The RV Book Fair – Douglas Weissman
Welcome to The RV Book Fair! Douglas, tell us about your latest book and what inspired you to write it?
I was inspired to write Life Between Seconds when I was in Argentina in 2011, specifically by the time I reached Buenos Aires. I learned about the Madres de la Plaza de Mayo and dove deeply into the idea of a story, especially after thinking, “what if my mother was waiting for me to come home?” Another key moment was later that year in Mexico City when I visited Frida Kahlo’s home. She had two clocks in the kitchen; one frozen on the time of her divorce from Diego Rivera, and the second frozen on the time of their reconciliation. These moments helped round out what the story would become.
How do you approach the process of writing? Do you have a specific routine or ritual?
I look for inspiration everywhere and find inspiration anywhere but when it comes to the actual process, I start with 10 minutes. That’s all. I sit down, set a timer, put one song on repeat, and (maybe) give myself a prompt. Then I write as fast and as much as I can for 10 minutes. If I feel I have more in me, I’ll push that timeline to 20 minutes.
What’s the most surprising or unexpected place or situation where you’ve found inspiration for your writing?
A funeral. It was my friends funeral. She died incredibly young. Her father was talking and shared a story from when she was young—she had a broken toy. The moment was torture—to think how easy it was to fix a toy but how impossible it was to fix that moment. I stole a part of that moment and used it because at that moment, it was the closest I could ever come to losing a child without having one.
Many authors have a favorite place or environment where they prefer to write. Where do you find you are most creative and why?
I love writing in coffee shops. I love the white noise of chatter, the random music over the speakers. I also love a sharp, bitter cup of tea with a sweet pastry. I feel like the words flow out of me in that setting.
How do you choose the titles for your books, and how important do you think book titles are in attracting readers?
I am a huge fan of titles. I think the right title will sell a book, especially when someone is walking through a bookstore. At the same time, I feel titles are incredibly difficult. Life Between Seconds originally had a terrible title. My newest novel due for release early 2023 is titled Girl in the Ashes. I’m hoping that title sticks.
What themes or messages do you hope readers will take away from your work?
Connection. I think connection between characters and connection between character and reader is the most important part of a story. I hope people take away the emotional connection.
Are there any specific authors or books that have influenced your writing style or storytelling?
Nicole Krauss’s History of Love, Aaron Shurin’s book of poetry Citizen, anything Aimee Bender writes, and 100 Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez.
How do you develop your characters? Do you draw inspiration from real people or experiences?
I do draw inspiration from real people in my life and real experiences but they act as foundation from which these things can grow. My grandmothers acted as the basis for Sofia in Life Between Seconds. One had such a sharp wit and toughness, the other was super sweet and always had her hair done. They meshed incredibly well and brought out the best of Sofia. My experiences help shape moments in the stories I write by making me empathetic to my characters. Their vulnerabilities and flaws become understandable to some degree so I can share them more acutely with the reader.
Can you share some insights into your creative process? Do you outline your stories or let them unfold organically?
I do not outline my stories. I generally have a character, an idea, and an understanding of where they are going. I usually figure out the ending about halfway through exploratory writing, then I figure out what steps the character needs to take to reach that end.
I write modularly, not linearly. I will write scenes disconnected from one another and then move them around like puzzle pieces until I find the right fit. This helps keep me involved, interested, and eager to write the next scene. It also gives me time to do one of my favorite things, which is figure out the plot’s throughline.
What do you enjoy doing when you’re not writing? Any hobbies or interests that influence your writing?
I’m a traveler, I love hiking, and I enjoy searching out the best coffee shop or bookstore near me. All these things are intertwined for me. When I’m traveling, I love finding the best coffee shop and bookstore in whatever city I’m in, no matter the country. When I’m hiking, I love disconnecting and being completely unreachable for an hour, then return to civilization with a pastry. I’m also really into playing Pretty Pretty Princess with my four-year-old.
Can you discuss the role of research in your writing? How do you ensure accuracy in your work?
I love doing research but it’s also a great procrastination tool. I am not a writer or a reader who feels every detail must be accurate down to the tiniest molecule, depending on the type of story told. Sci-Fi and Fantasy need impeccable world building. Historical needs accuracy that’s true to the story. I’ve spoken with writers who have changed the geography of entire cities to fit their narratives. I think changes should be intentional and anything unintentional will show; that’s the important of research and accuracy for me.
Can you share an anecdote or a behind-the-scenes story from your writing journey that readers might find interesting or amusing?
I was in a coffee shop (naturally) during my writing program and ran into an instructor of mine. He asked what I was working on and I told him the scene, then said, “I figured I’ll write all the interesting things now and go back to fill in the boring bits later.” He looked at me confused took a sip of his coffee and said, “Doug, why do you need to write any of the boring bits?” That changed my entire perception on how to write novels and how to write in general.
Find out more about Douglas at: https://www.douglasweissman.com/
For additional information about the RV Book Fair and our featured guests, please visit:www.relatable-media.com