Interview: 5 Minutes With Glen Hirshberg
Glen Hirshberg, is the visitor of the the day here at Ginger Nut Towers. Glen Hirshberg was born in Detroit in 1966, and grew up there and in San Diego. He received his B.A. from Columbia University, where he won the Bennett Cerf Prize for Best Fiction, and his M.A. and M.F.A. from the University of Montana.
Glen’s first novel, The Snowman’s Children, was published by Carroll and Graf in 2002. The Two Sams, published by Carroll and Graf in October 2003, collects his celebrated ghost stories which have received multiple International Horror Guild and World Fantasy Award nominations.
Been writing since I was two. Been a teacher for two decades, now, at all levels between junior high and grad school. I have two tremendous kids, a folklorist wife, and a demanding, unpredictable, financially challenged, happy life.
Do you prefer the term Horror, Weird Fiction or Dark Fiction?
To be honest, none of the above. I don’t worry too much about terms. They create preconceptions and limitations. I try just to tell good stories that honor the expectations they create. But I also try to conceive of each story as its own entity, rather than as a subset of any set genre or system.
Who are some of your favourite authors?
There are just so many. Ever? Probably Robert Louis Stevenson and Rudyard Kipling and Jane Austen. Within the field? Shirley Jackson, Ramsey Campbell, Arthur Machen, M.R. James. Recent loves? Elinor Wylie, some Haruki Murakami. I can still get lost in the best Robert E. Howard, then turn around and bury myself in Cormac McCarthy. I’ll read anything with sparkle and some flair for language and atmosphere and people worth knowing in it.
What are you reading now?
Just finished Murakami’s WILD SHEEP CHASE. Loved it. Also really enjoying the French mystery writer Fred Vargas’ crazy, gory, weirdly funny and sometimes loving Adamsberg detective series.
Which book do you wish you had written?
I really don’t think like this. Every time I fall in love with a book, I just feel grateful and thrilled to have it in my life. Great work doesn’t make me jealous; it makes me want to work.
If you could use any other author’s creation in your own work, who or what would you use?
See note above. I don’t think I would, honestly. But there are certainly characters I have riffed on. Holmes, in a recent experiment with occult detectives. I wouldn’t use the girl with the ears in WILD SHEEP CHASE, but I loved her, and am not surprised Murakami found himself chasing her around through another book, even if she doesn’t appear for most of it. As you’ll see below, I’m experimenting for the first time using characters of my own in more than one book…
What piece of your own work are you most proud of?
I’m mostly proud to have gotten each of my six books to the finish. When I stop to think about it, my own favorites change all the time. But I’m usually too busy being frustrated and compelled and overwhelmed and inspired by whatever I’m working on in the moment to look back.
What is the hardest lesson you have learned with regards to your writing?
That I’m never going to get even one story all the way right. Writing is so deliciously, impossibly hard.
What do you like to do to relax?
Play with my kids. Read everything. Hunt for and listen to adventurous music. Watch crazy movies. Travel when I can. Hike.
Motherless Child has been gaining some fabulous reviews, will there be a mass market version available for those of us unfortunate enough to get a copy?
I am relieved and delighted to report that I have just recently signed a three-book deal with Tor/Macmillan for a mass market edition of Motherless Child and two sequels, to appear in 2014, 2015, and 2016.
Can you tell us about your last book, and can you tell us about what you are working on next?
Before Motherless, I finished both a third collection of stories, The Janus Tree, which Subterranean published in a lovely edition in 2011, and a very different novel called The Book of Bunk, a sort of alternative history/adventure/quest-with-dark-love-story about the Depression and the Federal Writers’ Project during the 1930s. That got some pretty enthusiastic write-ups after being published by my friends at Earthling, but it definitely falls into its own category…whatever that is. The Earthling edition is long sold out, but there’s an ebook available for the Kindle and other devices, thanks to the good people at Ash-Tree Press.
I’m currently working on the first Motherless sequel, and finding that frustrating, inspiring, exhausting, and exciting. As usual.