Coney Island is as much a character as Kitty is in Magruder’s Curiosity Cabinet. H. P. Wood’s novel really piqued my interest about the bathhouses and bars, sideshows and secret lives. I happened on photographs by Diane Arbus, a singular photographer who met her first group of midgets at the Ringling Bros. circus. She focused on getting to know them, talking and listening without shooting, only gradually moving in with her camera. Everything was grist for her lens.
WWWW: I’m thinking writing is like photography, everything is grist for the pen. What advice would you give to an unpublished aspiring writer?
HPW: My advice would be what I wish somebody had told me, which is to avoid getting so wrapped up in “I wanna get published” that all the joy gets sapped out of what you’re writing.
What happened to me was, I wrote a different book (my first try) and almost got an agent but then didn’t. Getting “so close” ended up really spinning my head around. I wasted a lot of time being mentally blocked and depressed over my perceived failure.
So my advice—and I hope this does not sound obnoxious coming from someone who has a book out—is, don’t rush to get an agent, don’t rush to self-publish, don’t rush to professionalize yourself. The most fun you are going to have is right now, before there are any business concerns at all. Ambition is fine but don’t let it get in front of the indescribable pleasure of creating something exist that didn’t before.
WWWW: Thanks for that honest advice from the heart. So, in this new era of publishing, writers often bemoan that writing the book is the easy part and getting the book into readers’ hands is now a far greater challenge. How’s the marketing journey going?
HPW: I strongly suspect that it was ever thus. Because of social media just we hear each other complain more now.
As for me, on the one hand it is incredibly fun to have people reading this book finally. My friends and family have been so overwhelmingly supportive, I can’t even describe it. So that’s wonderful.
On the other hand, I am very much looking forward to getting back to writing, rather than being so outward-facing in terms of how I spend my time. I long to go back to my own Overlook Hotel where I (pretend that I) don’t care about anybody else’s opinion.
WWWW: So, for my last question, I’m giving it to you – is there something that you wanted me to ask that I didn’t? Spill it here!
HPW: Question: “Will you sign intimate body parts at the Hickory Stick Bookshop on June 18 at 3pm, or will you only sign books?”
Answer: As long as you buy a book, I will sign anything you want!
WWWW: Ok, so there may not be rollercoasters and peeping attractions in Washington CT, but you definitely suggest there will be thrills. Thank you, HPW, for your time and candid interview. I’ll be at your book signing, asking you to sign who-knows-where. I invite you all to join me at the Hickory Stick Bookshop in Washington CT, Saturday June 18 at 3PM.
Ladies and Gentlemen, complete info and directions are here.