Interview With Aidan Donnelley Rowley, Author of The Ramblers
19 Feb 2016
The Ramblers is a love letter to New York City and a tale of three thirty-something friends during one life-changing week. Ultimately, the book is an ode to being thoughtfully lost; it forces us to realize that sometimes the best things in life come when we allow ourselves to ramble, to lose our way.
What books do you find yourself returning to again and again?
Here Is New York by E. B. White. An inspiration for The Ramblers, this slim book captures New York City brilliantly. Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott is my writing (or I should say struggling-with-writing) bible. The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion. A breathtaking and raw meditation on time and grief.
What makes your world go round? Why does it bring you joy?
Writing is my passion and brings me tremendous joy, but I must say family. I’m one of five daughters and come from an incredibly close family. My husband and I are now raising three daughters of our own. Before becoming a mother, I worried about the effect kids would have on creativity and productivity, but as it turns out, my girls are my true muses; life is utter chaos, but these girls inject my life with light and laughter and remind me what matters.
What’s your favorite thing about writing?
The discovery part. I sit down to write one thing, but something else comes out. I love bringing characters to life and crafting stories, but the surprises are the best; waking up with a jolt at 4am with an epiphany about my protagonist – or about myself. I also love how writing can be a much-needed escape from the real world. I’m prone to anxiety and when I’m writing, stress, in all its ugly iterations, melts away.
What inspired you to start Happier Hour Literary Salons?
I started my salons in 2010 when I was about to publish my first novel Life After Yes, as a way to engage with other authors and book-lovers. At the time, I also had two babies underfoot and was longing for my college seminar days where we’d sit around and talk about big, formative ideas. I craved these social/literary evenings for my own sense of identity and sanity and was so pleased to learn that others did too.
What’s your favorite thing about living in New York City?
There are so many things I love, but one is the energy. When I hunker down at a coffee shop to write, I’m keenly aware of the stories and conversations and stories bubbling around me, the soundtrack of life, the electric pulse of kindred strangers, who are here, living their lives and also their dreams. Whenever I’m away from New York City for too long, I find myself missing its rhythms, its unmistakable and incomparable heartbeat.
What’s your favorite quote or scene from The Ramblers?
“History is everything and it is nothing.” This line gets at a central question of the book, namely: Given that we are products of our childhoods and our genetics and our past, can we ever truly start over? Is it really up to us to create ourselves and re-create ourselves or do our histories determine the bounds of our evolution?
Do you have a motto, quote or philosophy you live by?
I love Annie Dillard’s line, “How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.” I try to remember this in the busy blur of the everyday, that each moment, each hour, each day, matters, and added together, makes up a life. I work to stuff my days with things that mean a lot to me – time with family and friends, quality time with books and the blank page, but there are also those frittered-away slices of time thanks to the Internet and its brethren distractions. That’s life.
Aidan Donnelley Rowley is the author of the new book The Ramblers.Buy The Book
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