BRIAN YANSKY: THE WRITING ENRICHES MY LIFE
Posted by Ognian Georgiev
Brian Yansky’s new book Utopia, Iowa is set to be released in February. We’ve got a chance to take a brief look into the novel. It’s time for our next interview.
– Brian, What is your next book Utopia, Iowa about?
– Utopia, Iowa, is a place where the people are strange and there are stranger things than people. It’s fantastical realism (a possibly made up term to indicate that it has both fantasy and realistic elements—I like both). My main character, Jack, sees ghosts—like many people in his family—but is also a somewhat typical teen with girl and family problems and a big dream—he wants to write for the movies. When two girls are murdered and both dead girls come to him for help finding their killer (remember– sees dead people), things get a bit, well, strange. He becomes a suspect in their murders and must solve them to keep from going to prison.
– How did you decide to write the story?
– Usually I start with a situation. In this one it was a boy who sees ghosts and lives in a small town that is magical. I had that much when I began. The fact that he wants to be a screenwriter came to me pretty early. From there I just wrote and tried to discover what my story was about. While it is about many things, the spine of the story is about the choices we have to make at that age (18)– the things we have to give up to pursue the things we want.
– Tell us something more about your main character? Is he someone from your real life?
– He’s a boy who wants to write for the movies. He loves them and talks about them a lot in the novel. He also has strong feelings for his best friend, Ash, that he’s afraid to act on. So there’s all that going on and then the fact that ghosts come to him for help and when two girls are murdered in the small town, they come to him. He’s not based on anyone from real life. Like most writers, I take bits and pieces from all the people I’ve known and met and read about and seen in movies and so on. All of life is fertile ground for the creation of imaginary beings and events. At least that’s how I see it.
– How much time did you need to finish the story and to publish it?
– It probably took me about a year to write the novel. Then my publisher took about two years to publish. During that time I did a couple of edits with my editor and also a copyedit with a copy editor.
– What would you say for your most popular book Alien Invasion and Other Inconveniences?
– I wanted this novel to be about what happened after the invasion rather than the invasion itself. That was one way I thought it would be different from other alien invasion novels, of which there are many. Also, my novel has humor, which is also something unusual in alien invasion stories.
– Share some info for My Road Trip to the Pretty Girl Capital of the World and Wonders of the World?
– Pretty Girl is about a boy who runs away from home to find his birth parents and ends up in Texas. I was adopted, so this story has more autobiography in it than any of my other novels probably. It was also my first novel and I think that many first novels have a bit more autobiography in them than subsequent novels. Wonders of the World is about street kids and how one boy gets off the street.
– What are your writing habits?
– I get up early and work for as long as I’m able. Most days that’s a few hours. I do have another job; like many writers I teach writing. I do this at ACC, a community college in Austin, Texas. Sometimes my day job will limit the time I can write but I still write something. I think it’s easier to open the door the next day (to the place of writing) if it’s been opened the day before. If I let three or four days go by without writing, that door gets stuck and I have to force it. This makes it hard for me to get back to my story. I’m a slow but steady writer.
– Are you keeping you kindergarten’s notebook, where you first show your writing talent?
– No, but my parents did keep my first story—Santa Claus and the 27 Bad Boys. It very much set the stage for my later career. It has imaginary creatures and boys who find it hard to follow the rules.
– If you may ask yourself one question in the interview what it will be? (Don’t forget to answer)
– Why do you write? I could say that it enriches my life and that would be true. I could also say that I get great satisfaction from finishing a novel and that would be true, too. But above all it’s fun. I like making things up. It entertains me. It’s hard, exciting, frustrating, exhilarating. There are moments that are magical.