David Gates is a novelist, musician, journalist and teacher. His debut, Jernigan (1991), was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize and was shortlisted for the National Book Award. ----more----Another novel, Preston Falls, followed, along with two story collections. We met in London to discuss the second of these, A Hand Reached Down to Guide Me, and also return to Jernigan, both of which have been published in the United Kingdom by Serpent's Tail. We met at their London offices, beneath a slightly noisy fan, which I have tried to limit in the recording.
We began by talking about Rhinebeck, the small town in Upstate New York that is the setting for 'Banishment', which opens the new book.
From there, we moved to:
his idyllic upbringing in Clinton, Connecticut
hunting, deer and totaled cars
interviews and teaching literature
'I am more comfortable explaining other writers than I am trying to explain myself'
which writer made David Gates want to write?
'At high school I wanted to be a writer as opposed to wanting to write'
how Gates started to write
'It was a case of wanting to write, and needing to write. God that sounds so pretentious'
hate mail, Newsweek and journalism
Gates' first, unpublished, novel
'I was a dedicated writer for 11 years before Jernigan was published'
'You don't think there is an element of self-portraiture in these things?'