British writer shares what motivates him to create fiction, and how he came to write and publish his debut novel, The Unauthorised Biography of Ezra Maas
Daniel James
Daniel James

When did you first decide to become a writer?

I honestly can’t recall a time when I didn’t want to be a writer. It was less of a conscious decision and more of a realisation about my own nature. I think the only real question was what kind of writer I wanted to be. When I was young, I loved books, cinema and comic books equally and I dreamed of writing stories for each of those mediums. I used to draw and paint a lot as a child and the idea of writing and illustrating my own graphic novels always appealed to me. Similarly, the visual storytelling inherent to cinema, as well as using light and sound to bring different worlds and atmospheres to life and create an end to end sensory experience for people to get lost inside, seemed to map to the way my brain worked.

When I’m writing, I’m often visualising the story unfolding and simply describing what I see in words or hearing the characters inner thoughts and dialogue and transcribing it. This was certainly the case in my debut novel. It was almost as if the story already existed somewhere, out there in the darkness, and was being transmitted into my brain. It’s more than just words and images however. It could be an atmosphere that I sense, like a feeling from a waking dream, that I want to recreate and share in a story. (more…)

Each time he took a walk, he felt as though he were leaving himself behind, and by giving himself up to the movement of the streets, by reducing himself to a seeing eye, he was able to escape the obligation to think, and this, more than anything else, brought him a measure of peace, a salutary emptiness within… By wandering aimlessly, all places became equal and it no longer mattered where he was. On his best walks he was able to feel that he was nowhere. And this, finally was all he ever asked of things: to be nowhere.

From Paul Auster’s City of Glass, part of the The New York Trilogy.

American novelist Paul Auster on Sunset Park, influences and writing habits
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Paul Auster

Goodreads (Bethanne Patrick): Now for a few questions from our community. Goodreads member Kirstie Shanley would like to hear your favorite story about another author.

Paul Auster: I do have a beloved story about another author that I believe is true, and I hope is true, because of how I feel about that author. I used the story in my novel Brooklyn Follies. It is, I believe, a true story: Kafka and his last lover, Dora, were walking in a Berlin park together and came upon a little girl crying because she had lost her doll. Kafka told her that he knew for a fact that the doll was fine, because he had had a letter from her. When the girl asked to see it, he told her he had not brought it with him but would return the next day with the letter. Thus began a series of elaborate letters from the doll posted from various locations. It’s a wonderful story, not least because it shows such compassion on Kafka’s part. (more…)

Robert McCrum (the Guardian) travels to New York and interviews American writer Don DeLillo. Ironically, for an article about ‘manipulating reality’, McCrum is vague and even mistaken when trying to summarize DeLillo’s career, but the article redeems itself when the conversation begins. DeLillo discusses the inspirations behind his work, the contemporary political landscape, and his place in American literature
DeLillo now lives in Westchester County in New York State with his wife, Barbara, a landscape designer, but he has not completely left his childhood neighbourhood, a place he insists still “looks the same, though the people are different”: an influx of new immigrants, Serbs, Croats and African-Caribbeans. Every year, he goes back to meet old school friends from the streets of his childhood. “We meet on a major street and have a meal together and a laugh,” he says. Inevitably, the conversation will turn to baseball, DeLillo’s first love – what he calls his “second language”. Baseball, he says, “was just so natural, because we all grew up with it. We played it; we listened to it on the radio, and then we went to Yankee stadium. It was a taken-for-granted pleasure”.

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I have always been fascinated by the daily rituals and routines that govern people’s everyday lives. Daily Routines has compiled a wide and varied selection of such rituals, taken from interviews and biographies of some of the world’s most distinguished writers and thinkers. It makes for fascinating reading – even if browsing the daily routines of others leaves little time for our own.

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