… for some people, the past continues to gnaw at and disturb the present, and maybe this seemingly simple sentence is at root behind everything I’ve ever felt compelled to write.”
How did you discover that you were a writer?
In adolescence when it was the only way I could sort out the chaos that life seemed to be; it then became the only way for me to understand, to be able to put my emotions or experiences into a form and then look at them from more of a distance. And then, (or therefore?) I really wasn’t suited for any other line of work.
Describe your writing process.
By now, I’m not so much spewing raw emotion in order to control, examine and understand it. Working on a current project is discipline, but without any mandatory “words per day.” I do not stress over long dry periods because I know my brain is working behind-the-scenes and eventually I’ll know where to go. All through the day (and night) if I get an idea for anything from a piece of dialogue to a detail that has to change, I write it on a scrap of paper and those scraps end up on my desk to be attended to (expanded or remembered) in word docs of notes and lists. Research is very important and at times might be more than 50% of writing time. So I have two monitors with the internet on one and my word doc on the other. Research is everything from idioms and popular culture of a certain time period to how the legal system works for particular offenses or when a baby might be starting to talk or walk (since I don’t have children).
What was the inspiration behind what you’ll be reading at Waterline?
My selected stories were just published, so these pieces are from some of the far-flung corners of my career, all with different origins. If there’s something in common, it’s how, for some people, the past continues to gnaw at and disturb the present, and maybe this seemingly simple sentence is at root behind everything I’ve ever felt compelled to write.
What are you working on now?
My current novel concerns a man who tried to escape the disappointment of not spending life with the person he loves, so he creates a substitute life just so he won’t be alone, and that relationship verges on abusive (with the man not the abuser).
What was the last great thing you read by another author?
Probably an Edith Wharton, Willa Cather, or Alice Munroe.
You’re organizing a literary dinner party. Which writer, dead or alive, do you invite?
See above! Plus at least one who can cook.