Interview with Charlie Suisman, Author of Arnold Falls
07 Apr 2020
What can you tell us about your new release, Arnold Falls?
Arnold Falls is a fictional small town in upstate New York that, in its long and not-very-glorious history, has attracted all kinds of oddball characters into its fold. Nothing ever goes quite right in Arnold Falls. There are frequent hailstorms, even when it’s sunny out, the local moonshine is popular (though periodically lethal), and there’s a lot of nostalgia for the town’s heyday when it was full of bordellos. The novel takes us to a recent autumn, in which the town may elect its first woman mayor, there’s a threat of a polluting factory being built, and a beloved turkey named Chaplin is at risk of Thanksgiving. There’s love in the air, too. I hope the book is funny and that readers grow fond of the characters.
What or who inspired you to become an author?
Books have always been an essential part of my life. Writing a novel seemed unimaginable until some of the characters in the book began insinuating themselves into my thoughts. After a while they began making me laugh, so I took notes.
What’s on your top 5 list for the best books you’ve ever read?
Tough question because I can answer that in so many different ways with completely different books. But I’ll go with The Book of Ebenezer Le Page by G. B. Edwards, Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell, The Code of the Woosters by P. G. Wodehouse, The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro, and Slouching Towards Bethlehem by Joan Didion.
Say you’re the host of a literary talk show. Who would be your first guest? What would you want to ask?
Is this living or dead? If so, Shakespeare, of course. If current, Anne Tyler. I’d want to ask Anne Tyler whether she thinks people will still be reading novels in a hundred years. I’d like to ask Shakespeare a lot of really personal questions.
What’s your favorite thing about writing?
When I realize there’s a connection between two characters that I didn’t understand before.
What is a typical day like for you?
I write in the very early morning, walk my dog, do my day job of publishing Manhattan User’s Guide, reread what I wrote earlier, toss it out, and try again.
What scene in Arnold Falls was your favorite to write?
There’s a scene where Aunt Doozy, the 93-year-old daughter of a bordello madam, is having lunch in New York City at the Oyster Bar with one of her closest friends. Doozy tells her pal something she’s never told anyone. This scene almost wrote itself — I could hear the dialogue so clearly.
Do you have a motto, quote or philosophy you live by?
Not a specific motto, but I find a little kindness goes a long way.
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