Ben H. Winters on Writing His Most Personal Book
In Conversation with Alex Higley and Lindsay Hunter on I'm a Writer But
Welcome to I’m a Writer But, where two writers-and talk to other writers-and about their work, their lives, their other work, the stuff that takes up any free time they have, all the stuff they’re not able to get to, and the ways in which any of us get anything done. Plus: book recommendations, bad jokes, okay jokes, despair, joy, and anything else we’ve got going on that week. Hosted by Lindsay Hunter and Alex Higley.
In this episode, Alex and Lindsay talk with Ben H. Winters (The Quiet Boy) about teaching himself to write a novel by adding sea monsters to a classic, embracing the randomness that builds a career, learning about power dynamics and dialogue by watching celebrity press junkets, working on multiple projects at once, lists and tasks versus word count, and more!
From the episode:
None of those works—including the Policeman series and then my subsequent novels—none of them were really about me or came from a place from my personal experience, until The Quiet Boy. Which I think is the first thing that has a father/child relationship at the center of it, and Jewishness is a big part of it, and music, which is also part of my life. At some point it was like, ok, maybe I’m old enough or maybe I’m good enough and confident enough to let those layers peel away a little. Because I think it’s easier emotionally to write from a place that’s like, well, I’m just going to come up with some crazy stuff and it’s not really going to be me writing.
Ben H. Winters is the author of the novels The Quiet Boy, and Golden State; the New York Times bestselling Underground Airlines; The Last Policeman and its two sequels; the horror novel Bedbugs; and several works for young readers. His first novel, Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters, was also a Times bestseller. Ben has won the Edgar Award for mystery writing, the Philip K. Dick award in science fiction, the Sidewise Award for alternate history, and France’s Grand Prix de L’Imaginaire. His writing has appeared in Slate and in the New York Times Book Review. He also writes for film and television, and was a producer on the FX show Legion. He lives in LA with his family.