3 to 5 Questions for Authors:
In Which A Librarian asks a Talented Author a Small Number of Questions
Q: Though your book deals with pretty heavy subject matter, the experience of going blind from a young age, an emotion that continues to stand out in your writing is your humor. Is there a comedic author or book that helped to shape you as a writer?
A: There are so many. Most of my favorite writers are funny, to some extent. I have long been a fan of David Sedaris. His point of view is just always so frank and so funny, in the most effortless way. I read Operating Instructions by Anne Lamott when I was just starting my writing career and I found her honesty and humor to be a real revelation. But the book that had perhaps the biggest impact on the writing of my book was Cockeyed by Ryan Knighton. He has the same eye disease I do, and he writes about losing his vision in a way that is both piercingly poignant and also laugh-out-loud funny. I think his book really made me feel like I had permission to be as funny and irreverent as I wanted to be.
Q: Did you always know that your experience would make a great book or did it come to you all at once that you should write about your life?
A: I’m not sure I was even aware of this at the time but I think there was a tiny part of me that really hoped, from the day I was diagnosed, that my experience would cohere into a story that would one day be helpful and interesting to others. I think it was a hope I harbored, unconsciously, because it offered me some solace. But for the most part, no, I didn’t really think about writing a memoir about my experience losing my vision until my husband, also a writer, suggested it one day on a long car ride. As soon as he mentioned it, I realized it was absolutely the story I had to tell. It was a real “aha!” moment, and I’m grateful to my husband for it.
Q: Did your friends and family, especially those mentioned in the book, read it as a draft or after it was published?
A: I gave my family the book early, before publication, but after it was finished. I also gave it to a few close friends, many of whom are writers and gave me tons of invaluable feedback. But a lot of my friends only read it after publication — and many of them were shocked to find that I was losing my vision; they had no idea. One friend, who had been a roommate of mine, read the synopsis on Amazon, and was convinced the designation “memoir” was a mistake, and that it should say “fiction” instead.
Q: Lastly, if you were a Dewey Decimal number, what number would you be?
A: Oh that’s easy. 999-Extraterrestrial Worlds. I’m joking, of course. Not about the Extraterrestrial Worlds but about it being easy. I just spent a half hour googling “Dewey Decimal,” then had a ten-minute episode where I had to wrestle my inferiority complex because I didn’t know jack about the DDS. Then I had a five-minute long identity crisis. Then I found 999 but wondered, for about 2 seconds, if that was perhaps a Satanic number, and then I remembered no, that was 6s. So actually, it was the hardest thing I did all day.