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Write From Home
Kim Wilson
P.O. Box 4145
Hamilton, NJ 08610

E-mail: kim @ writefromhome.com

Interview with....

Daniel Glick

             by Dana Mitchells

               Monkey DancingPowder Burn                                    

Daniel Glick is the author of Powder Burn: Arson, Money and Mystery on Vail Mountain and Monkey Dancing: A Father, Two Kids, and a Journey to the Ends of the Earth. He is also a journalist whose work has appeared in magazines such as The New York Times Magazine, Rolling Stone, Outside, Esquire and Menís Journal. He was a Washington correspondent for Newsweek from 1989-94 then a Newsweek special correspondent based in Colorado from 1994 to late 2000. He is the single father to two children, ages 11 and 15, and he lives in Lafayette, Colorado.

Question: What made you decide to write a book?

Glick: After my divorce, I realized that I couldnít easily be a full-time single parent and a news journalist at the same time. I was lucky with my first book, Powder Burn, because somebody came to me and asked me to write about a subject I had covered for Newsweek. (The subject was the $12 million arson at Vail ski resort that was allegedly committed by eco-terrorists. I live in Colorado, so I could be close to home and do my research.) With my second book, Monkey Dancing, it just seemed like an elegant solution to my problem of how to be a reporter and a single father: I took my kids with me to do the research.

Q: What about getting it published?

Glick: I didnít have a contract for Monkey Dancing before I left on the trip, for two reasons. One was that I didnít want to be obsessed about work while we were traveling; I wanted to really be with the kids. The second reason is that it was probably going to be a hard sell, to get a contract to write a book about a trip I hadnít taken yet. So I did the trip, returned home, and wrote a book proposal in less than a month. The publisher of my first book wanted it, so again, I was lucky.

Q: Was it a challenge to write while caring for your children? If so, what did you do to keep the peace?

When youíre a writer without a fixed, immutable schedule and a fire-breathing boss, itís always hard to convince your kids that youíre working. My son frequently would come home and say, "What did you do all day?" Sometimes, when I was doing interviews, my daughter would come in to my office and actually sit on my lap. It is always challenging. But I tried to be as flexible as possible with my work, and to be available for key times, like just after school and around bedtime.

Q: Did your children understand what you were doing as you worked?

Glick: Iíve been a journalist for all their lives, so they do have some concept about what I do. That said, I donít think they understand that when I take a long walk, for example, Iím actually thinking and writing in my head. And, being kids, they donít always care that Iím in the middle of something when theyíre in the middle of something that absolutely requires my attention immediately.

Q: Because of your busy life both as a professional and a parent, what writing schedule worked best for you?

Glick: While I was writing Monkey Dancing, I had what I called my "power hour" most mornings. My high-school age son left for the school bus at 6:50, and I didnít have to wake up my elementary-school age daughter until just after 8:00. I would run downstairs and crank for that hour, before the phone started ringing. It was often incredibly productive.

In general, I have to be flexible with my writing time, because sometimes there are orthodontist appointments and car repairs and field trips and grocery shopping. I work when I can, and often work late at night after the kids are asleep.

Being a journalist, you get used to the cruel master of deadline pressure. You learn that procrastination and publication dates donít make for a great pairing. So Iíve become fairly disciplined over the years. I also have learned the fine art of multi-tasking. When Iím on the phone on hold registering my daughter for gymnastics classes, Iím also wiping down the fridge.

Q: Was there anything you had to sacrifice in order to get your writing done?

Glick: A life. After I became a single dad, I felt that I had suddenly inherited three full-time jobs: parenting two kids, running a household, and earning a living. While I was in the throes of writing Monkey Dancing on a relatively tight deadline, there wasnít room for much else.

Q: Is it harder to write fiction than nonfiction while you are also being a parent?

Glick: Iíve never written fiction. I will say that itís often difficult for me to arrange for child care when I go off on reporting trips. Thereís only so much non-fiction work I can do from my basement office.

Q: Did you at any time ask for help so you could get some writing done? If so, do you regret it? If not, do you wish you had?

Glick: My ex-wife, who lives out-of-state, came to my home for a few separate week-long stays so I could get away and do some concentrated writing in a little cabin I co-own in the mountains. Iím very grateful that she and I are on good terms and that she was able to help out.

Q: What surprised you the most as a parent while you were writing your books?

Glick: My recent book was so much about being a parent that I was constantly trying to put down into words what I had learned in the years since I had become a full-time parent. Part of the writing process became an attempt to describe what I was learning about being a parent Ė-- which was a lot.

Q: Were you confident about your ability to write books while juggling parenthood and work?

Glick: I donít know any single parents that donít have moments of exasperation and frustration with this impossible juggling act. I was frustrated that I wasnít being a good enough dad, I was frustrated that I didnít have the concentrated time to write a good book. I always felt like I was juggling seven balls at once. And the truth is, I can barely juggle three.

Q: How did you manage to juggle promoting your books with parenting?

Glick: I was really worried about this, but the timing of my bookís release coincided with the end of the school year. While I went on a book tour, my family helped out: the kids took turns going to visit their mother, staying with my parents, and even visiting an uncle. For the first book, I took the kids on some of the book tour events, since they were often in great ski towns in Colorado. They didnít mind that at all.

Q: What did you learn about yourself as a parent while you were writing your books?

Glick: I donít know if I learned this specifically while writing Monkey Dancing, but the whole experience of traveling around the world with my kids and then writing about it reinforced how much I love being a Dad and how much I love my kids. Itís such a clichť, but I would do anything for them.

Q: Whatís the best writing advice youíve been given?

Glick: To write. To pay attention to detail. To write about things you care about.

Q: Whatís the best advice you have for other writing parents?

Glick: Make a fine and private place to work. My kids know that my writing office is my sanctuary (which doesnít mean they always respect it). Make time to write, the way you make time to shop for food, or exercise, or pay your bills. Itís important.

Dana Mitchells is the online pen name of the writer, poet and book reviewer Dawn Colclasure. Sheís been published both on- and offline, having work appeared in magazines such as HiP and The Desert Woman, and Web sites such as Griper, The Writer Within, e-fido, Writing Etc. and Just About Write. Her latest article on Absolute Write can be found here. Her book reviews have been published in Crescent Blues EíMagazine under her real name. (Read her latest review). Her Web site is http://dmcwriter.tripod.com/. She lives with her husband and daughter in California, where she is currently rewriting one of her novels.










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