I know Rachel Rinehart through Murray State University, where we both earned our MFAs (Rachel’s is in creative nonfiction and mine is in poetry). Rachel kindly invited me to participate in this cool chain interview thing called THE NEXT BIG THING, and while my post is late (a habit of mine, I’m afraid), you can read about her book, Right to Breathe, right HERE on her blog.
So my post is about my recently completed poetry manuscript. Several of the poems from this MS have been published and links can be found on the toolbar on the right if you’re curious.
What is your working title of your book? A Heart Like Texas
Where did the idea come from for the book? After reading Nickole Brown’s Sister (which she calls a novel in verse), I started to get really interested in cross-genre work. Specifically, I gave myself permission to write some fictional poems. Before long, a narrative arc presented itself in the poems, and I started shaping the collection around it.
What genre does your book fall under? Full-length poetry collection
Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition? Ginnifer Goodwin for the lead role (the speaker), Jesse Eisenberg as the husband, and Justin Chambers as the lover. I’m sorry. Dr. Karev is hot.
What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book? I’m cheating and using 2 sentences: It’s a novel-in-verse which follows the life of a single speaker in the rural South. The poems are like the speaker: above all else, bighearted, risking everything to find and understand love in all its twisted manifestations.
Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency? Neither. I am currently submitting it to independent presses, and I hope to place it with one of them SOON!
How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript? Four years, two of them leisurely and two of them super intense.
What other books would you compare this story to within your genre? It’s easier for me to talk about the books that inspired me than to compare my book to someone else’s. So I drew inspiration from Nickole Brown’s Sister (because of the structure and gritty southern subject matter), Nick Flynn’s Some Ether (because of the examination of one subject from several different angles), Erica Dawson’s Big-Eyed Afraid (Dawson is a master of nonce form but also writes brilliantly in received forms, and several of the poems in my book are formal), and I am ALWAYS reading and writing under the influence of Sylvia Plath. I admire her dark humor, her formal skill, her musicality, her use of metaphor, and above all, her tremendous intelligence.
Who or what inspired you to write this book? Well, this book is loosely based on my life. There are some parts of it which are totally invented, some parts which follow the real events exactly, but for the most part, each poem is at least rooted in something that actually happened to me. So that’s where the ideas for the literal events came from. As far as the emotional truths and themes, that’s always more complicated, isn’t it? I guess I just wanted to challenge our notions of love: romantic, familial, friendly, and even self love.
What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest? While it definitely has its share of serious emotional material (love, loss, parenthood, grief), the book also has a lighter side. A “wornout paperback Faulkner” inspires a steamy outdoor sex session; a woman has a one-night stand with a wannabe poker star; and Dwight Yoakam’s pants get the worship they SO deserve. So while the book will probably make some folks cry in places, I hope it induces a good number of boners, too.