Friday, July 1, 2011

Bryant Park Blog Q&A with Alex Prud'homme and Scott Dodd

Alex Prud'hommeIrena Salina, and Scott Dodd will visit the park next week for a discussion on the politics of fresh water. Mr. Prud'homme just published a new book The Ripple Effect: The Fate of Fresh Water in the Twenty-first Century, and Ms. Salina is an editor and documentarian of Flow. Mr. Dodd, the editor of onEarth, will host this talk, which is perfect for conservationists, activists, and anyone who enjoys drinking fresh water.

Before they join us in the Reading Room on Wednesday, Mr. Prud'homme and Mr. Dodd talk books and secret talents.
Alex Prud'homme
What was your inspiration for this book?
I have always been drawn to water, so I was predisposed to pay attention to the subject. But The Ripple Effect was inspired by a conversation I had with Julia Child about how the French and Americans view botttled water in different ways: in France, mineral water is considered a healthy “digestive,” while we Americans like our water stripped of all minerals and taste, and view it as a healthy “beverage.”  I thought that might make an interesting article. That evening, Bob Moran, a hydrologist married to Julia’s niece, explained that water is an “axis” resource that underlies all other resources, and will be increasingly important this century. I realized that the subject was so big, important, and interesting that it should be my next book.

Where do you do your best writing?
Writing is difficult even if you do it every day.  At times I feel inspired, and it hardly matters where I am physically. But more often it requires long hours in front of the computer in my little office in Tribeca to get down what I mean to say in the way I mean to say it.

Did you have an “a-ha!” moment that made you want to be a writer?
No, it didn’t happen in a flash.  I love to read, but thought I might be an architect or a lawyer. After college I took a trip to Asia: it was supposed to last three months, but I had so much fun I kept going.  Almost two years later I returned to the US, having traveled around the world. I had all sorts of adventures, and kept diaries as I went – 13 books in total, filled with observations large and small.  When I returned home I realized that it was writing that really rings my bell.

Which author do you wish had been your 7th grade English teacher?
Joseph Conrad, Mark Twain – writers that fuse humor with pathos, story-telling, character development, adventure, detail, and compelling situations.

What is your secret talent? 
Flipping crepes

What is your favorite book? 
Almost impossible to answer … but if forced: Moby Dick

Who reads your first draft? 
My wife, Sarah; my agent, Tina Bennett; my editor, Nan Graham

Do you read your books after they’ve been published?
I read parts of them, but have never re-read one of my books all the way through.

Do you prefer writing on a computer or longhand?
I used to write a lot in longhand, but now mostly on computer – its just more efficient, though when I have difficulty working-out an idea I’ll sometimes revert to scribbling.

What book are you currently reading? (Old school or e-Reader?)
Food Rules, by Michael Pollan. I’m old school, and prefer the tactile quality of paper to a screen.

What word or punctuation mark are you most guilty of overusing? 
Word =  Indeed

If you weren’t a writer, what would you be? 
Architect, Oceanographer

Scott Dodd
What book are you currently reading? (Old school or e-Reader?)
Demon Fish: Travels Through the Hidden World of Sharks (old school, for a review in the upcoming issue of OnEarth)

Which author do you wish had been your 7th grade English teacher?
Robert Sullivan (author of Rats, A Whale Hunt, The Meadowlands, The Thoreau You Don’t Know) and I wish the class had been composed of nothing but field trips.

What is your secret talent?
Making the bed.

What is your favorite book?
A Walk in the Woods, by Bill Bryson

Wednesdays, 12:30pm – 1:45pm
May 25 – August 24
Reading Room

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