Author Interview - David Heaney
Author I draw inspiration from: I don’t have a single author in mind when I think about who inspires me. Rather, I seek out writers who help me capture the meaning of my own experience as I develop as a person. I am awed by anyone who can tell a grand story like Neil Gaiman or Philip Pullman whose writings I have enjoyed recently. But, I also love authors who labor over the way they craft each sentence, somehow discovering the extraordinary in the mundane; authors like like JD Salinger, John Updike, and William Styron. I guess I would include Annie Dillard in the latter group. I read PILGRIM AT TINKER CREEK 30 some years ago and it is a work that I go back to over and over.
Favorite place to read a book: My favorite place to read a book is sitting on the couch with a cozy fire and my wife reading nearby and our three dogs hanging out with us. Having said that, I’d be a liar if I didn’t add that the most likely place for me to read is lying in bed at the end of the evening which usually results in a far shorter reading period.
Book character I’d like to be stuck in an elevator with: I loved the book Franny and Zooey by Salinger. I used it for a class I taught on Spiritual Issues in Psychotherapy for the Marriage and Family Therapy program at the University of San Diego. I think Franny would be a very interesting person to get to know. She is struggling in so many ways and is so hungry to discover what is important. I think being stuck on an elevator with her for about an hour would be just about right.
The moment I knew I wanted to become an author: I don’t believe there was any magic moment when I knew I wanted to become an author. I was a parish minister for 20 years and one of my duties was, of course, preaching. I learned that the more I wrote, the more I wanted to write. As my particular style evolved (which was driven by how people responded to my words), most people loved a story because it was illustrative of a particular point I may have been trying to make. Over time, my sermons became largely stories that allowed the listener to discover something true or helpful to them rather than an instructive session. I love watching people get swept up in a story! I began writing short stories and only recently wrote a short book. In some ways I still find it a challenge to think of myself as an author. I suppose I see myself as a teacher who happens to write. Perhaps I’ll grow into it over time and with creating a body of work.
Hardback, paperback, ebook or audiobook: As I mentioned I love a good story so much of the time the medium is not critical. Some stories lend themselves to audiobooks and when I’m driving or at the gym I enjoy the, I’m listening to The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey right now. I love the feel of a hardback and honestly, I’m not sure what inspires me to buy it as opposed to getting the ebook. I suppose it has something to do with the expectation that you and the book will become friends and you want it to hang around with you on your bookshelves.
The last book I read: My wife encouraged me to read Dust: La Belle Sauvage by Phillip Pullman. I loved it and can’t wait for the next two books. Only recently have I come to enjoy the fantasy genre. I think I was the only person in my network of family and friends that had no interest in Game of Thrones, but finally relented and, of course, binge watched it all. Then I read several of Neil Gaiman’s, AMERICAN GODS and NEVERWHERE and just finished Philip Pullman’s book. I have yet to read THE GOLDEN COMPASS trilogy which is on my list.
Pen & paper or computer: I am a two fingered typist but I can still type faster than I can write. I am also on my computer so much that I am very much at home with it and we have an easy relationship!
Book character I think I’d be best friends with: I think I might like Richard Ford’s character, Frank Bascombe in the Sportswriter, Independence Day, and The Lay of the Land. He’s a reflective kind of tortured soul who has really been through it with life, job and family. Life can be messy and you do your best to try to make sense of it. I like being around someone who looks hard at their life, the mistakes they have made the joys they have discovered and the efforts to redeem it all. I might discover however that being around someone a lot like myself can get old quickly.
If I wasn’t an author, I’d be a: Some years back I lived with my family on an island off of the city of Seattle. We had just about four acres of land and had a couple of goats and sheep. The sheep were not so smart but the goats were hilarious and fun. This may be a matter of euphoric recall because they also were very mischievous. I have been flirting with the idea of a small farm with goats. I’m signed up for a cheese making workshop next month!
Favorite decade in fashion history: The sixties were both a very difficult but entirely exhilarating time for so many things. I was a college student at the time and loved the fashion of the sixties. I attended Woodstock the year I graduated high school. My friends and I drove to the concert in my 1964 Corvair and ran into so much traffic on the freeway that we (and everybody else) just parked on the shoulder and hiked in. Lots of long hair, tie dye, blue jeans, and new ideas.
Place I’d most like to travel: I’ve had the good fortune to travel a lot and to live in several different countries on long-term work assignments. I lived in Israel for about a year and in London for a year. I have also traveled to Southeast Asia which I truly loved. In particular, I loved Vietnam and Cambodia. I’d like to spend more time there.
My signature drink: I love a really buttery and oaky Chardonnay. Regrettably, these tend to be the most expensive. Figures.
Favorite artist: I have collected art since graduate school days and have an eclectic mix of mostly paintings. I went through a phase where I loved reading about the lives of artists. Years ago, I read Irving Stone’s books on Pissarro, Van Gogh, and Michelangelo and have been dipping in and out of Sue Roe’s book, In Montmartre about Picasso and Matisse. As I learn about their lives and the art they were making I have come to appreciate their work. Right now, I am learning to love the work of Henri Matisse.
Number one on my bucket list: Well, let’s see. There is the goat farm I mentioned, the travelling in Southeast Asia. I have been studying Mandarin via Skype with a teacher in China. I think I’d like to be able to have a complete conversation in Mandarin. I guess I’d put that at the top right now.