Friday, September 23, 2011

Joni B. Cole answers our Author Questionnaire

Joni B. Cole is the author of the new essay collection Another Bad-Dog Book: Tales of Life, Love and Neurotic Human Behavior. (PublishingWorks). She (and her own bad dog) will be at Water Street Bookstore tomorrow (Saturday, 9/24) at 4pm to talk about her new book, writing and bad dogs.

“Joni Cole’s voice may be brutal, but readers, drawn to turn to the next page, will be rewarded: She is funny and so is her gutsy book.” – New York Journal of Books

1. What's on your nightstand right now?

I’m assuming you’re asking me about what bookish things are on my nightstand, and not the earring I took out last night and forgot to put back in, or my miracle face cream or dirty cereal bowl. At the moment my nightstand has on it David Baldacci’s paperback The Sixth Man (eager to start it!), Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel, an excellent book except that I hate reading it on Kindle. (I vowed after Jennifer Egan’s Goon Squad I’d never buy another book on Kindle—it seriously diminishes the reading experience for me, so why did I make this same mistake?) FYI: fallen under the table is a hardcover of Sara Gruen’s Water for Elephants. Loved that book!

2a. How do you write?

I teach writing workshops and consult with writers and give talks at conferences, so I have to fit my own writing in around that work schedule. But I make it a priority, preserving entire mornings or afternoons when I can, getting up at 4 a.m. when I need to, and making the most of all those fifteen- or thirty-minute windows of opportunity while I’m waiting in the car for my two daughters to finish their field hockey practices or piano lessons or whatever.

2b. Do you require a completely silent, empty room, or do you listen to music?

I can write in silence or with noise, if that noise is the buzz of a coffee shop or a bunch of kids running around downstairs. But I don’t like music playing when I write at my desk. That said, music does serve my creative process, because I get a lot of my ideas when I’m jogging and listening to my iPod. So I’d say the soundtrack of my new book is a mix of Maroon 5, Garth Brooks, Flo Rida, the Zac Brown Band, Kesha, Cat Stevens, Cher, Pit Bull, Josh Grobin….

3. Name the first time or moment you realized you were a writer.

Hmm. I can’t think of a particular moment. There are times when I am burbling with professional self confidence, and reread something I wrote and think, “Man, that was good writing.” But there are just as many times when I’m struggling to put something, anything, on the page, and think, “Well, I used to be a writer.”

4. What are you working on now?

Snippets of essays, an article I want to propose for The Writer magazine, blog posts for a an online magazine where I’m a regular contributor. I’m uncomfortably aware that I am not immersed in a new book at the moment, but that’s the creative process. It takes its own sweet time, but something will gel, likely another essay collection, as long as I show up at my desk.

5. Favorite recent find?

Two recent life enhancements: Lemon Cloud dessert and the FX original series “Justified.” As for exciting stuff, I’m truly excited about this upcoming “season” of promoting my book. It’s fun to see it in stores and meet readers and booksellers. I want to appreciate every moment of this.

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