Sunday, February 28, 2010

7 Questions For: Author John Gilstrap

John Gilstrap is the author of Nathan’s Run, At All Costs, Even Steven, Scott Free, and No Mercy. He is also the coauthor of Six Minutes to Freedom and The Chopin Manuscript. Here is a quote from the biography section of his website: “My first novel, Nathan's Run, was in fact my fourth novel, and when it sold, it sold big. At a time in my life when things were going well—I was president of my own consulting firm—things were suddenly going very well. Warner Bros. bought the movie rights to Nathan's Run two days after the first book rights were sold, and as of this date, the novel has been translated and published in one form or another in over 20 countries. With Nathan's Run in the can, as it were, I thought I might finally be on to something, but I didn't quit my "day job" until after I sold the book and movie rights to my second novel, At All Costs. I figured that while one-in-a-row might be luck, two-in-a-row was a trend. So, I started writing full-time.” I've met John Gilstrap and he is very generous with his time and knowledge when it comes to aspiring writers. 

And now John Gilstrap faces the 7 Questions:

Question Seven: What are your top three favorite books?

Impossible question to answer. I love too many books for too many different reasons. Three among my favorites are:

Question Six: How much time do you spend each week writing? Reading?

I probably average two to three hours a day writing and another two reading.

Question Five: What was the path that led you to publication?

Like any path to success in an artistic endeavor, mine was a circuitous one that involved hours and hours of writing bad stuff that became gradually better. Even as a kid, I wrote constantly; it was the only skill I was good at. It's what I was known for in high school, and then in college--among my academic peers--I found out that I wasn't as good as I thought I was. (Actually, maybe it's better stated that my new peer group was at least as good as I was, and in many cases better.) I've never been interested in finishing second, so I continued to push myself. After college came grad school in a technical field, and despite a full-time job and academic obligations, I still wrote. Finally, I completed a story that I really liked, and I got an agent, and my agent sold the book. After that first sale, things get easier.

Question Four: Do you believe writers are born, taught or both? Which was true for you?

I think that the ability to tell a story is something you're born with. It's an artform that requires you to see the world a little differently than other people see it. Writers find significance in every day details that other people miss. That said, I think the physical elements of committing those thoughts and observations to the page are entirely learned.

Question Three: What is your favorite thing about writing? What is your least favorite thing?

Favorite thing: Reading a book I've finished and feeling satisfied that I got it right.

Least favorite thing: The blinking cursor on the first page of a new project.

Question Two: What one bit of wisdom would you impart to an aspiring writer? (feel free to include as many other bits of wisdom as you like)

Remember that to be successful, you have to write. A lot. And recognize that talking about writing, reading about writing, blogging about writing, attending classes about writing and dreaming about writing are not, in fact, writing. Only writing is writing. That requires one's butt in a chair.

Question One: If you could have lunch with any writer, living or dead, who would it be? Why?

I think dinner with Edgar Allen Poe would be a truly memorable experience.

Actual Interview Date: 8/15/2009

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