Countdown to Muse 2014: Micro-Interview 22 (Tim Weed)
The Muse and the Marketplace kicks off TODAY at the Park Plaza Hotel in Boston. In anticipation of the conference, we collected micro-interviews written by authors, agents and editors who will be attending the event. This is the twenty-second in the series.
Micro-interview with Megan Marshall
What is the best book you've read in the last year?
Wolf Hall and its sequel, Bring Up the Bodies. The first book is a little slow off the blocks, but once it gains momentum, watch out. This series is a literary page-turner of the first rank. What makes it so good? In my opinion, it’s not so much the style or the subject matter as it is Hilary Mantel’s supreme gift for portraying character. Mantel’s protagonist, Thomas Cromwell, is compelling not only because he’s a bold man of action; it’s because he’s a thinker, a dreamer, full of schemes and memories and penetrating observations. Mantel gives us access to Cromwell’s rich inner life, which contributes greatly to the sense we get of full immersion in the historical period, and gives us insight, more broadly, into what it means to be human. And this is exactly the kind of thing literature can do better than any other medium.
What is the strangest place you've ever been?
Hemingway's house near Havana, the Finca Vigía. You can look through the open windows at the author's well-stocked bookshelves, which are just as he left them, for the last time, in November of 1959. His spectacles lie open on a side table, several enormous pairs of shoes hang toe-down in a closet rack, and you can walk down to the deep swimming pool, now empty, where Ava Gardner used to swim in the nude. The Finca Vigía is weird in the same way so much of Cuba is weird, in the same way a time warp is weird. I highly recommend that you go there before everything changes.
Do you have a favorite local, independent bookstore? Where and why?
Nantucket Bookworks and Mitchell's Book Corner in Nantucket. These linked bookstores go out of their way to feature local writers and theownerhas a businessmodel thatisclearlythriving. For a writer it is a wonderful feeling to walk into these cozy, well-stocked literary emporia, which are almost always teeming with eager readers. Plus they happen to be located on the island of Nantucket, which is one of the loveliest places in the world to read.
When should writers self-publish?
I'm sure there are instances where self-publishing is a good idea. Maybe you're a well-known author with a loyal readership and you want a much bigger slice of the royalties pie. Maybe you've got a novella or an experimental work that no publisher will touch and you want to get it out there, or maybe you have a family or company history that a small group of readers is eager to see. But if you're a new writer, I would think long and hard before resorting to self-publishing. The truth is, there's a lot of baseless puffery out there right now about "indie" publishing, a lot of optimistic chatter that is too often, unfortunately, self-justifying and self-serving. As an economics minor in college I learned about a very simple law that ought to be considered in this context: it's called the law of supply and demand. The fact is, when something is abundant its value goes down; when something is scarce its value goes up. A modern reader could theoretically choose to read one or two of the many thousands of self-published books out there, but where does she begin? How does she pluck the pearls from among the multitude of undercooked or overcooked green peas? The answer: agents, editors, publishers. Not just the big houses, mind you, but the small presses with a reputation for quality. It may be counter-intuitive to think that as the number of self-published books out there piles up the power of these gatekeepers will increase, but that's exactly what I believe will happen.
Tim Weed attended Middlebury College and earned an MFA at Warren Wilson College, where he had the privilege of working closely with some of America’s most accomplished contemporary writers. His short fiction has appeared in Colorado Review, Gulf Coast, Boston Fiction Annual Review, and many other literary journals and anthologies. Tim’s fiction has been nominated for the Best of the Net and Pushcart anthologies, and shortlisted for the Autumn House Fiction Prize, the Lewis-Clark Press Discovery Award, the Lightship International Short Story Prize, the Glimmer Train Short Story Award for New Writers, the Richard Yates Short Story Awards, and others. His essays and articles, mostly on travel, the outdoors, and the writing craft, have appeared in national magazines including The Morning News, Cross Country Skier, Backcountry, Empirical, Writer’s Chronicle, Grub Street Daily, and National Geographic’s Intelligent Travel blog. Based in Vermont, Tim is a lecturer in the MFA in Creative and Professional Writing program at Western Connecticut State University and serves as a featured expert for National Geographic Expeditions in Cuba, Spain, Portugal, and Patagonia. His first novel will be published by Stephen Roxburgh at namelos in Fall 2014. Read more at www.timweed.net.
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