Interview with Michael Overa
How do you research your books?
I love doing research. There’s a story in the collection, Fix, that is a based on my experiences living on Capitol Hill in
; back in the late 90s and early 200s
there were a lot of Gutter Punks and Heroin addicts. Never having done heroin I
did a lot of research into the medical effects of the drugs and watched several
documentaries. I also read some first hand accounts of drug use and assimilated
it into a single story. I try to put absolutely everything in play when
researching so that I can complete a story that has some sense of authenticity. Seattle
What books or authors have most influenced your life?
Siddhartha by Herman Hesse, The Body Artist by Don Delillo and The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera all changed me as a writer. Those particular books also changed my outlook on life. I try and re-read them once a year if I can. I’d say not far behind are If On A Winter’s Night a Traveler by Italo Calvino and Old Man and the Sea by Hemingway.
Who is you favorite character in your book and why?
That’s a hard question. Milan Kundera once said, and I’m paraphrasing, that each character is an author’s experimental self. Like most writers I have a love-hate relationship with myself, and so I guess I have a similar relationship to my characters. That said, Frank from the short story Oxygen is probably my favorite. He’s wonderfully curmudgeonly and smart. He also maintains optimism despite his struggles with cancer. I suppose a psychologist could unpack that one for me.
Tell us about your latest book.
My latest book (which is also my first), The Filled In Spaces is a collection of short stories. The stories are all previously published, so, in some ways, it’s a little bit like a collected works. However, rather than including every story that’s ever made it through the vetting process of a literary magazine editor, I chose to focus on the stories that seemed linked thematically.
What are you doing to market the book?
I’m trying to do everything that I can, but I end up feeling like I’m missing something. Social media is a big part of the marketing – so Tumblr, Facebook, Instagram, Goodreads, and YouTube. I like talking to other writers and readers so it’s been fun to push. However, when it comes to talking to people in person I tend to flail a bit; hence, I’m channeling an outgoing extrovert of mythic proportions as my other strategy. Like many writers and artists I tend to be somewhat of a recluse, which, as it turns out is handy for generating art, but not so handy for marketing it.
What's the best thing about being a writer?
Having a seemingly valid reason to tell lies that you’re congratulated for.
When you’re not writing, how do you spend your time?
At present most of my non-writing time is spent working. In addition to teaching English 102 at
Shoreline Community College
I also work as a writer in Residence with ’s
Writers In The Schools program, and am a private tutor with University
Tutoring. If after all that there is time left over I’m on the floor playing
with my daughter, Caden, or sleeping. Seattle
Who or what inspired you to become a writer?
I’m really not sure. The best I can answer is that there were people along the way who seemed to continually encourage me. The enjoyment of make-believe, and the fact that no one ever told me I couldn’t are probably the two largest and most significant contributing factors.
What is your work in progress? Tell us about it.
I’m currently at work on a novel that jives with the types of books that I really enjoy (surreal and philosophical). Without giving too much away it’s about a successful accountant who starts to lose track of reality and becomes obsessed with Colobus Monkeys at the Woodland Park Zoo in
Does your family support you in your writing career? How?
I think a writer and his or her family have to come to some sort of accord. For us that accord is that no one assumes that a character in one of my stories is meant to represent them (or me); the part of that accord is that I can carve out time to write. My whole family is also supportive in that they read my work – which means at least someone reads what I wrote.