My good friend Adam Sydney is officially a published writer, and with his second book, My Heart is a Drummer, he explores ♥love♥ the only way he can: weirdly. Adam will choose two lucky ecopy winners, one for My heart… and another for Yolanda. Good luck:)
The structure of My Heart is a Drummer is nothing like I’ve ever seen before – what inspired you to write this particular story this way?
AS: I wrote the first draft chronologically, but as this was the first draft of the first real novel I’d ever written, I wanted it to feel fresh and spontaneous. Consequently, I wasn’t writing off of an outline, which for me, I’ve learned, leads to very leaden, predictable writing. So everyday, I wrote for an hour or two, just plowing ahead on the timeline.
Sometimes, though, I’d run into spots where I didn’t know what was going to happen next. For some unknown reason, I came up with this idea that at these points, I would write little scenes that had nothing to do with the story but would keep me writing and hopefully open my stuffed up brain passages. This actually worked for me.
For the next draft, I decided to take the week that I’d covered chronologically and regroup the scenes into chronological order for each character. So we cover the week with Lourdes’ POV, then we cover the same week again with Eric. For me, this kept the story from revealing too much information too soon, and it also kept the story more firmly focused on the people around Donald and how he affected them, rather than on him.
I don’t know why, but I left in the weird little scenes that I’d written basically as exercises– and lo and behold, people weren’t incredibly annoyed by them! I was surprised, but glad, because they ended up feeling to me as if they were sketches of some of the people who might have benefited from knowing Donald if they’d just lived in his part of the world and/or in his time. But maybe I’m justifying?
AS: Wow! No one’s ever asked me that one, before, either! I can see how someone could really get properly cross-examined by a friend who knows them well. I’ll have to behave myself, or you’ll ask me a question that might really expose the darkest recesses of my psyche…
But it’s true, I’ve lived in a lot of big cities– and some smaller ones, too. The setting of My Heart is a Drummer is more suburban than anything else, I think. Montclair, New Jersey is in the metro area of New York City. But I grew up in small towns– maybe that’s it? Although I’ve never consciously avoided writing stories set in large cities, now that I think of it, I get nervous at the prospect. Lots of people will know the place well, and if I don’t represent the city in the way that they’ve experienced it, maybe I’m worried that they’ll not feel the story is as authentic as it could be.
This might also explain why I set my stories in places that I’ve never been to, before. I’m not personally a big fan of fiction that seeks to capture a place; I’m a story man. It’s the background in screenwriting, I guess. So I get a little bored when a novel spends ten pages describing a room or a street. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that, necessarily. I just prefer to get down to the nitty-gritty of character and action.
AS: I think that each and every novel is probably a piece of its writer. After all, we spend so much time with it, and the process can be very intimate. But my problem answering this question is that I tried to ensure writing My Heart is a Drummer would depend almost solely on subconscious creative decisions. So it must all be pieces of me; I just can’t tell you which pieces! People who know me well could probably answer that question better than I could. What do you think? What pieces of me are in there? I have to admit that I’m terrified of your response.
That being said, there were a couple of brief stories recounted in the book that I consciously put in there. They were based on reality, and reading over the book later makes me think that the personal reasons I included them make them weaker than other elements, perhaps. However, no one ever said that they stuck out or felt awkward or self-indulgent, so I’ve left them in.
If any of your readers take a look at My Heart is a Drummer, I’d love to hear what they think might be these factual stories!
AS: I think what’s now and next for me is going to be a lot of marketing for my books. People warned me that getting them published would be next to impossible, but marketing would be a thousand times tougher. So far, that’s turning out to be true. But I was a creative director at an advertising agency for a while, and my boss used to draft me to handle P.R. sometimes, so I kind of understand a few of the basics. I did threaten to quit the job if he me do any more publicity, though, to give you an idea of how I feel about it.
And I’m also working on my third novel, which defies categorization. It’s sort of an experimental, semi-narrative horror treatise on existence. Yeah, I’ll be raking in the dough on that one. I really enjoyed writing experimental screenplays because I’d rather try out a few things that I haven’t seen before onscreen and felt that if I did what everyone else was doing, someone’s probably already done it better, anyway. To give you a good idea of how twisted I am, one of my favorite authors is Faulkner. Of course, with the film industry, the chance that an experimental feature will be financed is pretty slim (I’d put a understatement emoticon here if they had one), so I’ve turned my attention to books. My first two are pretty conventional, but I started to get the urge to try some new things, hence Something’s Wrong. So far, I could only get three of my writing friends to take a look: two said it was profound, and one couldn’t make it through the first third of the book. So yeah, it’s going to be one of those projects. But I still plan on publishing it– mostly just because I can.
So if anyone out there enjoys experimental, semi-narrative horror treatise on existence, please do get in touch!
**Leave your comments, guys – you could win an ecopy of the book on Monday July 30th:)**