Armistead Maupin Interview, plus links to author biography, book summaries, excerpts and reviews

Armistead Maupin

Armistead Maupin

An interview with Armistead Maupin

A Conversation with Armistead Maupin

You are known for producing complex plotlines full of unexpected twists. Does this require careful planning, or is the process more organic in nature?
I always let a storyline percolate for a while before I begin to write, but even then I have only a general road map of the territory. Many of the side trips arise unexpectedly, which is a source of delight to me. Sometimes, of course, it's necessary to rewrite in order to look like I'd always planned on taking that side trip. This requires engaging both sides of your brain simultaneously. That is, you have to maintain a kind of formal structure but go a little crazy at the same time. And, for me, that's never a speedy process. I usually write two pages a day at the very most. I wish I could let it spill out heedlessly, but I've grown more and more fussy over the years--thanks, in part, to the invention of the word processor.

Did you know how The Night Listener would end when you began it?
No. That came to me very close to the end, when I was out walking the dog. But it arose from what I'd already learned about Gabriel--and about myself--in the course of writing the book. It was thrillingly obvious, too, as if I should have seen it all along.

You seem to flirt a lot with autobiography. Is that a function of your self--exploration process, or are you taking details from your own life to flesh out a character that you think of as entirely separate from yourself?
Well--both, really. Sometimes I wish I could divorce myself from Gabriel, because he's not always the most appealing guy around, but I'm also clever enough to know that his flaws make him more real. And I have lots of those to mine. The truth is, I've always been writing about myself in one way or another. The central character of Maybe the Moon is very like me, though I'm disguised there as a heterosexual, Jewish, female dwarf. It was much easier to write, let me tell you. Gabriel was a killer, because there was nowhere to hide. Which is not to say that my vanity ever completely disappeared. Even when I'm being brutally honest about myself, I'm secretly hoping be to be admired for it.

Unless otherwise stated, this interview was conducted at the time the book was first published, and is reproduced with permission of the publisher. This interview may not be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the copyright holder.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!
Member Benefits

Join Now!

Check the advantages!
Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year

    •  
    • FREE
    • MEMBER
    • Range of media reviews for each book
    • Excerpts of all featured books
    • Author bios, interviews and pronunciations
    • Browse by genre
    • Book club discussions
    • Book club advice and reading guides
    • BookBrowse reviews and "beyond the book" back-stories
    •  
    • Reviews of notable books ahead of publication
    •  
    • Free books to read and review (US Only)
    •  
    • Browse for the best books by time period, setting & theme
    •  
    • Read-alike suggestions for thousands of books and authors
    •  
    • 'My Reading List" to keep track of your books
    •  

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: Gemini
    Gemini
    by Carol Cassella
    How good is Gemini, Carol Cassella's book about a Seattle intensive care physician who becomes ...
  • Book Jacket: The Goldfinch
    The Goldfinch
    by Donna Tartt
    Winner of the 2014 Pulitzer for Fiction.

    Her canvas is vast. To frame a story about art, love and ...
  • Book Jacket: Toms River
    Toms River
    by Dan Fagin
    Winner of the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for Nonfiction

    In Toms River, investigative journalist Dan Fagin ...

First Impressions

Members read and review books ahead
of publication. See what they think
in First Impressions!

Books that
expand your
horizons.

Visitors can view a lot of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only

Find out more.

Book Discussions
Book Jacket

The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry
by Gabrielle Zevin

Published Apr. 2014

Join the discussion!

Who Said...

No pleasure is worth giving up for the sake of two more years in a geriatric home.

Click Here to find out who said this, as well as discovering other famous literary quotes!

Word Play

Solve this clue:

P Your O C

and be entered to win..

Books thatinspire you.Handpicked.

Books you'll stay up all night reading; books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, books that will expand your mind and inspire you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.