Book Pleasures Interviews Kergan Edwards-Stout
I enjoyed being interviewed by Joseph Valentinetti at Book Pleasures recently, as he asked a lot of fun questions most people don’t. Check out the interview on the Book Pleasures site, or see below for a taste!
Joseph: Here’s some fun questions to start. At least they’re fun for me. What is the most overrated virtue?
Kergan: Chastity. But I’m not telling my kids that.
Joseph: What is the one thing other people always seem to get wrong about you?
Kergan: Until the publication of my novel, I’m not sure anyone thought there was as much going on in my head as there actually is. Most folks just saw me as a “gay dad.”
Joseph: If you could change one thing about the world what would it be?
Kergan: I would erase the divide between the have and have not’s.
Joseph: What pet peeve do you have about other people?
Kergan: Wastefulness. Whether it is food, water, resources, or–for writers–words.
Joseph: Is there any occasion when it’s OK to lie?
Kergan: The trite answer is to say that it is alright to lie to avoid hurting someone’s feelings. But, as I grow older and–hopefully–wiser, I’m not entirely sure even that is justified.
Joseph: Tell us your philosophy of writing?
Kergan: Write from the heart and let the words flow.
Joseph: Is your writing an art or craft or some combination of both?
Kergan: I think of writing as an art, which is more passionate and emotional. Too often, writers treat it more as craft, making sure every syllable is perfectly placed, but–to me–that kind of perfectionism usually robs the writing of its soul.
Joseph: If you could go back ten years and give yourself one piece of advice what would that advice be?
Kergan: “It doesn’t get any better. Life is harder than you think it will be. The trick is to find the joy, even amongst the rubble.”
Joseph: What’s the name and genre of you book?
Kergan: My debut novel is entitled Songs for the New Depression, though it is neither a song, nor inordinately depressing. It is a work of literary fiction, along the lines of a Michael Cunningham book, but mixed with the humor of Augusten Burroughs.
Joseph: Who is the audience for this book?
Kergan: I believe the book is for everyone, as the themes of love, longing, sex, and redemption are very universal. But if you ask my publisher, the primary audience is the LGBT community and straight women, as the themes seem to resonate strongly for both audiences.
Joseph: Describe your protagonist and describe the challenges the protagonist needs to overcome and the motivation for overcoming them.
Kergan: Set prior to the HIV drugs we now have, Gabriel is a gay man facing death, and wondering how the choices he’s made have led him to this point. Blessed with beauty and a sharp wit, Gabe has–more often than not–used words as a weapon, to keep others from getting close. Now, he’s facing the ramifications of such behavior, scrambling to make amends to those he has wronged. In particular, to find peace, he needs to reconcile an incident which, while it occurred long ago, continues to haunt him.
Joseph: Quote a passage from your book that you love and elaborate on the meaning of the passage .
Kergan: “James Baldwin once wrote that Americans lack a sense of doom, yet here I stand.” Over 12 years ago, that line popped into my head. At the time, I didn’t know who was speaking it, its context, or where it would lead, but that one line is now the opening sentence of my novel.
Joseph: What surprising things did you learn while writing this book?
Kergan: I think, most surprisingly of all, I learned that I am actually a writer. When I was younger, I would’ve never imagined that this could have been a career option, but here I am!
Joseph: How has your upbringing influenced you writing?
Kergan: My upbringing and life experiences have helped define my voice as a writer, so that everything I write has a certain shared sensibility.
Joseph: Where do you live and how does that influence your writing?
Kergan: I live in Southern California, and I think that kind of “laid back” attitude influences my writing style. I don’t obsess over every notation. While at times poetic, my writing is much more of a dialogue with the reader, putting all of my characters thoughts onto the page. And I think that “accessibility” is definitely influenced by my location.
Joseph: Do you prefer fermented or distilled?
Kergan: I’m drinking chardonnay right now.
Joseph: Thanks once again and good luck with your book.