If you could cook dinner for any author, dead or alive, who would it be? What would you make?
George R.R. Martin could probably fill an entire novel with descriptions of food taken from his Song of Ice and Fire series. I’ve been watching a lot of Top Chef and Great British Baking Show lately, so I’d like the challenge of cooking an entire tasting menu for him!
What scares you the most about the writing process? How do you combat your fears?
The starting. The sitting straining searching. The staring at a screen or notebook for over an hour only to realize what is there is not good. You might think it’s not as big an issue when writing petite poems, but with the limited space and emphasis on word choice it can be even more painful.
Who is your biggest literary crush, author or character?
Elizabeth from Robert Munsch’s The Paper Bag Princess. When she turned down Ronald at the end of the story I fell smack in love.
What books are on your nightstand?
I am currently reading Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchet (before I watch the show!), Oracle Night by Paul Auster and I am saving a prime nightstand spot for Orange World by Karen Russell. Some old favorites I return to often are Mark Z. Danielewski’s House of Leaves and Once A Runner by John L. Parker, Jr.
Favorite punctuation mark? Why?
Definitely an ellipsis . . . I love how it evokes an ergodic response from the reader. When you see it, you slow down your eyes and inner thoughts at the same time - very powerful magic for an author to achieve through three little dots.
What book were you supposed to read in high school, but never did?
The Grapes of Wrath - and shame on me. I had just read The Catcher in the Rye and fell so deeply in love with its angst and anger toward “phony” people that it was hard for my rigid, teenage self to go through any book with religious connotations so closely tied to it.
What inanimate object would you thank in your acknowledgements?
Brews from Tree House Brewery!
Does writing energize or exhaust you?
Both? I get energy from adding in allusions or by finding the perfect meter for how I want to describe something. This is still a lot of mental effort, though, so if I don’t pace myself it can make my work sloppy!
What are common traps for aspiring writers?
Trying to model your voice after authors you like. It’s a great exercise, but your best work is always in your own voice.
What is your writing Kryptonite?
Background noise. I never understood how people like my college roommate could write or work with music blaring through his headphones or reruns of “How I Met Your Mother” on in the background!
Have you ever gotten reader’s block?
Does it count as reader’s block if a book loses my interest? There are some books I want to read but just don’t get me caught up in the story. I usually let the book languish on my nightstand until I put it away in favor of another.
Do you think someone could be a writer if they don’t feel emotions strongly?
Yes. Maybe not a poet, though!
What other authors are you friends with, and how do they help you become a better writer?
Peggy Schaedler, author of the Dagger and Dash series, was a former teacher of mine and really opened my eyes to how much influence an author has over their work. I carried this thinking all the way through college and it informed my personal critical thinking about considering the author’s life as part of their work rather than the work on its own.
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 would rather each book stand on its own. Maybe even each poem.
How did publishing your first book change your process of writing?
My first book was really more like a shotgun blast of poems I sent out hoping they would all hit somewhere near the target. Going through the publishing process made my next attempt a lot closer to the finished product right from the beginning.
What was the best money you ever spent as a writer?
My Lenovo Thinkpad. I love it.
What authors did you dislike at first but grew into?
This sounds insane, but William Faulkner. My first introduction to him was A Light in August and I couldn’t stand it! Later, I read As I Lay Dying and realized why he was so revered.
What was an early experience where you learned that language had power?
When I was in elementary school I remember writing a story about visiting Haunted Happenings at the old G. Fox building in Connecticut. My teacher loved it. It was the first time I can remember someone outside my family getting enjoyment from my writing.
What’s your favorite under-appreciated novel?
Once a Runner by John L. Parker, Jr. It’s an incredibly niche book and topic, but perfectly done. If you were ever an even mildly competitive runner, you need to read it.
As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot/avatar/spirit animal?
What type of animal sequesters themselves away in a small space and won’t come out until they have accomplished a task? Some type of rodent or insect, probably.
How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?
I have many sketched-out ideas for books and poetry collections, but nothing even remotely half-finished!
What does literary success look like to you?
If I can change one person’s mood or positively affect their day through my work, that is a success.
What’s the best way to market your books?
Word of mouth, which I guess is social media these days. When people share one of my poems that spoke to them, others want to know more about my writing.
What’s the most difficult thing about writing characters from the opposite sex?
“You know, I’ve always considered women to be people.” - George R.R. Martin
What did you edit out of this book?”
I tried to make this book a little less stuffy and more accessible, so I edited a lot of technical poetic devices out.
If you didn’t write, what would you do for work?
I teach elementary school AND write, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
David Wasserman is the author of Tiny Footcrunch and Dealing, poetry collections.
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