Interview with Michael N Field

What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
Various things. The possibility of recognition. The feeling of a peak experience. Knowing that you have equaled some of your predecessors. The thought of making your passions public. The hope of income and financial independence is in there too.
What do your fans mean to you?
I have few, right now people I know only. But letting them know that I have completed something I started and did it well is very important to me.
What are you working on next?
One of my projects will be the completion of an autobiographical essay which I title The Urban Naturalist. I call it my intellectual autobiography. It is the story of my experiences and how these led to the development of my ideas. I want to make note, there is more than a little sarcasm in the title. A large part of the story has to with how brutal the urban experience really is and how liberating it can be to finally escape metropolitan life. Cities offer certain advantages, that is true. But I cannot help but think, no human being can know his or her true self without living in and being part of a rural community, all-in.

I would prefer not to say anything about my fiction projects in progress.
Who are your favorite authors?
Chaucer, what fantastic feats of imagination. James Joyce, I only know his short stories. They seemed not so overwhelmingly impressive on first reading, but his intelligence grew and grew on me as time went on. John Steinbeck. I have read little of him, but have in one of my fiction projects written about rural California. I saw immediately that the style I adopted resembled his. It makes me think, Steinbeck did not write that way to evoke the Salinas Valley and the Central Valley of California. Rather, these locales and his passion for them evoked the style itself.

I loved Jane Austen. I had never read her until, as an adult reentry student, I took a lower division survey course in Modern British Literature. When I read that famous opening line in Pride and Prejudice: "It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife" I was immensely flattered at the thought even though I did not, myself, possess a "good fortune". The idea made me feel for once useful. For a second thing, I knew categorically that the idea was absolutely the truth.

In the same class, one of the questions on one of the quizzes, a throw-away question so to speak, was "Who is your favorite romantic poet?"

I answered, "Lord Byron, for his superstar mentality."

I could have added, for his bombast. Or is bombast part of being a superstar in the first place? Where would someone get an idea like that? Another reason I like Byron is because I am a Byronic hero myself, minus the inherited independent means.

I dislike abstract poetry because most of the time I simply do not understand it. One of my faves is The Shield of Achilles by W.H. Auden. Bombastic as all hell, though a great little feat of imagination. Yet, I know what it is like to be a child "aimless and alone" in a vacant lot and to barely know of "any world where promises were kept."

What it is like to be sent to grief by a bureaucrat with a hidden face. What it is like to face dying as a man (or as a human being if you prefer, because women can and do die that way too) before your body dies.

I like Homer and mystery of who Homer was, or whether Homer was even just one person. I have an opinion between the Iliad and the Odyssey which might seem contrary to what most people think. The Iliad, I would say, was far less a supernatural work than the Odyssey was. Although Homer spoke of the role of the Gods, and don't we too, or of God, singular, anyway, the story was nothing other than a verbatim story of brutal aristocratic warfare. Of men losing their lives pointlessly and foolishly. One thing I did notice in the Iliad is the apparent knowledge shown in it of the human body and the wounds the various instruments of violence could inflict. It made me wonder if Homer was a physician.

I was impressed also by James Baldwin in his incarnation as an essayist. It is hard to find a writer on social topics more apocalyptic and steamy with insight. Although myself a "white boy", I too have lived many of the things he wrote about.
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
I'm a senior citizen, or in late middle age at best if you accept the thesis that the increase in the human lifespan consists of years added to the middle portion. Necessity.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
Surfing the web. Watching police procedure shows. Reading. Talk radio. Sports, politics, and outre topics.
How do you discover the ebooks you read?
I read classics, largely.
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
Yes, and it is lost. It was a short play inspired by Candide.
What is your writing process?
Sit down and write. But I dislike graphomania. I try to make my first draft close to the final. Ernest Hemingway, it was reported, got up early every day and wrote 5000 words, before he went out and drank away the rest of the day. If those words were more than rarely worth anything, that would be a novel every two weeks, give or take. Or a big novel every month. Didn't happen.
Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
No.
How do you approach cover design?
Keep it simple. In the case of New Frontier Culture, very simple. If you are going write about someone within living memory who is thought a martyr and esteemed as a brave man and a patriot, you do not exploit the love and passion people have for him. Within the introduction, I reprint the letter I received from Edward Kennedy in 2008. I did not put the letter in front where other authors put the quotes praising the work they are offering, just for that reason.
Describe your desk
A cluttered table in a windowless dining nook.next to the kitchen.
What's the story behind your latest book?
This work grows out of a term paper I wrote in the spring of 1974 to meet my departmental requirements for my undergraduate history degree. The paper was entitled The Political System of John F. Kennedy.

New Frontier Culture was begun in the late 1980s. The earliest version of it was published electronically in 2007, under copyright but available to be read by anyone who wished to.

Although the main body of the essay long had been complete and needed few revisions, completing the background material and notes that follow loomed ahead of me as, in my mind, a daunting task. But eventually I went to work on it and completed it, although in totality it took about 50 days. I don't know how it could end up taking 50 days to make a few corrections and write a few paragraphs. Nevertheless it did.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
The difficulties involved in finding a publisher and the delay in getting the work in front of the people whom I would like to have see it and in front of potential readers. The likelihood that agents and publishers, because I lack a well-defined vitae, would misunderstand my background might add to the difficulty and delay. Or even become an insuperable issue.

E-publishing presents new issues for authors however. Works still have to be successfully promoted, but the ways of doing it have changed since the days when print publication and bookstore and retail rack sales were the major ways of circulating a book. Promoting a work takes time away from new projects. It is a daunting though necessary task.
Published 2014-08-25.
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Books by This Author

New Frontier Culture: Inside the Mind of John F. Kennedy
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 17,180. Language: English. Published: August 23, 2014. Categories: Nonfiction » Politics and Current Affairs » White house, Nonfiction » History » American
New Frontier Culture is a biographical essay on the ideas, policy theories and career of John F. Kennedy. It shows the origins of Kennedy's ideas and examines how he adapted them to the political exigencies he faced during his tenure as president. New Frontier Culture is both an historical analysis and a remembrance. Readers may appreciate it both for the memory it evokes and for its insights.