Somewhere in between writing a book that became an Oscar-nominated movie, deciding what lucky student will win a $500 scholarship, and just generally being awesome, Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close author Jonathan Safran Foer found the time to answer some of YOUR questions.
Read on for his answers, and if you haven’t already, be sure to submit your coming-of-age story for a chance to win a $500 scholarship from Figment and Zinch (JSF is the judge!). You can also read an excerpt of Extremely Loud here on a Figment for a limited time!
Cassy Blue: How involved where you in the making of the movie your book?
Not really involved at all. I didn’t write the screenplay; I didn’t consult about the story. I did at the very end come in to help a bit with what is called voice over, but I didn’t feel any kind of proprietary relationship to the material. It didn’t bother me when they strayed from the book. i thought that was a perfectly appropriate and even necessary thing to do. I was much more of an onlooker than a participant.
Was there any particular professor or teacher who inspired you to go on the writing track?
Absolutely. Joyce Carol Oates was a professor of mine in college, and it’s hard to imagine having become a writer if I hadn’t met her. She’s the first person ever to encourage me in that direction, to take my writing seriously.
Elizaveta: What’s your advice on creating believable and strong enough emotions for your characters?
To follow your own lead. There is nobody out there who can tell you if you’re doing something right. you have to fall back on your own sense of what’s authentic, or what’s funny, or whatever it is you’re trying to do. The most that you can ever know is if it does it for you.
Holly Blackwood: As you have written both fictional and nonfictional books, I’d like to ask, how does your writing process differ when writing fiction and nonfiction?
Totally. When writing fiction, I have no destination in mind. It’s much more of an exploration. And when I’m writing [non]-fiction, I do have a destination in mind. So, I will do research, for example, which I don’t do with fiction. I will reign in my curiosity or instincts in the interest of staying in line with the book, which I would never do with fiction. In fiction if I have the desire to stray, I will always stray.
Rose Granger-Weasley: Who is your favorite philosopher? Writer? Person?
My kids are my favorite people, but they’re not writers. Yet. I don’t know that I necessarily believe in that notion of favorite writer, exactly. I like different writers at different times. Different writers in different ways, different moods. I don’t really think of it that way.
When you write, what do you think about first?
What I wrote the day before. I usually begin by going back over what I already have.
If you weren’t a writer, what would you be?
I always said I’d be a doctor, actually. It always appealed to me…The good of what a doctor does is so obvious. Just playing a role in peoples’ lives–saving lives. Not just playing a role.
Buckets of thanks to Jonathan for answering our questions!!! And if you haven’t already, you still have time to have your coming-of-age story read by Mr. JSF (and to win a $500 scholarship)! Head over to our Zinch scholarship page…