What are your top three favorite books and why? They’re not all novels, if that’s what you mean but right now I’m thinking a lot about Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale. Atwood is a seer who reads right into the heart of civilization. I also spend a lot of time in Claude Levi-Strauss’s Mythologiques because a writer needs to have a solid understanding of anthropology and myth. Finally, Lynn Margulis’s Acquiring Genomes is a terrific book that helps me see how Life (with a capital L) isn’t defined solely as human. Very humbling to think that the bacteria in your body have been there from the beginning.
What was your favorite book as a child and why? To be honest with you, I don’t remember any books from my childhood. Music was my art from the time I was 5. I played the piano early but I don’t remember learning to read either words or music. My reading life really didn’t start until I was in high school where I discovered Albert Camus’s The Stranger and Nietzsche’s Beyond Good and Evil. Of course I didn’t understand Camus, Nietzsche or Existentialism until later, but they were foundation authors for me.
What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk? Quirk? Being a writer is quirky in a culture that worships glitz and media superstars. You think about it—sitting alone in a room with your only friend a computer and a printer stirring up worlds of imaginary creatures and making them talk. Yeah. Being a writer is about as quirky as it gets.
Do you write full-time or part-time? My writing consumes my life so I guess I’ll say full-time. By that I mean my days are structured and organized around writing. Just about everything I do feeds into the writing. You can’t spend twenty hours a day at it because you have to eat and shop and even sometimes talk to other people—my wife insists on having dinner together every night.
If you could do anything in the world, what would it be and why? Tough question because it’s a big wide world full of all kinds of challenges. Right now the practical thing would be to find a way to think books into existence without having to write them on a machine.
What is the craziest thing you ever did? This could be as a writer or any other time in your life. A few years ago I sold everything I owned and ran off to South America for a year. I traveled with a Chilean ex-pat, Ramon Barrientos. We lived “off the land” so to speak because Ramon was a super-psychopathic con-man. He taught me a lot about lying and cheating and using people and all of that comes into my work. Without Ramon and that year in a time of violence, my writing would, more than likely, be pretty bland.
Did you feel like a celebrity when you held your first published book? No. Not at all. My first book was an experimental novel called The Stolen House. It was published by Pig Iron Press in the early days of the small press revolution. We wanted to be as subversive as possible in the process of building what was called the “counter-culture” so celebrity was the farthest thing from my mind. Revolution and redefinition of art and writing were the goals. We didn’t succeed in wiping out popular culture but Pig Iron Press still lives. For several years, I wrote a fifty page novella every three months for Pig Iron.
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Genre – Women’s Fiction
Rating – PG
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