Monica Wood interview with David Alan Binder
Post date: Apr 17, 2016 3:07:41 PM
Monica Wood interview with David Alan Binder
Her bio from Good Reads: Monica Wood is the author of five works of fiction, most recently Any Bitter Thing, which spent 21 weeks on the American Booksellers Association extended bestseller list and was named a Book Sense Top Ten pick. Her other fiction includes Ernie’s Ark and My Only Story, a finalist for the Kate Chopin Award.
1. Where are you currently living?
Portland, Maine. I was born and raised about 75 miles north, in a small mill town called Mexico, Maine.
2. What is the most important thing that you have learned in your writing experience, so far?
Patience. It takes a long time to figure out what we’re writing about. A longer time to then write it.
3. Who is the name of your publisher and in what city are they?
I’m a traditionally published writer, currently with Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. But the world is changing. It’s really hard to be traditionally published these days, and more and more writers—even those who previously went the big-publisher route—are turning to self-publishing because even though it’s difficult in some ways, the remuneration is bigger and more immediate if the book sells even modestly well.
4. Do you have any insights eBooks vs. print books and alternative vs. conventional publishing?
I don’t read online or listen to audiobooks, but I’m all for whatever gets the books into a reader’s heart!
5. Do you have any suggestions or helps for new writers (please be specific and informational as possible)?
I think a lot of new writers are too focused on publishing, to be honest. You have to respect your apprenticeship. I often get 20-year-olds (or younger) asking me how to get their first book published. The truth is, their first book probably isn’t good enough yet. You need more time, more craft, more life experience. Of course there are exceptions—Zadie Smith was really young—but the rule is that an apprenticeship takes about 10 years. You write a lot of things before your true material appears, and you also have to keep honing your craft.
6. How many books have you written?
The One-in-a-Million Boy is my fifth novel. I also have a memoir, a play, several books for aspiring writers, and a lot of nonfiction magazine pieces behind me. And yet I am still learning my craft.
7. Do you have any tricks or tips to help others become a better writer (please be as specific and information as you possibly can)?
Turn off your phone. Really. Let your mind have more than five second of peace before being interrupted. Also, the best rule of thumb for aspiring writers is to avoid abstract words (love, grief, pain) and embrace concrete words and images (cove, leaf, pane). It’s the best way to bring your reader inside an experience. Vet every single sentence for sloppy construction, abstract words, and the verb “to be” (was, were, am, is, etc.). This takes a long time but the little edits make a world of difference.
8. Do you have any suggestions for providing twists in a good story?
I don’t provide twists per se. The characters have to allow it. You don’t have a cloistered nun suddenly deciding to become a spy, for example. You have to move your characters in a logical progression to the decisions they make.
9. What makes your or any book stand out from the crowd?
I like books with an unusual combination of characters. In my new one I have a 104-year-old woman, a 42-yr-old professional guitar player, and an 11-year-old boy who is obsessed with Guinness world records.
10. What are some ways in which you promote your work?
I do readings all over, at libraries, colleges, bookstores. I have a website with interesting stuff on it. I do things like answer these questions!
11. What is the one thing you would do differently now (concerning writing or editing or publishing or illustrating) and why?
I would go back and not spend a single minute fretting about book sales. The work is its own reward, and as we get older we realize that more and more.
12. What would you like carved onto your tombstone? Or what saying or mantra do you live by?
“She suffered fools gladly.”
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