Saturday, February 14, 2015

0 Brian Yansky, author of UTOPIA, IOWA, on figuring out your writing process

What did this book teach you about writing?

Every book I’ve written and the one I am writing now teach me something new about writing. Part of that is because each book presents unique problems to be solved and unique situations to explore. Part of it is that different books force me to focus on different aspects of craft. Dialogue was important to me in this novel. I worked on giving it subtext (trying to make it reveal more about the characters or theme or plot than it seemed to on the surface) and I used it to help me discover things about character, setting and plot.

What’s your writing ritual like?

I write early in the morning most days and most days at home. I try to write almost every day. For me, it’s easier to start writing if I’ve been writing the day before. I have momentum. When I miss a day or two days, it becomes harder to  get back into writing. Some writers are binge writers and that’s the way they work. I’m a slow and steady writer.

What advice would you most like to pass along to other writers?

First the most obvious—you have to write a lot. That’s how you learn. Finish a novel and you learn how to finish a novel. Read. You can’t be a writer without being a reader. There are so many things you learn just by reading. Beyond that every writer is different. We all have a different process and different styles and different interests. Are you someone who likes to outline? Are you someone who drafts without an outline? What are you good at—setting or character or language? How can you get better at what you aren’t so good at? Every writer has to learn what works for her/him. Pay attention to all the advice you get from writers and writing teachers and from reading writers you admire, and then use what works for you and trash the rest.


Utopia, Iowa
by Brian Yansky
Released 2/10/2015

Jack Bell has an unusual gift—or curse, depending on your point of view. And he’s not the only one. In Utopia, Iowa, anything can happen.

For the most part, aspiring screenwriter Jack Bell is just your typical Midwestern kid. He’s got a crush on his hot best friend, Ash. He’s coping with a sudden frostiness between his once crazy-in-love parents. He’s debating where to go to college next year—or whether to go at all. But then there’s his gift (or curse): Jack can see dead people, just like the kid in The Sixth Sense. Lately, the ghosts are more distracting than usual, demanding that Jack get to the bottom of their mysterious deaths—all while avoiding the straitlaced Detective Bloodsmith, who doesn’t believe in gifts or curses and can’t help wondering why Jack keeps turning up at crime scenes. Is there a happily-ever-after in Jack’s future, or is that only the stuff of movies?

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Brian YanskyA lot of people think writers just write about themselves. They do and they don't. For me writing is a mix of imagination and memory.

My latest novel, UTOPIA, IOWA, is fantastical realism (this may be a made up term) that has elements of fantasy and realism, which both exist in my life. I live in a unique town whose motto is Keep Austin Weird. Utopia, Iowa, is also a unique place and has a motto, too: Where people are strange and there are stranger things than people. I was born in Iowa but the town of Utopia comes from my imagination. Good thing too: witches, a banshee, ghosts and other creatures wander in and out of that town.


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