I recently had the privilege to conduct a mini Q & A with Lance Umenhofer, author of the poetic fiction, And the Soft Wind Blows. I hope you'll check out his site and his book on Amazon, which released in April. Enjoy learning more about this cool author!
1. At what age did you discover your passion for writing?
I think it was seventh grade, when I read aloud a short story about George W. Bush and his cat, Dubya, who lived in a cabin in the woods. I remember the whole class laughing, including the teacher, and I think that was the small spark that eventually ignited into a passion during my freshman year of high school, where I began writing song lyrics. I soon found that I enjoyed writing lyrics to the songs more than the music, and one day I had the epiphany that: "Hey, these all are poems, why don't I just write poetry instead?" And the rest is history...(as they say).
2. What book inspired you most as a child?
Well, I suppose that depends on your definition of a "child." Nothing really comes to mind until I was fifteen, during the summer before my sophomore year of high school, when I read The Catcher in the Rye, The Great Gatsby, and Catch-22. Reading these three books in one summer truly marked my first loves for reading. I remember thinking: "Why haven't I been taught these books in school?" because throughout my schooling, I was forced to read a lot of Shakespeare and the Romantics (Nathaniel Hawthorne), and I was almost completely deterred from reading anything of any sort, but then I realized that were boatloads of literature out there that I could truly love and relate to (which weren't such a horror to read).
3. How long did it take you to complete And the Soft Wind Blows?
The first draft? Three weeks. Then six months of editing. Ha!
4. What are you currently reading?
Well, nothing today, but last week I just finished up Hunter S. Thompson's Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas for the first time. Even though this is the only novel I've ever read by him, he easily climbed up to the top of my influences' list. Speaking of influences, next up is F. Scott Fitzgerald's Six Tales of the Jazz Age, and I couldn't be more excited.
5. If you had to describe yourself in three words, what would they be?
Creative, Funny, Happy.
6. If you had to describe your novel in three words, what would they be?
Poetic, Quirky, Real.
7. Are you a dog person or a cat person?
Dog! I grew up with two wonderful, little puggies whom I miss dearly.
8. What is you all-time favorite book? Poem?
Jeez. Way to put me on the spot. My go-to answer for this (seemingly easy) question is Faulkner's Absalom, Absalom! In fact, for my birthday, one of my friends bought me a first edition of it! It's one of my most treasured possessions, for sure. As for favorite poem (again, not easy at all), my go-to is Ginsberg's "Howl." There's something about those Beats that will always influence me, especially their motto: "First thought, best thought."
9. Did any events in your childhood come into play in your writing?
The easy answer: yes! But then again, I've always believed that writing is 80% experience and 20% craft. Therefore, every moment I've ever experienced "comes into play" in all of my writing. There's nothing specific in my childhood that came to the forefront in And the Soft Wind Blows, but every character I write is a conglomeration of the many different people I've met throughout my life, even those I remember from childhood.
10. What is a question that you wish you would be asked more frequently than you are?
Well, instead of lashing out at me for writingwordslikethis, I wish that some reviewers (who will remain unnamed) would clarify the reasons why I do it, so let's clear the air here: I do it for two reasons, the first is that my novella is written in a style I call "Poetic Fiction," and by combining words like that, my intention is to slow readers down so that they don't pass right over them but instead really get a feel for the amount of poetry I spent so much time crafting, and the second reason is that each one are things the reader should pay attention to. Without boring you to death, just know that they all serve their purposes and aren't meant to make you hate reading me. Gosh!