Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Author Interview – Ted Olinger

How do you promote this book? I am open to suggestions. I’ve managed to arrange a couple readings and have been invited to do more, so I’m getting known locally. I have been politely received at bookstores, but even those that buy the book only want a handful of copies at a time. I have tried to attract the attention of reviewers, but have found there are so many writers and publishers doing the same thing it’s difficult or impossible for reviewers to get through it all. Meanwhile, the contraction of the bookselling business seems to force sellers to stick to the known, or even generic, all while there are so many great new writers emerging.

Is there a message in your stories that you want readers to grasp? Message no, but a way of seeing, yes. I try to create people and moments readers may recognize, but to show a hidden history or unexpected potential that can touch the reader and cause him to reconsider a first impression or long held assumption. If one can learn about the benefit of the doubt through fiction, I trust it will be applied in life. I am not sure I can explain it well. Perhaps that’s why I wrote the stories in the first place.

How much of the book is realistic? All of it, including the hallucinations.

Have you included a lot of your life experiences, even friends, in the plot? No. Most of the stories were inspired by some incident, or series of events, but none are autobiographical. That’s been a tough sell since all the stories are written in first person, but the narrator is as much a character as the fictional people he encounters in the stories. I have been asked more than once about “what really happened” to some character or other, and I’ve learned to be diplomatic instead of just saying it’s all made up. That never goes over well.

How important do you think villains are in a story? Essential if it’s a realistic story, if only because life offers such a variety of villainy that leaving it out would make it implausible. A villain doesn’t have to be a person, and there doesn’t have to be much of a given kind, again because there’s so much of it around. Villains also help reveal the hidden aspects of the other characters. In every genuine villain there is some broken humanity and how a character responds to that can turn him into a hero or villain himself.

What are your goals as a writer? To become good enough to write a book that recreates the feeling that made me want to write it. Or at least get closer than I am now. I don’t mind my reach exceeding my grasp, but I’d like to be able to reliably touch that goal with my fingertips.

What books have most influenced your life? This will sound terribly pedantic and I don’t mean it that way, but Alan Moorehead’s book, The Voyage of the Beagle, had a lasting effect on me. It is a nonfiction literary account of Darwin’s voyage that I read for a school assignment when I was eleven. I won’t pretend to be have been moved at that age by the exceptional writing Moorehead brought to bear, but the book had two lasting results. The first was that it opened my eyes to a universe of exploration overturning assumption, just as his voyage opened Darwin’s eyes. The second is that receiving that knowledge put me on a trajectory to encounter talented peers who became extremely gifted scientists and artists, people far more talented than I, whose company nevertheless has shone light on my own efforts. Our middle school friendships continue to this day. I have since then read everything Alan Moorehead published, including long and devastating depictions of the exploration of the White and the Blue Nile, the campaign at Gallipoli, the colonization of Australia, Cook’s impact on the Pacific, and Moorehead’s unforgettable trilogy of his years as a war correspondent from North Africa to Germany. He had a terrifically ironic, insightful, self-deprecating and direct style that even Hemingway admired. We know this because Hemingway flew Moorehead down to Cuba from New York for lunch so he could tell him. He also waved a telegram in his face from the editor of The New Yorker stating they couldn’t accept Hem’s latest because they needed space for a Moorehead piece on Venice. Must’ve been quite a lunch.

The Key Peninsula floats quietly through time in Puget Sound but exists more like an island in the hearts of her residents. Descendants of the first peoples and pioneers mingle with newcomers washed ashore from distant cities in these stories of small town life in a community too small to have a town.

Young homeowners grapple with the depredations of heartsick woodpeckers. Anarchist loggers nail indignant poems to roadside trees. Shamanic gardeners work to heal a damaged world one lawn at a time. Deceptively simple stories with deep feeling.

Buy Now @ Amazon

Genre – Fiction / Short Stories

Rating – PG13

More details about the author

Connect with Ted Olinger on Facebook

Website http://www.woodpeckermenace.com/

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