Next Big Thing: Daniel Story
“The Next Big Thing” Interview Series is an expanding blog project of author interviews that spans the world. Last week, I tagged Daniel Story; his interview follows below. You can find Daniel’s poetry online (Richard & Maria poems to boot!) at the wonderful journals BOXCAR Poetry Review and DIAGRAM.
What is your working title of your book?
I’m afraid I don’t really have one. Richard and Maria Fall in Love? A Story About Chess?
Where did the idea come from for the book?
The very first spark came from Jorge Luis Borges’s Garden of Forking Paths and David Ives’s Sure Thing—it was originally just one poem, in three parts, with the relationship taking different directions in each part. The second spark (which has continued to spark over and over again) is storytelling: what stories we tell to other people, and why, and when.
What genre does your book fall under?
Poetry? Right now it’s all short-short-form prose, but I approach each piece as a poem. I thought about how to identify the genre—and what it would mean for the work—for a long time, and then I stopped because it just made me anxious.
Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
This question really puzzled me. I’ve spent years with these characters, and I had a hard time imagining other people inhabiting them. Maybe Christian Coulson as Richard and Catalina Sandino Moreno as Maria? They’d need to be a little less pretty. Jean Reno, aged a bit and plus some weight, would make a great Borges.
What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
A neurotic, bookish boy and a mischievous, bookish girl fall in love at the University of Chicago, and then things get weird; also, there are trains.
How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
Lawrence Booth’s Book of Visions by Maurice Manning and The Physics of Imaginary Objects by Tina May Hall. Company K by William March.
Who or what inspired you to write this book?
I really wanted to write a story about a romantic relationship that ended but was not a failure or a tragedy—that is, the relationship breaks painfully, but is yet a good thing to have happened to both characters. I also wanted to mess around a bit with the stereotype of the uptight boy and the uninhibited girl that “saves” him. I think Richard’s uptightness and Maria’s playfulness both come from fairly dark places, and that each does something curious and positive for the other person.
What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
A chess board eight city blocks wide; two blind librarians; sex presented in terms of particle physics; secret names; a little miracle in an old cellar.