Q&A With Author Laird Hunt
I was once told by an author that he only feels his book is successful when he finds a bootleg version of it somewhere in the world! With the ever increasing demand for ebooks how do you feel about piracy and the impact it has on the book industry?
I sort of get the feeling that this is a much bigger problem (from an author’s perspective) for best seller type writers. I think I’m still in the place where it’s a sign of career health that people want to steal a few e-copies of my books. Having said that, I’m aware that piracy is a significant challenge that the book industry is going to have to contend with and I don’t want to simply cast it in a personal light. I spent a summer once in Taipei, years ago, and even then piracy was a huge issue. My father took me to store once whose entire inventory was pirated books. I’m not proud to say I came away with some Douglas Adams. I still have that copy.
What are some of the biggest challenges authors face when trying to publish their books these days?
Publishing is undergoing substantial changes and I think a lot of us are unsure of what the landscape is going to look like in even just a few years. It is sad to see the big New York houses become ever bigger as presses merge (hard not to think of airline mergers) and the options for writers, an idiosyncratic bunch if ever there was one, shrinking. Certainly self-publishing, made much more viable by internet services, has opened some other doors and independent presses are doing great things. But I think the general picture is one of uncertainty and it can be hard to see the way forward. I know a good number of my fiction students at the University of Denver feel this way. Things may break for the positive but we just can’t call it yet.
I noticed that ‘identity’ plays a large theme in many of your books. Can you tell us more about what inspires your stories and character creation?
A few years ago I was standing at the counter of a bar in a café in Paris and overheard an older man say to an older woman, (in my translation from the French), “There are so many things that I should have done, but that I didn’t, and now the years have gone by”. It is in these chance, meaningful moments, when a whole world of joy or sorrow can be glimpsed, and whether I discover them through benign eavesdropping or in the pages of a book or somewhere else, that I have almost always discovered the subjects for my novels.
Where is your favourite place to write?
I have a very nice desk in a corner of the basement which I almost never write at. I seem to need a kind of predictable interruption when I write. So I tend to go out to cafes, put in earbuds and see where my fingers take me.
Now that there are so many different platforms books may be read on do you think its important for authors to consider how their content will be consumed when writing?
I remember once watching a video about the writer Kazuo Ishiguro in which he made the remark that since he started being translated into the different languages he found himself imagining, when writing, what the reaction might be to a particular passage-in-progress in, say, Norway. I am starting to think about how readers may encounter my work — whether in paperback or Paperwhite, English or Turkish or French — but I try never to do this as I am writing. There is already plenty that can go wrong!
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