As part of my weeklong book launch party, Pierre Dominique Roustan and I are interviewing each other. (You can find me at http://writingandreading.today.com) Pierre is the author of the soon-to-be-released novel The Cain Letters.
Bertram: How and when did you know you were a writer?
Pierre: That’s a difficult question to answer, because it was most definitely a process over time. I was always interested in writing but never knew I had a gift (desire) for it. It was when I hit my freshman year in college did I realize that there was something to this whole writing ‘thing’. I had a professor at the community college, one of my first classes there, English 101, I believe, tell me flat out that I “had a gift”. Now it wasn’t what he said that convinced me of that, though. It was what I wrote for him in class. Either he went easy on me, or he saw something in my writing that had been developing for so long ever since I was little. I would most definitely say that that final subtle pivotal point in the journey of discovery was at the age of 18 when I became so enamored with writing essays for my classes. I can safely say, at that point, I became a writer.
Bertram: What are some of your favorite authors to read?
Pierre: I had such a variety of authors I loved as a kid and as an adult, and I can safely say that it contributed to me being a writer: I liked all sorts of books growing up. I was into Isaac Asimov, J.R.R. Tolkien (of course!), even those classics by Henry David Thoreau, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Emily Dickinson, Walt Whitman, Edgar Allan Poe, Robert Frost, Ernest Hemingway. Leading to more contemporary ‘today’ authors, I’m a BIG fan of Terry Goodkind. I’ve read Terry Brooks as well. J.K. Rowling, of course! I was just getting into some other favorites of mine like Jordan Dane and Robert Liparulo. On a literary level, I was enthralled with such works by Sandra Cisneros, Tim O’Brien and Joseph Conrad. Those were some of the best in literary fiction I had ever read. Oh, and Toni Morrison! She was a remarkably intense writer.
Bertram: Which do you prefer: e-books or print?
Pierre: That’s quite the relevant question in today’s publishing market, now isn’t it? And you’re asking me that question at a very interesting time. Maybe two years ago, if you had asked me that, I would easily, hands down, say print. There’s nothing better than the smell of paper on a good book and being able to flip those pages really fast and hearing that buzzing sound when you do. Plus the cover art’s always cool.
HOWEVER…I’ve noticed quite easily how difficult it is to read on the computer. The reason I bring that up is that I do have a lot of friends/colleagues who write as well and always love to have me as a beta reader. They send me their work via e-mail and I read it right on my computer while my rump goes to sleep. It’s not fun. Not a day goes by that I don’t wish I had an eReader or a Kindle. It would make reading other people’s work so much easier. That, and the concept of buying any book on one of those electronic devices does have a certain appeal to me. For those authors I have a particular affection for, I’d definitely still always prefer print. But other authors that I would just like to read, just to expand my literary field, owning a Kindle or eReader seems priceless (even though it’ll always feel like I’m shelling out an arm and a leg for such a thing).
Bertram: What’s your favorite food?
Pierre: I love it when people ask me that question! It always feels like I’m on a date. I have the perfect answer. My favorite food is…. YES. Meaning, put in front of me monkey brains, and if it simply looks good, I’ll eat it. Simple as that. I’m a human trash can.
But I can go specific (I’ll limit it to a top ten, no particular order): pizza, shrimp scampi, chicken salad, chilli, soups, breakfast food, ice cream cake, Chinese food, sub sandwiches, Mexican food.
Bertram: If you could choose any wild animal, what would it be?
Pierre: That’s definitely an easy one. I love wild animals, and I’ve always had a thing for wolves. They’re so beautiful. Majestic. And I identify with them so well, in that they always seem shy, even timid when it comes to ‘man’. I’m much the same way to a certain degree; I can be guarded. But you see, the thing is-people, to me, particularly my friends and loved ones, are the other wolves in my pack. And I’m generally a nice wolf. So when I see other wolves from other packs, I don’t usually get defensive or violent or unusual. I’m generally very friendly. I’m an easy person to get to know.
Bertram: If you were going to die in the next three days and you could do the next ten things without worrying about cost, what would you do?
Pierre: I would go bungee jumping (never done it), get a tattoo (don’t have one), visit Europe (never been there), visit all the States except for Nevada, Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, Michigan, Florida and Rhode Island (been to all those States already), donate $1 million to one of those Children’s Funds, get married (again. Yes, I was married before. And let’s just say it didn’t ‘pan out’), anonymously donate money to an engaged couple looking to get married, buy a Playstation 3 and all the Final Fantasy’s and play all of them all night until I’ve beaten them all (except for Final Fantasy 7 and 8, already beat those), visit the grave of my grandfather in Nicaragua (his name was Pierre Dominique Roustan, too, so it holds a lot of meaning for me), SLEEP and do NOTHING for one whole day.
Bertram: What advice would you give other aspiring writers out there?
Pierre: It’s simple. Just enjoy your craft for yourself. Let it delight you. In the end, you’re the only audience. That’s how it originally starts. The bonus, the gift, comes around when others get to witness what you’ve created and how much you delight in it. There’s no better high than that, having someone else read your stuff and watch them be fascinated by the fact that you actually wrote something. Forget about the stress of whether or not you’ll land an agent or publishing contract or start that dream career as an author. What truly gives you joy should be that you wrote something that represents the deepest part of you and that you have a friend or family member you can share it with. It keeps you writing. It also keeps you believing in the goal itself. Because don’t get me wrong-goals are good. Having the goal of publication is good. But don’t let it consume you. Your writing comes first. Your desire comes first. Your love for words defines the spirit in you, and don’t ever forget that.