Thursday, November 15, 2018

0 Andrew Simonet, author of WILDER, on writing being liberating

We're excited to have Andrew Simonet join us to chat about his debut novel, WILDER.

Andrew, what do you hope readers will take away from WILDER?

Every reader’s different, of course. I can share what I thought about while writing it. How the right person can inspire you to change. How hard it is to change. I thought a lot about class, the way it governs our expectations and behaviors, determines our opportunities. I’m fascinated with how unequal everything is and with the stories we tell ourselves about that. I also thought about masculinity, the ways we men can feel like victims when we’re actually aggressors (something we are seeing a lot these days). What are the stories we men tell ourselves that justify our anger, our violence?

I hope readers will get inside the mind of this wonderful, sometimes violent young man, and experience how his internal story justifies some dangerous choices. To put it another way: Just because a story makes perfect sense in my male mind doesn’t make it true.

What's your writing ritual like? Do you listen to music? Work at home or at a coffee shop or the library, etc?

I come from the dance world. I ran Headlong Dance Theater for 20 years. The rituals of writing and dance making are so different. To choreograph a dance, you have to get rehearsal space and find dancers, and then warm everybody up and get them interested in the work. And you’re always managing the group energy, the social vibe, people’s injuries, people’s memories of the movement. Writing has so few external barriers: I just sit down and write. That is so liberating for me. That said, the barriers to writing are internal, and they’re real. In a social art form like dance, you have people to bounce ideas off, pick up the momentum when you are stalled, and support you when you doubt yourself. And scheduled rehearsals are a great structure: you gotta show up and do something. Writing asks me to create my own accountability, my own system of support. The short version is: I try to write every morning, and I take longer retreats where I can sink into the work. I’m trying to keep the barriers as low as possible; for example, my space doesn’t have to be quiet or neat, and I don’t need to write for a certain duration. I’m savoring this frictionless practice.

What are you working on now?

A new novel. The lights (and everything else) go out. A young woman shaves her head and goes looking for her brother, a kid with an intellectual disability. There are no phones, no internet, so people lose their story. Some people panic, start inventing new and dangerous stories. My narrator loves it, how wide-open and unscripted everything is. So far, it’s about panic and the strange and ecstatic energies that can arise when our agreements crumble.


by Andrew Simonet
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Released 11/13/2018

I met Melissa in the rubber room, a.k.a. in-school suspension. And that’s not her real name.
She had secrets, I had enemies.
“People are either useful or dangerous,” she said. “One or the other.”
“Which one am I?” I said.
“You’re both.”
Meili was right. (That’s her real name.)
You can solve a lot of problems if you don’t mind getting hurt.

Jason Wilder is in permanent in-school suspension for fighting. Meili Wen gets there by breaking a girl’s finger. Jason and Meili don’t just connect; they collide. Two people who would never cross paths―outsiders from radically different backgrounds―they form an exhiliarating, unpredictable bond. When circumstances push, they push back. There’s no plan. And there’s no stopping.

"I am so crap. How can you stand being with me? Don’t answer that or I will crash this thing with both of us on it, swear to god, are you ready?”
Yes. No. Didn’t matter.
I reached both arms around Meili’s waist as we zoomed down the hill.

Purchase Wilder at Amazon
Purchase Wilder at IndieBound
View Wilder on Goodreads


Andrew Simonet is a choreographer and debut YA writer in Philadelphia. He co-directed Headlong Dance Theater for twenty years and founded Artists U, an incubator for helping artists make sustainable lives. He lives in West Philly with his wife, Elizabeth, and their two sons, Jesse Tiger and Nico Wolf.Andrew is the author of Wilder.


Have you had a chance to read WILDER yet? Do you struggle with the internal barriers of writing? Do you take longer retreats so you can sink into your work? Share your thoughts about the interview in the comments!

Happy Reading,

Jocelyn, Halli, Martina, Erin, Susan, Shelly, Kelly, Laura, Emily, and Lori Ann

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