I hope you had a terrific Christmas break, those who celebrate.
Today we have a treat for you, author Vik Rubenfeld is here for a Q & A, and is also offering up a paperback copy of his book, Conquest, to one lucky American reader!
Want to know what it feels like to be a rock star?
Reid Taylor started out with nothing and became part of one of the biggest bands in the world. Now he wants to tell you about the hard struggle every step of the way, fame, the craziness of being on the road, the groupies, and how he found real love that meant more to him than all the groupies in the world. And he wants to tell you about the conflict he had with one of the members of his own band, that threatened everything the band ever hoped to achieve.
Paperback: 212 pages
Publisher: CreateSpace (December 1, 2011)
Who or what inspires your writing?
For this novel, I was inspired quite a bit by real events. The characters are fictional, but most of the events in the book are inspired by true stories that actually happened to one band or another. Fans of rock history will have fun spotting all the references. As just one example, there's a very famous event in rock history that took place at Nellcôte, in France, where the Rolling Stones recorded "Exile on Main Street". Interest in it is high enough that the Stones released a DVD about it. They had many, many friends and family living there or nearby while they were making the album. It was very special little social scene for everyone there. Almost everyone who has heard about it has wondered what it would have felt like to have been there. So, a sequence in my novel is inspired by that.
I've always been drawn to the world of entertainment. That's part of how I came to create EARLY EDITION, the hit TV show with Kyle Chandler, about the guy who gets tomorrow's news today. It ran for four years in prime time on CBS and has been in 73 countries around the world.
I've wanted to write something set in world of entertainment for a long time. I was particularly drawn to what happens when you are on stage. I acted in and directed plays in high school so I had some limited experience with that, and it meant a lot to me. I wanted to communicate what that felt like.
When a group of guys form a band and set out to try to make it a success, they are on an epic journey, and it happens in real life all the time. The epic journey part of it, and the "men on a mission" thing, appealed to me quite a bit.
And then there were the groupies. For some reason I wanted to write a lot of pages about groupies. :)
And one more thing - having lived that entertainment biz thing of trying to do something that seems impossible, and then getting it to happen - getting EARLY EDITION on the air - I wanted to write about what that felt like. I just put it into the life of a rock star.
When did you know you would be a writer?
In college, I met a teacher, Mrs. Bettina Olivier. She taught me what a work of art is, and she believed I could write one myself. I immediately felt that writing would be one of my top goals.
How long did it take you to write your first novel?
Six years. I would stop writing for weeks or months while I did research or decided how a particular turn of events should go.
What is the hardest part of writing for you?
This is a great question. The hardest part for me is picking the emotional subject I'm going to write about. For example, in "A Tale of Two Cities", I think that Dickens is writing, at least in part, about how lacking he feels the world is compared to what it could be. In "War and Peace", I think Tolstoy, at least in part, is writing about how lacking he feels human nature itself is. In "Huckleberry Finn", Mark Twain seems to be writing at least in part about discovering your world for yourself. (This is not to compare myself to these writers; they are masters and I am but a grasshopper. :) )
Do you have any writing rituals?
I believe that a lot of writing is done by your subconscious. I try to embrace that. I try to find one very specific question about what I want to do next in the novel. Then I can go away and surf the internet, watch TV, do other work - almost anything - and in the meantime my subconscious will be looking for the answer.
Have you written any thing else?
I have a number of short stories that I'll probably publish.
Any advice to aspiring writers?
I'd say, look into finding out what an "emotional insight" is. I blog about this at vikrubenfeld.com. Here's a famous example:
Romeo: But soft, what light through yonder window breaks?
It is the east, and Juliet is the sun.
That is pretty easy to get with. Feel every word of that with your whole heart. Does it fill you with emotion and meaning? That meaning is the meaning of Shakespeare’s emotion.
It's interesting to me that you can't restate it in information-only terms, and still keep the beauty of it. For example, if you try to restate the information of it, you get something like, "Juliet radiates light, turns night into day, etc." All the beauty is lost. The beauty of Shakespeare's words is a beauty of emotion, and, it seems to me, can't be restated in information-only terms.
Here's another one. It's from Mark Twain's Huckleberry Finn. Huck Finn is escaping from his father, who has held him prisoner for several months. (http://etext.virginia.edu/etcbin/toccer-new2?id=Twa2Huc.sgm&images=images/modeng&data=/texts/english/modeng/parsed&tag=public&part=7&division=div1)
I took a good gap and a stretch, and was just going to unhitch and start when I heard a sound away over the water. I listened. Pretty soon I made it out. It was that dull kind of a regular sound that comes from oars working in rowlocks when it’s a still night. I peeped out through the willow branches, and there it was — a skiff, away across the water. I couldn’t tell how many was in it. It kept a-coming, and when it was abreast of me I see there warn’t but one man in it. Think’s I, maybe it’s pap, though I warn’t expecting him. He dropped below me with the current, and by and by he came a-swinging up shore in the easy water, and he went by so close I could a reached out the gun and touched him. Well, it was pap, sure enough — and sober, too, by the way he laid his oars.
I didn’t lose no time. The next minute I was a-spinning down stream soft but quick in the shade of the bank. I made two mile and a half, and then struck out a quarter of a mile or more towards the middle of the river, because pretty soon I would be passing the ferry landing, and people might see me and hail me. I got out amongst the driftwood, and then laid down in the bottom of the canoe and let her float. I laid there, and had a good rest and a smoke out of my pipe, looking away into the sky; not a cloud in it. The sky looks ever so deep when you lay down on your back in the moonshine; I never knowed it before. And how far a body can hear on the water such nights! I heard people talking at the ferry landing. I heard what they said, too — every word of it.
Do you feel that? The stillness, the mystery that Huck is experiencing as he makes his escape? If you feel it, then you are witnessing emotional insight. That's all there is to it. :)
Who are your favorite Authors?
There are too many to mention, but a few that come to mind today are Anthony Trollope, Herman Melville, P.G. Wodehouse (hilariously funny!), George Elliot, Mark Twain, and many many others.
What are your favorite books, or which book has impacted you the most?
Somehow the John Ciardi translation of Dante's "The Inferno" and "The Purgatorio" had a huge effect on me.
What are you currently reading?
Mark Twain's "Huckleberry Finn"
Arthur Miller's "Death of a Salesman"
How do readers find out more about you?
Connect with me on:
Author Blog: vikrubenfeld.com
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