Yesterday, I posted a review of a terrific new book called BEING WRITTEN. It truly is a very special book, and I can honestly say that I've never read anything like it! I am so thrilled that the author William Conescu took the time out of his very busy schedule to answer a few questions for me!
Booking Mama: BEING WRITTEN is such a unique idea for a novel -- I've actually never read anything quite like it. How did the idea for this novel come to you?
William Conescu: I was interested in writing about artistically-minded people in their twenties and thirties struggling to figure out how best to live their lives, and then I had this idea for a dark comedy about a minor character who can hear the author’s pencil scratching when other characters are “being written” nearby. There are parallels in these struggles. Daniel is also figuring out what to do with his unique ability and what role he might play in his universe. So I combined the two ideas: Daniel hears a story being written about these artsy twenty/thirty-something-year-olds, and he works his way into their lives and their story and ultimately hijacks their book.
Booking Mama: When you set out to write BEING WRITTEN, did you know the entire story including the ending? Or, did you just have some ideas and start writing? What was your writing process like for this novel?
William Conescu: After writing a few chapters, I realized that BEING WRITTEN wanted to be a suspenseful novel. So I outlined the whole story, and while plenty of things changed along the way, the ending emerged early in the writing process.
Booking Mama: I thought Daniel was pretty crazy, but for some reason I really liked him. Did you know what direction you were going to take with his character from the start?
William Conescu: I knew I wanted Daniel to be the one character who knew he was a character, and I wanted to explore what that knowledge might make a person do and how it might make him feel. There’d be a loneliness to it. It’s not the kind of knowledge you’re going to share with lots of people because, well, it does sound odd.
Booking Mama: I thought it was very different that Daniel's chapters were written in second person. I understand that originally you didn't write his perspective this way. Why did you choose to write Daniel's chapters in second person? Did you ever consider writing them in first person?
William Conescu: Originally, I wrote the entire novel in the third person, but Daniel’s sections didn’t stand out. I hadn’t captured his unique perspective on how the universe works. I did try the first person but almost immediately moved to the second person. The second person can give a sense of a character talking to himself. It works well for a character who has an unusual mindset or who can’t believe he’s in a particular situation.
So the novel alternates between third person chapters that show the perspectives of characters who don’t know they’re in a book and second person chapters that show Daniel’s perception of being written into their story.
Booking Mama: BEING WRITTEN is your first novel but you have written and published some short stories. Which do you prefer writing -- novels or short stories?
William Conescu: I had a great time writing BEING WRITTEN, and at the moment I’m focused on my second novel. But I certainly enjoy writing and reading short stories and will continue to write them, too.
Booking Mama: What are you working on now?
William Conescu: I recently completed a first draft of my next novel. It’s not a work of metafiction, but it has its own flavor of strangeness to it.
Booking Mama: How has your life changed now that you've published a novel?
William Conescu: It’s very exciting to see the novel in bookstores everywhere and to hear from book groups and readers.
The book tour has been great, too. I’ve been to some really cool bookstores and met terrific people. BEING WRITTEN is a fun book to read aloud. Here’s a YouTube clip from a reading:
Booking Mama: I always ask this question because I think it tells a lot about a person. Who are some of your favorite writers and what are some of your favorite books? What are you reading right now?
William Conescu: My longtime favorite authors are Edith Wharton and Vladimir Nabokov. Some more recent favorites: Yann Martel’s The Life of Pi, David Ebershoff’s The Danish Girl, Diana Spechler’s Who By Fire, Andrew Sean Greer’s The Confessions of Max Tivoli. And I just finished Daniel Wallace’s Mr. Sebastian and the Negro Magician, which was excellent.
A huge thanks goes out to William Conescu for taking the time to answer some of my questions!He has also graciously offered a signed copy of BEING WRITTEN to one lucky reader. To enter the contest, please leave a comment with your e-mail address. If you'd like to double your chances, blog about this contest with a link back here. The contest will be open until Friday, December 12th at 11:59 p.m. EST. I will announce the winner the next day. This contest is open to those of you with U.S. or Canadian mailing addresses only. Good Luck!