Guest blogging with Robert Steven Williams, author of ‘My Year As a Clown’
ABOUT MY YEAR AS A CLOWN
Silver Medal Winner for Popular Fiction from the Independent Publisher Book Awards.
With My Year as a Clown, Williams introduces us to Chuck Morgan, a new kind of male hero—imperfect and uncertain—fumbling his way forward in the aftermath of the abrupt collapse his 20-year marriage.
Initially, Chuck worries he’ll never have a relationship again, that he could stand in the lobby of a brothel with a hundred dollar bill plastered to his forehead and still not get lucky. But as his emotionally raw, 365-day odyssey unfolds, Chuck gradually relearns to live on his own, navigating the minefield of issues faced by the suddenly single—new routines, awkward dates, and even more awkward sex.
Edited by Joy Johannessen (Alice Sebold, Michael Cunningham, Amy Bloom), My Year As a Clown will attract fans of the new breed of novelists that includes Nick Hornby, Jonathan Tropper and Tom Perrotta. Like others in that distinguished group, Robert Steven Williams delivers a painfully honest glimpses into the modern male psyche while writing about both sexes with equal ease and grace in a way that’s both hilarious and heartbreaking at the same time.
Lolly Winston’s Good Grief was one book that greatly influenced the writing of my novel. Lolly’s a tremendous writer and what I loved about that book is how it slowly unraveled, like peeling an onion, and along the way you got a much deeper understanding of the relationship between this woman and her now deceased husband.
Whether it’s a divorce, a death, a lay-off, or a natural disaster, any event that disconnects you from what appears to be reality has a profound impact. I loved how Lolly showed this impact versus telling us that this death made this woman a bit crazy.
I tried to do the same with Chuck, the protagonist of my novel. I wrote My Year as a Clown in first person, present tense to give the reader that immediate sense of happening, the way one feels in the front car of a rollercoaster. First person also allows the writer to play with what we call the unreliable narrator – we’re hearing this from Chuck direct and what he says and what he thinks isn’t always what’s really happening. Although this is challenging for a writer to pull-off, when done well, it is highly effective in misdirecting the reader.
Of course at some point you need to set the record straight and that’s not easily done in first person, but through letters, emails and conversation, you can create that sense of: this guy isn’t seeing this for what’s really going down.
I set out to write an honest book, not a novel that was factually correct. It’s not a memoir, but of course some of the situations may have happened in some fashion. A novelist must stay consistent with emotional truths, but facts are irrelevant.
A lot of novels about relationships are categorized as Chick-Lit, since most are written by women, there really is no such thing as Guy-Lit or as some have crassly dubbed it: Dick-Lit. A great book about relationships is worthy of more than a cheap, commercial catch-phrase regardless of whether it’s written by a guy or gal.
I didn’t write My Year as a Clown to fit into any genre or marketing classification, I simply set out to write an honest story that was entertaining, and yet hopefully provoked thought about relationships as well as how men and women often see things differently.
Thanks so much for taking allowing me to reach out to your readers and talk about My Year as a Clown.
ABOUT ROBERT STEVEN WILLIAMS
Since leaving the music-biz executive ranks, Robert Steven Williams has put in his 10,000 hours. His first novel, My Year as a Clown, released on the indie imprint Against the Grain Press, received the silver medal for popular fiction from the Independent Publisher Book Awards in 2013.
Robert was also a finalist in the Raymond Carver Short Story Contest and was awarded the Squaw Valley Writers Community Thayer Scholarship. His short fiction has appeared in Carve Magazine, The Orange Coast Review, and the anthology Tall Tales and Short Stories Volume II.
He was the executive producer of the critically acclaimed BOOM! Studios CBGB Comic series. He wrote story seven in Book 3. In August of 2011, the series was nominated for a Harvey Award for Best Anthology.
He’s attended Bread Loaf, Sewanee and the Squaw Valley Writers’ Conferences. He’d worked closely with the esteemed fiction writer, Barry Hannah.
Robert’s work has also appeared in Poets & Writers Magazine, Billboard, USA Today and LetterPress, a newsletter for writers. He is co-author of the best-selling business book, The World’s Largest Market.
Robert Steven Williams is also a musician and songwriter. In 2005 he released the critically acclaimed CD “I Am Not My Job,” featuring Rachel Z (Peter Gabriel, Wayne Shorter) and Sloan Wainwright. He studied songwriting with Rosanne Cash, Jimmie Dale Gilmore, and several top country writers. The song, The Jersey Cowboy, was featured on NPR’s Car Talk. Robert was the subject of the documentary by Jason Byrd Round Peg, Square Hole.