is strongest. Mornings have openness when I feel anything is possible. The day can bring reality as it grows older.
Are you a writer who starts with a setting or maybe an image, rather than a plot idea or theme?
Typically, an idea of a situation pops in my head. I love daydreaming, and images will spring with that. I was playing around with rhyming words, then came up minotaur and door. I first thought it could become a poem. But then I had the image of three guys in a house with a minotaur knocking on the front door. And the guys acted silly, like the Three Stooges. That became a short story, then a novella.
Is there another subgenre that you haven’t explored yet that you would like to? And are there any that you have no interest in? Why?
Right now, I’m into absurdity/weird. That can fall into the categories of science fiction, fantasy, or horror. I don’t know what some of my stories fall into. In “Jumble” (my collection of short stories), there’s a story where a sock and glove have a conversation. I guess that might be labeled as fantasy? I’m open to trying different genres. I admire artists like Ang Lee, who directed films in a wide variety of genres/subjects: “Life of Pi” and “Brokeback Mountain” and “Hulk” and more. I’m not super interested in romance and erotica as genres. I blush very easily. Although, I could include those styles in scenes within books. A short scene can be powerful if well crafted. One of John D. MacDonald’s thriller novels has a scene during a thunderstorm that’s quite spicy.
Classical or modern literature? Explain your choices.
Modern. I occasionally read classic books, and I can get wrapped into the story. To me, a classical book requires patience that I don’t always have. Modern stories have an energy that draws me in more.
I’m currently reading your book “Don’t lose your head.” What’s one thing you would suggest a reader keep in mind as they read this particular novel?
Imagination can be a scary place. It’s not all rainbows and friendly unicorns. Alan (the main character) does stuff in the book that made me wonder about parts of my imagination. I’m not going to blame the horror books and movies that I’ve consumed for those parts. The early drafts of my story were darker, and I told myself to tone it down to make the story more plausible for the published book.
Who (or what) is your main inspiration?
Stories that cause me to think in different ways and daydream about possibilities beyond what I see as “reality.” For example, stories by Karen Russell, Haruki Murakami, Octavia Butler, and Harlan Ellison.
What’s next for you? (writing plans, etc.)
I’m adding old short stories, poems, and drawings to my blog – and creating new ones. When I’m ready, I’m going to start researching and expanding the novel draft that I finished last summer. It’s kind of sci-fi and thriller, with some horror. A similar way to how those adjectives might describe “Annhilation” by Jeff VanderMeer.
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