Friday, July 30, 2010

Interview with Brendan Halpin

Remember my blog contest was extended to MONDAY August 2!  There's still time to enter and you can get more point by tweeting about it more than once.  You aslo get 3 points for referring someone to the blog.

One of the MYSTERY Boxes will contain The Half Life of Planets.  As you know by now I loved this books. 

I contacted Brendan Halpin about the book and asked him if I could include use all my geeky questions as an interview for my blog.  He very nicely said yes.

A little background on Brendan, he used to be a teacher and wrote a memoir on teaching.  He left teaching to write full time.  He's written 9 books.

Losing My Faculties: A Teacher's Story   

How Ya Like Me Now

Donorboy: A Novel

Dear Catastrophe Waitress

Forever Changes

It Takes a Worried Man

Long Way Back

I Can See Clearly Now

Two of Us

Please check out his blog. 

ME: My biggest fear is that in my book(s) get published and my school system fires me. Was that a concern of yours?  

BH: I was kind of concerned when the books came out about people reading them and what they might think.  When I did my tell-all book about teaching, I disguised the names of the districts and people, and while people who saw themselves in the book were mightily pissed, the place where I worked didn't care about it at all.  I think, sadly, it takes a lot of effort to get people to read your books, and if you don't tell people about them, they may not even know.  I don't toot my own horn about it too much at work because I don't want people I work with to think I'm all "ooo, I'm a wriiiiiiter!".  Even though I kind of am like that.  But I don't want anybody to think I'm like that.  

ME: How did you finally take that leap of leaving teaching and writing full time?

BH: And I actually did leap back into teaching two years ago. I work in a nonprofit with 18-24 year olds now, so I'm no longer teaching high school, but full time writing is a tough thing to pay your bills with.  Also I got kind of squirrely not seeing people all day.  Also I needed an excuse for not doing as much housework as I should, and being out of the house for 9 hours at a time is a pretty good one.  Whereas being in the house all day and still not cleaning is a bit tough to explain to the spouse. 

ME: How much research did you have to do to create Hank or was he based off of someone in your own life?   

BH: So I do have a close family friend with Aspergers that I've known since birth.  Hank isn't really modeled on him, but I guess inspired by him.

ME:How long does it take you to write a novel, on average?

BH: When I was writing full time, it took me about three months to write a novel. Now it takes significantly longer than that. 

ME:What novel was your personal favorite?

BH: Which novel was my favorite-- you mean of the ones I've written?  I don't know.  I mean, I probably liked the characters in Donorboy the most.  And I like the ending of Long Way Back the most.  And Forever Changes is the only one that doesn't have a single sentence that makes me cringe when I re-read it. 

ME: How was it working with a co writer?  Did you flesh out the plot ahead of time? How did that whole thing work?  Was it as lonely as writing a book, was it nice to have someone to talk to or was there more pressure to "get it right?"  Was it easier because you had only had half of the book to write? 

Working with a co-writer is cool-we kind of sketched out the general plan ahead of time and then just traded chapters.  We have pretty different working styles--Emily is a planner and I'm an improvisor, so I think it was a good stretch for both of us.  Also, with working full-time, owing someone a chapter is a pretty good motivator to get some writing done, so that fit very well with my current life.  It's definitely nice in that it's not as lonely as writing on your own.  And yeah, I guess it's easier to write only half a book.  But then you have to split the paycheck, and that's kind of painful.

I want to thank Brendan Halpin for his time and for being awesome.


  1. Great interview! Writing can drive you crazy when you don't see people all day long. Interesting he went back to teach again. Once a teacher, though, right? :)

  2. thanks for the interview! I always dream of being home to write all day, but I think that might drive me a wee bit batty with all the "other" baggage that comes with it!

  3. Yay Erinn, total score! Thanks to Brendan for sharing.

    Love this interview. As a teacher and writer it is interesting to hear this insight.

  4. Great interview! I'm a teacher too and can't imagine not seeing my kids every day.

  5. I have now added Brendan book to my "Have to Read List". He sounds like a really interesting person