Q&A with Visiting Associate Professor and writer Kevin Brockmeier

BY DI STAFF | APRIL 26, 2012 6:30 AM

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University of Iowa Visiting Associate Professor Kevin Brockmeier walks around every day with a multitude of amazing story ideas floating around his head.

Earlier this week, the Iowa Writers' Workshop graduate and current faculty member gave a reading in Iowa City, and he will read on Friday in Cedar Rapids. Brockmeier has published seven books — novels for children and story collections and novels for adults.

The Daily Iowan sat down with the author to find out more about his writing.

Daily Iowan: How would you describe your writing style?

Brockmeier: I guess the easiest way to describe it is mainstream literary fiction with strong elements of science fiction and fantasy, sometimes.

DI: Where do you find inspiration?

Brockmeier: That comes from all over the place. I think, like most people, I have dozens of ideas every day that could make for a good story — the question is which of those ideas stick with you.

What I tend to find is that there are a bare handful of ideas that I just can't dislodge; they linger with me, and they grow bigger, and they tend to gather other ideas around them, and those are the ideas that ultimately I say to myself, "Oh I think this is the basis for something, and I need to sit down and work on it."

DI: How does it feel to be back in Iowa City?

Brockmeier: It's wonderful. This is my third time returning as a teacher, and I'll confess that the first time I came back, I was really intimidated by the prospect. First because the students are of such a high caliber and then also because I admire the rest of the faculty in the program so much, but gradually I found my footing in the classroom, and every time I return I'm nervous and gradually again I find my footing in the classroom.

DI: What do you most enjoy about the Iowa City writing community?

Brockmeier: I don't know that you'll find a better community of writers anywhere in the United States, honestly, so it's a great place to be reading, and writing, and involved in this kind of work.

DI: Can you tell me about your latest book, The Illumination?

Brockmeier: It's a novel about what happens to the world when people in pain begin to emanate light, so you can actually see when the people around you are suffering. Specifically, it follows six characters: a data analyst, a photojournalist, a schoolchild, a missionary, a writer, and a street vendor. Their notion of themselves and of the people around them is reshaped by this phenomenon of the illumination.

DI: What do you hope readers take away from your work?

Brockmeier: Well, I don't have a moral in mind or a lesson in mind, but I do hope that what I've done in every book that I've written and in every paragraph and in every sentence that I've written is observed something very carefully and try to express it truly, and I hope that the people who read my books finish them with a sensation that they've observed something about the world carefully and that they've seen something truly.

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