Welcome, Amanda Filipacchi today!
Amanda Filipacchi has been described by the New York Times Book Review as a “lovely comic surrealist.” Her books have been translated into 13 languages and her non-fiction has appeared in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and the Atlantic. Her novels have been called “hilarious and thought-provoking” by Tama Janowitz and “whimsical and subversive” by Edmund White. Filipacchi earned her MFA in fiction writing from Columbia University.
Check her out at Facebook and on Twitter at @afilipacchi. You can also check her out at Open Road Integrated Media, which is the digital publisher's website.
Now let's get to the burning questions I asked.
Please tell readers about your book, Vapor.
Vapor is about Anna, a young woman whose greatest dream is to become a successful actress. She’s taking acting classes but is not doing well in them because her strong personality makes it hard for her to convincingly portray someone else. One night, she saves the life of a stranger in the subway, and to thank her, he decides to make her greatest dream come true. Just when she’s enjoying their first few dates and her growing feelings for him, he kidnaps her, keeps her locked in a room in his country house for nine months, and trains her--against her will--to become a great actress so that her dream will come true. One of the themes of the novel is: How great can people become if they do everything they can to become great? Since our free will and lack of willpower often prevent us from achieving our full potential in life, what would happen if our free will were taken away and our willpower were no longer necessary because reaching our full potential was something that was inflicted on us externally? Would we have a happier life, afterwards, than if we hadn’t been “improved”?
Who or what inspires your writing?
The authors that have influenced my writing the most are Raymond Queneau, Flann O’Brien, Jorge Luis Borges and Donald Barthelme. In reality, when I sit down to write, I’m inspired more by my own imagination than by anything else. In the future, I plan on allowing myself to be more inspired by current events and the news of the world. I’ve already started a little bit, with my next novel, and because this is new to me it makes the writing process very exciting.
When did you know you would be a writer?
I was 13 and took my first creative writing class at the American School of Paris. I’d never written fiction before. In that class, you had to write one short story every week. People loved my stories. No one had ever loved anything I’d done before as much as they loved my stories, and this gave me a huge high. I knew then that I wanted to be a writer. People’s appreciation of my fiction was one of the most pleasurable feelings I’d ever experienced, and I wanted to experience it over and over again for the rest of my life.
How long did it take you to write your first novel?
It took me a year and a half to write the bulk of my first published novel Nude Men. But then I took another year and a half to add to it. So it took me three years total, which seemed like a long time at the time, but it turned out to be much quicker than my next novels. Even though Nude Men was my first published novel, it was not the first novel I’d written. As a teenager I’d written three other novels: the first one, called The Eye Deals, was never finished. The second one, which I made myself write in a month (10 pages a day), in college, was called Mr. Anne Frank. The third one, which I made myself write in two months (5 pages a day) in college, was called Maze. They were both terrible. I never tried to get them published and hardly showed them to anyone. At the time, I was very good at writing short stories, and I wanted to write a novel but was intimidated by the huge number of pages I’d have to write for a novel. So I focused all my attention on quantity and not on quality. Nevertheless, I think it was a good exercise. By the time I wrote Nude Men, at Columbia’s M.F.A. creative writing program, I focused solely on quality and not at all on how many pages I was writing.
What is the hardest part of writing for you?
The hardest part is usually whatever I happen to be working on at the moment. If I’m working on plot, then plot seems like the hardest and scenes seem easy. If I’m working on scenes, then scenes seem like the hardest and plot seems easy and I yearn to work on plot. Then when I go and work on plot, I realize I was deluded and that plot is the hardest. But other than that, I would say for me perhaps one thing I find challenging is writing situations that the reader can relate to. I feel I have a strong imagination that usually draws me toward ideas I find original. The problem with original ideas is that they are out of the ordinary, and therefore they may not be situations many people can relate to.
Do you have any writing rituals?
I try to write a certain number of hours a day. I write down the time when I start writing (by writing, I mean sitting in front of the computer and staring at my novel document. Writing doesn’t mean my fingers have to be typing anything. But my mind has to be thinking about what I’m writing.) If I do something else for any reason, even just getting up to go to the bathroom, I write down the time at which I stop writing. And then when I come back I write down when I start again. Currently, that’s the closest thing I have to a “ritual.”
Have you written anything else?
Yes, in addition to Vapor, I also wrote the novels Nude Men and Love Creeps. My fourth novel, titled The Unfortunate Importance of Beauty, is coming out in February 2015 with W. W. Norton.
Any advice to aspiring writers?
