Thursday, 14 July 2011

Words with... John Zunski

Thanks to John Zunski for this interview

How long have you been writing? 

That's a personal question! Oh wait, that's the idea. In my part of the world, the answer would be many, many moons. In most of the world, the answer would translate - fifteen odd years.

Do you have a day job or do you write for a living? 

I write for a living and own a bar for fun... Did I mention I'm dyslexic? My wife claims I'm just confused. I guess it's up to the reader to decide.

What do you feel is the ideal recipe for a good novel/story/poem? 

Recipe is a interesting concept because we are chefs of the written language. I don't believe there is an ideal recipe, just as I don't believe there an ideal recipe for the kitchen; an ideal recipe would severely limit our taste(s).

What/who inspired you to write and still inspires you? 

I've had the urge since childhood. I took my first stab after reading Earl, Cornbread and Me. That failed miserably, probably because it was a beautiful summer day and there were things to do outside. I flirted with writing until about fifteen years ago when I decided to be serious about the craft.

What books have you written? Do you stick to one genre?

I just e-published my first, Cemetery Street. I've written four. Shangri-La Trailer Park will be e-published this fall. DirtyBum for President and Nightwatching will be e-published in 2012. No, I've explored. Though I am planning sequels to Cemetery Street and Nightwatching.

How long did it take you to write your book/s?

On average about two years for each title.

Do you have any works in progress? 

Montana Rural, which is the sequel to Cemetery Street.

Which character from your books do you like most/are most like? 

My favorite character is Shannie Ortolan - the heroine from Cemetery Street. She possesses the spirit - the like it or lump it mentality I've always admired. I'm a cross between James Morrison and Steve Lucas of Cemetery Street and Travis of Nightwatching. They have the possibility of being like Shannie, but are limited by outside demands.

Where and when do you write ­ – do you have set times during which you write or is it just when the mood takes you? 

I write at home: I either write at the kitchen table or in my nook. I contact my muse in the wee hours of the morning, generally between 2:00 and 5:00 AM. Occasionally, I write when the sun is up, but the house has to be quiet: it's as if I'm listening for whispers on the wind.

Have you ever based a character on someone from real life? Has the person guessed? 

Of course, in all my books I've borrowed from life. In particular, Maistoinna Standing Bear from Shangri-la Trailer Park is patterned after a long-time friend, but I twisted it enough that if he read it he wouldn't notice. There are people from my bar who are too colourful not to make it into a novel. A few have made it into Nightwatching, mostly as comic relief. Have they guessed? We'll have to wait and see.

How do you find the marketing experience? Any advice for other writers? Do you use a blog or twitter, etc?

I hate it. Did I mention I hate it? But it is the necessary evil! I've only been at the game for a month, so I can't contribute too much to that conversation. What I am doing is seeking out interviews. Because I never know what is going to come out of the end of my fingers and it may get me in trouble. I believe it's the only way that can give any uniqueness in a sea of authors shouting "look at me".

One day you’re walking in the forest and you bump into an alien librarian from Mars. He wants five book recommendations from you… 

Cemetery Street for understanding human emotions, Shangri-La Trailer Park for the absurdity of human life, DirtyBum for President for the craziness of human politics, Nightwatching for a glimpse into the psyche of human fright and A Prayer for Owen Meany for a look at the potential of the human spirit.

Some of your fave things: Animal? Food? Drink? Film? Colour? Band? Song? Place to chill out? 

Dogs, Pizza, Coffee, Fugi100 - oh wait, I think you mean movie - hmm, right now - The Sixth Sense - that will change shortly - black/orange, Black Sabbath - Sign of the Southern Cross and Cross of Thorns. ( I listen to song(s) habitually while writing a manuscript. I tap into some manufactured meaning - those two songs carried me through Nightwatching), the woods - I love being in a forest by myself, the sound of silence is deafening.

Which book do you wish you had written? 

The next one in my head.

Who is your favourite character from any book and why? 

Owen Meany - he was born with all the odds stacked against him, and through tenacity and vision he lived his destiny.

Which three authors (living or not) would you like to take to the pub? 

Steven King; Steven Herrero - I would love to hear his bear stories; John Irving - wait, I think he'd be a bore - sorry John, you're one of my heroes and all, maybe for a cup of coffee, not to kick up our heels; and William Kennedy Toole.

What other hobbies/interests do you have or has writing taken over?

I'm into nature - I'm not a tree hugger, I enjoy cutting them down too much. I hike, I love wildlife - I have numerous stories of moose and bear encounters. I believe something is missing when one doesn't have the opportunity to experience these magnificent creatures.

What would you like to achieve in the next five years? 

Am I allowed to dream? I would love to sell 100,000 copies of my books.

If you won the Lotto, what would you do with all it? 

Buy the property behind mine and make the house my writing cabin. No one, and I mean no one, would be permitted. It would be John's Den.

Please complete this story in 100 words or less…

"There was a young frog called Kipper…" who kissed a princess's nipp ... er Slipper. And with a kick of her shoe, he flew over the palace wall, went a tumblin' feet over crawl, landed in a stripmall where he was dinner for a family of short and tall. 

Finally, what question do you wish I’d asked and, of course, what is the answer? 

John, do you dangle participles and split infinitives? No, but I split participles and dangle infinitives. 

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