HIGH AS THE HORSES” BRIDLES
1. What is your name?
Hey there, interviewer, my name is Scott Cheshire–that’s Cheshire like the Cat. You can’t imagine how many times I’ve said that when asked to please repeat my name, and the response has been what cat?
2. What is the title of your new book?
The title of my book, my first novel, is High as the Horses’ Bridles. It’s a phrase I like very much, and I can say that because I stole it from someone else.
3. When was the book published and by whom?
July 8, 2014, by Henry Holt and Co.
4. What other books have you authored?
I have authored no other books. Not yet. But I will. Many. I have authored short stories, like this one, which is quite old, but I’m not yet ashamed of it, and all the others are inconveniently available only in print.
5. What section should this new book be shelved under?
It should be shelved under the letter “C” in “Fiction,” and is often not very far, just a book or two, away from my good friend Bill Cheng, which makes me happy. We are close, always, somewhere.
6. What is the book about? What is its plot, focus, or subject?
Some tell me the book is about an estranged father and son, and that son returning home to take care of his ailing dad. And that’s true. Others tell me it’s all about the birth and loss of faith. Which is also true. Some (mostly me) say it’s about time, and how people make meaning through how we imagine time works. All of it true, plus I’m open to other readings.
7. How did this book come about?
Well, I grew up in a very religious home but left that world and then wrote about everything under the sun but that world for about fifteen years. And then one day I had a dream, a dream of the former world, and I wondered why, why now? So I started writing, which eventually became the story of a man trying to run from his own family only to return to them.
8. What was the hardest thing for you about writing/creating this book?
I think most first novels draw significantly from the writer’s life, which seems obvious, but then again I would hazard a guess that this is how it is with all novels. All good novels anyway. I don’t mean autobiography. I mean the writer’s subjective experience of being human. And so I guess the most difficult thing about writing this book was translating my own experience into a more open (dare I say universal?) portrait of humanity.
9. What was the easiest thing for you about writing/creating this book?
The cover art. I had nothing to do with it, and it was the very first thing the artist showed me. I said yes. And the book was born thus into the world.
10. Who are some of the authors (or artists) you admire that have inspired you?
I do a lot of rereading. The writers I reread most are probably Ralph Emerson, Don DeLillo, and Flannery O’Connor. I love Donald Barthelme, Max Frisch, and Marilynne Robinson. I read lots of poetry: Kay Ryan, Mary Ruefle, Elizabeth Bishop, Wallace Stevens. But if I’m honest, I’m mostly inspired by non-fiction, by history, philosophy, theology, anything that spurs my imagination, no matter how wooden or badly written, as long as it gets me thinking, wondering, and questioning my own assumptions.
11. If it were entirely up to you, what would the film adaptation of your book look like?
Paul Thomas Anderson is one of the most exciting and writer-ish directors around, and his preoccupations seem sympathetic to mine. So I choose you to direct, Mr. Anderson. Then again, I had lunch with someone recently who, thankfully, really enjoyed my book and suggested that Ross McElwee, the amazing documentary filmmaker, should direct the movie—that, in fact, it should be his first non-documentary feature film. I would be honored! And speaking of preoccupations, McElwee, and I, and Josie Laudermilk (the narrator of my book) certainly have one in common: the mislaid quest. We embark on searches to find one thing, only to find something else entirely.
12. What are you working on now?
I’m working on a new novel, something of a thriller, an inverted thriller. It takes place in New York and Atlanta, so far, anyway, and is the story of a father whose daughter goes missing. I also seem to be reading a lot lately about evil, and the devil, and how our conception of evil has changed so drastically in the last century or so, even within this very generation, and so it’s shaping up to be a pretty dark book. A little bit funny, too, I think. But dark. This seems to be my way.
Scott Cheshire received his MFA from Hunter College. His novel High as the Horses” Bridles is published by Henry Holt.
Questions by PMc Magazine
Photography Courtesy of Henry Holt and Co.
Design by Francesca Rimi
Cover of High as the Horses” Bridles & Scott Cheshire Author Photo, Photography Courtesy of Henry Holt and Co.