Questions About the Story
Where did the idea come from?
I was filling in for a paper route one Sunday morning last summer, and not knowing the houses or where exactly the papers were meant to go, I was just sort of dropping them on the front porches. One I dropped with a little bit too much enthusiasm, and it hit the front door. As soon as it did, the door opened, and out came this young woman who was blind. I apologized for waking her, but she had obviously been waiting for it. She seemed lonely. I wondered why she got the paper? Did someone read it to her? Why was she waiting up for it at 3 in the morning? The story grew out of my wondering about those things.
How did the story change as you developed it?
The story was originally much longer, and yet much more vague in regards to what Millie was actually doing in her father’s old bedroom. There was a lot more dialogue between Millie and Mike, which is common to almost all of my first drafts. I love dialogue, sometimes too much.
You know the advice “Sometimes you have to kill your darlings.” Was there a scene or line that it really hurt to cut, but cutting it made the story stronger?
There’s always something that hurts to have cut, but in this story, I can’t think of anything that really should have been in there. There were lots of sound descriptions I made up to sort of fill out how Millie saw the world that I ended up not using, but nothing major.
How is this story like your other work? How is it different?
”Paper Man” is similar to a lot of my other fiction in that it takes place in small town Iowa where the fantastic intrudes. A lot of my work straddles this line. Sometimes I cross it into more realistic territory, and sometimes I cross into the more unrealistic, but mostly I like to stay in the middle.
Questions About Writing
Who do you write for? Yourself or someone else?
I write stories that appeal to my taste, and hopefully, that of others. So, definitely both.
What writing projects are you presently working on?
I’m always working on something. Right now I’m in the midst of writing a novel that walks that fine line I mentioned before, but has nothing to do with Iowa. Or Earth.
What time of day do you prefer to do your writing?
I’m a night owl. No doubt about it. I typically write from about 10 at night until about 2 or 3, depending. I try to write everyday. Sometimes 250 words, sometimes it’s 2500. Depends.
Favorite book read when you were a child?
Definitely A Wrinkle In Time.
If you could trade places with anyone, who would it be? And Why?
I’d like to be Bono for a day. He’s a big hero of mine. He’s been an inspiration artistically since I was a teenager, and now he’s become this self-made, self-taught advocate of the poor, and he’s really worked very hard to bring people to his cause. He doesn’t ridicule or toot his own horn, he gets people together and working and I admire that a great deal.
Watch much TV? If so, what shows do you watch? Which shows are guilty pleasures?
I don’t watch a whole lot. I watch the HBO stuff when it’s on. Deadwood, The Wire, Sopranos, etc. Lost, West Wing, Battlestar Galactica. My biggest guilty pleasure is Project Runway.
Pizzeria Uno’s in downtown Chicago.
Cat or dog person? (or something else, like birds, iguanas, or even evil robot monkeys?)
Cats and dogs.
If you had a working time machine what advice would you give a younger self?
It all happens for a reason.
Quiz: How many writers does it take to change a light bulb? Please explain your answer:
Umm… two. One to do it, and one to revise. “Does the light bulb feel true?”