Beneath The Coyote Hills … …explores the influence of choice and chance in our lives. Do we control our own destiny or is it dictated in part by mysterious forces beyond our control? Tommy Aristophanos is a luckless man, homeless freegan, fiction writer, and epileptic, who is haunted by grotesque “spell visions” and by his abusive father who returns, quite literally, from the dead. When Tommy’s fictional creation, wealthy and successful V.C. Hoffstatter, emerges from pages of Tommy’s novel to harass him, plucky Tommy fights back. Hoffstatter believes that we author our own destiny, while Tommy’s many reverses and his ailment teach him that we control far less than we imagine. In the book’s final narrative twist, we are left wondering who is the true Pygmalion—Tommy or Hoffstatter? Beneath the Coyote Hills has cost me a sleepless night that I can scarcely afford, and has left me cold with awe at the unwavering skill and subtlety of the narrative. The sheer scope of the author’s imagination, and the almost impossibly delicate poetic weight of his prose, has made the discovery of William Luvaas’s writing one of the genuine joys of my reading year. He is a remarkable writer, comfortably among the finest at work in America today, and this novel is a towering and maybe career-defining achievement, art of the highest order. Billy O’Callaghan, Irish Book Award-winning author of The Things We Lose, the Things We Leave Behind With his third published novel, master storyteller William Luvaas demonstrates once again his remarkable talent for creating over-the-top characters and tragic lives that feel entirely true and believable. And he does so in his signature lyrical style of writing, brilliantly enhanced here by grace notes of hyperbole and humor and anti-heroic irony, juxtaposed with imagery in turn that’s realistic, viscerally affective, and relentless. Clare MacQueen, Publisher of KYSO Flash and editor at Serving House Journal
A work of literary/speculative fiction about our obsession with success and failure and the forces of character and fate that control our lives. The novel enclosed within the novel I am writing takes over and throws things wildly out of control in a bumpy, zany ride which pits a successful business man against a homeless vagabond and takes the reader into wholly unexpected territory. You have never read anything quite like it!
Pretty much full time these days now that I am no longer teaching.
I start writing in the late morning and work until I am "written out," always leaving a little gas in the tank for the next day, as Faulkner advises we do. I work on promo, correspondence, and revision in the evenings. I often work 6-7 days a week, likely about 60 hours.
Because I need to and I am good at it. Thomas Mann advised that we shouldn't attempt to be writers unless we can't live without writing. I agree. It is hard, often frustrating, lonely work...no matter how much success you have. And I have had my share. It is no game for amateurs. We all want an audience, but you must love to write and find much of your gratification at the desk or you won't last.
I have a novel coming out next year: WELCOME TO SAINT ANGEL. It focuses on a zany, determined group of desert dwellers who engage in a madcap campaign to stop developers who want to destroy their high desert home. So it is environmental, even post-apocalyptic fiction, also a wild ride, filled with quirky characters and unexpected events.
I have been concerned by our American obsession with success & failure for years. It burdens the so-called "failures" with self-loathing and despair and burdens the so-called "successes" with hubris and arrogance. It isolates us from others and destroys community--the sense we are all in this together. Ultimately, it leaves us disappointed in life because no one can ever be all they wish to be. We can't seem to accept this. So we keep looking for satisfaction we can't find.
Literary fiction. Call it "literature." It is the great tradition in what has been called "the finest art of thought." I have always wanted to find my own voice and style and to be as good as I possibly can be at my craft. Otherwise why bother?
I spent a lifetime researching this book. Every important thing I know has gone into it.
I have found my voice and developed my own style and gained confidence. I sit down at the desk now pretty certain that I will accomplish something in a day (some days better than others of course). This was not at all the case early on. I was insecure, didn't trust my work, wasn't sure I would accomplish a thing. I have a better sense of my subject matter now--wasn't sure what I wanted to write about early on.
This one came very fast. The transitions in what is rather a complex narrative were challenging at times. There are multiple story lines here and multiple time lines. How to fit all of them together and find balance, that was the big question.
Finding that I could ultimately pull off what is essentially a novel within a novel, with a third internal novel waiting in the wings.
Not this time around. That hasn't been the case with other works.
I think I answer this above.
Definitely a dive-right-in sort. I believe my best work comes out of the subconscious mind. My conscious mind has a hard time keeping up.
A fair amount when a book comes out: at readings, through social media, emails. I enjoy getting reader feedback and discussing both my work and writing with readers...as well as most anything else.
Not directly. But I certainly hope to reach them in some way. I hope my work will speak to them. I am quite gratified when they tell me it has.
When you are starting out, yes. But there is a point at which you must set out on your own and learn to trust yourself: your instincts, your method, your editing skills. I would recommend reading fine writers most of all, learning from them.
Always at some point in the process--usually my editor at the publishing house. It is always a back and forth. Generally, those who publish my work believe in it and don't ask me to reinvent the wheel. But good ones have excellent suggestions about the small things, catch redundancies and pesky little errors that we may miss.
