Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Interview with Daniel A. Blum, author of 'The Feet Say Run'

Daniel A. Blum grew up in New York, attended Brandeis University and currently lives outside of Boston with his family. His first novel Lisa33 was published by Viking in 2003. He has been featured in Poets and Writers magazine, Publisher’s Weekly and most recently, interviewed in Psychology Today.

Daniel writes a humor blog, The Rotting Post, that has developed a loyal following.

His latest release is the literary novel, The Feet Say Run.



At the age of eighty-five, Hans Jaeger finds himself a castaway among a group of survivors on a deserted island.  What is my particular crime?  he asks.   Why have I been chosen  for this fate?  And so he begins his extraordinary chronicle. 

It would be an understatement to say he has lived a full life.  He has grown up in Nazi Germany and falls in love with Jewish girl.  He fights for the Germans on two continents, watches the Reich collapse spectacularly into occupation and starvation, and marries his former governess.  After the war he goes on wildflower expeditions in the Alps, finds solace among prostitutes while his wife lay in a coma, and marries a Brazilian chambermaid in order to receive a kidney from her. 

By turns sardonic and tragic and surreal, Hans’s story is the story of all of the insanity, irony and horror of the modern world itself.  


Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Thank you for this interview!  I’d like to know more about you as a person first.  What do you do when you’re not writing?

I’m a big games person.  I’m addicted to chess, scrabble, crosswords, boggle, etc.  Of course I like to read.  I play tennis.  Spend time with friends and family.  Love to travel when I can. 

When did you start writing?

I first wrote back in high school.  Thankfully whatever I produced back then it is buried far down at the bottom of some closet, forming its own strata - the paleozoic era, full of extremely primitive fossils.  But I did discover that I enjoyed experimenting with words and images and ideas.

As a published author, what would you say was the most pivotal point of your writing life?

It was actually a letter I wrote to a girl who I was interested in, while I was in college.   It was a long, rambling, comic description of a train ride I was on, and it was something of an aha moment about how to inject life and wit into descriptions of the everyday world around you - the little overheard snippets of conversation, the passing daydreams, the petty annoyance of your neighbor’s snoring.  Thinking back, it is not really surprising that my first passably decent bit of writing was born of an effort to impress a girl. 

The letter was definitely a success with its target audience of one.  Unfortunately, the love affair that followed was rather less successful.  It lasted all of a month.  Yet my love affair with the written word is still going strong. 

If you could go anywhere in the world to start writing your next book, where would that be and why?

Oh dear.  Paris is the cliché, so that’s off the list immediately.  Islands seem quite suitable, but which one?  Majorca?  Tahiti?  Crete?  They all have such an inspiring mixture of beauty and mystery.  Then there is the island of my childhood home, Long Island, New York, for its teeming ordinariness -  the perfect place to excavate the trivial sorrows of growing up surburbia.  Since I don’t know that I really want to write that book, and you probably don’t want to read it, I think I’ll just go with Crete. 

If you had 4 hours of extra time today, what would you do?

Find a tennis game.  Maybe write a bit.  Actually, I would probably waste the first hour watching the news and getting myself into a foul mood, and spend the next three hours getting out of it. 

Where would you like to set a story that you haven’t done yet?

My current novel has many settings – an island in the Pacific, Nazi Germany, France, North Africa, Iowa.  I enjoy taking the reader (and myself) to another world.  I’d like to do a surreal or slightly distorted version of Hollywood.  It already has such a strong sense of unreality to it – where everything is half-illusion.  It would be fun to play with that. 

Back to your present book, The Feet Say Run, how did you publish it?

Actually, my publisher found me.  I had posted a couple of poems to a public website and one of the founders of Gabriel’s Horn Press read and liked them and asked what else I wrote.  I happened to have just finished a novel, and so I sent it to her and she wanted to publish it. 

In writing your book, did you travel anywhere for research?

I didn’t.  I did however borrow on experiences from previous travels.   For the parts set in Nazi Germany, I also read memoirs written by people who had grown up under Hitler. 

Why was writing The Feet Say Run so important to you?

Humans are capable of extraordinary cruelty and kindness, stupidity and brilliance.  They have created this amazing, sturdy-seeming thing we call civilization that absolutely everything depends on.  Yet in truth, civilization itself is so desperately fragile, so insubstantial, a single breath can blow it apart.  If there is anything I wanted to “say”, besides just weaving a web, making the reader want to keep the pages turning, it is that.

Where do you get your best ideas and why do you think that is?

The only answer I have to that is, wherever I don’t expect them.  Wherever I am not looking.  My previous novel was an avante garde sex comedy set on the internet (please don’t ask my how I researched that one).  The Feet Say Run, on the other hand, is an intensely emotional story about love and hate and war and solace.  My mantra is that I never want to write the same book twice. 

Any final words?

I will leave you with one interesting biographical factoid:  my entire family, except for myself, are either psychiatrists (my father and brother) or psychologists (mother and sister).  If that does not drive one to either madness or literature – or both – I don’t know what would.  Many thanks for the interview. 

No comments:

Post a Comment