"A book, too, can be a star, a living fire to lighten the darkness, leading out into the expanding universe." — Madeleine L'Engle

Monday, November 8, 2010

Author Interview: Brian Yansky

Today we have Brian Yansky, author of Alien Invasion & Other Inconveniences, stopping by!

Having lived in many places, which has been your favorite and why?

Austin is my favorite. This is a big town or a small city. About a million people live here now, but it’s still relatively easy to get around. There’s always something going on, usually many somethings. The atmosphere is laid back, but at the same time cool. There’s great music and a great literary scene. It’s a town with a distinct personality. You have to love a town whose motto is “Keep Austin Weird.”

How did the idea of writing a book about aliens come to you?

How any idea for any book comes to me is a mystery. I think most writers feel that way. Sometimes it feels as if they just fall out of the sky (Hmm. Alien telepathy?) and other times I feel like I really have to work to get them to fall out of the sky. I will say that I wanted to write an alien story that was not about the invasion itself but about what happened after the invasion. And, as I’ve mentioned elsewhere, aliens are seriously underrepresented in the fictional landscape. I have nothing against vampires, zombies, wizards, unicorns, and so on but I want to give aliens a voice. LET THE ALIENS SPEAK.

Were there any authors who have influenced you other than Kurt Vonnegut?

Hundreds. Philip Pullman, Michael Chabon, John Steinbeck, John Green, Ursula LeGuin, Gabrielle Zevin, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, J.D. Salinger, Anne Tyler, Pete Hautman, M.T. Anderson, Jonathan Stroud, Jane Austen, Nick Hornby, Flannery O’Conner, John Gardner, J.K. Rowling, Raymond Carver and on and on. Sometimes it’s just one novel by an author that gets me going and sometimes it’s every novel the author has written.

Do you have any must-haves when writing?

Time and coffee.

What is the most interesting or unique thing a reader has ever said to you?

People have been asking me if I believe in aliens a lot lately—oddly enough. One reader asked me if I was an alien. That was kind of interesting. What was my answer? I’ll only say this much: I was adopted by a very nice human couple.

When you were little did you ever think of becoming anything other than a writer?

Sure. I wanted to be a garbage man for a long time. You get to be outside all day and ride on the back of a truck. Then there was fireman and astronaut and mailman. I went through a period when I thought it might be nice to be President of the United States. I’m really glad I got over that. Long hours.

How did you feel when you found out you were going to be a published author?

Like my feet weren’t touching the ground. Like I was ten times larger than before I got the news. Like I wanted to say “I love you” to the world about a dozen times. It was spectacular.

What was the last book you read and loved?

I’ve really, really liked many books I’ve read this year but the last one I fell in love with was MARCELO IN THE REAL WORLD by Francisco X. Stork. It is a great novel.

What do you think is the most challenging thing about writing and the easiest?

The most challenging is getting a first draft out. Those are always toughest for me. Writing a novel is a messy business. Everything is so unclear and imperfect in the first telling. It’s ugly in a way. It has no real shape and it oozes out in strange places. It’s hard to get through that first draft. The easiest thing about writing is that you get to do it at home in your pajamas. I love that.

Are there any goals you hope to accomplish in the next year?

I have a sequel to Alien Invasion & Other Inconveniences or perhaps the second novel of a trilogy—I haven’t decided. I would like to get that in good shape by the end of the year.

Where you can find more about Brian Yanksy and his book:
His website.
His blog.

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