He taught me that serious novels don’t have to be limited to this straight reality we perceive through our senses, that we can go crazy and have talking cats and strange sheep-like creatures in our books if we want to, and all is well.
Glenn Fain – 28 February 2017
The Back Flap
Blurring the line between dream and reality can be fatal.
Sleepwalking through a decade of soulless jobs, Arnold Brinckman is still reeling from his girlfriend’s suicide. When he is convinced all hope is lost, the beautiful and exotic Anastasia appears in his dreams, teaching him to live and love again.
But this lesson may come at a price Arnold isn’t willing to pay. Suddenly, reality and dream begin to blur as Arnold loses his way.
Is the woman of his dreams really a nightmare Arnold can’t survive?
Whatever you do, never, ever betray a goddess.
About the book
What is the book about?
The book is about a man who falls in love with a woman who only exists in his dreams, and the conflicts this invariably creates in his waking reality.
When did you start writing the book?
This idea has fascinated me for a long time. I first tried to write it as a short story a zillion years ago but it never worked. I tried on and off since then also as a short story, but I aborted the attempt early on each time. Then I started writing novels and it really worked in the novel long form. I wrote it about two or three years ago then let it gestate.
How long did it take you to write it?
About 3-4 months. I’m bad with time so am not totally sure. It went fast for a reasonably long novel.
Where did you get the idea from?
I’ve been fascinated with lucid dreams ever since I was a kid. The thought of having a woman in them who has an existence outside of myself intrigues me, to put it mildly. I love to think that people and places exist in alternate worlds like dreams, living their lives like we do, as real to them as this waking world is to us.
Were there any parts of the book where you struggled?
Shockingly, the entire novel seemed to write itself. I did struggle a bit about how best to begin the novel, but that was long after the first draft was complete.
What came easily?
The entire novel was easy and just flowed. I think it’s because it was running around my brain for so long. A part of me was working on it over a period of many years while I was thinking about other things. I love when that happens. I wish it would happen more often!
Are your characters entirely fictitious or have you borrowed from real world people you know?
I don’t think anyone’s characters are ever entirely fictitious. As for me personally, I always go into the past of people I’ve known and currently know and put together a character that way. This novel is written in first person, so all the characters are interpreted through the eyes of the narrator. This makes getting the narrator right the most important bit. He’s a part of me. That’s another thing with all my characters: they are all bits and pieces of people I know and have known combined with parts of myself. It’s unavoidable.
We all know how important it is for writers to read. Are there any particular authors that have influenced how you write and, if so, how have they influenced you?
Haruki Murakami is my favorite living writer. I came across him many years ago while wandering around a library. His book Norwegian Wood kept calling out to me. So I finally checked it out and read it. He taught me that serious novels don’t have to be limited to this straight reality we perceive through our senses, that we can go crazy and have talking cats and strange sheep-like creatures in our books if we want to, and all is well. Like modern physics is telling us, the world is a much stranger place than we realize. When we ignore this, our books are limited, and I don’t think they should be.
Do you have a target reader?
I never thought about that, so I guess not. I write stuff I as a reader would want to read. I want to be entertained, but I also want much more than mere entertainment from books.
Do you have a writing process? If so can you please describe it?
I currently have a straight job working 40 hours a week, which is not ideal to my writing process. I write when I can, and turn off all distractions, and sometimes even sit in a totally dark room with music on or not, and try to focus as intensely as I possibly can on what I’m working on. Sometimes I do write in coffeehouses, but the internet has to be off, the phone off, everything off. Concentration is key.
Do you outline? If so, do you do so extensively or just chapter headings and a couple of sentences?
I’ve written 5 novels so far, 3 currently published, and I’m still trying to figure out the best way to write a novel. It’s totally unique to the individual writer. I like vague outlines with a vague plan so I have an idea of where it’s going. I don’t get stuck that way. With that in mind, I am happiest when I veer off of my original vague idea and something new begins. Then I have to map that out in my head. When the unexpected creeps in my writing, I know it’s going well.
