Here’s a quick look:
A GOOD AMERICAN is a story of immigrant hope. Beginning with an improbable love affair ignited by the power of song, the story follows an unorthodox young couple as they flee Germany in 1904 to America, in search of a new life together. From bare-knuckle prizefighting and Prohibition to sweet barbershop harmonies and the Kennedy assassination, their family is caught up in the sweep of history across the twentieth century as they find their place in their adopted country. Accompanied by a chorus of unforgettable characters, from a chicken-strangling church organist to a malevolent bicycle-riding dwarf, each new generation discovers afresh what it means to be an American.
And guess what? Proving that he is indeed a “Prince” among writers, Alex has offered to giveaway a copy of his novel to one lucky commenter!
So without further ado, the dance floor is yours, Alex!
Alex George Takes the Deb Ball Interview!
Talk about one thing that’s making you happy right now.
Amidst all the craziness of publication of my novel, it is often easy to lose sight of what’s really important. Around the time of a book’s release, writers get swept up in a whirlwind of promotional nuttiness, with demands for their time, and words, and heaven knows what else. But it is the book that is important. So while my email is pinging and the phone is ringing, sometimes I like to pull the single copy of my novel that I have in the house off the shelf, and just hold it. As a physical object, it is a thing of beauty, and every time I have it my hands I am filled with a deep sense of contentment. Whatever else happens, this is something I have created, for better or for worse, and nothing and nobody can take that away from me. That makes me pretty darn happy.
Anywhere at all, if my children are with me.
Which talent do you wish you had?
Real world talent: playing killer jazz piano.
Non-real world talent: invisibility.
What time of day do you love best?
I’m probably supposed to say early mornings, because that’s when I write. But actually it’s my evening routine with the children that I love the most. After supper and ablutions, I read with my daughter (who is six) for half an hour on the bottom bunk of her bunk bed, and then we both climb on to the top bunk and chat for a bit before I turn her light off. After I kiss her goodnight, my son (who is ten) and I sit on the sofa and read our books together, fending of the affectionate attentions of our puppy as we do so. By the time both children are asleep, I’m exhausted, because of my early starts – I get up to write at five o’clock each morning. But having them asleep in their beds above me gives me a profound sense of contentment. There’s a magical stillness in a house with sleeping children in it. I adore that.
Share something that’s always guaranteed to make you laugh.
Four very English things for you.
1. The title sequence for Monty Python and the Holy Grail. Pure genius.
2. This wonderful giggling fit during an international cricket match:
3. Possibly (if you’re English) the best-loved comedy skit ever:
4. Les Dawson singing “Feelings”. Er, beautiful:
What three things would you want with you if stranded on a desert island?
My two children and our puppy. Then I wouldn’t actually be stranded at all.
What is your advice for aspiring writers?
Read. Then read some more.
Try and find a regular time to write, and once you’ve carved out that time, defend it ferociously. If you’re serious about your writing, make it a priority.
Tell the truth. Don’t be afraid.
Don’t stop. It’s so easy to stop. Of all the attributes a writer needs, the most important are stamina and bull-headedness. Keep going. Have faith in yourself.
I highly recommend The Getaway Car, an extended essay on writing by Ann Patchett, for everyone who wants to write or is interested in the craft. It is an honest and illuminating account of the writing life, and full of good advice, including: forgive yourself.
Did I already say read?
You might also want to cross your fingers. It does make for slower typing, but we writers need all the luck we can get. I feel as if I’ve had more than my fair share of it. I daren’t uncross them yet!
Alex George is an Englishman who lives, works, and writes in the middle of America. He studied law at Oxford University and worked for eight years as a corporate lawyer in London and Paris before moving to the United States in 2003. You can learn more about him at his website, and follow him on Facebook and on Twitter!
* * * *
Thank you so much for being here today, Alex! And don’t forget, friends, to leave a comment for your chance to win a copy of A GOOD AMERICAN!