Ted Fauster is an American Fantasy and Science-Fiction writer. His work include the first two tomes of his Faerel Trilogy, Deomans of Faerel and Hellion, King of Faerel and the short story Culleen McGregor’s Last Hunt.
What is your earliest reading memory?
That’s an interesting question. My mother and I were just speaking on this the other day. While numerous children’s books come to mind, the furthest back I think I can remember is The Phantom Tollbooth. Funny how I would not only escape to worlds of my own crafting as an adult, but I would also hit the road in an RV.
Has writing been a conscious choice or a natural thing for you?
For me, writing has always stemmed from two very important personal traits. (1) A need to be understood, and (2) a strong desire to entertain. I tried music (played guitar in a punk band called The Rabid Babies, but I have big fat fingers and could only manage rhythm guitar. If I couldn’t be the front man I was not interested.) I tried painting and drawing, but I’m simply not that good at it. I was a good actor, and I probably could have had a very good career in pictures, but I always gravitated toward writing. In college, I used to hurriedly scratch out my friend’s papers because I wanted to go out and party. Every one received high marks.
Do you have any special habits or rituals when you write?
Not really. I was a newspaper reporter. Police beat. This was in the ‘90s, and newsrooms back then were very loud. I can pretty much write anywhere. Nowadays, however, I do prefer to either listen to music without lyrics, or ambient soundscapes when I write. Earbuds are a savior.
Do you choose your stories or do the stories choose you?
Funny you should ask… I have folders full of unfinished story ideas. Good ones. The problem is, one always steps to the front and presents itself. It keeps bothering you, like a little sister, until you finally focus all your attention on it. This is the story you’re supposed to write. Incidentally, a friend of mine once told me that you have to write the story that wants to be written. Good advice.
What national books/authors do you enjoy re-reading and why?
I’m regularly inspired by a gallery of wildly talented poets and authors, including Seb Doubinsky, Matt Bialer, Jessica McHugh, Dominic Albanese, Jeff Vandermeer, Alicia Young, and so many others. But Tad Williams and Neil Gaiman top my list for re-reading. Tad has that special touch of madness to his writing that never gets stale, and Gaiman could make the ingredients list for a cereal box sound riveting.
What foreign books/authors do you enjoy re-reading and why?
What is so important about fiction?
Good fiction and poetry speaks to us in ways we could never imagine possible. It challenges us to think beyond the ordinary, which is a skillset in great decline as of late. It makes us doubt. It frightens and in some ways warns us. I don’t fully trust anyone who claims they only read nonfiction.
Flaubert says he was physically sick when he wrote Emma Bovary’s death. Are you empathetic with your characters?
I cried all the way through THE ROSS ISLAND BRIDGE. This book came directly following the death of my father, and it was an unplanned conception. I was supposed to be writing more fantasy, which I love, but this book simply had to be written. By the end, I was permanently changed. I used to think I cared about my characters before, but now I more completely understand the responsibility we take on as writers when we bring someone (or some thing) to life.
Can you cry writing your own poem?
All the time. For me, each poem is an emotion come to life.
What is your ideal reader?
Anyone who will give my work a chance. But in all seriousness, my ideal reader likely tires of the ordinary, the predictable. Many people claim they do not want to read genre fiction yet are the first to complain when a fantasy tale does not include elves and dwarfs, or when a dystopian story does not have guns. Nearly all my characters are losers and weirdos, and they are always changed, both physically and mentally, sometimes in very extraordinary ways. Readers of my work should be expect practically anything.
Should writers be embraced by society or should they be exiled?
It doesn’t matter. Writers gonna write. You can cut my fingers off and rip out my tongue and I’ll still find a way to communicate my story.
Is there a God or are there gods for writers?
The age-old question. I suppose if I ever find the answer I may no longer have a need to write.
What makes a writer a writer?
It’s a personality flaw. Writers are needy. We need to be heard. We need you to understand what we are seeing, feeling, and why we believe what we believe. Writing is just the mechanical output of all that need.
Tell us about your fiction.
I started writing fantasy. But it always felt off, like something was missing. Sometime in the latter part of the last century, I wandered into a Barnes & Noble with my hands stuffed in my pockets. A guy who worked there walked up and asked, “Can I help you find something?” I told him I was tired of all the same old boring bullshit. I wanted something new. Something fantastic with maybe a little bit of sci-fi thrown in. Something like I’ve never read before. He didn’t hesitate. Took me straight over to a rack full of this book called OTHERLAND. Halfway through that first book I knew what I needed to do with rest of my life.
What is the purpose of your writing?
Wow. I’m not sure I can answer that. Someone once said the purpose of art is to remind us to feel. Maybe that.
How do you really feel about recognition and fame? Are you a satisfied mind or always craving for more?
I was in a rock band. I was always picked for lead actor in our high school productions. Yes, I want to be recognized and I want to be famous. But it’s all a sham. I’m actually horribly introverted and shy. But I learned early on that popularity provides a stage from which you can pitch your wares. I’m still not quite sure what it is I’m selling, but it’s definitely not in short supply.