Hello! Welcome to Interview FoxSeat with guest author Theron Ray Arnold
Theron Ray Arnold was born in Iowa and raised in Nebraska. His first collection of poetry, Geek Philosophy, was released in 2005. In February of 2017 he published his first novel, Contemplating Mrs. E, and its novella follow-up, The Cenotaph of Cedric Silkyshag (in April). He is currently working on his second novel titled Ron Quixote of Tadpole Heights, a collection of short stories titled Spider Monkey Fishlips, a short film script titled Atheist Soup Kitchen, and a screen adaptation of his first novel titled Chuse Your Inheritance.
Book Sample: Contemplating Mrs. E
Genre: literary/visionary fiction
Synopsis: Cedric von Silkyshag, a wannabe writer, spends twelve days at an Omaha, Nebraska, mental health facility for undiagnosed bipolar disorder upon completing his debut novel, Chuse Your Inheritance: The Adventures of Jim Bob Bach & Grampa Goose.
Excerpt: We sat there fer a spell, neither sayin’ a word. Exchangin’ harmless looks to-’n’-fro. My eyes, nat’rally, strayin’ from hers, even if only fer a moment, off t’ her hair, her neck, her shoulders. The unbridled def’nition of her collarbone. The slightness of her bosoms risin’, then fallin’, with each bashful breath. The obviousness of her bosoms risin’, then fallin’, with each bashful breath. The slightness o’ my stare. The obviousness of her bashfulness. So I come back to her eyes, grossly engrossed. Seein’ her seein’ me seein’ her.
Why do you write? I have no choice; there’s just something inside me that insists on coming out. I ignored it for years, but it finally got the best of me.
When did you decide to become a writer? After the death of my paternal grandfather.
How long does it usually take you to complete a book? I started my first novel in late-1998 and worked on it a little here and there, along with my first collection of poetry, until early-2003. Then, in 2009, I finished it, adding one chapter. At least, I thought I’d finished it. In 2013, I actually finished it, adding new elements, but let it sit around and gather dust until self-publishing it thru Amazon in 2017. I wrote the majority of my second novel in less than a month. So, I guess, it varies.
What made you decide to sit down and actually start something? After deciding I had something I really wanted to say, and after being prodded by others: friends, family members, and former teachers/professors.
Do you have a special time to write or how is your day structured? I do most of my writing during the winter months and/or at night.
Do you listen to music or watch TV/movie while you write? No, but I often read others’ books while working on my own.
Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer just seeing where an idea takes you? I usually start with a rough outline and brief sketches/remarks, then morph this into a list of possible chapter ideas and titles, then “let ‘er rip.”
Do you design your own book covers or have someone else? If you use someone else would you tell us who/website? I design my own, as drawing and painting have always come naturally to me.
Do you have any advice for aspiring authors? Read as much as you can, as many books, stories, poems, and articles you can get your hands on. Check out some of the so-called classics — I started with Daniel Burt’s book titled The Novel 100, then investigated other lists I found on Wikipedia and the local library/ies.
Give us an insight into your main character. What does he do that is so special? Though introverted and highly intelligent, he’s compassionate and empathetic. He’s also three-dimensional as he’s based on an actual person. And he’s mentally disturbed.
Where do your ideas come from? My life experiences (with a notion thrown in here and there from the reading of others’ works).
What is your favorite movie or TV show? movie: On Golden Pond or A Clockwork Orange; t.v. show: House, MD (now in syndication and available thru Netflix).
Which writers inspire you? Twain, Whitman, Dickinson, Joyce, Woolf, Nabokov, Orwell, Tolkien, Dostoyevsky, Tolstoy, Ducornet, Kundera, Stegner, Douglas Adams, Zadie Smith, David Foster Wallace, Robertson Davies, Asimov, Beckett, Morrison, China Mieville, Ezra Pound ….
What is the current book you are promoting? Both Contemplating Mrs. E and The Cenotaph of Cedric Silkyshag.
You mentioned you’re writing a new story. How about a teaser? Ron Quixote is a modern-day morphing of Cervantes’ classic-of-all-classics, Don Quixote; it’s about an unemployed open-mic poet who decides to become like the action-movie heroes/vigilantes he so idolizes in order to win over his crush, a barmaid from the local tavern. Like most of my writing, it employs a great deal of wordplay (paronomasias, portmanteaux, anagrams, telling character names, etc.), allegory, literary and artistic allusions, satire, and a combination of both poetry and prose.
Who is your favorite character in your book and why? Ronald Dickinson, the protagonist, though I’m quite fond of his daughter, Samantha, and his sidekick, Firstfloor Pedro (a high school dropout and gifted guitarist). Also: Aunt Shirley (who raised Ron from kindergarten on).
Do you have any formal education in creative writing? If not are you planning to go to school? I’ve taken three composition courses at three different schools (The University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Iowa State University, and Nebraska Wesleyan University). Otherwise, I simply read a lot (fifty to eighty books a year).
What is your next project? Finding representation for Ron Quixote and Spider Monkey Fishlips.
Who is your favorite fictional character and why? Choosing from some of my favorite books I would have to say Huck Finn (my favorite novel), Atticus Finch (for his integrity), Jo March (for her feistiness), O-Lan from The Good Earth and Celie from The Color Purple (for their meek and downtrodden yet unbreakable spirits), most of the characters from The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (namely Ford Prefect, Zaphod Beeblebrox, and Marvin), and Bilbo Baggins (for his small small size yet big big heart).
What one person from history would you like to meet and why? As for writers, I would say either Twain or Whitman. And Emily Dickinson, of course. I’d also love to meet Van Gogh.
If you could have been the original author of any book, what would it have been and why? I wish I’d written Finnegans Wake, just to mess with everyone (writers, critics, and readers alike). And The Little Prince. Furthermore, like most geeks, I wish I’d created Tolkien’s Middle-earth and all that it encompasses.
What is one great lesson you have learned as a writer? A writer must do a lot of two things: reading and writing.
Are you currently reading a book or just finished one? I just finished Leaving the Atocha Station by Ben Lerner and Nicoteane & Other Foolish Mistakes by a.j.k. o’donnell — I highly recommend both (esp. if you’re into art and poetry) — and I am currently reading The Princess Bride, Donna Tartt’s The Little Friend, Ducornet’s The Jade Cabinet, and Patrick Rothfuss’s The Name of the Wind.
What do your readers mean to you? Without them, I’d have to question my existence as a writer. To elaborate, the following is from my debut novel, Contemplating Mrs. E:
That which doesn’t boil
Need not be stirred;
That which isn’t shared
Tell us something unique about you. Three things: when I was a child, I had one of my ears (the lobe, mainly) bitten off and subsequently reattached (this may explain, in part, why I’m so enamored with Van Gogh); I’ve served as Best Man for three different couples; my paternal grandmother’s father (my great-grandfather) and the paternal grandfather of Jerry Mathers, who played Beaver in the hit t.v. show Leave It to Beaver (1957-63), were brothers.
Is there anything else you would like to add? I’d like to thank you for the opportunity to ramble on concerning my writing proclivities; interviewing various writers (esp. those not so well known to the public) and putting the info. on a blog is a fantastic idea.