Today I'd like to welcome Kew Stapleton, author of "New York Brain" to the Thursday interview. Before we get started, a quick intro!
Kew Stapleton is a lifelong New Yorker who identifies as a lifelong writer--"I wrote my first novella, about rock stars, in high school, and every few years I dig it out and expand on it." Where most novelists keep up with the work of their peers, Stapleton nowadays reads mostly non-fiction: sports, pop culture, celeb bios, and crime history, which all feeds into the author's work. A new novel, set in the music world of 1950s Los Angeles, is slated for early 2015.
OK - HERE WE GO !!
1) Would you break the law to save a loved one? Why?
Certainly. No question about it. In the moral universe, a life is more important than the law, which is often fallible and not always just. Many of us will have situations that call for heroic actions, even though we as individuals may be rather small. It's the nature of the beast.
2) What is the difference between being alive and truly living?
Truly living is not taking things for granted. Look at sights, sniff aromas, feel textures, listen to sounds, taste foods and other edible things. Watch the sun rise, or set. For truly living, you have to be there and know it.
3) What motivates you to write?
Generally I start with a compelling character who is strong enough to support a story line--someone who readers will follow into subjects they might not necessarily read about otherwise. My story lines come out of my interests: politics, sports, celebs and the way people relate to them. The history of popular culture fascinates me. Do you know the term R&B goes back to the late forties? I have a novel ready about the unknown history of rhythm & blues, which grew out of my collecting records, researching the music, and finding a whole authentic narrative hidden beneath the sugar-coated stereotypes about the fifties.
4) Why do humans want children?
I think it's related to why writers write: to leave a legacy. To create something wonderful and share it with the world, or at least the community. Something to last longer than one's immediate lifetime.
5) What was the biggest challenge in creating New York Brain?
Cutting it down from 700 pages--seriously. I had no idea it was that long because I was new to computers and I had no clue about line spacing. When I was told to cut my manuscript in half, I was astounded. I spent a week on jury duty in the main room waiting for my name to be called and writing notes all over my gigantic document. I even polled all the fans of the story and asked whether I should cut out a particular scene. (They said I'd better not, and I'm glad they did.)
6) What is the most important thing you have learned in life so far?
Two things, and you can't have one without the other: life is messy, unfair, and ridiculous. On the flip side, we have to do whatever we can to make it orderly, fair, and decent. That's where writers and other artists come in.
7) How did you come up with your title "New York Brain" ?
I was looking at the new titles in the library, and I saw a title with New York and a title with Brain, one beside the other, and I read the titles together: New York Brain. I immediately assigned it to a book I was working on, and it wasn't even this one! But as the stories were being written, the correct titles sorted themselves out. (The other book hasn't come out yet. I need time to transcribe it, and an interested agent.)
8) How do you handle personal criticism?
As a writer? I've gotten better at it--from sheer repetition, not maturity or anything like that. I try to put bad reviews into perspective. If one person says nothing happens in the first forty pages and another says there's too much going on, what can I say? After giving it considerable thought, I've decided I'd rather be insulted than ignored.
9) Why should people read your book?
If they read it, they can do two things that everyone should do often: laugh and think. If any of my readers develops an interest in old movies, looks at New York or boxing or celebrities differently, or becomes a regular and informed voter, then I've done my job.
10) Why is there something rather than nothing?
There's too much out there to be nothing--art, music, literature, love, nature. This can't be random, and we're figuring out the tools as we go along. It's like the six monkeys typing--keep at it long enough and you might get Shakespeare.
Thanks Kew for taking the time to answer my questions
& the best of luck with your new book!
Check out "New York Brain" on
Stansfield Kaplan’s a high-powered celebrity for an extreme New York: rich, handsome, twenty-one, in your face. None of this explains why he decided to represent his native Brooklyn on the city council, but it goes a long way to explain how he got in. When Stan signs up for the Golden Gloves, selected portions of hell break loose. When he decides to turn pro--and make his debut on a high-profile championship undercard--the rest of hell follows suit...and they call out the reserves. It all plays out in a Big Apple where folks still read the paper, wisecracking waitresses staff all-night diners, the Twin Towers stand tall, and celebs rule. Let the games begin!