The Author is Interviewed by a Minor Character from His Novel

Jennifer:  I read your little book. 

William:  Thank you. 

Jennifer:  I’m barely in it. I have three lines on page 22.   

William:  Yes, I know. 

Jennifer:  And I did not have “spherical hair” that day. 

William:  It looked pretty spherical to me. 

Jennifer:  It was curled under.  My roommate said it looked cute. 

William:  Okay, I’m sorry….So, are you really here to interview me? 

Jennifer:  Of course I’m here to interview you.  Now tell me, Mr. Conescu, how did the idea for Being Written come to you? 

William:  Well, my story ideas often begin with a scenario.  In this case, I started out thinking it would be fun to write about a guy who knows he’s in a novel, but he’s the equivalent of a movie extra.  He’s a warm body.  He fills out crowd scenes.  If a novel calls for someone sitting at a table across the room or passing on the sidewalk, my guy could be that guy. 

Jennifer:  And you felt that Daniel Fischer was the best choice?  There weren’t other minor characters—women, perhaps, with spherical hair—who might have made better choices? 

William:  Daniel did have this awareness that he was a character.  That was kind of key. 

Jennifer:  Of course.  Yet you did manage to write plenty of lines for characters who, like me, did not realize they were in a novel.  Let’s talk about the “artsy” social circle that Daniel enters.  Where did those characters come from? 

William:  They weren’t based on me or on anyone in particular, but they emerged from a world that I was part of—people who were active in the arts in college and in the years that followed but then, as time passed and bills had to be paid, shifted gears for any number of reasons. 

Jennifer:  Do you think that kind of gear-shifting is common among writers and actors and musicians? 

William:  I do, but I don’t think it’s unique to people in the arts.  A lot of people in their twenties and thirties are stumbling into new professions and taking some time to figure out what they want to do and who they want to be. 

Jennifer:  Do you have any musical or acting talents we should know about? 

William:  Not really.  I did some acting in college.  I only had two lines in my first show, but they gave me three costumes, a fat suit, and a haircut.  I felt very important.  Then there were the requisite high school musicals. 

Jennifer:  Such as? 

William:  I played Cornelius in Hello, Dolly!  Joe Hardy, the baseball player, in Damn Yankees.  That’s the closest I came to lettering in a sport. 

Jennifer:  Now tell me, have you considered, by any chance, basing your next novel on the minor character Jennifer and her strained relationship with her mother? 

William:  No. 

Jennifer:  Do you want to hear about it? 

William:  No. 

Jennifer:  I’ve been journaling about it lately.  Do you want to read my journals? 

William:  No. 

Jennifer:  Alright, moving on….All of the chapters that are written in Daniel’s perspective are written in the second person.  When you first conceived of the novel, did you know you wanted to write it this way? 

William:  No, not at all.  The first few chapters went through many forms, and I wrote a complete draft in the third person.  But something was missing.  I needed more tension between Daniel’s sections and the rest of the book.  Then it occurred to me to try out the second person, and that immediately felt right.  Through the second person, I was able to show Daniel’s perception of being written into a book. Then through the other chapters, I could let the reader see “the book” itself, and I could show what the other characters thought of Daniel’s presence.  Of all the changes that took place during the writing process, this was the most important.  And the most fun. 

Jennifer:  Well, thank you for talking with me today.  I think that just about concludes this interview.  I would like to add for the record that I was nothing but nice to Delia— 

William:  I know.   

Jennifer:  —and she had no cause to dislike me. 

William:  I know.  I tell you what, Jennifer.  I’ll talk to my publisher, and I’ll see if we can put a transcript of this interview in the back of my book.  That way you’ll have plenty of lines. 

Jennifer:  You’d do that for me? 

William:  Sure. 

Jennifer:  Can you say that I have long auburn locks that fall just below my shoulders? 

William:  But you don’t. 

Jennifer:  I know, but I’ve been thinking about growing my hair out. 

William:  Okay, sure.  We’ll say that.  


This interview appears in the P.S. section of Being Written published by Harper Perennial.


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