If you could cook dinner for any author, dead or alive, who would it be? What would you make?
My cooking is a work-in-progress. But I would put on an evening pot of coffee for the late great Charles Bowden.
What scares you the most about the writing process? How do you combat your fears?
Everything about writing scares me. But accepting fear is essential for any successful creative pursuit.
Who is your biggest literary crush, author or character?
Desire is the root of suffering.
What books are on your nightstand?
A mixture of social histories, Buddhist philosophy, environmental studies, and strange novels.
Favorite punctuation mark? Why?
Probably the em dash. I don’t know any better.
What books were you supposed to read in high school, but never did?
Most of them.
What inanimate object would you thank in your acknowledgements?
The beat-up REI backpack I’ve been rocking since 2002.
If you could write an inspirational quote on the mirrors of aspiring writers, what would you write?
Get to work.
Does writing energize or exhaust you?
Exhausts in the short term, energizes in the long term.
What are common traps for aspiring writers?
Ego and procrastination.
What is your writing Kryptonite?
Have you ever gotten writer’s block?
Do you think someone could be a writer if they don’t feel emotions strongly?
What other authors are you friends with, and how do they help you become a better writer?
I’m so new at this, I don’t really have author friends yet. But someday we should all meet up for espresso.
Do you want each book to stand on its own, or are you trying to build a body of work with connections between each book?
I’ve adopted the view that all works of art are in conversation with one another, either directly or indirectly.
How did publishing your first book change your process of writing?
Publishing my first book convinced me that top-to-bottom rewrites are worth the time and uncertainty. I’ve already done it again.
What was the best money you ever spent as a writer?
What authors did you dislike at first but grew into?
The reverse occurred with most of the Beat Generation. I still love Ginsberg, though.
What was an early experience where you learned that language had power?
Swearing in elementary school.
What’s your favorite under-appreciated novel?
Tears of the Trufflepig by Fernando A. Flores.
As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot/avatar?
The pronghorn antelope.
What do you owe the real people upon whom you base your characters?
I suppose they would have to tell me that if they ever found out. If their demands are reasonable, I’ll listen.
How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?
I wrote my first novel when I was sixteen, from 2007 to 2008. Since then, I’ve been churning out about one project a year. Probably about a dozen unpublished novels, in other words.
What does literary success look like to you?
Respect from my readers. Maybe also a nice one-bedroom apartment.
What’s the best way to market your books?
What’s the most difficult thing about writing characters from the opposite sex?
No matter the character, I always ask: What does this person want, what are the contradictions of that desire, and what are the consequences of those contradictions? Works for everybody.
What did you edit out of this book?”
This book began as a trilogy, so technically, I edited out two other books to get this one.
If you didn’t write, what would you do for work?
In my early twenties, I survived a brief but memorable career as a behavioral health specialist. I got stabbed at one point. By a child.
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