Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Interview with John Banks, Author of Glorify Each Day

Joining us today is John Banks, author of Glorify Each Day.

John was born in Asheville, NC. His storytelling is very much in the Southern tradition, with a special affinity for humorists such as Mark Twain and the Old Southwest school of writers. He was a teacher for years in the public schools and community colleges of his native state. He also spent three years as a community college administrator.

Welcome to The Book Connection, John. It's great to have you here. Can you tell us a bit about yourself?

I’m originally from Asheville, NC, and have lived in Greensboro, NC, most of my adult life. Most of my professional life has been in the field of education. I’ve taught middle school English and spent several years working at a community college as an instructor in Adult Basic Skills programs such as GED, ESL, Adult High School and Compensatory Education. For about five years I was a program director in charge of a GED program. The main character in Glorify Each Day is a GED instructor, so all of his work experiences that I relate in the novel are fictionalized details of that particular job, filtered through my rather over-active imagination.

What is your fondest childhood memory?

I once hit a home run during a Little League All-Star game. Everything has been downhill since.

When did you begin writing?

I knew I had a knack for writing fiction when my fifth-grade teacher accused me of plagiarism. I didn’t realize it at the time, but he must have been pulling my leg – unless the book he thought I had stolen from was a book of really silly stories written by precocious nine-year-olds.

What is Glorify Each Day about?

On a very broad, pretentious English-major level, Glorify Each Day is about the evil that resides within all men. On a more plot-driven level, it is about a man tormented by his past misdeeds, which might include a murder, who feels himself going slowly insane because of his guilt and grief over the things he has done. It’s a very heavy idea to write about and I really didn’t want to write a heavy book – at least not at first. I don’t like reading heavy, ultra-serious, depressing books and I sure as hell didn’t want to write one. I’m the type of person who loves nothing more than tipping over sacred cows, so I knew I might step on more than a few toes by writing about very serious things in a less-than-serious manner. On another level, the novel is a story filled with stories – it’s not a short-story collection, but I wanted to write a novel chock-full of different characters and their stories. The novel definitely revolves around one main character, but it has a lot of different characters telling stories in different ways. This focus on storytelling in literature tends to be described as a Southern thing, but I see it as more of a human thing – the need to tell stories. So much of our daily conversations are about us narrating our lives to each other.

What inspired you to write it?

The novel actually came together from two very different directions. You could say that it was a collision between two trains of thought. I was originally inspired by the idea that’s at the heart of the movie Network. I saw the movie a long time ago, but the idea of media executives who would do anything to turn a profit really resonated with me when I thought about the media in today’s world, with the internet causing such an upheaval in the way people use the media. Network was about television in the 70s, but I thought its ideas would work just as well when dealing with journalism in this day and age. So I had this idea about an old, veteran newspaper guy who was going insane and who started writing these increasingly insane and inflammatory op-ed pieces. So what would happen when this guy’s columns became really popular just because of their obvious insanity? It’s a good story idea, but unfortunately it was a good idea for Paddy Chayefsky when he wrote Network and I decided not to borrow someone else’s good idea.

At about this same time I got another story idea that revolved around two childhood friends who get into a fight that ends very badly for one of the friends. Naturally, this could lead to some serious psychological issues for the young boy, and it was something I wanted to explore. When I was working on the Network idea I didn’t really get around to explaining what was causing this man to lose his sanity, but it occurred to me that a deep grief about something could probably result in a kind of madness. So I ended up sticking this crazy chocolate bar into that peanut butter jar and stirring everything together. The result, as one of my Facebook friends recently said, is “deliciously unsettling.”

Where can readers purchase a copy of your book?

At amazon.com and all other major internet booksellers.

Do you have a website and/or blog where readers can find out more?

Yes, at http://www.819publishing.com/. I would love to invite readers of Glorify Each Day to start a conversation about the book on my blog.

What is up next for you?

I think my next novel will continue with the idea of having a lot of different storytellers telling lots of crazy stories. I’m interested in tying together a central idea of “What is America?” from many disparate voices throughout American history. We’ll see how that works out.

Is there anything you would like to add?

Thanks for interviewing me. It’s been fun.

Thanks for spending time with us today, John. We wish you much success.

1 comment:

Betsy Love said...

Fun Blog. I'd love to have you come follow mine as well. http://betsyloveldsauthor.blogspot.com