Interview with ‘The Feet Say Run’ Daniel A. Blum
Daniel A. Blum grew up in New York, attended Brandeis University and currently lives outside of Boston with his family. His first novel Lisa33 was published by Viking in 2003. He has been featured in Poets and Writers magazine, Publisher’s Weekly and most recently, interviewed in Psychology Today.
Daniel writes a humor blog, The Rotting Post, that has developed a loyal following.
His latest release is the literary novel, The Feet Say Run.
WEBSITE & SOCIAL LINKS:
About the Book:
At the age of eighty-five, Hans Jaeger finds himself a castaway among a group of survivors on a deserted island. What is my particular crime? he asks. Why have I been chosen for this fate? And so he begins his extraordinary chronicle.
It would be an understatement to say he has lived a full life. He has grown up in Nazi Germany and falls in love with Jewish girl. He fights for the Germans on two continents, watches the Reich collapse spectacularly into occupation and starvation, and marries his former governess. After the war he goes on wildflower expeditions in the Alps, finds solace among prostitutes while his wife lay in a coma, and marries a Brazilian chambermaid in order to receive a kidney from her.
By turns sardonic and tragic and surreal, Hans’s story is the story of all of the insanity, irony and horror of the modern world itself.
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
Q: Thank you so much for this interview, Dan! Can you tell us where you are from?
I grew up in the exotic hinterlands of Long Island, New York.
Q: How did you come up with your title?
The phrase, “The Feet Say Run” is an expression of the ineluctable urge to flee – the fight or flight response. The main character grapples with this feeling at pivotal moments in his life.
Q: They say you can judge a book by its cover. Can you tell us a little about your cover and who designed it?
Hmm. I thought they say you can’t judge a book by its cover. But no matter. Mine was designed by a water-color artist. I had seen her work and admired it. While the novel is quite dramatic and has a full, complicated plot, there is a wistful quality to it, a looking back on a long life, and I wanted that in the cover. So there is “the present” which is the tropical island, the past, represented by the World War II fighter planes.
Q: Can you tell us something about your book that would make me run out and buy it?
If you want a novel that is as difficult to put down as your favorite page-turner, and as nicely written and thought-provoking like a really good literary novel, this is it.
Q: Are there any messages in this book that you want the reader to know about?
I often get asked what the novel, “means”. Many readers, survivors of Literature 101 and its ilk, seemed conditioned to ask this. Yet few novelists go around planting hidden meanings, symbols, like so many Easter Eggs, waiting to be discovered. (Perhaps some modern poets make a habit of this, but if you ask me, it’s a pretty annoying habit.) In my own experience, what a good novelist wants to say, in almost every case, is pretty much right there in the story itself: What it feels like to be alive, to have this odd thing we call consciouness, to have this or that extraordinary experience, to be alive in this time in history and in this particular place.
In The Feet Say Run the plot is intricate and involved, but what it says is not: That humans are capable of extraordinary cruelty and kindness, stupidity and brilliance; that life is chaotic and complex; that this sturdy-seeming thing we call civilization is in truth desperately fragile.
Q: What was your favorite chapter to write and why?
There is a scene in The Feet Say Run that is just after the end of World War II in the ruins of Berlin. The narrator takes his lover to the first concert at the re-opening of the Berling philharmonic. There is still no heat inside. Everyone is more-or-less hungry and in rags. But the settle in to hear a Beethoven symphony, and it fills the narrator with this sea of emotion – grief at the horror of the war and this desire to turn back time, but also a sense that it was truly over, that it was possible again to think about something besides pure survival, to marvel at human achievement instead of human brutality.
Q: Why did you feel you had to write this book?
I’ve been thinking a lot about how a novel is an act of empathy: creating complete, believable characters requires the empathy of the author and appreciating those characters demands the empathy of the reader. As a Jew writer writing an essentially sympathetic portrayal of a German who fought for the Nazis, my book felt in a way like the ultimate act of empathy.
But there is another, simpler explanation: I love writing, spinning a tale, and this was a story that I felt had not really been told.
Q: Now, some fun questions – What deep dark secret would you like to share with us?
Oh, I have a pretty good one: I am also the author, under pseudonym, of Lisa33, which is an avante garde sex comedy set on the internet. I got a received advance for the novel from a prestigious publisher, who then completely failed to market it. So I quickly returned to obscurity. Please don’t ask me about my extensive “research” for that particular book.
Q: If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would it be and why?
So many places I’d love to see. Tahiti in the South Pacific appeals a lot. I like cities and history, but my favorite vacations are all outdoors and full of natural beauty. Add to the a tropical climate and an exotic feeling, great beaches, swimming, boating, diving, and it seems pretty nice.
Q: Are you a morning person or a night person?
Can I be neither? Can I like to sleep late and go to bed early? I think that describes it best.
Q: Are there any members in your family who also like to write?
Yes, if one includes cousins and nephews and so on. My immediate family are all either psychiatrists (father and brother) or psychologists (mother and sister). So I suppose I could either be at least marginally introspective or go crazy.
Q: As a child, were you a dreamer?
I definitely was, and I do think there is a connection between that and later wanting to write.
Q: Last but not least, the magic genie has granted you one wish. What would that be?
Oh dear. I’ll start with the appropriate response: I want my kids to be happy, and to grow up in peaceful and just and merciful world.
But of course the self-absorbed novelist in me also wants a world where every single human goes and reads my books.
Q: Thank you so much for this interview! Do you have any final words?
Thanks much. If I say any more I’ll only further undermine myself, say something impolitic about reviewers, publishers, or otherwise say something else I probably should not. So…we’ll leave it that.