When I was a teenager dreaming of becoming a novelist, I loved reading books on writing. I read lots and lots of them. I’m not sure they helped me at all, and in fact I don’t get a sense that they influenced my writing in any way, or that I followed their advice, but still I loved reading them, I was fascinated by them. I also loved reading magazines like “The Writer” and “Writer’s Digest” and “Poets & Writers.” I think it’s thanks to those magazines that I decided to get an M.F.A. in creative writing. Attending that program was helpful. Plus, it’s fun to be around people who all have the same goal, the same ambition. It’s stimulating and makes you work harder. If I were a teenager now, I’m not sure I would decide to become a writer, because the business seems to have become much more difficult. And even though I love reading e-books more than physical books, part of the joys of becoming a writer is the dream of seeing one’s book in print. Since physical books seem to be disappearing, the dream now for budding writers will have to be to see one’s book in an e-reader. And that seems like a much less exciting dream. But maybe I’m wrong. I hope I am. My other piece of advice to aspiring writers is: read John’s Steinbeck's Working Days: The Journals of The Grapes of Wrath. It’s very inspiring regarding the daily discipline required to be a writer.
Who are your favorite authors?
Favorite authors: Marcel Proust, Raymond Queneau, Flann O’Brien, Oscar Wilde, Dostoyevsky, Victor Hugo, Émile Zola, Balzac, Edith Wharton, Charlotte Brontë, Fitzgerald, Jorge Luis Borges, Donald Barthelme.
Favorite contemporary authors: Jonathan Ames, Kazuo Ishiguro, Jonathan Franzen, Jennifer Egan, A.M. Homes, Jonathan Safran Foer, Lionel Shriver, Donna Tartt, Meg Wolitzer, Alain de Botton, Mark Leyner, Richard Hine (my boyfriend).
What are your favorite books, or which book has impacted you the most?
My favorite books by living authors: The Extra Man by Jonathan Ames, The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro.
What are you currently reading?
Big Brother, by Lionel Shriver
Thank you for answering our questions!
Now there is going to be an awesome giveaway, but first let's take a closer look at the books. Yes, books. Three to be exact!
VAPOR is the tale of Damon Wetly, a sexy scientist obsessed with creating clouds. After he is rescued from thugs by Anna Graham, an aspiring actress, Damon takes it upon himself to grant Anna her wish of becoming one of Hollywood’s finest. Wetly does the unthinkable and forces her to relearn everything – walking, talking, thinking, eating and even breathing – by denying her free will. Damon’s nefarious ways compel Anna to tap into her inner spirit transforming herself into an unbelievably talented actress. Just when it seems that her fairy tale ending is around the corner, a dramatic change of events could cause her entire world and happiness to vaporize. Filipacchi artfully intertwines two memorable characters whose lives intersect in unexpected ways, adding a splash of literary magic with a final white rose.
NUDE MEN: A NOVEL -- Jeremy Acidophilus meets his match over a dish of Jell-O when Lady Henrietta enters his life. This mysterious woman has the power to make Jeremy do all kinds of unusual things including disrobing for a stranger. From the gray streets of Manhattan to the pastel kaleidoscope of Disney World, Jeremy’s journey of self-discovery is irresistibly absurd and uncannily real. Everyone—from his cat Minou to a dancing magician named Laura to the agents hired by his mother to taunt him—has advice for Jeremy. Before he can hear any of it, he needs to find out how to listen to himself.
LOVE CREEPS: A NOVEL -- At 32 years old, Lynn Gallagher is one of New York City’s five most influential contemporary-art gallery owners. Too bad her face is dead. Not so, says Lynn’s assistant, but that is how it feels when she compares it to her stalker’s face. Alan Morton may be a plump, goofy-looking accountant, but his face glows with life when he peers at Lynn through her gallery window. While Alan wants something from Lynn, she wants nothing at all. That is until she decides to stalk handsome French attorney Roland Dupont, who she begins to desire. A jealous Alan befriends Roland to uncover what Lynn sees in him. When Roland learns that he acquired his stalker by happenstance, he decides that he might be interested in Lynn after all. Soon all three are brazenly pursuing each other across Manhattan —from adult education classes in the art of beading to meetings of Stalker’s Anonymous—as they try to figure out what it is that they truly want.
So there ya have it!
These are in eBook only, so if you win, expect ecopy. No exceptions!
NOW THE GIVEAWAY
1 winner gets 3 ebooks!
Fill in the Rafflecopter form to enter.
Full terms & conditions are at the bottom of the form.
*No compensation was received for posting*