Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Author Snapshot: William Conescu

A Snapshot of... William Conescu
Most recent book: Being Written (Harper Perennial)
Born in New York City
Grew up in New Orleans, Louisiana
Now live in Chapel Hill, North Carolina
Web site:

What food do you love?
Wolferman’s English muffins.

What food have you vowed never to touch again?
I don’t like foods that slither down your throat, like mushrooms or eggplant. It’s unfortunate because I’m a vegetarian, and according to the rules, we’re supposed to love both.

What are you working on now?
Daniel, the character in Being Written who knows that he’s a character in a novel, believes he’s being set up for a sequel. I am not, however, working on a sequel. (Don’t tell him.)

I’m working on a new novel that has its own flavor of strangeness to it. I still haven’t told my friends or family what it’s about, but I’ll tell you, if you promise to keep it a secret.

Okay, that’s not fair. I’ve written a complete draft, but I need to spend more time in the world of the new novel before I’m ready to start talking about it.

Tell us about your process.
In Being Written, the character Daniel knows he’s being written because he can hear the scratching of an all-powerful author’s pencil. Do I write with a pencil? Well... no. But after I compose something on the computer, I sit down with a printout (and perhaps a cat) and edit with a pencil.

And I like knowing I’m headed somewhere, even if I don’t end up going there. So I do use an outline when I’m working on a novel, but I change the outline frequently.

Lift your head and look around. What do you see?
Calder print, books, papers, coffee mug, maniacal bird that keeps hurling itself into my window.

To date, what moment in your career has made you happiest?
I was thrilled to have my first novel, Being Written, accepted for publication, and I was surprised to discover how many “This is it!” moments there have been.

There was the moment I started working with an agent, the moment the novel was sold to Harper Perennial, the moment I saw the advance copy, then the final copy, then the final copy at a bookstore.

In short, I’ve discovered that I can turn almost any “first” into a reason to go out to dinner to celebrate. For instance, no one has ever asked me this exact question before. It’s a first. That at least earns me some frozen yogurt, right?

For you, what is the easiest thing about being writer?
The dress code. Pajamas are acceptable.

What’s the most difficult?
It’s humbling to consider how many novels are out there -- not just in print but at any given bookstore. And how does a person who will enjoy your novel find out it’s there on the shelf? (In my case, under “Co-” beside many, many Jackie Collins novels.)

What question do you get asked about your writing most often?
“Was it difficult writing in the second person?”

Being Written alternates between third person chapters that show the perspectives of characters who aren’t aware they’re in a novel and second person chapters that show Daniel’s perception of being written into the book.

Was it difficult writing in the second person?
No, it was a lot of fun. The second person can give a sense of a character talking to himself, and it can work well for a character who has an unusual mindset or is in a strange situation. It was difficult writing about Daniel before it occurred to me to try the second person. Originally, I wrote his sections in the third person, but something was missing. Using the second person allowed me distinguish Daniel from the other characters and helped me show his unique perspective on how the universe works.

Please tell us about Being Written.

It’s been called a dark comedy and has been called a literary thriller, and I think both are fair descriptions.

The story centers on Daniel Fischer who has made the unhappy discovery that his entire world exists in the imagination of an author. Daniel is the only one who can hear the scratching of the author’s pencil when someone is being written nearby, but unfortunately, Daniel is a very minor character -- the literary equivalent of a movie extra.

When Daniel discovers that the author has taken interest in an unhappy young singer, Daniel inserts himself into her social circle and attempts to reinvent himself to win the author’s favor. Being Written is about the lengths to which Daniel will go to win a bigger part.

Author photo by Chris Hildreth

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