I had the pleasure of interviewing the author of The Supreme's At Earl's All-You-Can-Eat (which won my Best Book Award), Edward Kelsey Moore. He had some very inspiring and thoughtful responses and I am proud to share with you all his views, especially about a male writing from a female's perspective.
What made you decide to write your first novel?
I had wanted to write a novel for many years, but the idea of it was too daunting. Also, I had a career in music that I loved and that was very time consuming. Turning 40 was the catalyst for me to get moving. That birthday made me look at my priorities and decide what was really important to me. I admitted to myself that I would never feel fulfilled unless I actually finished some of the writing projects I had begun and abandoned over the years. I began writing short stories and getting several of them in literary journals. Eventually, I put together a collection that netted me several very polite rejection letters from agents. The one thing that all of the rejections had in common was the suggestion that I write a novel. I took their advice and wrote my first novel.
What are your ambitions for your writing career? What would your career look like in an ideal world?
I’ve been very fortunate in my short career. I have a great agent. My first novel was published by Knopf and became a bestseller. I’ve been able to travel and meet booklovers all over the U.S. and in Europe. More of the same would be pretty nice. But, mostly, I want to continue to improve as a writer. That’s where the real fun is for me.
Which writers inspire you?
I’ll always be a reader first and a writer second. So the list of writers whose work inspires me is very long and tends to change, depending on my mood. Toni Morrison, Ann Patchett, Percival Everett, and John Irving are always at the top of my list.
Give us an insight into how you create your main characters.
I enjoy imagining characters who don’t quite fit in their environments. Then I like asking myself why they don’t fit. What happened in that character’s life to bring him or her to this moment? Who does she love? Who loves her? What does he want? Who did he betray? I try to answer those sorts of questions in a way that is interesting to me and, hopefully, interesting to readers.
“The Supremes” is told in the perspective of all women. How did you go about preparing yourself for that?
Men are often so used to having our view of the world affirmed that we forget that our perspective is skewed. So it’s easy for male writers to get lazy and write women who reflect that skewed male perspective. When that happens, women written by men end up being unbelievable or even offensive. I just tried to get out of the way and let the voices of my characters come through on the page.
How do you pick names for your characters?
I tend to try out several names before settling on one. Eventually, a name feels write for the character. He or she just wants to be called by a certain name. I used to think my choices were totally random, but I’ve noticed some patterns over the years. The main character of THE SUPREMES is named Odette and she was Aurora and Giselle in early drafts. I didn’t even notice that all three names were ballet heroines until a reporter who was interviewing me pointed it out.
I can picture “The Supremes” as a movie. Is there anything like that in the works? Who would you love to cast as the roles of the main characters?
The novel has been optioned by Fox Searchlight and a screenwriter has been signed. Because a film seems likely and I don’t want any actor to feel that I had someone else in mind, I only reveal my dream cast in private over cocktails.
What are you working on right now?
I’ve just finished the first draft of a new novel that continues the story of THE SUPREMES. I’m hoping to begin working on a play when the new novel is out of my hands.
How much research do you do before writing “The Supremes"?
I learned from writing my short story collection that I should do research AFTER my first draft is written. I’m obsessive by nature and it’s easy for me to get so involved in doing research that no actual writing gets done. That meant that I had to fix some anachronisms in the sections of the book that took place in the 1960s, but I can’t work any other way.
Why do you write?
I write because I love telling stories. Nothing excites me more than telling and hearing well-told stories.
What is the hardest thing about writing?
For me, the hardest thing about writing is silencing my inner critic. I was a cello teacher for decades and I learned that the most successful students were the ones who gave themselves permission to make horrible noises at first. The students who couldn’t bear sounding awful almost always quit. The same thing is true for writing. I know that I get my best work done when I allow myself the freedom to stink. But I have to teach myself that lesson again and again.
What is the easiest thing about writing?
It’s not exactly easy, but I really love revising. I love sitting down with a manuscript and knowing that it will be better after an hour of work.
What book/s are you reading at present?
I’m reading PARIS, HE SAID by Christine Sneed and SAFEKEEPING by Jessamyn Hope.
How can readers discover more about you and you work?
Readers can learn more about me on my website, www.edwardkelseymoore.com.
Read my review of The Supremes at Earl’s All-You-Can-Eat