Interview With Brian Kimberling, Author of Snapper

Give us a view into your life as a novelist whose book was recently published. What type of work does the novel call forth from you on this side of publication? I did a ten-day, ten-city tour in the US in April. It was exhilarating and exhausting. Have had some events in England since then, I have loved all of it. Also now getting requests for comments and blurbs on two kinds of book: Midwestern memoirs and bird books. Enjoying the Midwestern memoirs much more than I expected to. Now that the tour is over and the events over here largely done, I should get back to work writing fiction. Well, I have. Intermittently. Publishing does take over your life for a while, though.
Brian Kimberling
Did you draw from your own experiences as a birdwatcher in writing your story, and if so, in what ways? For me it was a summer job I did as an undergraduate. Nathan, the narrator and protagonist of Snapper, makes a sort of eight-year career out of it. I embellished and exaggerated some of my own experiences, borrowed some others, and made other things up. I did not do much bird research — I tried to stick to what I was pretty sure of from experience.

Making fiction entertaining must take work. Making it funny must be either natural or laborious. How did you gauge your great humor’s effectiveness as you wrote? Actually took a lot of jokes out of the MS. Underneath Nathan’s irrepressible drollery some sad things are going on. I always tried to find a balance between the comical and the melancholic. One thing that helped was reading everything out loud. Some things that looked OK on the page didn’t quite sound right, so I struck them.

This novel is as much about Indiana as it is other things. How did you come to write about Indiana? It’s what I know. A few years ago (a bit pre-Snapper) I was there and someone asked what a certain plant was. I knew, and I knew various things about it, but I didn’t know how I knew or when or where I had learned what I knew. In England I can’t identify plants or birds or much of anything else. When I’ve written about England I’ve written less vividly. I could feel Indiana coming alive as I wrote, so I ran with it.

Indiana becomes visible geography for us readers. How have people began responding to learning about the state that by the main character’s perspective is overlooked or misunderstood? Have you heard from residents of my neighboring state? Nathan’s pretty savage about Indiana, but most readers as far as I can tell take him with a grain of salt. In general, responses have been very positive. (A number of British readers in particular have said they wanted to go to Indiana when they had finished the book). I’m sure there are or will be a few offended Hoosiers out there, though.

Nathan’s experiences are detailed with a researcher’s specificity. How did his appreciation and knowledge of his town and his work areas express his love, his devotion? He seemed to like his work. It is a pretty nostalgic book, underneath the jokes and the disparagements of Indiana. He details it not just specifically but lovingly, I think. He doesn’t quite appreciate just how free and fortunate he is at the time of doing the job — it is only in retrospect that he suspects he may have had it pretty good for a while.

Will you talk about your process of becoming a writer? Were you always a writer or did you become one? I’ve been writing since high school at least. Prior to Snapper I wrote and produced several plays at a theatre five minutes’ walk from my house in England. That was very helpful preparation for Snapper as I began to enjoy writing
dialogue, setting scene, et cetera.

What are you reading these days? Currently on Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton. Never read her before; glaring negligence on my part. I just finished The Distancers by Lee Sandlin and Leaving Rollingstone by Kevin Fenton — the Midwestern memoirs I mentioned above. I enjoyed them both very much.

How can readers stay aware of your work? I do have a website, briankimberling.com. It’s due for some changes. I’ll get around to that pretty soon.
Snapper Cover

How to Read a Non-Fiction Book

Michael Hyatt, a communications and leadership specialist, offers ten ways to read a book.  Stop by Michael’s site to see the full post and to keep up with his wisdom.Reading Materials

  1. Don’t feel that you need to finish.
  2. Start with the author bio.
  3. Read the table of contents.
  4. Quickly scan the whole book.
  5. Highlight important passages.
  6. Take notes in front or in the margin.
  7. Use a set of note-taking symbols.
  8. Dog-ear (or bookmark) pages you want to revisit.
  9. Review the book and transfer actions to a to-do list.
  10. Share the book’s message.

Good News in Writing World

Chimamanda Adichie is offering the world another book.  I’m placing it in my to-be-read pile.  Her work is refreshing, precise, full, and intelligent.  Both her novels and her collection of stories leave me with a broader world, and I think of her as a gift to the reading public.

If you’re looking for something to read, Americanah is a good option after next month.  I read of the book that a part of its appeal is “its immense, uncontained and beating heart”.  Don’t you love looking forward to a favorite author’s next work?

It looks like Ms. Adichie will work into her novel everything from cultural analysis and race to loving long-distance and the politics of black hair.  Familiarize yourself with Adichie’s earlier work by stopping by her website.

Marilynne Robinson’s Advice to Her Students

But all we really know about what we are is what we do.  There is a tendency to fit a tight and awkward carapace of definition over humankind, and to try to trim the living creature to fit the dead shell.  The advice I give my students is the same advice I give myself–forget definition, forget assumption, watch.

From “Freedom of Thought” in When I Was A Child, I Read Books

Top 10 Cities for Bookbuyers

TBR Pile #1

TBR Pile #1

Livability’s top ten cities for book lovers…Have you ever read such a wonderful list?  They rank cities based upon the presence of independent bookstores, support of those books, and a few other factors.  Most the cities were surprises to me, in a refreshing way.

Even if your favorite city for books isn’t on it, the idea is compelling.  It may be worth compiling your own list.  What would be on it?  Or, if there’s traveling in your future, perhaps you can choose one of these places.  I think it’s worth doing, planning travel around the love  of reading and purchasing books.

As for this list, I’m partial to their number one city, the city of roses.  I fell in love with Portland as a place, at least, to visit when I went to the Rose Garden and Powells in the same day.  And Jake’s Grill only sealed the deal.