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Tuesday, 10 July 2018

Interview: Kevin Arnold

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I am excited to be on the blog tour for The Sureness of Horses by Kevin Arnold - a wonderful story that I just can't wait to share with you all! For my stop on the tour, I am chatting with the author - keep on reading to find out more.

Tell us a little about yourself!
I’m transplanted from Barrington, Illinois, living in northern California since 1976. Although I had a 28-year career with IBM, I’ve never stopped writing. 
How did you first become interested in writing?
As a teenager, I read Winter Dreams, a short story by F. Scott Fitzgerald, and was so taken with it I wanted to do something similar. I published my first story in 1982, a book of poems in 2010, and now this novel, which seems to be catching on.
Tell us about The Sureness of Horses.
It’s semi-autobiographical, like the French notion of a Roman à clef. On a more intellectual level, I wanted to explore a what happens to Wade Middleton, ‘in the middle,’ a modern-day Everyman, when he makes one mistake that turns his world and the world of others upside-down. His actions kick off a murder-suicide that leaves a five-year-old girl an orphan. How can he live with himself?
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Why did you decide to write a romance?
I tried to avoid genre fiction, but when I told my novel writing class at Yale the last thing I wanted to do was write a romance, they told me (correctly, I now believe) if it doesn’t work as a romance, it won’t work as a novel. That inspired many re-writes.
Horses are a key theme in the book – are you a big animal lover?
Yes, I feel particularly drawn to horses, dogs, and even an occasional cat. My wife has been a nationally-ranked equestrienne, and I qualified on horseback, including jumping three feet fences, for my “Hunt Colors,” or as the Brits say, “Colours.”
How did you get inspiration?
The hardest part of writing is to keep pushing on. Jack London said, “You can't wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club.” If I’m writing, the inspiration comes. If I’m not writing, I’ve learned tricks to push myself back into the process.
What’s your writing process?
My most creative ideas come to me as I’m waking up. Once I’m up and about, the trick is to carve out some time to see how my creative ideas work out on paper. It helps to teach a bit and belong to a strong writing community. I enjoyed running a Poetry Center, which I did for thirteen years.
What’s the hardest thing about writing?
The world gives very few writers positive feedback it does to more commercially viable or politically correct activities, so one must push oneself. That’s the hard part.
What do you love most about writing?
I’m somewhat addicted to repetitive improvement. That I can continually improve is something to be loved, but also feared. I continually ask, “When should I let go?”
kevin-arnold, author

Which authors inspire you?
Oh, my, I sure miss Galway Kinnell’s presence on the earth. I loved The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt. Victor Hugo. I knew Raymond Carver and wrote about him. Although she’s currently considered too commercial, it would be wrong to ignore Edna Ferber.
Do you have any tips for aspiring writers?
If I’m in a long dry period, I revert to pasting a gold star on a calendar for every hour-and-a-half worked on writing. I’ve found that’s a blank page that can get a writer going. Writers who are ‘blocked’ can support other writers by going to readings and hanging out with writers. Critique groups are great for support and deadlines.
What are you currently working on?
I’ve just started a sequel to The Sureness of Horses, set five or six years later. Wade and Diana, married, run into new problems surrounding ageing and illness. So many couples seem to have to deal with caretaking, so I find writing about that worthwhile.
What are you reading at the moment?
I’m reading Julia Glass’s A House Among the Trees, re-reading Updike’s Rabbit series, and keep up with Journals such as Threepenny Review and Kenyon Review.
What’s your all-time favourite book?
I’ve always pointed to Tender is the Night by F. Scott Fitzgerald, although it’s garnered some competition over the years. 
What are your ambitions for your writing career?
I have another novel virtually completed, one that touches on the subject of race. And I’ve just begun the new sequel to The Sureness of Horses. And I’ll always write poems - I finished a new one this morning!
What are your interests outside of writing and reading?
I play tennis and duplicate bridge. I travel, mainly to Europe, where I was a Naval Officer in the Mediterranean. And I have three kids, of whom I’m immensely proud.
The Sureness of Horses is available to buy now. For more about Kevin and his work, why not check out this article?

Will you be reading the book? Let me know in the comments below!

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