The Writer’s Handful with Eric Charles May


Mondays + Writers = Finally something to look forward to.

Happy Monday and Writer’s Handful, all! I don’t know when I have been happier to bring a debut novelist to your attention. Many of you already know ERIC CHARLES MAY and his kickass new novel, BEDROCK FAITH (Akashic Books.) And if you do, you know, too, that there is hardly a nicer or more industrious writer guy around, and that this new book of his is garnering all sorts of acclaim. O Magazine, Ebony, Booklist, Publishers Weekly and a bunch of other folks in the literary know are singing their praises to Bedrock Faith. Dennis Lehane (Dennis Lehane? The Dennis Lehane? Mystic River, Shutter Island Dennis Lehane? Yes, that Dennis Lehane) called the book “A wonderful urban novel full of vitality and pathos and grit. I dug the ever-living hell out of it.” Wow.

Eric and I have been colleagues for many years at Columbia College Chicago as well as Stonecoast Writers Conference and Solstice Writers Conference (back in the day.) Do I have stories I could tell you! But I know it is not my stories you come to this series to find. So I am going to let Eric speak for himself (in a previously captured conversation.) And in case you haven’t yet heard enough from him (and I guarantee, you won’t have) by the end of this brief chat, you can tune in to Chicago’s NPR station, WBEZ (91.5 FM) to hear some more Eric Charles May. Bedrock Faith has been chosen as BEZ’s Afternoon Shift Book of the Month for April. And if you are reading this today, Monday, April 14, 2014, you can even hear it live this afternoon. (Otherwise, it can be heard re-broadcast on-line.)

All right. Enough from me.

Welcome Eric!

Did you write today? If yes, what? If no, why not?

Haven’t written yet today but I plan to later. I’ve been up to my eyeballs with preparations for my book launch party, travels to support the book, interviews, and last but not least, the preparations for and the teaching of my classes. When I get back to my neighborhood this evening I’ll sit down in a coffee shop or at a restaurant bar and write in my journal. I’ve been doing extensive journal writing the last two months on a novel-in-progress that’s two-thirds done. I’ve worked out a slew of plot problems with the journaling.BedrockFaith2-533x800

What’s the first thing (story, poem, song, etc.) you remember writing, and how old were you when you wrote it?

I was maybe seven years old. It was the story of my mother and father, my imagined scenario of how they met and their ages: My dad 22, my mom 21. Actually, my mom was a couple of years older than my dad, a fact that I did not find out until many years later.

What are you reading right now?

In one of my classes I assigned Sister Carrie, which I have read twice before but not for a number of years, so I’m reading it again and thoroughly enjoying Theodore Dreiser. I assigned Far From the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy for another class, which I also haven’t read in a while. I’m giving it another go as well.

What’s the most important advice you ever received? (Writerly or otherwise.)

“Never have sex with anyone who’s crazier than you.” (The “you” in this case being me of course.) I haven’t always followed those cautionary words, but it was very good advice.

If your writing were an animal, what animal would it be? Because…

A walrus. It’s not particularly pretty, but under the right circumstances it can maneuver through waters quite gracefully.


ERIC CHARLES MAY is an associate professor in the Fiction Writing Program at Columbia College Chicago. A Chicago native and former reporter for the Washington Post, his fiction has appeared in the magazines Fish StoriesF, and Criminal Class. In addition to his Postreporting, his nonfiction has appeared in Sport Literate, the Chicago Tribune, and the personal essay anthology Briefly Knocked Unconscious by a Low-Flying DuckBedrock Faith is his first novel.

→Thanks, dear friend Eric Charles May, for the chat. Happy novel release, happy book club day, and happy belated birthday. Maintain. And thanks to everyone, as always, for reading. – PMc←

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