Mysteries, comedy, and atmospheric Irish golf abound in Everyone Here Is From Somewhere Else, a stand-alone novel that also continues the stories of Phillip and Spencer Elliot first explored in the novel Mr. Wizard. The author Jeff Wallach talks to Book Glow about the novel.
It’s an irreverent treasure hunt in which two brothers search for meaning, and it’s meant to answer questions such as who are we, how did we get here, how are we connected, and what’s up with golf and fishing?
What led you to write it?
After finishing my first novel, Mr. Wizard, I turned my attention to a new writing project that just wasn’t taking. I realized that I wasn’t quite done with the characters, particularly Phillip and Spencer Elliot, from the first book. I had a few more adventures in store for them, and was particularly interested in the backstories of some of the older characters who weren’t as well covered in Mr. Wizard. So the new book goes both forward and backward in the lives of these people, and some new surprises reveal themselves.
How long did it take to write?
The first draft took maybe six or seven months and I revised and honed it for about another year.
Do you prefer writing in one genre over another?
I like to say that my career as a journalist was easier because I didn’t have to make up quotes or facts, but that being a novelist is more fun because I get to make everything up.
What book most influenced your life?
I’ve always been a huge fan of John Irving’s The World According To Garp, which is magical in its ability to be uproariously funny and dishearteningly sad, sometimes simultaneously. And it tells the story of what it might be like to be a writer.
Where do you write?
I have an office in our house that overlooks the sidewalk and street out front. While I work I see all our neighbors and other folks going about their business but because the house is raised up a little they can’t see me. Sometimes I say hello to people I’ve watched go past the house for years and they have no idea who I am.
Is there any one thing that especially frustrates you about the writing process?
We live in a very difficult world for writers who are not Stephen King, in which once we finish the complex and tiring work of writing our books then we have to spend a lot more time and energy promoting, marketing, and selling them—exactly the kinds of tasks we became writers to avoid.
Any advice for novice writers?
I’m sorry to say, but this is no way to make a living. Have a solid back-up plan or a side hustle, or find a patron, or marry rich, or have wealthy, supportive parents. Live a life of great interest and variety, travel whenever and however possible, read like an addict, and try to get some work done every single day. I love this quote from Richard Bausch, who said: “At the end of the day one question: did I work? If the answer is yes, no other questions.”
Hard to tell just yet. Once I’m done with a few months of promoting Everyone Here it’ll be back to work as usual. I’ll need to decide between finishing a short story collection that’s nearly complete, revising a previously written novel, starting one of two new books I have in mind, or . . . do you have any suggestions?