Describe your typical writing day.
These days, I wake up between 2:30 am and 4:30 am, have some coffee, and get to work. But I go to sleep early so I still get plenty of sleep. I try to work on writing for at least four hours a day before I do anything else. The rest of the day is spent with the kids, on my podcast, and on my day job. When I find other times to work on writing during the week, I usually edit or research.
What was the inspiration for THE ANONYMOUS SOURCE - the story behind the story?
I was living in New York City on 9/11 and chose that day to start the book because it was a pivot point for the city and the country. Much of what happened in the years after was a reaction to 9/11, or was at least affected by it. There was the initial shock and fear, then all the events that came after: the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, the protests, heightened security, the Patriot Act. Everyone was talking about 9/11 and everything was changed by it. And yet daily life went on for millions of people in New York City. So I wanted to capture the time period, while not making the book about 9/11.When was the moment you knew you wanted to be an author?
Most of the book takes place in the fall of 2002. I chose that time because the early 2000s were a key period in the country's transition to digital media, which is another backdrop in the book. In 2002, less than half of U.S. homes had Internet access, and three-quarters of the ones that did were using dial up. Remember dial-up? There was no Facebook, no Twitter, no smart phones, and Google was just getting going. The very first iPods were starting to come out. I did historical research to get certain details right, like how much it cost to use a pay phone.
So, I see the time after 9/11 as a transitional period, both because of the wars and other political situations that came after, and because our day-to-day lives were being so rapidly altered by technology.
The very first moment was when I was 13 or 14. I was walking with some friends in the schoolyard and I started feeling like I was observing everything from outside my own experience. Like I was viewing it all not from my perspective or theirs, but from a third angle outside the situation. This turned into a story; I was writing a memoir in my head. Nothing ever came of it but then, in my early twenties, I started writing more seriously. Short stories, screenplays, part of a novel. But this only lasted a couple years. Finally, a few years ago I was at a family Thanksgiving dinner and an uncle introduced me to someone as "a writer." At the time, I was teaching writing at a small college, but not doing much of it myself. I didn't really think of myself as a writer. At that moment I decided to get serious about my own writing.
What are some of the novels that shaped you early on?
There are a handful of books that changed me when I read them. Books that gave me a feeling I haven't forgotten. Books that I can still remember where I was sitting when I finished them. In no particular order: The Grapes of Wrath, The Chamber, Native Son, The Hobbit, The Trial, Mrs. Dalloway, The Glass Bead Game, The Color Purple, The Stranger, Ghostman, All the Pretty Horses. All of these books captivated me, informed me, and changed me.
What is it like having your first book published?
Now that the book is coming out, I feel twenty years younger than I did when I was in the last phases of editing. I spent five months writing the first draft of this book, and 24 months editing and polishing. I learned so much during that process. At some points I found it difficult to keep going because it wasn't just a matter of putting in the hours. To achieve what I wanted in the book, I had to get much better as a writer, and this didn't come easy.
There's a quote about editing I love from S. Kelley Harrell. "Editing is the very edge of your knowledge forced to grow - a test you can't cheat on." Editing isn't just rearranging a few words or making sentences flow a little better, though those are important aspects of it. Editing involves feeling more deeply into your characters and bridging the gap between what you intend, and what your early readers are getting. At times over the last year or so I really struggled with this, with the feeling of falling short of what I was aiming at. And that's why, now that it's done, I feel so much younger.
What does your writing space look like?
Anywhere I am is my writing space. I used to have one set location--a corner of my office with an old iMac. At the beginning, it was helpful to have a steady location. Now, I write at home sometimes and at a coffee shop sometimes. I write in the car, at the beach, and in the grocery store. It's more of a headspace that a physical space.
What is your absolute favorite writing snack?
Since I write early in the morning, before breakfast, I drink coffee. Black. In case I get hungry, I make smoothies at night so I can pull them out of the fridge and go.
When writing, do you outline or let the story take you where it will?
I do a rough outline, usually 12 major turning points in the book. When I write, I aim at those events, but I usually don't know what's going to happen to get me there. With THE ANONYMOUS SOURCE, I didn't know how it was going to end as I wrote it. Because of this, the twists and turns, and the ending, were a surprise to me.
What do you hope readers get from your book?
I wanted to write a book that was fast-paced, fun, and serious at the same time. So I hope that readers will be captivated by the story, entertained by it, but also informed about some of the inner-workings of the media.
Are there other books in the works?
I'm hard at work on the sequel to THE ANONYMOUS SOURCE. It's called THE INVERTED PYRAMID, and I'm aiming for a June 2017 release. There's also a book of short stories and a novella coming out this spring.
What does A.C. Fuller do when he's not writing novels?
These days my time is split between teaching English at Northwest Indian College, producing and hosting the WRITER 2.0 Podcast, and driving my kids around. I also do most of the cooking in my family, so you can find me in the kitchen 1-2 hours a day. In my free time I might be reading, playing with my kids at the beach, or watching the sports.