Rob Benvie Interviewed on rob mclennan's Blog

In conversation with rob mclennan, Coach House author Rob Benvie considers both the micro and the macro, from the scent of home to the writer's place in society. Appropriately, Benvie's recent novel, Maintenance, exemplifies his concern with both global trauma and the minutia of day-to-day family life:

How did you come to fiction first, as opposed to, say, poetry or non-fiction?

When younger I fantasized about breaking new ground, in terms of conceptual/non-narrative writing, but I think I’m too sentimental to commit myself to those arenas. I like stories about people in panic and people in love.

Where does fiction usually begin for you? Are you an author of short pieces that end up combining into a larger project, or are you working on a "book" from the very beginning?

I tend to think in longer streams, simply because I read novels more than I read short stories or poetry or plays. This isn’t necessarily a conscious decision. Both an asset and shortcoming of mine is that I’m very competitive and envious and flighty, so when I read a book I love, or hear a song that blows me away, or watch a movie that kills me, I simultaneously think ‘I wish I’d done that – I’m such a loser,’ and ‘I could do better than that – I’m such a genius.’ So a lot of things are attempted, and a lot of things are abandoned. I start many things, and rarely feel things are finished. The only recipe for me is: work on stuff every day, don’t slack off, and eventually you end up with a lot of material. Wade through it well, work with smart people, keep it enjoyable at some level, and ignore the voice in your head that says you’re a schmuck. You are, but so is everyone else.

What is the best piece of advice you've heard (not necessarily given to you directly)?

I was once told that if you want to learn to play rock guitar, you must first reckon with AC/DC. Sort of great and terrible advice.

Click here to read the full interview.

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