Michael Zadoorian interview

michael zadoorianDid someone in particular give you the inspiration for the protagonists of The Leisure Seeker, Ella & John?

The book was definitely inspired by my parents. Of course, as the writing progressed, new personalities emerged, histories changed, and in many ways the characters became quite different from my parents, but that’s where it started. 

The focus of the story in that novel is a journey by camper. Is it a way of travelling that you particularly love?

I don’t camp much these days, but all through my childhood and into my teenage years, I took road trips and camped in a pop-up Apache camper with my parents. Those experiences certainly influenced the book.

In a historical period in which the media spread the message that one must be forever young, and people in consequence resort to aesthetical surgery for help, you choose as protagonists two old and sick people. What is your relationship with the passing of time and aging?

Same as everyone’s, I suppose. Time passing and getting older are both unavoidable, yet I hope to continue experiencing both. I do think that in America, a book about two old, sick people was a hard sell. I queried about 40 literary agents before I found out who was excited about the book. But that was all it took.

The protagonist of Second Hand is mad about flea markets and garage sales. Is there something autobiographical in this?

I’m afraid there is. The house I share with my wife in the Detroit area is full of objects salvaged from thrift stores, estate sales, vintage stores, etc. There’s something about all that stuff that just speaks to me.

Who are your favourite authors?

I was heavily influenced by Raymond Carver’s short stories. His work allowed me to understand the inner-workings of fiction in ways that I never had before. I don’t know why, but he allowed me to think that maybe I could write fiction. His work is deceptive in that manner of extraordinarily talented people: he made it look easy. SPENCE AND LILA by Bobbie Ann Mason is a lovely book about an older couple and was a big influence on THE LEISURE SEEKER, as was MRS. BRIDGE by Evan S. Connell. The Mason book is probably much more like my book than MRS. BRIDGE, but there was something about Connell’s book that I kept returning to, a kind of quiet comedic despair that felt right.

What book are you reading at the moment?

The Human Stain by Philip Roth and a pulp novel from the 50s called “The Detroiters” by Harold Livingston.

Are you working on something new right now?

Yes I am, but I don’t like to talk about it.

What are your passions beyond writing?

Here’s what my Facebook page lists: Books, film, music, photography, tiki, folk art, food, drink, pop culture, junk culture, drug culture, Beat culture, bohemia, Noir, The Days of the Dead, cemeteries, Detroit.

Have you any advice for someone who would like to write fiction?

Don’t think about it too much. Just sit down and write. Worry about the rest later.

We know you have been in Italy to present your books. What impression did you have, even in a short time?

Needless to say, Italy was lovely. Unfortunately, with all the traveling that I did, I didn’t get to see much. During my last eight days, I was in a different town or city every day. My routine was this: Travel in the morning; meet a new group of people who would lead me around; go to my room and take a nap; eat dinner, then go to the bookstore or venue for the presentation. Much of what I saw of Italy was from the window of a train, airplane or automobile. But it was a great experience and I met many, many kind and wonderful people.

Did something impress you in particular?

I was very impressed by the thoughtful questions people asked about the books. It was a pleasure talking to such serious readers. I was especially impressed with the Festivaletturatura in Mantua. It was great fun to be around so many people who loved books and writers. I felt like a rock star there, for crying out loud.

Which feedback did you receive from italian readers? 

I was amazed and thrilled by how much people seemed to appreciate my work. Much praise and much kindness. We had 600 people at the presentation in Mantua! I do think that it helps that I’ve had two novels in two years in Italy. In the USA, there were nine years between novels, so I don’t have the momentum that I definitely seem to have in Italy. I’m also happy to report that Marcos Y Marcos will be publishing a short story collection of mine next year called THE LOST TIKI PALACES OF DETROIT. I’m thrilled about that as well.


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