Wednesday, October 14, 2009

12 or 20 Questions: Amy Jones

Over at rob mclennan's blog, he's posted an interview with Amy Jones, whose What Boys Like launches next Tuesday, October 20th, at the Gladstone Hotel as part of TINARS.

1 - How did your first book change your life? How does your most recent work compare to your previous? How does it feel different?

I don’t know yet! I’m hoping astronomically! My first book is very brand new, so brand new, in fact, that I have yet to actually see it. I guess completing it and having it accepted for publication changed my life in that I started to think of myself as “a writer” as opposed to “a student” or “an unemployed hobo,” although I still can’t actually bring myself to say “I’m a writer” when people ask me what I do.

The stuff I’m writing now is different only because I’ve moved on to different obsessions. When I first started writing, I was obsessed with language; I wrote sentences because I liked the way they sounded. Lately I’m more obsessed with story – I really want stuff to happen. And my newer stuff is better, I think. I guess I still think of myself as a student in that way... I like to think I’m not even close to being as good as I could be.

2 - How did you come to fiction first, as opposed to, say, poetry or non-fiction?

I actually came to poetry first, if I’m going to be honest about it, but my poems really sucked, in that sixteen year old self-indulgent kind of way (even long after I was ever sixteen). I needed more room, so I started writing fiction. Non-fiction was never really appealing to me; the main reason I write is to entertain myself, and reality is almost never as entertaining as what’s going on in my imagination... or at least, I can’t write it to be as entertaining. I sometimes tell people that I like writing fiction because I feel like fiction can sometimes be more truthful because it’s not stuck in fact, but in really I just like to make stuff up.

3 - How long does it take to start any particular writing project? Does your writing initially come quickly, or is it a slow process? Do first drafts appear looking close to their final shape, or does your work come out of copious notes?

When I first started writing, everyone told me the best thing to do was to just write and write, even if it was crap, and then re-write it later, and for years I really tried hard to do that. But eventually I realized that method just frustrated me. For me, writing like making pastry or dough or something, cause I have to mix things together carefully, and if I handle it too much it just ends up ruining it. So I won’t sit down to write something until I have it completely worked out in my head. And I don’t take notes! If it doesn’t stick in my head, if it doesn’t burrow itself into my brain until I’m going so crazy that I have to write it down, then it won’t work for me. The story doesn’t always end up where I thought it would go, because my characters tend to sometimes have a mind of their own, but I have to know the voice inside and out before I can start putting it on paper. And when I start, it just comes tumbling out.

For the remaining 17 questions, please go here.

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