We are here continuing our interview with writer Maddie Dawson, author of The Stuff That Never Happened: A Novel. In this concluding part of the interview, the questions were asked by Joseph Arellano (JA) and Kimberly Caldwell (KC).
4. JA: When I was writing music reviews in college, I loved to read interviews in which musicians cited their influences, idols and role models. (I would then go and listen to those other musicians to see if I could hear the connections.) With this in mind, which authors come to mind when you think about who has influenced you?
MD: I love writers who really explore the complexities of relationships and the inner lives of their characters – writers like Alice Munro, Amy Bloom, and Anne Tyler. (Hmmm, a lot of A’s there.) I also love so much of Jane Smiley’s work, particularly her early novels – and I love Anne Proulx’s short stories and her descriptions. I believe that life is a mix of humor and pathos, that the hilarious gets mixed in with the mundane and the tragic on a daily basis, so I adore the work (particularly the non-fiction) of Anne Lamott who is just so honest and real. I love the wordplay and intelligence of Lorrie Moore’s work, and I’m constantly awed by the humorous work of modern male writers like Mark Haddon, Nick Hornby, and Jonathan Tropper.
5. JA: Is there a particular novel that you’ve read in 2010/2011 that seemed to be exemplary or mind-blowing?
MD: I’m so glad you asked this question, because I was completely blown away by A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan. The complexities of that novel, the ins and outs of the plot, the depth of the characters: I found it truly mind-blowing.
6. JA: What’s either the best or the hardest thing about publicizing your own work?
MD: Ack! Getting the word out about a book is such a huge task for authors these days. I love some aspects of it – the social media stuff, the connecting with readers, the skype-ing with book groups and the constant feedback from people who have comments. But other aspects are harder for me: keeping up a blog and being interesting when really my head and heart are with my new characters and my new book, which is just coming into being.
7. KC: Are you working on a new book and, if so, what is the premise?
MD: I am working on a new book. It’s the story of a woman who, at 43, discovers she’s pregnant for the first time, just as she and her long-term boyfriend agree to a separation so she can care for her 88-year-old grandmother who is suddenly having little strokes. It’s a story about the risks we take in loving, and the way that you can’t ever truly predict what your life will be. I think all my work is basically about finding our true lives and our real families, and the ways in which we can be surprised by the life that finds us when we’ve gone ahead and made other plans, to paraphrase John Lennon.
Note: Part One of this interview (The Author’s Perspective; click on the link in the Recent Entries column on the right to read it) was posted on this site on August 30, 2011. Maddie Dawson’s novel, The Stuff That Never Happened, is now available as a trade paperback release.