For “The Next Big Thing,” each participating poet or fiction writer engages the same set of questions pertaining to a recently published book, a soon-to-be-published book, or a book-in-progress. This week, I am proud to host Mimi Lipson, an almuna of the Boston University MFA program in Fiction.
1. What is your working title of your book?
It’s a collection of stories, which I’m calling “The Cloud of Unknowing” right now. That’s the title of one of the stories, and I think it might also work for them in aggregate. And I’m writing a novel, but I’m too superstitious to talk about it.
2. Where did the idea come from for your book?
Mike McGonigal at Yeti Publishing was the one who suggested putting together a book. The germs of most of the stories came from life—things that happened to me or someone I knew, or from places I’ve been. Everything changes once you start writing, though, and especially when you revise.
3. What genre does your book fall under?
I guess you would call it literary fiction.
4. Which actors would you choose to portray your characters in the movie version of your book?
That’s hard for me to say because I’m not familiar with a lot of contemporary actors. There’s a movie called You Can Count On Me in which Mark Ruffalo plays someone similar to one of my recurring characters, but that movie came out over ten years ago, so Mark Ruffalo would be too old now. And I have a Gene Hackman type in a few of the stories. But I’m probably just saying that because I love Gene Hackman so much. Also Linda Manz at various ages, and one story has a Gena Rowlands. I’m really showing my age with these answers.
5. What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
Fourteen stories about the mystery of personality, maybe?
6. Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
Neither. It’s coming out next year from Yeti Publishing. There is an agent who’s (I hope) going to help me with the novel when it’s ready, but she’s not involved with the story collection.
7. How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
I wrote the stories over the last five or six years.
8. What other books would you compare this story to in your genre?
I think the stories vary a fair amount in terms of style and theme, so I suppose I’d compare the collection to someone with a lot of range. V.S. Pritchett comes to mind.
9. Who or what inspired you to write this book?
People have been bugging me to write my whole life. It seems I have a reputation as an amusing storyteller. I only started writing seriously when I was 40, though, and a lot of the struggle, for me, is to NOT write like I’m spinning a good yarn, because writing and talking are two very different things.
Another answer to that question: I worry that what I know, what I’ve experienced, and how I think about it–my particular sensibility–will die with me. Writing is a pretty self-involved pursuit.
10. What else about your book might pique a reader’s interest?
I always try to put a few good gags in each story.
Thanks for hosting me, Abe! I hereby tag Dariel Suarez.