(This is all written by the great poet Brian Russell, author of the forthcoming book The Year Of What Now, available from Graywolf in a few too-long months)
THE NEXT BIG THING
Many many thanks to the fantastic Kelly Forsythe for tagging me in “The Next Big Thing” thing. Head here to learn about Kelly’s book-to-be, Colorado Perennial. Thanks, too, to Glenn for letting me post these answers on his blog as I’m blogless.
What is the working title of the book?
The Year of What Now
What genre does your book fall under?
What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?
Wife: Naomi Watts or Julianne Moore
Husband: Philip Seymour Hoffman
Doctors: Viola Davis, Chris Cooper, Terrence Howard, Angelica Houston
What is the one sentence synopsis of your book?
After a woman falls suddenly ill, doctors struggle to figure out what’s wrong with her and her husband confronts the unimaginable possibility of life without her.
How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?
Six months. At the beginning of 2011 I knew I wanted to write this book. While I didn’t have a lot of the details sorted out yet, the general arc and most of the major scenes and ideas were there, and I was incredibly impatient to get it finished. I wanted it to be ready to send out for the fall first book prize deadlines. I figured I needed to write 90 poems with the idea that about 55-60 of them would survive. Giving myself two months to edit and arrange the collection, that left me with six months to write it. I wrote the first poem on February 1st and the 90th on July 31st. Coincidentally, neither of them made the cut.
Where did you get the idea for the book / Who or what inspired you to write this book?
The book is based on a series of things that happened that forced me to spend much more time than I’d like in a hospital. I’ve always been both, if not equally, terrified and fascinated by hospitals. A place where every day wonderful and terrible things are happening simultaneously. A place where life-altering and mundane exist side by side. The events that led me to spend an extended period of time in the hospital became the starting point for the book, though it is by no means a memoir-in-verse. I look at the wife and husband in the book as homages to, as embodiments of, people I love who have endured more than they should have to.
What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
One poem begins with a joke I made up. One poem is about a parasite that gets into rats and erases their fear of cats. In one poem, you can learn a little bit about the evolution of gasoline use. The hospital as parallel universe. A little rhyme. Some dialogue. A good deal of misdirected anger. Hopelessness. Hope. Love.
Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
Graywolf will publish my book in July. While we’re on the subject…it’s always interesting, when people who don’t read poetry find out you’re publishing a book of poetry, to field their follow-up questions, such as: so what you’re saying is the book is just, like, a ton of poems (well it depends how you define “a ton”)? Is it a children’s book (no)? Do you mean they’re, like, stories about poems (huh?)?
My tagged writers for next Wednesday are: