Brian Kimberling

How did you become a writer?

Partly through a literary arms race with the neighbor girl. If she wrote a poem about a chain link fence I had to write one too; when she wrote a gruesome medical scene I had to follow suit. She’s had 3 novels published now, and I’m on 2. But she’s 6 months older.

Also, everybody in my orbit as a child was a voracious reader. Becoming such myself was probably crucial to developing a penchant for writing later.

Name your writing influences (writers, books, teachers, etc.).

Carolyn Baugh, neighbor girl and author above. Peter Taylor, Katherine Anne Porter, and Frank O’Connor. Salinger. Much later Tessa Hadley. I’ve been accused of writing with a pointillistic style, whatever that means — I think it comes from revering the compression and economy of the short story above all else. I had to grow up to learn that character and feelings are important too.

When and where do you write? 

Sporadically in the kitchen. This has changed over the years. My first book, Snapper, was written in a garage with a pool table in the southern English countryside. I could watch cows out the window, take a few shots on the pool table, and then go write a paragraph or smoke a cigarette or both. I’m amazed that book got written, let alone quickly and easily, but the truth is that shooting pool alone is pretty boring. My second book, Goulash, took much longer and was written in a variety of dwellings.

What are you working on now? 

A long narrative in 3rd person. May sound vague but both my previous books have been first person faux memoirs. In 3rd I’m enjoying the omniscience and the ability to condescend to my characters. But it’s best not to say much more about it until it’s complete.

Have you ever suffered from writer’s block? 

No, I don’t think so. I suffer heavily from procrastination and distraction and some other things.  There have been times when I was too stricken by one thing or another to work. But I don’t think I’ve ever felt blocked per se. I am however often unwilling to do the sheer amount of work writing involves — at least the way I do it — false starts and dead ends and starting all over again.

What’s the best writing advice you’ve ever received?

Don’t shine. Don’t seek to shine. Burn. (Richard Mitchell)

What’s your advice to new writers?

Writing is hard work! Don’t forget that or let anyone persuade you otherwise.

Brian Kimberling grew up in southern Indiana and spent several years working in the Czech Republic, Mexico, and Turkey before settling in England. Snapper, his first novel, was published by Pantheon in 2013, and Goulash, his second, by the same imprint in 2019.