What first inspired you to write or who inspired you?
Both my parents were teachers and avid lovers of the arts. As a young boy I remember playing all the time. I didn’t need much - blocks, Legos, art supplies, a football or a Wiffle Ball bat. But I also remember buckets and buckets of books in my room and my mom’s classroom and visiting the Rochambeau Library up the street from where I grew up and that’s not to mention my dad’s bookshelf. He was a director and a theater professor at RISD when I was growing up and I remember discovering all these voices in the worlds of Tennessee Williams, Edward Albee, Arthur Miller, Artaud. The readings with my mom always tended to be a little lighter: Chris Van Allsburg, Lowis Lowry, Eric Carle, “The True Story Of The Three Little Pigs,” “The Giving Tree,” “Where The Sidewalk Ends.” But then she left out a John Grisham book in the kitchen one summer and I remember reading that when everyone went to bed. I had the Pawtucket Red Sox game quiet on my radio to hide my audible gasps of suspense. I think it was “The Client.” I was like ten or eleven years old. Ha. But of course, there was one other member of my family, and that was Bob Dylan. I grew up in a household where his writing was more important than Shakespeare. Or the Shakespeare of our time, but nonetheless, um, vital learning let’s say. Of course there were his classics from the sixties, and there his writing imitated and honored and birthed from the greats - Brecht and Rimboud and William Blake and Ginsberg and honestly, the Bible – but my favorite growing up was “Blood On the Tracks” because it felt like I was getting closer to Bob Dylan himself. But then in college I’d say the playwrights that really affected me, their philosophy, their style, their voice were probably Samuel Beckett, Sarah Kane, Howard Barker, Annie Baker, Sarah Ruhl, Stephen Adley Guirgis.
At what age did you know you wanted to be a writer?
I guess I grew up thinking I was going to be a quarterback like Joe Montana or a shortstop like Omar Vizquel but I was always too much in my own head not to do something creative. When Dad ran the theater department at RISD, I always wanted to be on set talking to the actors, handling the tools, trying on the costumes, watching from the wings and every angle of the auditorium. In high school, my grandmother passed away from Alzheimers and then shortly after my best friend died in the Station Night Club fire, and writing really became my retreat, my solace, my safe place. I’d write furiously. And then throw it in the trash. And start over. It wasn’t until after my mom and dad passed that I found a lot of these early writings. My mom had gone into the trash and saved them. I mean, I guess she knew I’d need them eventually or want them. And of course, she was right. There were also notes I wrote to Santa Claus. Those were great to read. They make me look like I was an easy child. I was not. But to answer your question, it might not just be writing, but I like working with a creative element. I’ve painted in the past and really enjoyed it but my true passion, and I’m definitely hoping to get back to it now that Room For Grace is completed and published, is working on the stage and on film. I really want to work outside of my own writing, to work in somebody else’s world and in an ensemble again.
READ THE REST OF THE INTERVIEW WITH “ECCENTRIC BOOK-A-HOLIC” HERE