Saturday, January 16, 2016

Dinty W. Moore, Author

“Author, editor, teacher, specializing in memoir and literary nonfiction. A man who is very much afraid of polar bears.”

Dinty W. Moore is an icon in Athens, Ohio, and beyond. His book, The Mindful Writer: Noble Truths of the Writing Life, is one of my favorites and recommended reading.

Thanks, Dinty, for connecting…

GM: A prolific writer, professor, reader, and more; of all the books you have written, which is your favorite?  

DM: Like many other authors, my favorite book is always the next one. The one I am struggling to write right now.  But since that is a bit of a dodgy answer, I’ll say that I am most proud of Between Panic & Desire, my experimental memoir.  It is closest to my heart.

GM: The Mindful Writer  is the perfect writer's reference. When did you realize you wanted to become a writer?

DM: I’ve wanted to write since I was just a kid, but grew up in a very blue collar home, so that meant I would at best write for my local newspaper, which I did. It wasn’t until I turned 20 that I realized I wanted to write books, write ‘literary’ nonfiction, and be the sort of writer I’m lucky enough to have become.

GM: What is the premise for The Toothpick Men?  The title and the cover are intriguing…

DM: That is my only published book of fiction, a collection of short stories.  (I wrote three ‘starter’ novels, learned a lot from them, but never published any of the three.)  The Toothpick Men is one of the stories in the book, and the title hints at the frailty of masculine lives.

GM: Tell us about your beginnings and how you landed in Athens, Ohio...

DM: My dad was a car mechanic at a Chevy dealership in Erie, Pennsylvania. I went to Catholic school for 12 years, ended up working for the local newspaper, but after college ended I moved from career to career – documentary filmmaker, modern dancer, acting student in New York City, waiter, janitor. Eventually I earned an MFA in fiction writing, taught at Penn State for almost 15 years, and moved to Athens to teach at Ohio University.  I love it here.

GM: Do you have a mentor or muse that continues to inspire your wisdom and creativity?

GM: In your opinion, what author/writer has had the biggest impact on American culture?

DM: Various writers -- Harriet Beecher Stowe, and others not so well known – paved the way for the end of slavery.  There are many writers today turning out work that promotes social justice, peace, religious tolerance, or sensible environmental policies, and thank goodness for all of them, but no one has quite matched what the abolitionist writers accomplished.

GM: What are you currently reading?

DM: Presentimiento by Harrison Candelaria Fletcher.

GM: What are you currently writing?

DM: A book about Dante and his circles of Hell, and how they have influenced western culture.  That sounds deadly serious, I suppose, but it is also meant to be a very funny book.  We’ll see if I succeed.

GM: What is your best advice for novice writers?

DM: Practice, practice. You learn by making mistakes. No one ever became a stronger writer by thinking about writing. You need to work it out on the page, juggling words.

Dinty W. Moore was born and raised in Erie, Pennsylvania, and spent his formative years fishing for bluegill, riding a bike with a banana seat, and dodging the Sisters of St. Joseph. He earned a BA in writing from the University of Pittsburgh, worked briefly as a journalist, and also served short stints as a documentary filmmaker, modern dance performer, zookeeper, and Greenwich Village waiter. It was only after failing at each of these professions that he went on to earn an MFA in fiction writing from Louisiana State University.

A National Endowment for the Arts fellowship recipient, Moore has guest taught creative nonfiction seminars across the United States and in Europe. In addition to editing the internet journal, Brevity, he is on the editorial board of Creative Nonfiction magazine.

Moore teaches writing at Ohio University.

Connect with Dinty W. Moore…

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