When I am interviewed by Terry Gross on “Fresh Air” about my newly published novel, I’ll save her some trouble by providing this list of questions-and-answers in advance. (And btw, can somebody send me her address???) This list will not only save her time and energy, but also serve to avoid any surprises to either party.
I understand that Terry might want to free-lance here and there, since she’s been doing this for several years and has developed her own way of doing things. I’m fine with that, though I don’t think she’ll come up with any questions that I haven’t already thought of.
She probably will start off with a few “Get To Know You” questions, e.g., “Tell us a little bit about yourself,” “Why are you interested in being interviewed,” “What do you see yourself doing in 10 years,” etc. Therefore I’m leaving the top part blank, and my list jumps right to the meat of the matter: the novel itself.
(Terry, start here, after whatever usual blah-blah you do.)
Q. Larry Slonaker, thank you for coming on “Fresh Air,” and helping to dispel the notion that I only interview people who are, like, really accomplished or super-interesting. Your novel, “Nothing Got Broke,” is just being published. What can you tell us about it?
A. Good question, Terry. Let me just read the description on the back cover (Terry, I read description here).
Q. (You pause until I finish.) OK, that is a very interesting description.
A. Thank you.
Q. One thing I’m wondering: Wouldn’t it be more grammatically correct for the title to be “Nothing Was Broken”?
A. Haha, yes, I’m a stickler for grammar myself. But in this case, it’s kind of an idiom that’s unique to the setting of the novel.
Q. Which leads me to my next question: Where does the novel take place?
A. Mostly in Montana, which is where I’m originally from. But also in San Jose—the self-described capital of Silicon Valley, where I worked at a newspaper for many years. Specifically, “Broke” is partly set in East San Jose, which is the farthest thing from Silicon Valley you could imagine. And vice-versa.
Q. It’s very interesting that you worked at a newspaper, and the protagonist of your novel also worked at a newspaper. Does having worked at a newspaper help in writing a novel?
A. Yes, because when you write something for a newspaper, the vast majority of people don’t read beyond the first few paragraphs, if they even bother to look at it at all. And of those who do, about half are going to be put off by it, many times for reasons you could never anticipate. So you learn how to deal with a lot of disappointment and hostility from readers.
Q. Speaking of that, I understand you had several of your former colleagues, as well as other acquaintances, read advance copies of the book, and some of them didn’t like it? Or should I say, as you put it, they didn’t understand it?
A. Right. Although they didn’t put the latter in so many words, that was the gist of it, I think.
Q. Why didn’t they like it? I mean, understand it?
A. Well, I guess you could say parts are kind of “dark.” And the ending, not to give anything away, which I guess is what I’m doing now, has something of a taboo element. Also, the protagonist is a complex guy, and the whole definition of “complex” is “hard to understand,” right? Likewise, regarding the other main character, she is also quite complex. So when you have double the usual complexity in just one book, plus the darkness, you can see how it might be off-putting. Along with the whole taboo thing.
Q. You must have to be somewhat courageous to have a novel published that you anticipate will be viewed by some as off-putting and/or taboo.
A. I wouldn’t call it “courageous.” Something more along the lines of “delusional.”
Q. I look forward to reading “Nothing Got Broke,” and determining whether you are delusional. If you aren’t, my book club members may be interested in reading it, because they like books with very interesting descriptions and very complex and dark characters. Which are not written by delusional people. Do you speak to any book clubs?
A. I’m offering to visit in person or via Zoom with any book club reading this novel. And I’d be happy to visit with your club, Terry. What is your address? (Terry: provide your address here.) Also, I can bring some refreshments. I’ve already bought a box of wine and a variety-pack of cold cuts from Costco.
Q. That would be great, as my book club enjoys wine and cold cuts. We will look forward to your visit. Larry, and thanks so much for appearing on “Fresh Air.”
A. You’re welcome, Terry. Can you send me a copy of this interview? Thanks in advance.