Definitely. Mostly other writers: Faulkner, Dostoyevsky, James Joyce, and many others. An older writer, Frank Dunlap, gave me great advice when I was beginning. And my distinguished friend Steve Minot influenced me until he died recently--or I should say we exchanged ideas about writing and had very helpful discussions. I miss Steve and our talks.
Wow! Where to start? First, be careful. There are a lot of people making bogus promises out there, preying on would-be writers. Thoroughly research anyone who promises to help you promote your book. Don't believe it when someone promises to make your book an instant bestseller. Publishing is a tough business. Most writers sell very few books, even those published by major publishing houses. So beware the hype. I can't go into the ins and outs of marketing here. Your best bet is to buy a couple of good books on marketing and check out their advice. It is a time-consuming process; you must be patient and resourceful and realize that you are competing against millions of other books. Millions!
With Spuyten Duyvil Press, a small publisher with a traditional publishing model. They have a good reputation as a publisher of literary fiction and poetry, but almost no publicity budget. Typical of small presses.
I am not much interested in them myself. Series apply to genre fiction not to general literary fiction such as I write. I always start from scratch--except for one collection of linked stories: Ashes Rain Down, which was the Huffington Post's Book of the Year in 2013.
Any length it needs to be to tell your story.
Yes. I contact the long leads and send a review copy months in advance of publication and short lead reviewers about 2 months before the publication date. Include a short letter with any early praise for the book, which is very important. Blogs can be contacted before or after publication, depending on their policy. This is how traditional publishers do it. There are no tricks, no short cuts. It takes a lot of effort. Self-published books are not reviewed by any of the serious review venues. Some blogs will review them. And you can pay someone to write a review. Don't. These reviews are totally worthless. If you are lucky, you know someone who reviews books. But many of us approach them cold.
Stick with it. Be patient. Don't despair.
It depends on what day you ask me. Today it Mario Vargas Llosa's "Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter."
Not for this book. They can be helpful. But often very expensive. You aren't likely to recoup your investment on book sales. Do-it-yourself book trailers can work if the production values are decent. Be creative!
I am at work on a novel about a woman who is struggling to leave her abusive husband and change her life, putting her own and her son's life in peril.
I just keep on going. The tincture of time helps. Give it a few days--or weeks--the healing happens quietly.
It is like anything else: you gain competence--and mastery--with experience. It takes years to learn how to write well. Don't expect to produce a masterpiece right off the bat. Self confidence comes if you stick with it. The creative person is a curious sort: he/she must have both a big ego and, at the same time, must be insecure. How do you fit these two monkeys in the same cage? It is tough. Most of us tend to swing back and forth between self-assurance and uncertainty. We need the self-assurance to keep going. And the insecurity keeps us from getting smug. It forces us to reach higher. There will be tough days. But there will also be days of joyful gratification.
William Luvaas's new novel, Beneath The Coyote Hills, is forthcoming from Spuyten Duyvil Press (Sept. 15, 2016). He has published two novels, The Seductions of Natalie Bach (Little, Brown) and Going Under (Putnam), and two story collections: A Working Man’s Apocrypha and Ashes Rain Down: A Story Cycle–Huffington Post’s 2013 Book of the Year and a finalist for The Next Generation Indie Book Awards (Short Story)--and has edited an anthology of California writers: Into The Deep End. He has received fellowships from The National Endowment for the Arts, the Ludwig Vogelstein and Edward Albee foundations, and has won Glimmer Train’s Fiction Open Contest, The Ledge Magazine’s Fiction Competition, and Fiction Network’s 2nd National Fiction Competition. His articles, essays and over 50 stories have appeared widely, including in American Fiction, Antioch Review, Blackbird, Cosmopolitan, Glimmer Train, Grain Magazine, North American Review, Short Story, The Sun, Texas Review, The Village Voice & The Washington Post Book World. Ten of his stories have been nominated for The Pushcart Prize. Going Under was nominated for the National Book Critics Circle Award, and A Working Man’s Apocrypha was nominated for the 2008 Los Angeles Times Book Prize. He is online fiction editor for Cutthroat: A Journal of the Arts.
Luvaas’s novels and stories focus on people coping with adversity under difficult circumstances. An apocalyptic wind often blows through his work. Glimmer Train Co-editor, Linda Swanson-Davies, says of his characters: “He manages to make such swerving and impossible lives feel utterly true...even normal.”
Luvaas graduated cum laude from the University of California, Berkeley, and was a student activist. He has an MFA in Creative Writing from San Diego State University. He was the first VISTA Volunteer in Alabama, working for civil rights and economic justice. He has taught creative writing at San Diego State University, U.C.-Riverside, The Writer’s Voice in New York and The UCLA Writing Program. He has worked as a carpenter, pipe maker, window washer, freelance journalist, and Fiction Coordinator for New York State Poets in Public Service. Luvaas has lived in England, Israel, and Spain, and for a year in a primitive cabin he built in a giant stump in the Mendocino County redwoods. He now lives in Los Angeles with his wife, Lucinda, a painter and film maker.