Minnesota-based author Andy Hueller is no stranger to cold weather, which made his decision to sit in the Fiction Focus Q&A hot seat a no-brainer.
A teacher by profession, Hueller has crafted a fictitious story with “How I Got Rich Writing C Papers” that’s firmly founded in the real world of academic writing, while entertaining its audience at the same time.
With that said, take it away, Mr. Hueller!
In a nutshell (75 words or less), fill us in on what “How I Got Rich Writing C Papers” is all about.
A senior in high school has made it rich writing essays for his classmates. Now he’s divulging his secrets. Of course, he’s living a life at the same time””trying to win his school’s Nerf War and trying to win the heart of a lovely classmate. This is a story for teenagers, and it’s also a writing guide for them.
You’re the casting director for “How I Got Rich Writing C Papers: The Movie.” Which actors/actresses play the main characters?
Hmm. . . . I hadn’t thought of this before. Okay, here goes:
Charles Remington Dremmel: Malcolm David Kelley, who played Walt on “Lost”
Lisa Kent: Sarah Hyland, who plays Haley Dunphy on “Modern Family”
Max Latterly: Graham Phillips, who plays Zack Florrick on “The Good Wife”
Doug: Josh Hutcherson, from “The Hunger Games” and “The Bridge to Terabithia”
Charles’ parents: Jeffrey Wright, from “Source Code” and Regina King, from “Southland”
Which author(s) influence your writing style the most?
I don’t know. When I was a kid, I adored Roald Dahl’s books. Actually, I still do. When I wrote “Skipping Stones at the Center of the Earth,” I was likely influenced by Dahl’s sense of light fantasy. When I got older, I fell in love with Michael Chabon’s prose. While writing “Dizzy Fantastic and Her Flying Bicycle,” I channeled Kate DiCamillo’s “Tiger Rising.” As I wrote from Charles’ perspective in “How I Got Rich Writing C Papers,” I often thought of Holden Caulfield from J. D. Salinger’s “Catcher in the Rye.” Both characters are smart, they break rules, and they’re . . . well, they’re sad, underneath it all. I don’t know how much this came across in my book, but I felt it as I wrote the character.
What’s your writing routine like?
I’m a teacher. While school’s in session, I write prose or poetry every morning, but only for 20 minutes or a half hour. I’m of course constantly writing other genres the rest of the day””lessons for my students, sample assignments, e-mails to colleagues, the list goes on and on. During breaks””summer, winter, and spring””I write fiction more frequently, perhaps for several hours in a day.
Here’s what I tell my students: Nobody ever wrote anything without writing it. To me that means that we all need to sit and compose regularly and see where it takes us. That said, I don’t force anything I’m writing. If I’m not feeling any momentum behind whatever I’m working on, then I move on to some other project (a poem, short story, or new novel) until I wake up one morning knowing what to do with the original piece.
As a writer, what genre intimidates you the most?
I suppose I haven’t written a lab report since I was in college. I don’t know that it “intimidates” me, but I don’t feel particularly compelled to sit down and write one. Doing the lab””like making ice cream, which I did in 9th grade””might be fun, though.
Mac or PC?
PC. It’s what my school loans to me, so it’s what I use.
Is there a particular album, musical group or solo artist that gets the creative writing juices flowing? You know, like Rocky’s “Gonna Fly Now.”
While I certainly can write to music and any other ambient noise, I usually don’t. Sometimes I find myself humming as I write, but I don’t think it’s a consistent song or artist.
Snack food of choice?
Clementines. Cereal with milk. I guess that’s two breakfast foods, huh?
You’re stranded on a desert island and can only have three books with you. What are they?
Besides some magical book from, say, Harry Potter that will allow me to transport back to civilization? Right now I’d say the final three “Game of Thrones” books. Two of these haven’t been written and published yet, but I’m about halfway through the fourth book now, and I’d love to see how the epic turns out. Plus, each book is a journey that sweeps a reader up (removing him/her from daily life) and takes a long time to complete. That’s not a bad thing, when you’re stuck alone on an island for eternity.
What advice would you offer to aspiring novelists?
I guess I’d repeat what I mentioned earlier: Nobody ever wrote anything without writing it. I’ve had conversations with people before who want me to give them some magical tip that will turn them into writers. I tell them that I actually do have this magical tip! Start writing for fifteen minutes a day. When you get the hang of this, increase this to 30 minutes a day. If you’re writing 15-30 minutes a day, you are a writer. Perhaps publication is in your future and perhaps not. From one perspective, though, who cares? You’re doing your part. You are a writer.