British author Simon Van Booy met a chap from Iowa while he was in college. The young man encouraged the aspiring writer to spend some time in Iowa City. Van Booy heeded his advice, writing all day in a rented, unairconditioned Victorian and taking part in the town’s cultural life in the evenings. At Prairie Lights, he saw poet and novelist Anne Michaels read, and the experience had a profound effect on his life and work.
Van Booy was back in Iowa City in November of 2010 to give his own reading at Prairie Lights. He sat down for this On the Fly interview during that visit, telling the story of his time in Iowa City. He also considers the impact of becoming a parent on a writer, reveals why he writes in bed, describes his efforts at sensory deprivation in service of his writing, and explains how one might be a writer without writing.
Van Booy is the author of the short story collections The Secret Lives of People in Love and Love Begins in Winter and the novels Everything Beautiful Began After and The Illusion of Separateness. He was the winner of the 2009 Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award. He is also the editor of three books of philosophy: Why Our Decisions Don’t Matter, Why We Fight, and Why We Need Love.