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Friday, June 19, 2009

Cafe Chit Chat: Tanya Egan Gibson

Yeah! I finally found a new name for my author interview! What do you think?
So this week we have a amazing debut author, Tanya Egan Gibson, who wrote the awesome book How To Buy A Love Of Reading (Read review HERE).


Wdebo: Can you describe a typical day?
Tanya: I have two young children, which pretty much guarantees that no day is typical...or, at least, that days are rarely predictable! I write from home -- sometimes when I have childcare for my kids, and often when I don't. When I'm pressed for time (say, my four-year-old is home sick from school and wants me to do arts and crafts projects with her when I'm supposed to be writing), I end up writing late at night instead. A large amount of How To Buy a Love of Reading was written after midnight!
A lot of ideas that later end up being "keepers" also come to me when I'm not actively writing -- when I'm out with the kids or driving somewhere. When I'm being a *person* instead of focusing my thoughts exclusively on getting words down on the page.
I manage to read some fiction every day. I subscribe to something like seven or eight literary journals (even though I'm constantly behind on reading them) and have a huge to-read pile of novels on my nightstand.

W: Oh wow, and I thought school was stressful! How did you come up with the idea for How To Buy a Love of Reading? Were you a big reader as a kid?

T: When I was a high school English teacher, one of my students reported to me, rather apologetically, that she'd never in her life read a book she liked. (She was trying to explain that it wasn't my "fault" that she hadn't liked any of the books I'd put on the syllabus.) When I asked her what she did with her time (expecting that she spent it all in front of the TV), she told me that she often replayed in her head all the things she and her friends had done that day and imagined the different outcomes real-life scenes might have had if she could "re-do" those times. It wasn't until many years later that I began writing this book, but I never forgot my urge to want to write a book for a "book-hater." And I never forgot that even though she disliked books, the kind of daydreaming she described sounded to me like a very "writerly" quality. That quality became what Carley, the protagonist of How to Buy a Love of Reading, calls "Aftermemory."
Was I a big reader as a kid? Absolutely. I remember coming back from the library with a pile of new books and spreading them out on my bed, giddy with not knowing which I should read first. Come to think of it, I do that still.

W: Yeah! I'm still like that too! Are any of your characters based on someone you know?

T: Everyone in How to Buy a Love of Reading is fictional. (Carley, for instance, bears little else in common with the girl whose statement catalyzed the idea for this book.) The truth is I love making people up! I love making up places, too. And brands. I like creating worlds. (See my answer to #8 below for more on that.)

W: I know what you mean. What is your favorite thing to do (apart from writing)?
T: Reading.

W: Haha makes sense. What's your favorite color?
T: Blue. Ocean blue. Sunny day blue. Robin's egg blue. All kinds of pretty-things-outside blue.

W: Love LOVE blue! If you were stranded on an island and could only bring five things what would they be?

T: 1) My family. (It's not a fun scenario for me to imagine if my husband and children aren't in it.)
2) Flint. (I have watched *way* too many episodes of Survivor in which people go on the show without knowing how to make a fire. This seems so weird to me. The *first* thing I would do if 3) I were chosen for such a show is learn to make a fire. And yes, I think about reality TV far too much, a preoccupation you could probably guess from some of the reality-TV material in my novel.)
4) Crayons. I figure the paper would run out soon enough, but my daughter, the four-year-old artist could color on trees and leaves after that.
5) Cell phone that works on island and allows us to be un-stranded within, say, three days. That's about all I can take of stranding.

W: I would bring my family too, or at least one person who I love. Who are some authors you look up to?
T: There are SO many! Jennifer Egan, whose novel THE KEEP had me saying aloud over and over, "I wish I had written this!" I kept reading lines aloud from it to my husband and getting teary because they were so cool. I've read all of Ann Patchett's books once, except for BEL CANTO, which I've read over and over because it's just beautiful. Andrew Sean Greer floors me with the eloquence with which he describes emotions. Glen David Gold has written two gorgeous, expansive novels that make you feel like you're in the middle of a once-upon-a-time piece of history that you never want to leave. Mark Childress makes me laugh and laugh and laugh!
W: Do you have a new project you are working on? And if so, can you tell us a bit about it?

T: I'm working on a novel that is set in a contemporary theme park. That is, a fictional theme park. I'm getting to do all this research about the inner workings of theme parks and I'm creating an entire "place" -- from the rides to the games to the shows to the architecture. It is an incredibly fun project.

What's going to happen in the theme park (a.k.a., What's the Book About)? That, I'm keeping to myself for now.

W: Can't wait to read it! Lastly, do you have any last things to say before we wrap up the interview?

T: Thank you for interviewing me!

W: Cool! Check out Tanya's awesome website HERE

Thanks for letting me interview you!

Wdebo :)


Songs listened to while writing this post:

Twinkle By: Show Luo ft. Koda Kumi
Be With You By: Akon ft. Wilber Pan
Bu De Bu Ai By: Wilber Pan ft. Xuan Zi

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