I just got off the phone with Austin, Texas. Specifically, with Jeff Salamon, who was interviewing me for a feature in the Austin-American Statesman. It was my first phone-interview, and Jeff was great. He had all his questions lined up, very pro, and seemed like a great guy.

At one point, he mentioned that, in Victory Square, Gavra packs up his most valued records: “The Velvet Underground, Pink Floyd, and Elton John.” Jeff asked which one Olen would be listening to. When I said, “The Velvet Underground, of course,” he enthusiastically agreed, and I knew we were on the same page.

But phone interviews are funny things. I’ve only done this by email before, and email is so precise. I have as much time as I like to answer in detail, check my facts, etc. But as soon as I hung up with Jeff, I kept thinking, “I should’ve said this, not that.” But it’s gone now. Jeff recorded the interview, and whatever I babbled is now for posterity (or at least whatever makes it to the paper).

One interesting thing is that (as Kevin Holtsberry is doing), Jeff read the books in order as he prepared for the interview. Because of that, he noticed repetitions that, in fact, I wasn’t even aware of. Generously, he didn’t mark them up to sloppy writing, but asked what I meant by repeating certain phrases from book to book. They were interesting catches, the kind that an astute reader would read something larger into, and I found myself floundering at moments.

Eventually, I explained that, on the book-a-year schedule, where I finish one book and immediately start another, it’s hard to get my head completely out of one and into the next. Unconscious repetitions, then, inevitably abound.

Does that mean that they mean nothing? (He didn’t ask this, but I sort of asked it myself, embarrassed.) Perhaps not. One of the pleasures of writing is discovering all the parallels and hidden motifs you never realized you were writing. Now that he’s pointed some of them out, I want to go back and read them myself, to find out if the parallel trajectories actually work. They might not…who knows?

Anyway, it was an excellent experience, and Jeff made it a pleasure. I’ll post here when the story goes up.

(Originally posted at the Contemporary Nomad)