Monday, 24 December 2012
Author Interview: Evan Guilford-Blake
Evan Guilford-Blake has had work published in numerous print journals and anthologies, as well as online, won 11 short story contests and has twice been nominated for Pushcart Prizes. Noir(ish), his first novel, was recently published by Penguin’s E. P. Dutton - Guilt Edged mysteries imprint.
A playwright as well, Evan has had more than 40 different plays for adults and young audiences produced internationally; collectively, they have won 38 playwriting competitions. Eighteen of his scripts are published by Playscripts, Eldridge, neoNuma Arts, YouthPLAYS, Next Stage and others.
Evan and his wife (and inspiration), healthcare writer and jewelry designer Roxanna Guilford-Blake, live in the Atlanta area with two dumb-as-dirt doves, Quill and Gabriella, and a smart-as-a-whip Westeke Terrier, Winnie Words. More information is at www.guilford-blake.com/evan.
Do you plan everything or just let the story flow?
Let the story flow. I depend on my characters to tell me their stories; then I organise and edit as needed.
Do your characters ever want to take over the story?
Always (if I’m lucky). And I always let them: It is, after all, their story.
What is your favourite food?
Depends on my mood, but I’m extremely partial to classic paella.
Are you a morning person or a night owl?
Night owl. Mornings are for chipper-er, annoying birds like chickadees.
Where do you dream of travelling to and why?
Actually, I’m not much into traveling. I would like to spend six months in rural Japan, however, so I could do research and get a feel for the lives of the Haiku poet-priests of the 17th and 18th centuries.
Do distant places feature in your books?
In my books, not so far. In my short stories and plays, occasionally.
Do you listen to music while writing?
Sometimes, during rewrites. Never when I’m working on a first draft, unless the music is integral to what I’m writing. (I have a play built on Elgar’s Enigma Variations. When I was writing it, I listened to that constantly. There are movements I’ve probably heard a thousand times. No exaggeration.)
Noir(ish): “An entertaining foray into the dark world of film and fiction noir—with a detour into the realm of the fantastic.” It’s an homage to and gentle spoof of the genre, set in a fictional Los Angeles of 1947, and is a cross between the works Raymond Chandler and Jasper Fforde.
What have you learned about writing and publishing since you first started?
Where to start! I’ve been writing seriously since the late ’70s, and everything I write -- including the things I abandon after one, 10, 100 pages -- teaches me something about writing: How to approach my subject better, what not to try to write (an especially valuable lesson), what really interests me enough to sustain the idea to completion. Publishing’s another matter. It’s changed so much over the past several decades. I suppose I’ve learned that marketing is almost solely my responsibility (which I dislike; I’m a writer, not a salesman) and that publishers aren’t really interested in individual books in their catalogues unless they smell a bestseller. The rest of them are left to be occasionally stroked orphans. I feel sometimes like Oliver Twist without any hope of finding a Mr. Brownlow.
Is there anything you would do differently?
Sure. For one thing, I’d have begun writing sooner, and more frequently. Writing a “major” work is intimidating and that’s something I let affect my pursuit for many years.
Who, or what, if anything has influenced your writing?
The list is endless: Raymond Chandler, Salinger, Joyce, Bradbury, Shange, Austen, O’Neill, Albee, Styron, Billy Collins, Tennyson, Fitzgerald, Lynne Sharon Schwartz, Karen Joy Fowler, Jasper Fforde, Vincent van Gogh’s letters ... they’ve all had an impact at one time or another.
Anything you would say to those just starting out in the craft?
Persevere. Writers write. Anything else they do is a waste of time. (And we all waste a lot of time.)
What are three words that describe you?
Obsessive, imaginative, unquenchable.
What's your favourite book or who is your favourite writer?
Again, I can’t pick just one, but if I were marooned on a desert island I’d want Roget’s Thesaurus and the complete works of Dickens with me.
Blurb of your latest release or coming soon book: (See above) Noir(ish):
“An entertaining foray into the dark world of film and fiction noir—with a detour into the realm of the fantastic.”
List of previous books if any:
I have 18 published plays, for adults and children, on the market, among them Nighthawks, Some Unfinished Chaos, Telling William Tell, The Firebird, True Magic and Friends & Relations. I also have stories in various anthologies, most recently Labello Press’ Gem Street.
Any websites/places readers can find you on the web.
www.guilford-blake.com/evan has excerpts of most of my work and links (under “other writing”) to much of my published work.
lists my work available through Amazon.
Thank you, Evan and good luck with your books!