Interview with Zelmer Wilson

Published 2013-09-14.
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
Yes, I do. It was the summer of 1990 and I was visiting my mother and two sisters in Birmingham, Alabama. After realizing that I wanted to be a writer, I grabbed a small notepad and wrote a seven page story about a young Hessian soldier during the Revolutionary War who deserts from the British Army and joins the American Army as well as changing his name.
What are you working on next?
I am currently editing a novel called Bobbie Lamont, which is a sequel of sorts to In the Middle. It takes place twenty years later and while Miller Hoffman, the main character and narrator of In the Middle is in it, he isn't the main character. Bobbie Lamont, the girl that he meets during the summer of 1990 in Birmingham, Alabama is the main character. I'm also outlining a third novel, called Extraordinary, which is about the love story of Miller Hoffman and Bobbie Lamont.
Who are your favorite authors?
My favorite authors are, in no particular order, Henry Miller, Charles Bukowski, Larry Brown, Christopher Hitchens, Dan Fante, and Janet Fitch.
When did you first start writing?
I started writing in the summer of 1990 while visiting my mother and two sisters in Birmingham, Alabama. I attempted to write many novels over the next eleven years, but I never got very far. It wasn't until I was twenty-six that I finished the first draft of my first novel in August, 2001.
What is your writing process?
It was only in the last few years that I come up with a writing process that works for me. I start off thinking about who the main character is and what the story is about. I then try to come up with a good title that captures the essence of the story. I then start outlining the story, writing a page for every chapter. After I finish the outline, I start writing the first draft, using my outline as a guide. I then edit the first draft and then make the necessary corrections, turning the first draft into the second draft.
What do you read for pleasure?
I go through phases where I only read nonfiction or just fiction. I am less fiction than I used to, because I don't want what I read to influence how I write.
What is your e-reading device of choice?
I don't have an e-reading device right now, except for my computer.
Describe your desk
On my desk is my laptop computer, with a small ashtray sitting next to it on my right, the printer is on the other side. There is a red desk lamp behind my laptop and there are various papers and books stacked all around, some on the printer.
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I grew up in two very different places. I lived in Fort Smith, Arkansas until I was eleven years old and then I moved to Phoenix, Arizona with my father and stepmother. These two very different places influenced my writing in that I notice how people talk.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
The greatest joy of writing for me is sitting at my desk, in front of my laptop computer and writing the first draft, because even though I'm guided by an outline that I've already written, the characters will always surprise me some way, in either by what they say or what they do.
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