Meet the Author: Michael Kimball
Baltimore author Michael Kimball's third novel, Dear Everybody, is a collection of letters, diary entries, lists, news articles and other snippets that document the sad life and tragic end of a TV weatherman. Kimball, 41, grew up in Michigan and lived in New York City before moving here about three years ago with his wife, who teaches literature at the University of Maryland, College Park. They live in Charles Village. We asked him about his book and writing.
How Dear Everybody was born: I had just finished a novel and had written one letter -- it's about apologizng for standing someone up on a date and wondering whether life would have turned out different if the date had happened. Over a week or 10-day period, I wrote about 100 letters. Then I did it again, and I had over 200 letters. Then I wrote the intro and the last will and testament.
On outlines: I try not to have a planned outline. I try not to know how something’s going to end.
On writing in snippets: I was trying to make each fragment its own finished piece. But I needed the readers, and wanted the readers, to supply certain things. I showed a few pages to a friend who writes here in Baltimore and he said, "You can’t do this."
On organizing the book: I had about 400 fragments on different pieces of paper spread out in my dining room. Every flat surface was covered. I was pacing around the room, getting down on the floor ... but over a few days it came together. It was quite surprising; some [fragments] moved several years in the narrative.
On facts and voice: I did a fair amount of reading on clinical disorders in DSM4 [the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders] and in case studies. There's different language in play there, sentences are formed in different ways. ... I even took my character to three different clinical psychologists. I said, "Here’s his life, here’s what happened, what is the diagnosis?" Just to be sure I wasn’t wrong.
On his sometime day job, editing textbooks: One thing I like about it is it doesn't use any of the fiction-writing part of my brain.
Last read: I just finished Oven Man by Jeff Parker, it's a slacker novel and is pretty great.
Coming on Read Street. On Wednesday, Nancy will interview Nicholas Sparks after watching the movie Nights in Rodanthe, an adaptation of his novel. If you have questions for Sparks -- about the movie, his novels or any other topic -- just leave a comment here for Nancy.