Do you edit as you go or wait until you’ve finished?
Four of the novels I’ve written, I did edit as I wrote, trying to get everything right before moving on to the next chapter. So my “first draft” was very close to the final draft. I wasn’t sure if this was the best way to do it, so with the last novel I wrote I kept writing and writing whether everything was right or not. So now I have what I consider a lousy first draft that needs a lot of work, but on the other hand I simultaneously see tons of potential in it, that wouldn’t have been there if I had tried to get everything right as I wrote it. I’m still trying to figure this stuff out.
Did you hire a professional editor?
I’ve had Leslie Lutz as my editor of the three books I’ve currently published. She does freelance work, and I highly recommend her. Theoretically, I could have skipped the editor and just gotten them proofread, but my novels are my babies, and I want to them to be the cliché “the best they can be!” An editor is indispensable as an objective 3rd party to not only provide suggestions on how to improve the work, but also polishing sentences here and there. Which is nice.
Do you listen to music while you write? If yes, what gets the fingers tapping?
I occasionally have music on when I write, but mostly to block out the sounds of the world. If I’m concentrating hard enough I won’t hear it, even if it’s punk rock. It really depends on my mood. I like to have music in my novels. So whatever the characters are listening to, I’ll be listening to also as I write.
Did you submit your work to Agents?
I’m going to start if I get motivated. I tried to find an agent before publishing my first novel, and it felt like I was selling a used car. I hated it, to be honest. The selling myself bit does not do it for me at all. But having a publisher, small or large, has huge advantages. For instance, getting my self-published books reviewed in a literary magazine with a large audience seems impossible at the moment. Maybe if I sell many thousands of books some literary magazine would take it seriously enough to review it. But selling those quantities of books without getting reviewed in major publications makes it that much harder.
What made you decide to go Indie, whether self-publishing or with an indie publisher? Was it a particular event or a gradual process?
It was most definitely gradual. I kept writing novels. I found myself with three finished, fairly polished novels sitting in my hard drive, and I finally said screw it, and took the plunge into the world of self-publishing.
Did you get your book cover professionally done or did you do it yourself?
My graphic designing prowess is slim to none, so I had a professional cover design guy Todd Engel do my first two books. My friend Victor Phillips, who is a graphic designer and many other things, did the cover of my latest novel. He had never designed a book cover before and gave it a shot. I think not having designed a cover made the cover a zillion times better than it would have been otherwise. The ignorance is bliss thing: he didn’t have the preconceptions of how a book cover is supposed to look in his head as strong as many of these book cover people have. Covers of books too often look alike to me, as if they are all designed from the same template. Not all of them, of course, but too many.
Do you have a marketing plan for the book or are you just winging it?
I’m unfortunately winging it! I still haven’t figured out how to get my books attention from people who don’t know me. It’s extraordinarily difficult distinguishing my books from the rest. It’s also more difficult for my books, because they don’t fit into one neat genre like romance or sci fi or mystery/suspense. They are all also totally different.
Any advice that you would like to give to other newbies considering becoming Indie authors?
Beware! Ha. I wish I had advice. Hopefully someday I will!
Where did you grow up?
I grew up in Wilmington, Delaware, near a forest I used to love wandering around.
Where do you live now?
I’m in Seattle, Washington, city of bridges.
What would you like readers to know about you?
The honest answer is I only want them to know me from my writings. I put my heart and soul in them. There is more the proverbial me in the books than people will see otherwise, even if they do know me in person. All they really need to know about me is what’s in my books. Read them, and there I am.
What are you working on now?
I’m debating whether to polish and publish the first novel I wrote. It’s a love story with Rainier Maria Rilke’s “Duino Elegies” poem scattered throughout. It also has a talking cat, inspired by Murakami! Ideally, I’d like to find a publisher for it.
End of Interview: