Thursday, April 19, 2007

Interview With Bestselling Author Jon Clinch - His Debut Novel FINN Springs From Mark Twain's Classic Story

Welcome to “Up Close & Personal.” For every interview I will be introducing a literary personality discussing his views and insights, as well as upcoming literary events around the world.

Today’s interview is with Jon Clinch, he is the best-selling author of FINN.

E.I. Welcome, Mr. Clinch and thank you for stopping by. Would you please tell your fans what were you like as a teenager? And tell us more about Jon Clinch -- the man behind the author?

Jon Clinch: I was pretty geeky. If my wife had met me in junior high or high school, she'd have never married me. I grew up in the sixties, and
instead of listening to the Beatles and Motown I was digging Johnny Cash.

E.I. :What is your response to the public perception about your creative
insight with your book?

Jon Clinch: I'm hugely gratified to see that folks everywhere—readers and critics alike—have recognized FINN as a serious and honorable work of art, not some facile spinoff that takes cheap advantage of a classic.

E.I. Please tell your fans about your debut novel ‘FINN’ and what we
can expect from your characters.

Jon Clinch: FINN is the secret history of Huck Finn's father, one of the most brutal and notorious figures in American literature. It's not a prequel or sequel to HUCKLEBERRY FINN, though; It's more a companion, an underlayment that fits meticulously into and around some questions that Mark Twain left unanswered in the original novel. Including "How did Pap Finn die?" and "Who was Huck Finn's mother?"

E. I. What was your biggest challenge in writing ‘FINN’? What are its
tougher aspects?

Jon Clinch: The biggest challenge was to work at a level that fulfilled the promise of the idea. It would have been very easy to write a book that did not live up to the depth and seriousness of my premise.

E.I. What changes took place after you published FINN?

Jon Clinch: The book—and the work required to support it—have utterly taken over my life. Being the novelist who wrote FINN is my new full-time job.

E.I. What surprised you most during the publishing process?

Jon Clinch: That the team at Random House believed so deeply in this book.

E.I. Some authors after spending so much time creating their characters
find that they become an extension to their life. Is that how you feel about FINN and the rest of the characters? Do you now think of them as part of your family?

Jon Clinch: I love Finn himself beyond all reason, despite his viciousness and appalling cruelty. I could write more about him in a heartbeat.

E.I. How much of FINN’S life is planned out in your head? How do you
know where you will go next with him or with any of your characters?

Jon Clinch: Thanks to Mark Twain, there's nothing left to plan. The poor guy's dead, big-time.

E.I. Would you tell your fans a little about your editing and revision
process, novel development? How long does it take you to write FINN including doing all your research?

Jon Clinch: I'm a careful, meticulous, detail-obsessed first-drafter. My first pass isn't easy, but there isn't much left to do once it's complete. FINN took five and a half months of eight- or ten-hour days, on top of my normal work.

Jon Clinch: If you were allowed total control of a Hollywood version of "FINN," Who would be in the starring roles? And who would direct?

Jon Clinch: One name only: Tom Waits as Bliss, the blind bootlegger.

E.I. Would you call yourself a plotter?

Jon Clinch: No. I'm a heavy-duty polisher.

E.I. Did you let anyone read your manuscript, before you send it to
your editor and agent?

Jon Clinch: My wife and my daughter, always and only.

E.I. Readers and fans often like to get behind an author's writing routine. Would you like to share with them your typical writing day schedule?

Jon Clinch: From six to ten AM and six to ten or eleven pm on weekdays, and more or less all day long on weekends.

E.I. Was there anyone who really influenced you to become a writer?

Jon Clinch: Other writers whose work I admire. Faulkner, Melville, O'Connor, Helprin, McCarthy, James. And oh yeah, Twain.

E.I. What would you tell those authors considering applying to an M.F.A. program? In your opinion how important is it for a writer to have a writing degree?

Jon Clinch: I don't have one but that doesn't mean it wouldn't have been nice.

E.I. What can fans look forward to from you in the coming months? What's next for you?

Jon Clinch: Book two is under way...

E. I. Thank you so much for contributing to my blog. It has been a pleasure for me to get to know you, and your work a little better. Would you like to end your interview with a writing tip or advice for young aspiring writers?

Jon Clinch: Read great books. And don't quit.

E.I. Mr. Clinch, So great for you to do the interview. Thank you so much.

Jon Clinch: I thank you very much!

To learn more about Jon Clinch, please visit him at:
Photo (Color) By Michael O'Neill, Kulpsville, PA.
Photo (B&W) By Michael Teccino

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