Saturday, March 2, 2013

Next Big Thing Interview

            I'm very happy to say that I get to do something totally different than usual today.  My friend Graham Isaac just released his first grown-up book (with an ISBN and everything!) Filthy Jerry's Guide to Parking Lots with Babel/Salvage, and subsequently tagged me in the Next Big Thing interview, wherein I answer some questions about upcoming projects and subsequently tag other folks.
            And so, without further ado, I, interview myself, I guess.

            What is the working title of your next manuscript?

            Beltenebros, or the Beautiful Obscure.

            Where did the idea come from for the book?

            Some time in 2011 I started reading Don Quixote, by Cervantes.  And by reading, I mean inching through very slowly.  I was taking tons of notes, but I didn't have any plans to write anything in response.  It's a classic, it was on my "must read these classic novels before I die" list, so I just took my time and enjoyed getting pulled into Don Quixote and Sancho Panza's characters and interactions.  Somewhere along the line a little phrase came to me, and I jotted it in my journal; not a huge thing, since that happens all the time and I don't use 99% of the snippets.  But somehow I knew the snippet had to do with Quixote.  I wasn't sure how, and that snippet didn't make it to the final cut, but I started getting more and more poetic responses to the text and kept noting them down until I realized I had a project on my hands.

            What genre does your book fall under?

            I'm thinking of it as a small-book-length poem, but there are prose sections as well.  I guess there are three types of writing:  really abstract poetry; a couple lyric pieces; and several imaginary letters written between characters in the novel.

            What actors would you choose to play the parts of your characters in a movie rendition?

            I'm ignoring the problem of time and saying Charlie Chaplin should be Don Q and Robin Williams should play Sancho Panza.  Or you could probably just reverse them.  You could make it super artsy and have them keep switching back and forth who was playing whom.  That is, if Sir Charlie hadn't been driven to an untimely death by the Patriot Act.  I mean, the House Un-American Activities Committee.

            What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

            While moving between heavily abstracted night scenes and imaginary battles, and more narrative sections of letters and lyric poetry, some of the themes of the novel Don Quixote are teased out:  dreaming, insanity, playing with gender, and the idealization of "the lady."  (That's an ugly sentence.  Why did I have to get it all into one?)

            How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?

            That's hard to say.  I count the reading of the novel as part of the time, because I did start generating some of the material then.  So if I counted reading and writing, one year.  If just writing, about six months.

            Who or what inspired you to write this book?

            Signor Quixote.  Sancho Panza.  Dulcinea del Toboso.  And Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, and Tobias Smollett, whose translation I used.  The piece is as much an homage to Smollett's translation as it is to the novel itself.  It's spectacularly funny, especially if you have any kind of a Shakespeare background.

            What else about your book might pique the reader's interest?

            Well, my concerns tend to center around beauty, and whether such a thing is possible in the modern world; and knowing reality versus believing a dream/madness.  Also, again, the whole lady love thing.  I'm actually a huge fan of the idea of courtly and idealized love, probably because it's produced some damn good work.  But there are problems there, of course, especially since I'm a woman.  So probably people who are interested in those same issues would be interested in the book.

            Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

            My book will be published by none other than the aforementioned Babel/Salvage!

            My tagged writers are...

            John Opsand Sutherland and Evan J. Peterson.

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