SLR: You are recognized as one of the masters of humor. Most writers agree, it’s hard to be funny. Discuss a bit about writing for laughs. Are there any tricks to the timing/delivery, or is this just a natural gift of yours to have such a perfect flow of language?
CE: I grew up hearing funny stories and the rhythm, etc. kind of stuck with me. I’ve found out that for me the humor in scenes comes not so much from physical action as I once thought, but rather from dialogue that goes with the action.
SLR: Your latest release, The Night Train, explores the magic of music and how it can function as common ground between otherwise contrasting members of a community. You are not only a talented writer, musical talent also runs in your family. Tell us a bit about your life as a musician and how music brings your own family and friends together.
CE: I’ve been in a band of some sort since the ninth grade. Now I have several people I play fairly regularly with. I’m trying to get my kids interested in music buy not with pressure. Music is my opium.
SLR: You’ve published ten novels, a memoir, short stories, and essays. I realize it’s a bit like asking you to choose a favorite child, but which of your many works do you consider your favorite? Why?
CE: The Floatplane Notebooks. It was harder to write and I went deeper, I think, that with any of the other novels.
SLR: Despite your booming career, you continue to teach creative writing in the MFA program at UNC Wilmington. What are three main points you hope to teach your students?
1. Never accept advice which doesn’t make sense.
2. Kill “information” that comes at the beginning of a story. If it’s necessary, it can find its own place to be used later in the story, where it has a function beyond “information feed.”
3. Understand what your story is about and write it in a sentence or two and those words can help you decide what to cut and what to add in revisions.
SLR: You also contribute to Garden & Gun. I always notice that female authors are asked, “How do you juggle it all? What’s the trick to keeping the balance?” No one ever seems to ask men this same question. So, Mr. Edgerton, how do you manage it all?
CE: It’s hard to say. I do not watch television and that helps, and also my writing is part of my job as a professor and thus I can take more time doing it than I could if I had a normal 9 – 5 job.
SLR: Personally, when I look at your work as a whole, my favorite aspect of your writing is your ability to create believable, interesting characters that stick with me long after I finish the book. Have you ever based characters on people in your real life, and if so, how do they react when they put two and two together?
CE: I’ve based fictional characters on real people, but by the time the story works on the character they only resemble the real person (usually)—the way one uncle may resemble another while being quite distinct. Otherwise, some people whom I’ve based characters on are dead, thus no reaction fromthem. That I know of.
SLR: Finally, you build entire worlds in your stories and your books. You have built a loyal legion of fans, and you give readers a mode of escape by delivering delicious words in addictive doses. What do you want readers to know about you that they may not already know?
CE: I can’t think of a thing.
SLR: Thanks for sharing your work with SLR readers. We have no doubt they will add this delightful story to their favorite reads list.
CE: Thanks for the interview.