All the happy news
I wrote this post over a month ago, and then I held off on posting it because I felt shy about it. I really don’t know when or how to announce happy news. Somehow even in tiny doses it always feels like bragging. But then not announcing it feels just as weird. So I’ve decided I’m going to put it all in one place and call it my SEMI-ANNUAL HAPPY NEWS DUMP!
The first thing is that The Land of Steady Habits was chosen for the long list of the Flaherty-Dunnan First Novel Prize. This made me fist pump in joy and triumph, especially when I saw the other books on that list (above). It’s a huge honor to be in this company.
The next thing is that I’m very happy to report that the novel will be published in the Netherlands (by De Arbeiderspers) and in Italy (by Bollati Boringhieri). Above is the catalog from my German publisher, Ullstein, which came in the mail last week, and look who’s on the cover! (“Die neue literarische Stimme aus Amerika,” y’all.) The German edition comes out this fall.
The final piece of book-related news is that The Land of Steady Habits has been optioned by Fox Searchlight for a film adaptation to be written and directed by Nicole Holofcener. I’ll just leave that info there, since I’m still not sure what to do with it. Except that I should probably say I’m kind of in awe of the fact that a director I’ve long admired wants to make it, and that there’s even a possibility this could actually happen. (The official announcement should come soon, which I will post without shame.)
Salon has also been re-publishing these "Ask a Debut Novelist" columns I’ve been writing for the Little Brown tumblr. They’ve already posted the first four (with their own inventive headlines). It’s been overwhelming to see those reaching such a large audience. The internet is a crazy place.
I’m also thrilled to announce that I’ll have a new short story coming out in One Teen Story in September. It’s called “The Beasts of St. Andrews” and it’s about boarding school werewolves. Or really one boarding school werewolf. A lone wolf. I suppose it’s also my first piece of YA fiction (though to be honest I wrote it without that label in mind). They do such a beautiful job with their issues. I’m dying to see what the cover looks like.
I have two new book-length projects I’ve been working on these days, and I’m very happy to have the opportunity to spend a few weeks this October at the MacDowell Colony in Peterborough, NH. MacDowell is the oldest artists’ colony in the country and is notably where Thornton Wilder wrote Our Town, James Baldwin wrote Giovanni’s Room, and Aaron Copland wrote part of Appalachian Spring. So you know, no pressure. But I’m greatly looking forward to my time there. (Above is one of the 32 individual studios that makes up the colony, where they famously deliver your lunch in a picnic basket on your doorstep so as not to disturb you. Carrie says not to get used to it.)
And finally, and most excitingly, we’re looking forward to welcoming our first baby in December. This photo was taken at dinner nearly a month ago. You guys, it’s already been so amazing. I mean we’re both nervous and also kind of euphoric. Parenthood! How can something so common seem so intensely singular to you? I apologize in advance for all the daddy stuff that will likely fill this space.
SO MUCH HAPPY NEWS!
Author Spotlight: Stephan Eirik Clark
Stephan Eirik Clark was born in West Germany and raised in England and the United States. He is the author of the short story collection Vladimir’s Mustache. A former Fulbright fellow to Ukraine, he teaches at Augsburg College in Minneapolis.
The Poetics Project: Describe your novel in ten words or less.
Stephan Eirik Clark: A flavor chemist’s secret past tears his family apart.
TPP: What inspired you to write Sweetness #9?
SEC: Before reading Fast Food Nation, I hadn’t paid attention to the flavorings in my food. They were just there, like gravity or electricity. But after reading Eric Schlosser’s book, I couldn’t stop thinking about flavorings. It amazed me that a certain molecule smelled like cut grass, or barbecued brisket, and knowing that molecules like this were being added to my food, I had to stop and ask myself, Am I eating food? Or just the illusion of food? It was like going down a rabbit hole. Pretty soon I was looking at everything through the prism of food, and realizing I had enough questions to write a novel.
TPP: What do you want readers to take away from your novel?
SEC: First and foremost, I want them to be entertained by the story of a man who has to face the mistakes he made in the past. It’s a story we can all relate to. Can you make things right years after failing to do what’s right? If in addition to that readers would think about processed foods in a way they haven’t done before — that would make the novel a success in my mind.
TPP: What advice can you give aspiring authors? What advice do you wish you would’ve been given?
SEC: Don’t become a writer unless you absolutely have to be one. Try to quit. If you are okay without writing, do something else. If you can’t help but tell stories, commit yourself to the craft completely and give it as much time as possible when you’re young and serving your apprenticeship. With the exception of a few stray prodigies, you only improve by spending years in the chair.
TPP: Name two to three songs that would be on a soundtrack for Sweetness #9.
SEC: Three time periods figure heavily into Sweetness #9: World War II, the early-70s, and the late-90s. The character who emerges from the rubble of Nazi Berlin, Hitler’s personal flavor chemist, Ernst Eberhardt, is nicknamed “Sonny Boy,” after the Al Jolson song (at least until the singer’s Jewish heritage made that moniker problematic). The main character, David Leveraux, comes of age in the sixties and seventies, but is in many ways a child of the fifties. For that reason, the song that defines him in young adulthood is “Smoke Gets in Your Eyes,” as performed by Mantovani. “World music” appears in the final time period, this being the music of choice of David’s vegan daughter, Priscilla.
To learn more about Stephan Eirik Clark, visit his website!