Ander Monson, an award-winning creative, non-fiction, fiction, poetry and essay writer, recently visited Albion on his reading and book signing tour. While visiting, Monson read selections of his creative non-fiction work such as “The Essay Vanishes,” as well as various selections of poetry. Monson, who grew up in Houghton, Mich., now resides in Arizona with his wife, teaching at Arizona State University and continuing to write.
Q: How and when did you decide that you wanted to be a writer?
A: When I was nine, I plagiarized a book report. The report was so good it got published in the local paper. I felt bad about it, but I enjoyed being published and liked the writing. I tried physics, psychology, computer science and music, but creative writing is what I came back to that really felt like it fit.
Q: Where do your inspirations come from when working on a piece?
A: It all comes from the world. I might see, hear or read something that gives me an idea. Also, reading good writing makes me want to write, so I use that as motivation as well.
Q: Where does the majority of your support come from?
A: Really, it’s a compulsive ambitious need to get my work out there. Rejection is something that writers face all the time. If you think you are a genius then you are more likely to keep writing and trying. I absolutely think I am a genius. My wife also supports me entirely. Being married to her has given me a lot of ambition. Her support pushes me forward and drives me.
Q: Which genre of writing is your favorite?
A: I really like to work across all genres. I have a problem with authority and sticking to one purpose or thing. So I use that as a driving force in my writing. For example, if someone tells me I can’t write about unicorns then I will use unicorns in a piece as much as I possibly can.
Q: Which of your works is your favorite?
A: I really like the novel “Other Electricities Stories.” It’s the closest to me personally. It is based on a real murder that took place in my hometown.
Q: What are you working on currently?
A: My two new books are coming out next year: “Vanishing Point,” a non-fiction piece in April 2010; “The Available World” is forthcoming from Sarabande Books in June 2010, which is a book of poems. Mostly I’m working back toward fiction, a novel called “Hurricane.” I am also working on the Web sites for “Vanishing Point” and “The Available World.” Both books will have some kind of Web component/addition/edition.
Q: When you are writing, do you usually just write what’s on your mind or do you have a specific purpose?
A: I’m really bad at writing for a specific purpose. For me it’s all about figuring out where the piece wants to go. I think about connecting to readers a lot when I’m writing.
Q: Which of your awards means the most to you?
A: I would say the Great Lakes Colleges Award. Its from the Great Lakes region – it’s the region I grew up in, and I write a lot about the Great Lakes region. It’s an area with a lot of small liberal arts schools, and I remember how much it meant to give back with my writing to those writers who visited me as an undergrad.