Author Q+A with Chris Drabick
If you could cook dinner for any author, dead or alive, who would it be? What would you make?
I always enjoyed David Goodis’ books, but I’ve also read that he wasn’t a great person to spend time around. Maybe if he was filling his face with my renowned French Toast, he’d be happier.
What scares you the most about the writing process? How do you combat your fears?
I don’t like the thought that no one will ever read what I’ve written. I combat that fear by always assuming no one will ever read what I’ve written.
Who is your biggest literary crush, author or character?
I’ll go with the movies here--Jane Greer as Kathie Moffat in Out of the Past. Femmes fatale.
What books are on your nightstand?
The only novel there is Hark by Sam Lipsyte. My friend Michael Goroff sent it to me when I was still in the hospital recovering from my cerebellar stroke. There are presumably books there for me to read to Augie and Elliott, my sons who are seven and five, respectively.
Favorite punctuation mark? Why?
I like the semi-colon. No one seems to understand how it’s used, including me.
What book were you supposed to read in high school, but never did?
I always read the assigned books.
What inanimate object would you thank in your acknowledgements?
Does someone’s butt count?
If you could write an inspirational quote on the mirrors of aspiring writers, what would you write?
Don’t listen to anyone.
Does writing energize or exhaust you?
What are common traps for aspiring writers?
Listening too much to other writers. We all work in unique ways.
What is your writing Kryptonite?
Have you ever gotten reader’s block?
Do you think someone could be a writer if they don’t feel emotions strongly?
I suppose it depends on what they want to write.
What other authors are you friends with, and how do they help you become a better writer?
I don’t really like anyone.
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 will assume no one will read any subsequent books of mine.
How did publishing your first book change your process of writing?
Publishing didn’t change anything.
What was the best money you ever spent as a writer?
Google is free.
What authors did you dislike at first but grew into?
This is a good question, but I can’t think of anyone.
What’s your favorite under-appreciated novel?
James Hynes’ truly wonderful Next seems to have been forgotten.
As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot/avatar/spirit animal?
Any caricature of an Italian cook from a pizza box. I’d prefer that the cook be saying, “You gonna like it!”
What do you owe the real people upon whom you base your characters?
I’d like any of them to read the story or book in question. I hope they’d be flattered.
How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?
What marks something as “half-finished?”
What does literary success look like to you?
Seeing one’s name in print feels like nothing else.
What’s the best way to market your books?
I’m a 90s kid, and I still love alt-weeklies. The more alt-weeklies I can speak with, the better.
What’s the most difficult thing about writing characters from the opposite sex?
Remaining respectful without being too obvious about it.
What did you edit out of this book?”
I removed some chapters that seemed too tangential to the central narrative.
If you didn’t write, what would you do for work?
I will defer to This is Spinal Tap here:
Nigel Tufnel: Well, I suppose I could work in a shop of some kind or... or do um... freelance... selling of some sort of... um... product, you know...
Marty DiBergi: A salesman, you think you...
Nigel Tufnel: A salesman, like, maybe in a haberdasher, or maybe like a... um, a chapeau shop, or something... you know, like: "Would you... what size do you wear, sir?" and then you answer me.
Marty DiBergi: Uh... seven and a quarter.
Nigel Tufnel: "I think we have that...", you see, something like that I could do.
Marty DiBergi: Yeah... you think you'd be happy doing something like-...
Nigel Tufnel: "No! We're all out, do you wear black?", see, that sort of thing, I think I could probably muster up.
Marty DiBergi: Yeah, do you think you'd be happy doing that?
Nigel Tufnel: Well, I don't know, wh-wh-what are the hours?
Chris Drabick is the author of THE WAY WE GET BY.
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