Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Interview with Noah Bogdonoff

The Dancing Dove: Hello, Noah! Welcome to The Dancing Dove. Thank you for joining us today!
Noah Bogdonoff: Thanks for having me! It’s always nice to think that there are people reading my writing.

TDD: Where/When was your first book published? What was it about?
NB: “Number Theory”, my recently-released short story, was actually my first published work. It’s available in eBook form from Untreed Reads (more about that later). “Number Theory” is a story that I think needed telling. It’s about self-awareness – the moment in a boy’s life when he gains the knowledge that allows him to truly look at himself and see everything. Until that moment, the narrator has been strictly defined and in turn allowed himself to define everything strictly. So I guess “Number Theory” is about opening up to the world around oneself.

TDD: What was it like when your first book was published?
NB: Astounding. I’m not the best writer that I know. I have friends who write circles around me and haven’t been published yet. So that was weird. But it was also really exciting. Only a few days after having submitted “Number Theory” to Untreed, I got this incredibly complimentary email from the man who is now my editor, Jay Hartman. At the time, I was at a friend’s house and embarrassingly ran around going, “WHAT. AAHHHHHHH!” This story might be my first published work, but it’s not the first thing I’ve submitted for publication. Untreed’s positive feedback was so affirming. Jay and the CEO of Untreed Reads, K.D. Sullivan, literally walked me through everything I could possibly want to know about getting published digitally and were very cautious not to pressure or rush me. It made the experience that much better.

TDD: What’s it like being published at such a young age?
NB: In a word: confusing. At first, I was tempted to conceal my age. While I love to hear it, part of me really rejects the idea of being “good for an 18-year-old”. You know? My age is helpful in writing for young readers and young characters, but I don’t want it to directly influence my readers’ views of me.

The other thing is that it’s easy to feel overwhelmed or pressured into staying “safe”, writing the same thing again. Because I’m so young and impressionable, my writing style changes easily. My interests change easily. As a young author, there’s this pressure to – I don’t know – find a comfortable place and stay there. The pressure obviously comes from myself. Jay and K.D. have been supportive of my branching out, but there’s always the fear that I’m a one-trick pony.

But it’s also awesome. Can’t pretend it isn’t!

TDD: What made you start writing fiction?
NB: Reading fiction! Pretty much as soon as I began reading, I began writing. Especially once I learned to type on my family’s old Apple II. I started off with these horribly cliché fantasy novels (and I do mean novels. I was much more prolific back then) and as my life view expanded, so did my concept of writing. It’s progressed from the need to imitate and “be like” my favorite authors to the urge to tell a story, or a feeling, or an image. There’s always something I’m trying to get at. Sometimes I succeed, sometimes I fail, and sometimes I find something new.

TDD: How often do you write?
NB: Depends. Since getting published, I’ve done some writing every day. Before that, I would go weeks or months without touching a story and then write thousands of words in a night. Sometimes it spills out, sometimes I have to squeeze it. I’ve never felt pressured to write, so we’ll see what happens now that I’m published!

TDD: Do you plan on writing full time or will it just be a hobby of sorts for you?
NB: That’s really hard to say. Will writing be my only career path? Probably not. I’m also planning on being an actor and a research anthropologist, and maybe a linguist while I’m at it. Heh. My interests are way too varied for me to even think about a full-time career. Everything’s a hobby and everything’s my life. I’ve noticed that I start to suck when I get too serious about anything. I lose perspective, I lose that sense of fun. So writing will always be a hobby for me, because I couldn’t bear to make it un-fun. I wouldn’t mind it being a lucrative hobby, though!

TDD: Is there a certain place you like to write? The beach, the library, a comfy spot on the couch?
NB: I don’t have a laptop, and writing longhand is too slow for me in most cases, so no. I write in front of my desk. When I go off to college next fall, this all will change and I’m kind of worried about that. But I’m also not one for ritual. I love being torn away from my habits (usually that’s the only way I can kick ‘em), so college should produce some new and interesting effects on my writing.

TDD: What's your least favorite part of the writing process?
NB: A favorite English teacher of mine once said, “I don’t like writing. I like having written.” I don’t completely agree, but I will say this: writing is annoying. If the words aren’t flowing and the sentences aren’t interesting, my writing is crap. Usually I develop plots in the same way I develop sentences – spur-of-the-moment and randomly. If my sentences are lousy, so are my plots, and thus my stories. So my least favorite part would be getting in the mood. Because I don’t know how.

TDD: Do you have any works-in-progress you'd like to tell the readers about?
NB: Yes! I’ve just finished a story titled “A Shallow Warning”, which is nothing like anything I’ve ever written. It’s inspired by the author Kelly Link. It’s also probably the piece of fiction I’m most proud of, which is stupid because it’s almost incoherent. It’s magical realism and has the same basic moral center of “Number Theory”, but is much more complex. Hopefully you’ll see. I’m also co-writing a sort of supernatural novella with Andy Frankham-Allen that’s called “Through a Glass, Darkly We See”. Never co-written before, so that should be fun. And I’m tossing around a few more stories just for the heck of it. Oh, and a novel that I conceptualized with my best friend, but that’s years away from seeing the light of day. I hope you’ll check them all out when they hit!

TDD: Do you have anything else you'd like to tell the readers? (Contact info, upcoming books, exclusive website content, etc.)
NB: All I have to say is: Thank you, thank you, thank you. Getting published has been so strange and so rewarding. The responses I’ve gotten to “Number Theory” have blown my mind. I can’t express how appreciative I am for the support of Untreed Reads and, most importantly, anyone who reads my work. And thank you for having me!

If anyone would like to drop me a line, my email is lordcoweh@gmail.com (can you tell I wasn’t prepared for professional life?). I want to hear anything you have to say. No, really. I do.

Thank you so much for joining us, Noah! I wish you the best of luck with everything!

You can purchase Number Theory on Amazon.


  1. Hi Noah! Your book is definitely on my TBR list. :)

  2. Thanks, Chris! I'd love to hear what you think of it.

    Also, thanks again, Ralph. This has been a great experience.