Saturday, June 30, 2012
Author Interview: Stephen Register
An intense, artful, and heartfelt U.S. military memoir detailing accounts of war-fighting in Baghdad, Iraq, Border Patrol in Yuma, Arizona, and Hurricane Katrina disaster relief efforts on the Mississippi Gulf Coast.
On your nightstand now:
A.N. Wilson’s biography, Tolstoy; Van Gogh: A Self-Portrait, selected by W.H. Auden; Problems of Dostoevsky’s Poetics, by Mikhail Bakhtin; Ian McEwan’s Saturday; and Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises. (It’s hard for me to limit myself to just one book at a time.)
Favorite book when you were a child: Tie between The Giving Tree and Where the Red Fern Grows.
Your top five authors:
Fyodor Dostoevsky, William Faulkner, Marcel Proust, James Joyce, and Ernest Hemingway.
Book you've faked reading:
Up until age 19 I faked reading every book I was supposed to read except for Where the Red Fern Grows, a few books in the Star Wars series, Rifles for Watie, Stephen Decatur, and Ender’s Game. When I turned 19 I quit fake-reading books altogether and actually started reading.
Favorite line from a book:
"Whatever [the writer] beholds or experiences, comes to him as a model and sits for its picture. He counts it all nonsense that they say that some things are undescribable. He believes that all that can be thought can be written, first or last; and he would report the Holy Ghost, or attempt it." Emerson, Essays and Journals, from his essay, Goethe; or, the Writer.
Why any human should plunk down cash money for your book:
1) Simply put, the most important reason to get the book is that it is well-written; 2) Another reason is that the book does what very few other military memoirs, in my mind, succeed in doing: telling the truth about what it means to be a soldier. If you want to know what a soldier is, what is required of us and what society asks (demands?) soldiers to be, then you’ll want to read my book.
Based on the description of Meantime I know there may be some exciting scenes as well as a bit of humor. But can you tell us what more to expect?
Meantime is a book about a person—a soldier—in the field, doing his duty. It is a look into the life of a soldier; where he goes, what he does, what he thinks, and what he feels. You can expect from Meantime to get a real portrayal of what I went through as a soldier on the Mississippi Gulf Coast doing disaster relief work after Hurricane Katrina; what I went through as a warfighter in Iraq in the early years of Operation Iraqi Freedom; and what it was like to guard the U.S.—Mexico border in support of U.S. Border Patrol in Arizona. The reader, through Meantime, gets to be in all of these places with me; I had to relive all these experiences in order to truly write them and so the reader is able to walk with me through these events as I relive them.
What is your writing style? For example, I write with a laptop on the floor of my bedroom listening to music.
I usually write at my desk; I have a picture of Picasso’s The Old Guitarist hanging above my desk, and pictures of Dostoevsky, Proust, Faulkner, and Joyce on top of my bookshelf so I can see them easily while writing; I also have a picture of my wife close by. I can pretty much write anywhere, but it helps to have these images all around me, to remind me that I’m in good company. It does need to be quiet when I write; I’m easily distracted.
Are you a full-time writer or part-time, and how do you organize your writing time?
Right now I’m a part-time writer, longing to be a full-time one. When I have a steady schedule then I make sure my writing is scheduled for a set time also; when my schedule is erratic I write whenever I get the chance. In my experience the most important thing is showing up to the page—it doesn’t matter when you show up or for how long, just as long as you just show up; if you keep returning to the page then the work will get done.
What do you hope readers will take from your writing?
I hope they’ll get some idea of what it means to be a soldier, and that they’ll have a better sense of what a soldier goes through. I hope that, when we’re deciding to send soldiers off to war or wherever in the future, that people who have read Meantime will have a better understanding of who soldiers are and what society is asking of them.
What did you like about writing this book, and books in general?
Writing this book helped me understand my experiences and (existentially) my self better than I ever could have imagined. In remembering and constructing the elements of this memoir helped me to gain a much deeper sense of my self—who I am and what I’ve been through—than I ever thought possible. It was an amazing spiritual experience and nothing yet in my life has come close to rivaling its intensity and benefit.
What is the tone of the book? Satire? Humor? Informative?
This book shifts between emotions, whether it is humor, anger, sadness, or excitement. In that it is a memoir it shifts between all human emotions as I tell different scenes. I think that Meantime is also informative, but I would say that the tone is predominately emotive (or emotional), and the tone fluxes and shifts according to whatever emotion the memory evoked in me as I was writing it.
Where can the book be bought?
The hard copy book can be bought on Amazon or through my publisher’s website, refryedpublishing.com. The audiobook can be bought on Audible.com or iTunes. The eBook can be bought on Kindle, Nook, Kobo, Diesel, Smashwords.com, refryedpublishing.com, or my website, stephenpaulregister.com
Where can people learn more about you and your work?
You can learn more about me at my website, stephenpaulregister.com; on my website I have some free poems and a short biography, etc. And you can learn more about Meantime in particular at my publisher’s website, refryedpublishing.com. Also, here are links to two TV interviews I’ve done on Youtube: http://youtu.be/wFSXd4YTE_Y and http://youtu.be/4zfMZ1J_NdM. And there are also three clips on Youtube of the audiobook version of Meantime: http://youtu.be/NJgfQHcdbjc, http://youtu.be/iHmuC6fElz8, and http://youtu.be/SOMnRhoTWTo. I also have a pretty extensive author’s bio on Goodreads.com.