Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Interview with Literary Fiction Author Gary Guinn

Gary Guinn
The southern Ozarks of northern Arkansas

Good morning, Gary, and welcome to Vision and Verse, the place for art and authors. What have you written? 
I’ve written four novels (two published, one shopping now, one in final revisions), short fiction, and poetry.

What is your favorite genre to write? 
Literary fiction is really my favorite genre to write. I love working with words to create beautiful sentences, images, characters.

Favorite food. 
Dry-rubbed (spicy) BBQ ribs. Or popcorn, with lots of butter and salt.

Tea or coffee? 
Coffee, black. I do drink hot tea occasionally and certainly cold tea in summertime.

Pizza or ice cream? 
Pizza all the way, especially pepperoni.

Wine or beer? 
I love red wine, a Cab or an old-vine Zin, but I’m a big fan of IPA’s. I’m also a brewer, so I guess I’d have to say beer takes it by a nose.

Where would you like to visit? 
My wife and I have seen a lot of the world. Greece is the place I’d most like to go back to and spend a long time. But I’d really like to spend some time in India or New Zealand.

Favorite musical artist. 
Norah Jones. Sexiest voice in the universe.

Do you listen to music when you write? 
Not usually. I tend to shut out everything and focus only on the story.  

What makes you laugh? 
Dogs make me laugh, especially puppies. Kittens also can be very funny. Dogs and kittens make me laugh in a way that is totally healthy, healing, therapeutic.

This is an author and art blog, so I am obliged to ask: Favorite work of art or sculpture.  
When I walked into a room at the Phillips Collection, Renoir’s Luncheon of the Boating Party took my breath away. I had always admired it, but when it covered the wall in front of me, with its thick, bright swathes of color, it became a spiritual experience for me.

How old were you when you started writing? 
I started writing bad poetry in college, with friends who also wrote bad poetry. We went to coffee houses and listened to good poets, and sat around the apartment drinking wine and writing more bad poetry. Over the next twenty years I continued writing bad poetry until I began to write a good poem now and then. And in my ‘40’s, I began to write serious fiction.

Do you plan out your book with outlines and notecards? Or just write? 
My first novel, A Late Flooding Thaw, a literary/historical story set in the Arkansas Ozarks, started with a set of characters and an event and then grew organically. But since that time, I have done more planning on the three novels I’ve written.

Describe your perfect evening. 
I have two perfect evenings. The first would be for my wife and I to go out to dinner at one of our favorite places, share a bottle of wine, then share a romantic evening at home. The second would be to sit at home with a bottle of good wine and a good book and, over the course of the evening, finish both.

Where do you get your inspiration? 
My ideas for a story usually come from a person I see/hear, or a line that pops into my head, or something I see in the newspaper.

What do you do when you get a writer's block? 
I’ve never had writer’s block. I feel lucky in that way.

Who is your favorite author? 
Impossible to name just one, but I can say that the following writers have always thrilled me: John Irving, Louise Erdrich, Louis Nordan, and Raymond Chandler.

Best book you ever read. 
The History of Love, by Nicole Krauss

Last book you read. 
Black-Eyed Susans, by Julia Haeberlin

What would you do for a living if you weren’t a writer? 
I’d love to be an astronomer. The stars and planets and all the beautiful things in the night sky are highly romantic to me.

Who is the one person who has influenced your personal life the most and why? 
Before I married, it would have been my father, whom I still often think of, wondering what he would think of some crazy development like cell phones. But since I married Mary Ann, there is no doubt she is the person who has most influenced my life in almost every way.

If you could sit down and have a conversation with ONE person, living or dead, real or fictional, who would it be and why? 
Charles Dickens. No, wait, Abraham Lincoln. No, wait, Jesus. No, Tolstoy. No, Albert Einstein. Picasso. Frank Lloyd Wright. Ghandi. Wait, Martin Luther King, Jr. Wait, wait, I’ve got it . . . Any one of these because each of them gave the world something beautiful that made the world a better place.

What advice would you give someone who aspired to be a writer? 
Sit down and think about the books you love, the books you have read more than once or might like to read again. If you can’t think of a handful of books that fit this criterium, then maybe rethink your aspirations. It will be tough to become a writer if you aren’t in love with literature. Look at your list of books, and then read a couple of them again, or read more books like them. As you read them, ask yourself why you love them. What is it about the writing that excites you or makes you sigh with happiness? Then begin writing stories that excite you in the same way or make you sigh with happiness.

Do you have some links for us to follow you?
Purchase Links: Sacrificial Lam
Purchase Links: A Late Flooding Thaw


  1. I agree, Anon, this is an outstanding one. We were lucky to get Gary to interview with us. He is an all around great guy. Thank you for commenting, Anonymous. Come back and see us again.
    Merry Christmas,

    1. Thanks for the kind words, Carol, and for the opportunity to be your guest. It was fun.