Welcome to the first episode of the chat show blog! Big thanks to my first guest – Andrew Natale, writer and man of much wit. During our chat Andrew shared his fascinating (and hilarious) thoughts on everything from the Hemingway syndrome to terrible spellign.
You’re a writer – you’ve published a book. Can anyone call themselves a writer or are there certain things you need to achieve before you can claim the title?
A million dollar question with a two cent answer. I don’t think you really need to achieve anything to claim to be a writer, but you need to at least have a commitment to developing your craft. A 65 year old retiree who’s sold washing machines all his life decides to write his memoirs is a writer – whether it’s any good is another question.
I sometimes struggle calling myself a writer as my publishing credits are self published. If someone ever pays to publish a book of mine I will feel better about it. I’m also studying Writing at Uni so that helps me feel all writer-ish. Occasionally you will hear me refer to myself as a ‘wanna-be’ writer. I think that’s an apt description. I’m also about 15,000 words into my first novel, so I guess that helps a bit too. Ultimately, writers write.
What kinds of things are your stories about? Any themes you find keep popping up when you write?
Every writer puts a bit of themself in their stories. I seem to have themes of loss with an undercurrent of hope popping up. I guess I have a deep rooted sense that no matter how shit life can get, there’s always a silver lining that’s less shitty.
How would you describe your style?
No idea – I’m still developing my style. Someone told me that my writing is vivid, so I guess that’s something.
What’s the best thing you’ve ever written?
A short story “When it comes to Lydia.” It’s about a young writer struggling to meet a publishing deadline because of a past relationship that keeps haunting him. It is one of those rare stories that look and sound how I wanted it in my head. It’s in my short story collection “The Invincible Summer”.
Can you give us an idea of who some of your favourite authors are and what some of your favourite books are?
Favourite authors I can’t go past are Stephen King, Neil Gaimen, J.R.R Tolkien. Most of my writing inspiration comes of script writers like Aaron Sorkin (West Wing), Joss Whedon (Buffy the Vampire Slayer), Tom Kapinos (Californication) and Allan Ball (American Beauty) all of whom are masters at writing dialogue.
Books? Lord of the Rings Trilogy, Love in the Times of Cholera, Curious Case of Benjamin Button as a start. Honourable mentions to The Alchemist (Paulo Coelho) and Misery by Stephen King.
OK, here’s a cheery one. Over the years writers have earned a gloomy rep – many legendary writers have been depressed or alcoholic or suicidal (often all three!). Any thoughts on why this might be? And if it still holds true today?
Ah yes the Hemingway syndrome. Nah I thinks this is the biggest load of bullshit and misconception about writers.
We can be a moody in-our-heads and not connected to reality bunch but so are all creative people. Ever met a moody musician? Jesus…! There is something to be said about the creative flow when you’re faced with the melancholy times of life. Writing is just like any other profession that requires creativity – good ideas eventually degenerate into hard work.
I’m sure there are plenty of writers out there who would love to be a rock star, (Hank Moody from Californication?), but most writers aren’t at bars drinking and picking up women, they’re at home reading or staring into the eyes of their own literary mortality – or at the very least, should be.
If you were blasted backwards in an erratic time machine, what time period would you most hate to find yourself in?
An era where coffee and 100% cotton polo shirts have not been invented.
Let’s talk blogs. Is their rise a good thing for writers?
Yeh I think so. It can be a two edged sword for writers. On one hand its instant publishing to an international market, but on the other hand it can catch you out if you’re not careful. There are many poorly written blogs – there is nothing worse than finding shitty writing on blogs. Instant publishing can be good, but there must be an editing process to make sure you sift out the shit ideas and the terabal spellign.
Some books have found publishers based on their blog appeal. 50 Shades of Grey was discovered through a surge in blog traffic after each chapter was published online. Not sure if that’s because of the blog or because of all the boobs, or the high amount of middle aged women who want to be tied up and dominated. It sure wasn’t the writing.
What’s the hardest thing about blogging?
Finding the time to write quality posts is hard. Getting traffic to your site is harder. Generating income is the hardest. The first one I do ok with, the second and third is up to the God of the interwebs and friends who re-tweet and share your Facebook posts. I’m still not convinced about a blog’s ability to generate giving up my day job income – especially not in the long term anyway. But alas, we will all try though.
A lot of your blogs include some social commentary. What issues are most important to you?
Yeh I guess there is a little social commentary on there – only because I get quite pissed off at some to the rubbish that comes across my screen – it’s the way that I vent.
A bunch of stuff is important to me but the issues that get my fingers stomping are to do with marriage equality and gay rights. Religious fundamentalism gets me going as well as does a healthy dose of conservative churches making tons of cash while paying NO tax. Other than that I’m all good. The world’s poor gets to me too, but honestly I feel like a dick saying I’m passionate about the issue when I drive a nice car and relax on my leather couch at the end of the day.
Is literature dying?
No I don’t think so. As long as there are authors like Tim Winton in this world, we’ll be fine. Don’t be alarmed by the Twilights of this world either, they have their place.
Explain one thing to me. What’s with writers writing in coffee shops?
I really don’t know. I can’t for the life of me write at home, there’s just too many distractions. My first book was written entirely in a coffee shop. I think it’s the white noise, good coffee and people watching.
Watching people is essential for fiction writers.
Plug time. You have a book out? And where can people follow you on Twitter?
I write for my blog “andrew speaks easy” and you can pick up a copy of my eBook, “The Invincible Summer” here or through the iBooks store. Hard copies of the book can be purchased by emailing me at email@example.com. Follow me on twitter @AndrewJNatale