5Qs with Robert Dunbar

Q: When did you first consider yourself a writer?

A: Growing up, I had younger brothers (and innumerable small cousins) and always told them stories, especially after dark, and I remember my audience grew especially enthusiastic during thunderstorms. Long before hitting my teens, I’d started writing these stories down. By the time I’d had a play produced at a little “experimental” theater and some poetry published in a couple of journals, my identity was pretty well fixed. At twenty-something, I could hear the self-conscious catch in my voice when I told people about my work. It wasn’t until after my first book was published that I detected a note of confidence whenever I announced, “I’m a writer.”

Q: What is the hardest part of writing?

A: The starvation.

Q: How did you feel upon publication of your first completed project?

A: Nauseated and traumatized. Without my knowledge, an editor had hacked the novel to pieces, something I didn’t discover until I actually held the published book in my hands. A moment that should have been a thrill … became a nightmare. Over the years, all my dealings with that publisher were pretty much in line with this experience.

Still, there were compensations, like the moment when I realized I’d never be an unpublished novelist again. And a restored version of the book was eventually published to considerable critical acclaim, and it is currently in its tenth edition. Ah, validation!

Q: In addition to writing, what else are you passionate about?

A: Reading. Never trust a writer who isn’t.

Q: If you could ask any author, living or dead, one question, what would it be?

A: You mean like if I could go back in time? I’d probably want to ask Rupert Brooke for his phone number.

I’ll explain when you’re older.

Robert Dunbar has written for television and radio, for newspapers and magazines. He is the author of the novels WILLY, THE PINES and THE SHORE and the collection MARTYRS & MONSTERS. His most recent project is the novella WOOD.

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