Interview with Lou Berney
Why do you think readers are going to enjoy your book?
My goal, with The Long and Faraway Gone, was to write a book that was both entertaining and compelling, funny and harrowing. It’s mystery, but also a book about memory and loss. That’s my favorite kind of book – one you can’t put down and one you don’t want to put down.
Who are your favorite authors?
It’s really a new golden age of crime and mystery fiction right now, so a lot of my favorite writers happen to write in those genres. In particular I love Laura Lippman, Kate Atkinson, Megan Abbott, Tana French, Timothy Hallinan, and Denis Johnson. And there are some up and coming writers were are terrific too, like Ivy Pochoda, Sara J. Henry, and Jamie Mason.
What advice do you have for other writers?
Write characters you genuinely care about. It’s the same reason you should never marry someone you think is just “OK.” You’re going to spend a lot of time with your characters, and there are going to be days when the process is rocky at best. You want to make sure it’s all worth it, and worth it for the right reasons.
Who or what inspired you to be a writer?
My sisters, who are ten and eleven years old than me, taught me to read when I was really young. They gave me the gift of loving books, loving stories.
How long did it take you to write your book?
It took me about a year and a half to write The Long and Faraway Gone. A few weeks in there were just me banging my head against a wall and wishing I’d never started the book in the first place, but that’s just part of the process.
Who inspires you?
Other writers inspire me, of course, but life itself is a pretty awesome source of inspiration. I love striking up conversations with strangers, I love observing people, I love eavesdropping. There’s a story waiting for you every single place you look.
What’s your favorite quote about writing?
My favorite quote about writing is from one of my favorite writers, Kurt Vonnegut Jr.:
“Our power is patience. We have discovered that writing allows even a stupid person to seem halfway intelligent, if only that person will write the same thought over and over again, improving it just a little bit each time. It is a lot like inflating a blimp with a bicycle pump. Anybody can do it. All it takes is time.”
When you’re not writing, how do you spend your time?
I love to travel. My wife and I save up out frequent flier miles, and we’ve been all over the world. This summer, for example, we’re going to South Africa. Closer to home, I solve most of my thorniest writing problems while walking my dog.
What is your current work in progress? Tell us about it.
Right now I’m finishing up the third novel in my series about a retired getaway driver named Shake Bouchon. These books (Gutshot Straight, Whiplash River) are really fun to write because they’re fast, twisty, funny, and set in exotic locations such as Panama and Egypt. The new one takes place in Cambodia.
Where can people find out more about you and your writing?
I’d love to have them visit my website: www.louberney.com