Friday, August 5, 2011

Bryant Park Blog Q&A with Amor Towles

This Wednesday, Word for Word Author brings you four promising debut authors, including one whose work has just hit The New York Times Bestseller list. Before his appearance in the Reading Room and debut on the bestseller list, Amor Towles, author of Rules of Civility, takes a moment to answer our Blog Q&A, where we discover his interests in Faulkner, Mary Tyler Moore, and the semicolon.


Amor Towles
What was your inspiration for this book?
The idea for the book came to me twenty years ago, when I first saw the portraits that Walker Evans took on the New York City subways with a hidden camera in the 1930s – and I imagined someone recognizing an old acquaintance when the portraits were first shown at MoMA in the 1960s.

Where do you do your best writing?
I do some of my best inventing, outlining and editing when I happen to be alone in one of the caf├ęs or restaurants of lower Manhattan.

Did you have an “a-ha!” moment that made you want to be a writer?
I’ve wanted to write ever since the poet David McCord came to read his poems for children to my first grade class.

What is your secret talent?
I can recall the plots of virtually every episode of The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Star Trek and the Rockford Files.

William Faulkner
Which author do you wish had been your 7th grade English teacher?
William Faulkner – but the post-Hollywood, slightly hung-over, occasionally cantankerous, rumpled Southern suit Faulkner.

What is your favorite book?
If I could have only one book of fiction, it would be War and Peace; of non-fiction, it would Walden; of poetry, it would be Leaves of Grass.

Who reads your first draft?
Once I have a polished and thoroughly revised first draft, I like to share it with four or five good readers at once and gather their feedback in quick succession.

Do you read your books after they’ve been published?
I hope I wont; but I probably will.  :-|

Do you prefer writing on a computer or longhand?
I sketch by hand, craft on the computer and then edit both ways.

What book are you currently reading?
The Collected Stories of Raymond Carver published by the Library of America (complete with the heavily edited and unedited versions of What We Talk About When We talk About Love.)

What word or punctuation mark are you most guilty of overusing? 
The semicolon. I often find my thought process landing somewhere between the flow of the comma and the assertion of the colon.

If you weren’t a writer, what would you be?
Miserable.

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