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"Snapper," by Brian Kimberling

Snapper, Brian Kimberling
Random House, Benedict Brain

Jeff Glor talks to Brian Kimberling about, "Snapper."

Jeff Glor: What inspired you to write the book?

Brian Kimberling: I've lived abroad for several years, and whenever I tell people I'm from Indiana they ask if I know Bobby Knight personally, or if there are a lot of Indians in Indiana, or something silly like that. I'm also considered an authority overseas on Iowa and Illinois and Idaho and other states I've never been to, because they're all the same place as far as most people are concerned. Snapper is in some sense the result of 15 years itching to tell people where I'm really from. And it is, I think, like something cooked up in a meth lab on Lake Wobegon. I wanted to put some pristine woodland and overcrowded prisons and nice Episcopalians and white supremacists and pretty birds all in the same fictional bag and shake them up to see what happened.

JG: What surprised you the most during the writing process?

BK: How interesting southern Indiana became to me personally as I wrote. I grew up there and I thought I knew it cold. Revisiting it in new fictional ways brought out things I hadn't considered before; the ways the land itself makes the people who they are, and so on. I got into a very productive feedback loop: the more I wrote about it, the more I needed to write subsequently. Although I made a lot of false starts and wrong turns that I later had to cut, there was never a point when I thought, gee, I don't know what to do, or oh no, I've run out of material.

JG: What would you be doing if you weren't a writer?

BK: I did many things for many years, such as teaching English, designing databases, dabbling in journalism, and stocking frozen pizzas, in the Czech Republic, England, Mexico, and Turkey. At around the age of 35 it seemed like I'd made a terrible mistake. I'd forgotten to build a career or accumulate debt or any other traditionally adult thing. I had always written fiction, just somewhat lackadaisically. I wrote "Snapper" with a sense of urgency. If I hadn't, I suppose I would still be designing databases and/or editing Irish Dancing Magazine in England.

JG: What else are you reading right now?

BK: I just finished a Margaret Atwood book "Oryx and Crake," a John Updike book "Couples" and a Chris Offut book "Kentucky Straight," all of which I enjoyed. Louise Erdrich and Edith Wharton are next. There isn't necessarily a logic here. I am very likely to skip a groove and just re-read an old favorite, like "Gogol."

JG: What's next for you?

BK: I am working on a second book set in southern Indiana, for Pantheon.

For more on "Snapper" visit the Random House website.

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