[Since my previous Interview with the Author went so swimmingly, (and I finally warmed up to the questioning-and-answering-myself thing), I decided to continue the dialogue. This is good practice, to anticipate questions that might be asked of me at some point, like in case my book becomes wildly successful, catapults up the best-seller list, is translated into a hundred foreign languages, made into a Major Motion Picture starring Josh Hutcherson from The Hunger Games, and I end up being interviewed by Matt Lauer on The Today Show. Or not. (Call me, Matt Lauer!) Anyway, on to Interview with the Author, Part Deux…]
Q: So lovely to see you again, Cal.
A: Likewise, Cal.
Q: This is dumb.
A: I know.
Q: So I’ll move on to the first question.
A: Yes, that would be best.
Q: Tell us about the process behind writing the novel Being Henry David.
A: Well, I wrote the first draft of Being Henry David over the course of a month. I was doing a writing experiment—trying out National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo, to those in the know)—and just letting the story spill out, without any editing or hesitating or thinking too hard. The goal is just to get 50,000 words on paper—or in the computer—and worry later about making it sound pretty. It was actually a really cool, organic way to write a story. Some of what I wrote was total crap, but other parts were surprisingly visceral and real because I was just letting the words flow without a filter. It took me a couple years after that to polish it into a reasonable manuscript, but it gave me a starting point. Like the lump of clay on a potter’s wheel that might someday be molded into a nice fruit bowl. Or something.
Q: Have you written any other young adult novels?
A: As a matter of fact, I have. I started writing Slow Dancing on the Edge of the Roof while I was in grad school, and finished it the summer after I graduated in 2007. I think of it as my “training “novel. (Sort of like a training bra, but different.) I sent it out to a number of agents, and got some lovely rejection letters of the “we like it, but we don’t quite love it” variety.
Q: What is Slow Dancing on the Edge of the Roof about?
A: Well, it’s about this 16-year old girl named Cassie whose mother sends her away for the summer to live at her crazy grandmother’s farm.
Q: That’s it?
A: No, there’s a whole lot more, but it’s hard to sum up. It’s mainly about relationships, but there’s no real “hook.” That’s part of the problem. Maybe I’ll revisit it someday and turn it into something. Just because you’ve got yourself a training bra doesn’t mean you’ve got something magnificent to put into it yet. Just saying.
Q: Profound. And are you currently working on another young adult novel?
A: I am. I’ve got the whole thing percolating in here. (Points, incorrectly, at frontal cortex.) About three chapters are written so far. The working title is Life Shards, but that could change about eighty-five more times before I’m done. That’s all I’m authorized to reveal at this time.
Q: Now, last question. Please tell us about your writing routine.
A: Back to this, are we? Do we really have to go there?
Q: Look you have to be prepared for this question. People always ask published writers about their routine, like maybe there’s some magic in it. Admit it, anytime an author you admire reveals his or her writing routine, you write it down like they’re sacred words to live by, and vow to imitate those practices exactly.
A: Yeah, you’re right. I do admit to that.
A: Okay. Well, every morning after I take my dog Layla for a walk around the neighborhood, I go into my office, close the door, open my computer, and write from 9 a.m. to noon. Or longer, if it’s going well.
Q: You lie.
A: Yep. That’s a total lie. In my defense, it’s what I intend to do every morning. Sometimes I get distracted by Facebook or emails, or there’s a phone call, or big breaking news on TV, or a spider on the ceiling, or something sparkly.
Q: In other words, you don’t have much of a writing routine.
A: It’s a haphazard operation, yes. But somehow I get the job done in bits and pieces, in my office, at the kitchen table, the local coffee shop, or in front of the TV half-watching America’s Top Model. It’s in these moments of total obsession when I get lost in my writing and forget to eat or get dressed or put on deodorant that I’m most productive. (P.S. The part about forgetting to eat is also a lie.) I’m really good with deadlines too, real or imagined.
Q: Which is why we’re working on this blog on September 30, the day before our self-imposed deadline of October 1st.
A: Don’t say we and our. It sounds way too “Sybil” to me.
Q: I agree.
A: Please…stop that.
Q: And so, another author interview comes to an awkward close. Thanks for reading!