Thursday, September 9, 2021

The Road is Long: inspiring interviews with your favorite authors

Good morning, readers! It’s a beautiful week in the Poconos. The summer heat has subsided, leaving us with sunny days and near autumnal temperatures. As much as I love a pumpkin spice latte, I am not ready for summer to be over because once it’s gone, we get a blip of fall, and then we’re faced with endless months of frigid days and bare trees. Hang on a little longer, August.  

I thought I would do something different with this month’s interview piece. Rather than do a straight author Q&A, I threw on my librarian hat to assemble a small collection of inspiring interviews with the most successful and dope writers working today. So hold onto your butts and get motivated.

First up is one of my favorite interviews with the most ‘money’ of screenwriters--Jon Favreau. Who would’ve guessed that the genius behind Swingers would also be the creative giant behind many Marvel movies and the Mandalorian? In this interview for the Writers Guild of America West, Favreau talks about his writing process and keeping the story in sight. My biggest takeaway from the interview: writing before your brain fully wakes up.  

Elizabeth Gilbert’s take on criticism has a special corner in my writing brain. In this 2014 blog post from her website, Gilbert answers a reader’s question on how to cope with both personal and professional criticism. Gilbert reveals that she “has been on the business end of some really majestic denigration over the years, too.” If that doesn’t make you feel better after a one-star Amazon review, I don’t know what will. My biggest takeaway from the interview is Gilbert’s famous retort: "If people don't like what I've written, they can go write their own f**king books." Damn straight. 

If you haven’t read this yet, get on it. The New York Times recently published an interview with S.A. Cosby, award-winning author of Razorblade Tears and Blacktop Wasteland. He impressed his now agent--Josh Getzler--when he sat on an author panel at a conference and responded to a woman in the audience who was waxing poetic about the antebellum South. Cosby is the kind of guy with whom you’d want to sidle up to in a bar and buy a drink. Also his wife is a mortician, and I have so many questions about that. My biggest takeaway is that Cosby got his start with small presses and short stories, and his success came over time. If you don’t have a subscription to NYT, save one of your free articles for this.  

Almost every writer I know has read Stephen King’s On Writing, but there are also his many interviews to mine for writing gold. One of my favorites is this piece he very recently did with Esquire Magazine where he discussed his new project Billy Summers. I particularly like this interview because he specifically discusses noir and it’s one-last-job sub-genre, not to mention the hard task of writing a book inside a book. For all of you who are tackling ambitious projects, definitely check out this interview. 

Lastly, this interview with Elmore Leonard. He is one of the most prolific and celebrated writers of our time. Leonard died in 2013, but he is best known for his westerns and crime fiction bestsellers such as Out of Sight and Get Shorty, as well as these nuggets of wisdom: “If it sounds like writing, I rewrite it," and "I try to leave out the parts that readers tend to skip.” Leonard is often regaled for his gritty and realistic dialogue, even being asked if he ever did time. If you’re a fan of his, or just want to appreciate his pragmatic approach to writing, check out this interview from 2006.

If you have a link to an author interview that brings you inspiration, post it in the comments.

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