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Andrew Blackman Interview

Posted on 10 March 2009. © Copyright 2004-2018 WriteWords
A longer version of this interview is available to WriteWords Full and Community Members.
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WriteWords talks to debut novelist Andrew Blackman, whose first book has just been published by Legend Press

Tell us something about your background.

My first novel, On the Holloway Road, is being published by Legend Press in February 2009. I have had one short story published by Leaf Books and have several more forthcoming in literary magazines. Before that I was a journalist and have had several hundred articles published in The Wall Street Journal and other newspapers and magazines across America. Right now Iím working on a new novel about identity in the age of social networking.



Other work besides writing; ie. Editing, dramaturgy, tutoring, and how it works for/against your own writing

I am currently a temp on the night shift. Previously I have been a journalist, and before that a corporate banker, so temping for the last couple of years has been a big drop in pay and prestige. But it works perfectly for my writing. I have time to write during the day, without any distractions or stress or thinking about work. For the first time I have had the courage to put my writing first, to arrange my life around it. Itís paid off: while temping I have had short stories published, have won competitions, and now am about to have my first novel published by Legend Press.



How did you start writing?

I always liked to write as a child, but was raised to be Ďpracticalí and so took a practical, well-paid City job. The job took me to New York, where I stood under the World Trade Center one bright Tuesday morning and watched the towers burn. As I trudged home, my clothes caked in the dust of other peopleís bodies, I vowed that I would not die doing something I hated: I would at least try to do what I wanted. So I began to write, sporadically. I quit banking and became a journalist, all the while working on my fiction in the mornings before work. Then a couple of years ago I quit journalism and became a temp so that I could devote all my energy to doing what I want to do: writing literary fiction

Who are your favourite writers and why?

I love the stories of Jorge Luis Borges for their magical complexity, their luminous quality. Milan Kundera and Jean-Paul Sartre for grappling with the really big questions of life while also managing to tell good stories. Kazuo Ishiguro for just telling really good stories and keeping the message as subtle and understated as his prose. George Orwell for political commitment, brutal honesty, clarity of writing, and the precious insight that good writing is like a window pane.


How did you get your first agent/ commission?

Prizes have been good to me. I got my first essay published by winning the Daniel Singer Millennium Prize in 2004, my first short story published by being commended in the Leaf Books Short Story Competition in 2007, and my first novel published by winning the Luke Bitmead Writerís Bursary in 2008.


What's the worst thing about writing?

The feeling that Iíve only expressed a tiny fraction of what I really wanted to say.

And the best?

That wonderful feeling, every now and then, when everything feels right, the words flow and I know they are good. Itís a high that canít be beaten.

Tell us what kind of responses you get from audiences\ readers.

One of the hardest things about writing is rarely getting any feedback. Even when I was a journalist, writing articles for millions of people, most of those readers never respond. But perhaps the rareness of a response makes it more special when you do. I still keep readersí letters from my days at the Wall Street Journal. Then, on a summerís day in 2008, I listened to Sam Mills, one of the judges of the Luke Bitmead Writerís Bursary, describing the ďmature prose styleĒ of my prize-winning novel, and it was one of the happiest moments of my life.



A longer version of this interview is available to WriteWords Full and Community Members.
Click here to learn more about becoming a member.

Andrew Blackman is represented / published by:
Legend Press






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