1. Why did you choose autobiographical fiction rather than memoir in writing Three Leaves?
I've chosen to write autobiographical fiction over writing memoirs because I feel that the writing process of autobiographical fiction allows me to have more creativity over the structure, events, and characters involved. By that, I mean that instead of aiming for a direct, linear version of events, I can meld, merge, and amalgamate the timeline, characters, and scenes. It also allows me to exaggerate, and even make things up, if I feel that by doing so it will potentially improve the story.
2. Who are some authors of the past and present day whose work inspires you? Alan Bennett came to mind for me because of his autobiographical work in different genres, but it seems like your work has more of an edge to it.
While there are many influences on my writing, the main influence, both philosophically and stylistically, would be Henry Miller. What Miller did was to make art out of his own life, to bend it, manipulate it, and turn it into a tall, amusing, sexual, and philosophical tale. However, it is not just the content or philosophy of Miller’s writing that I love; it is the rhythm, poetry, and language, which he uses to express his ideas. While he dips in and out of the Miller "voice," in my opinion he only really nails it consistently in his first published novel, Tropic of Cancer. What I love about TOC is the immediacy of the language Miller uses; it is the rawness, and the almost spiritual excitement at the situations he finds himself in. Coming back to the first question, I would add that the immediacy of Miller's work inspired me to write autobiographical fiction. It is why I wrote Three Leaves in such a way, transferring myself back into my nineteen (to twenty-three) year old frame of mind, and writing as if I were telling the narrative as it happened, instead of in a retrospective memoir.
3. In writing with so much honesty, do you ever come up against things you have to really fight to get onto the page?
Absolutely, but not so much for the actions or words of my own character, but for anyone else who I have fictionalized. As I am attempting to use real individuals (albeit with fake names) as the basis for my characters, my concerns are that should any of those individuals read my work and discover that they are involved, they may think that I have not portrayed them correctly. This is a particular concern when it comes to family members.
4. What motivates you to keep writing? Do you maintain a schedule or do anything else that keeps you focused on your work?
For me, writing is like breathing, eating, or sleeping; it's natural and something I've always done. There is no motivation--I either write or die. However, when I plan to write something of a certain length, like I did with Three Leaves and The Ugly Spirit, I plan my work out scene-by-scene and then write the novel from the notes. Presently, I am working to a slightly different method (which I'm keeping secret) for my next book, which I hope to publish in late 2018 or early 2019.
5. What would you like readers to know about your latest book?
I felt like I went through an enormous metamorphosis while writing Three Leaves. The process of digging about in my brain to remember all the things that happened ultimately got me thinking (a lot more than usual) about my behavior at the time. What I would like anyone thinking of reading Three Leaves to know is that it is about a real individual; someone who is idiotic, insecure, hopeless, embarrassing, angry, sad, depressed, lost, addicted, manic, loving, kind, spiritual, honest, violent, and all the other endless traits that make people what they are; whole, complex, and not mere stereotypes of "good" and "evil."