Saturday, February 20, 2010

Quick Qs and As with Gary Stelzer

Gary Stelzer is the author of The Coast of Dreams, and today he's here to answer a few of my questions.


1) First off, I’m going to give you a couple of categories and I would like you to list your favorite.

Author(s): by Jane Smiley
Movie: “One-eyed Jacks” starring Marlon Brando
Season: Fall on the northern midwest on the shores of Lake Superior
Food: Indian red curry.

2) Can you describe The Cost of Dreams in five words or less?

Shattering anti-immigrant hatred.

3) What inspired you to write The Cost of Dreams?

Compelled is the word, actually. The story of a foreign born woman appearing in my emergency department of my community hospital long years ago, who was dreadfully wounded in the neck and face by her brother-in-law who had shot her at her home in the US southwest. She was driven to my locale by her husband with their two small children in the family van. A team of us cared for her for many months, and then her husband abandoned them all. As time went on, I felt really badly for her. Then one winter I sat in front of a relative’s home in NM, watching auto and train traffic traversing I-10 and the Santa Fe line from Houston to Los Angeles. And I thought, “what if…??” Then I came home and wrote the tale.

4) What was the hardest part of writing The Cost of Dreams of dreams? Easiest?

I had the greatest difficulty in trying to learn the craft of writing a “full length” piece. I assumed, incorrectly, that one just strung together a series of short stories. Once I obtained the essential services of a real live editor, I found my way to a more effective path. The editor took a key role in re-directing my working energies.

I cannot say the word “easy” really applies to any of my work. I do not have that word in my work’s lexicon. I do not mind that this work is very difficult, because I am very drawn to the activity of writing. I do not care about “easy.” Life is anything but easy. Now and then “comfortable,” but unless one is a billionaire, not easy.

5) Do you have a specific thing you hope readers take from The Cost of Dreams?

I hope they “like” the book, and are pleased to have read it. One reviewer recently expressed what I would say was an honest ambivalence about the book, both “likeing and not liking” the book. And that she was unable to get the book out of her head for days. That may have been(in my mind) the “best” review I’ve seen. I had really managed to touch someone deeply.

6) How did the title The Cost of Dreams come to be?

The first draft I called THE DISAPPEARED ONE(a good title, I think). But with the later version, as I said in one of my blogs, I wanted to worry and deepen the interest of readers as to a number of matters explored in this story. Rather than the simpler stress of someone vanishing, and would they ever be found.

7)What type of setting do you usually write in?

I have an office/study in my very old home. Books, papers, a mess scattered around. I sit in the middle and work away. Nothing magic at all. Just steady employment.

8) What’s your favorite part of the publishing process?

My experience is very narrow and insufficent. I’ve written and published only one book. I really do not have an answer to this question.

9) Is there any book out there that you wish you had written yourself?

Not really. I have a host of favorite authors, that when I read their books, I know that I have waited way too late in life to even imagine approaching them in the sheer caliber of their quality of accomplishment. The heights they’ve climbed too dizzying. Jane Smiley’s ORDINARY LOVE and GOOD WILL come to mind. I gasped at the staggering beauty of that first of two novellas in one volume.

10) What’s up next for you book-wise?

I’m working on a tale set in New Orleans during the time of Katrina.

11) Anything else you would like to add?

I think we all need to deepen our literacy and demand the best quality stories possible. Tales that challenge popular assumptions about the world and who we are. Stories that hopefully are preparing us to make some big and badly needed changes on the planet, on the road to a just and dignified survival and society.

I promise to do my little part in writing the best tales I can.



Thanks Gary!

Other Links:

Gary's Website
Gary's book on Amazon


  1. This sounds interesting, haven't heard of it but will certainly check it out. Nice interview!!

  2. Great questions and answers! I enjoyed reading it :)


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