A few weeks ago I wrote a review for a book of short stories by Angus Woodward called Down at the End of the River. Fortunately, Angus Woodward has agreed to an interview. I’m grateful that he has taken the time to share some information about his books and his creative process with us. I hope you enjoy the interview below.
Q: Please tell us a bit about your background and how you started writing.
A: I was raised in the midwest by southern parents, in a house with thousands of books and only five television channels. Like so many writers, I started writing by reading and becoming captivated by prose and its ability to captivate me. When it was time to go to college, I wasn’t very good at anything besides writing, but more importantly writing was a comfort. I learned a lot about writing from my professors and classmates at the University of Michigan and LSU.
Q: What is your writing process? When you start a story do you usually know where it’s headed or are you along for the ride?
A: I have resisted any pressure to employ a strict writing routine of exactly X number of minutes or words per day. I don’t even write in the same room every day, or on the same piece of furniture, and I use a variety of writing tools. For me the key is to write every day, even just a little, so that I remain engaged with the work. I really think the process depends on the project. Sometimes I have a premise and I write to see where it takes me; other times I do some very deliberate planning beforehand. Recently my prewriting has consisted of cartoonish sketches of characters and locales.
Q: What do you feel is the common thread that runs through the short stories in Down at the End of the River? Is there a general message that you were trying to convey?
A: The only thread is the land I have embraced, where I have spent the past 27 years. The Soul Rebels brass band has a song called “504,” which is the New Orleans area code, and they sing, “There’s a feeling/you get living here/from the people/and the music you hear/speaking to you/and the message is clear: enjoy yourself.” It’s not just 504, but also 225 and 337 and 985 that have that spirit. That’s the message.
Q: You’ve also written a novel called Americanisation: Lessons in American Culture and Language. Could you tell us about a bit about it?
A: It’s a very different kind of book, although it has something in common with the more comical stories in Down at the End of the River. It’s a novel, but it poses as a textbook for non-native speakers of English. Michael Martone said it was hilarious, which made me very happy.
Q: What are you working on now?
A: Believe it or not, I’m working on a novel in the form of a terms-of-use agreement whose premise is that aliens caused the BP oil spill. But I’m also working on a novella that turns Conrad’s Heart of Darkness on its head by telling the story of a rainforest native who pursues a rogue tribesman downriver to civilization. Also a picaresque novel in which a young man gets turned into a Ford F-150 (sort of). I have learned that I write best when I’m having fun.
Q: Where can we find out more about you and your writing online?
A: I love Facebook and am happy to interact with readers there. I am also on Goodreads and LibraryThing, and I have a website at http://anguswoodward.blogspot.com. And then there’s this fun story hosted by the good folks at Alimentum: http://www.alimentumjournal.com/woodward-sandwich-diaries.