I first met Bradley Wind on a now defunct writer’s website. He got a reputation there for being the guy you went to for help with your book cover. If you check out his website, bradleywind.com, you’ll see why.
Bradley and I happened to go through the KindleScout process at about the same time so we were able to commiserate about the way it forced us out of our introverted comfort zones and the uncertainty of that long thirty days. We also got to celebrate together when each of our books was selected for publication.
I recently read A Whole Lot, a sort of coming of age tale for one of the most original main characters I’ve come across. Bradley was nice enough to let me pick his brain about the novel, the writing process and his experience with publishing.
Is this your first book or just your first published book? When did you start writing?
A Whole Lot is my second book but first published. I had an agent for my first too but he didn’t shop it as much as it deserved (or so I believe!) and I was busy working on my second so I didn’t push Bulb much after Luke stopped. I thought I’d see how AWL did before I approached Kindle Press to put out Bulb. I didn’t get started until my late twenties but stories were often the driving force of my paintings.
Abel is a very unique character. What were some of the challenges of capturing his perspective?
I started by reading whatever I could find (which wasn’t much at the time) on savant syndrome – as well as books on child prodigies, mathematicians/Descartes, con men, secret codes/Bible codes and autism. In the end I decided he would have autistic characteristics – be on the spectrum – but not exhibit an incapacitating form of autism. That would’ve limited the solo travel and other plans I had in mind. I was very pleased to discover Daniel Tammet after I’d written the novel – to know there are high functioning individuals with savant syndrome.
Also initially I thought I was creating something that didn’t exist, but then Dr Treffert let me know that there are cases of acquired savants. Still, I worried Abel’s skills would be unrealistic. I’d read about Kim Peeks and his astounding prodigious talents so I knew I wasn’t far off what could be. I had to purchase/send away for a few of the documentaries on savants that I found online and they helped a bit with the speech pattern.
Did you need to do a lot in terms of research or are you already pretty knowledgeable when it comes to math and philosophy and savant-ism?
I knew by the 10th grade I’d be going to art school, so took only the required math classes for entrance into college.
I received good grades but I can’t say I cared about math or know it well. That’s probably why I felt so nervous when I attended the math tea I was invited to at Princeton.
What if they ask me Anything math related?! But to some degree I’m a shy person and I spoke very little while I was there and also figured I could talk a bit about the mathematician biographies, or those books about some of the greatest unsolved theorems I’d read. I got to know certain aspects of the culture, and the outlook seemed connected to a creative process I could relate to as an artist. Neurological studies and books on philosophy have always been members of my cycling bedside stack.
When you began writing this, did you know how it would end? Do you plot things out or does the plot emerge as you’re writing?
I remember writing the section in the very beginning with Abel climbing the tree, talking about the freedom feeling and wanting the ending to have a similar quality.
In my notes, I had the novel ending on 11/10/1983-the same day Gates unveiled Microsoft Windows for the first time…that’s a little Easter egg for anyone interested.
No, I didn’t know the ending exactly but I knew it would be treetop freedom. I did not plot my first two. I had loose directions, knowledge of specific stations I’d stop at but nothing detailed like my latest. I find outlining to be freeing and confining at the same time – not sure if I’ll abandon it or ever try it again but it’s nice to check back in and have an idea about where I’m going but there have been occasions where all the detailed notes I include snail the process.
This book stands out for me from a lot of KindleScout books because it is pretty genre-less and more literary in style. Do you think about genre while you’re writing?
That was my fear when entering the Kindle Scout program, the winners mostly seemed genre focused and I had my doubts mine would fit. I felt somewhat surprised when my first agent talked to me about my book Bulb being science fiction. Luke got it, he talked about it being speculative more than straightforward scifi but for me the writing comes from ideas or characters not a desire to create a specific genre focused work. What if light was programmable and everything light reached was recorded in a grand archive for people to reference – a world where privacy didn’t exist? What if a child with prodigious savant syndrome went largely unrecognized? Those kinds of questions (sort of) come to mind and the story fills in around them.
What can we expect to see from you next?
During my commute this morning I was listening to Douglas Harding’s book On Having No Head. It had me thinking more about adopting ideas, the way that philosophy is born from geography and culture, from food and music – and the difficulty of transplanting it – of the efficacy of migration, the way philosophy twists over generations and for whatever reason I started thinking pickles pussy papaya, pickles pussy papaya. It had a rhythm bum bum bah-bah-yah – like something from the Paul Thomas Anderson’s documentary Junun that I watched this past weekend and have been listening to the album since. It documents Jonny Greenwood (from Radiohead) recording the album (also called Junun) with musicians in India. I’ve been thinking a lot about other brain potentials, about what is mind and what proprioception extension could mean, could accomplish. Set in the 90s, an accidental death, some MDMA use, and maybe a cult or folksy Buddhist belief or both thrown in. So far it feels like it has flavors of the first two books but mainly in the way I’m interested in brain potentials. I’m also working on illustrating a children’s book based on a reworking of Thich Nhat Hanh’s short story The River.
Looking forward to it. Thanks to Bradley Wind for sharing.