This week’s Indie Interview is with Brad Windhauser, the author of The Intersection, a story which looks at the effects gentrification has on a Philadelphia neighbourhood and how it impacts the residents during the fallout of a road accident.
Hi, Brad. Welcome to Read A Lot.
Q: Had you always planned on becoming a published author?
I did always place getting published as a goal of mine. Working towards this goal compelled me to continue to work on my craft until that happened.
Q: What inspired you to write The Intersection?
As a resident in a gentrifying neighbourhood, I looked around at my neighbours and saw how gentrification was impacting them—in positive and negative ways. I wanted to explore this topic in order to better explore the diverse and complex points of view about this important issue.
Q: What made you choose the genre?
I’ve always written lit fiction and I felt this weighty topic, explored through varying points of view, works well for literary novels.
Q: What is the book about?
The book follows the fallout of an accident involving a white driver and an African American bicyclist. The accident stokes gentrification tensions in a tense south Philadelphia neighbourhood. Through varying points of view, the story examines people connected directly and indirectly to the effects of this accident.
Q: Do you find it easier to write with a schedule or with no time restrictions?
I do set regular time aside each week to write, although if I have a good grove going, I won’t interrupt it just because I planned to stop at a certain time.
Q: Can you choose a favourite character from your book?
I found a lot to connect with in most of these characters, although Rose, an elderly woman who witnesses the accident and takes it upon herself to try and bring the community together, sticks out. There is something about her pain but strong spirit I appreciate.
Q: Was there ever a point while you were writing when you wanted to give up?
The book went through a few different iterations as well as various drafts—this can be very frustrating, for once you feel like you have the story licked, you pull a little thread and things unravel.
I also found it hard to get the book published, so that was discouraging, but the book’s out now so it was all worth it.
Q: What is the worst part of the writing process for you?
Being disciplined about editing—that means going through a draft, setting it aside for a bit so I get reasonable distance from it in order to evaluate it with fresh eyes. Failing this ends up wasting time, which can be frustrating.
Q: How much of your stories do you plan, or do you make them up as you go along?
I usually allow the story and characters to dictate where a piece goes. I find that if I plan too much out then things (events, actions) feel too forced. The more I get to know my characters, the clearer the whole story becomes—there’s no way to plan for this.
Q: Do you have a favourite piece of writing advice?
Read, and read often. I cannot overestimate how crucial it is to study the craft, and the best way to do this is to expose yourself to as much of it as possible. Books are the best teachers.
Q: Where can people learn more about your books?
My website. I update it with new material frequently.
I also keep my author page on FB updated.
Q: What have you learned since you started writing?
Respect the writing process, and in so doing you allow the story to come together, reveals itself over time.
Q: What’s next for you?
I’m completing a short story collection now, which I plan to submit to various publishers this summer. After that, I have a second draft of my new novel—set in a San Diego restaurant in the late 90s— to revise.