INTERVIEW: ROB STEPHENSON
You are both a writer and a musician, and the synergy between those two artistic modes is at the heart of your debut novel Passes Through. How is constructing a sentence similar to composing a line of music?
There is a tradition of comparing a good melody to a good sentence by focusing on how well they get from here to there. In Passes Through, I was often thinking about how to get from here to here or from there to there. For me, the more interesting relationship between music and writing in Passes Through relates to aspects of its larger architecture: the result of a fusion of systematic methods that incorporated wiggle room for improvisation. I was inspired by musical models that feature unusual approaches to layering, context, and momentum.
What was your revision process like for that particular project?
Revision itself was controlled by my methods. You could say that the idea of revision was taken care of in the initial carrying out of the actions I used to create the text. After I had a first draft, I added nothing and removed less than 1% of the text. So I imagine that the first draft was very close to the final version as compared to most published novels.
What's the most important lesson you learned in publishing your first novel?
Do not fear to explore methods of your own devising. Love them, hate them, trust them, fight them, push them as far as they can go, and don't give up if they don't always work well at first or the way you envisioned. It may take years to get truly intriguing results.
ROB STEPHENSON is the author of Passes Through (FC2), lives in Queens, NY, and was sired by an architect.