Born in Asheville, North Carolina, John Banks has a special enjoyment of writers and humorists such as Mark Twain and several Old Southwest school of writers. Mr. Banks’ writing holds very true to Southern tradition style of writing.
Though a work a fiction, Glorify Each Day hints at a culmination of John Banks’ many years working as a teacher in public schools, community colleges as well as time spent as a community college administrator. Readers can learn more about John Banks and his work by visiting his website as well as his Facebook Fan Page.
Please tell us a bit about your book, Glorify Each Day, and what you hope readers take away from reading it.
I hope readers feel like they’ve just finished reading a great story that they couldn’t put down and that they hated to see come to an end. I want to write engrossing, gripping stories. Glorify Each Day is the story of Tommy “Teach” Morrison. He’s described on the book jacket as “teacher, raconteur and alleged devil worshiper.” He’s actually accused twice in the novel of being a devil worshiper – charges which he denies. Despite the name of the novel, which I know makes it sound like a Baptist newsletter, Glorify really isn’t about religion at all. It pokes fun at fundamentalism and the basic religiosity of our society, so it probably comes across as more sacrilegious than religious. But I wasn’t really interested in writing about religion, per se.
The novel is really about the violent nature of our society. Norman Mailer once said that you can’t write about America without writing about its violence. That’s certainly one of its defining features. The storyline revolves around Tommy and his uncontrollable anger and temper. He is living a life full of grief and regret because of the consequences of his violence. But despite the seriousness of that theme, there is also a lot of humor in the book. I prefer to laugh at the things that bother me, so when I write about Tommy and his problems I tend to look at it as much as possible from a humorous angle. Some people will find the book funnier than others, however.
Who are your favorite characters in the story?
I really like Cait. She was Tommy’s college sweetheart and the source of a lot of his pain. It would be hard not to like Cait, since she was conceived to be a dream girl. Most of what we learn about Cait comes from Tommy’s memories, which are idealized. Later in the novel we finally see Cait as a flesh-and-blood person as Tommy’s memories give way to reality. But Cait is still a wonderful person, though a few flaws show through.
But as a caveat, I think that question is more suited to readers than to the author. I can’t really think of these characters in terms of how much I like them or dislike them. An author has a very strange relationship with his characters. I’m both too close to the characters as well as too distant. To compare a novel to the production of a play, I am both an actor inhabiting the psyche of a character as well as the Director, moving the characters around on stage and changing whatever isn’t working.
It’s a very strange dichotomy. On the one hand, in order to create a lifelike, realistic character I find myself almost channeling these fictional personalities – again, much like an actor would – but then I’m also aware of how malleable these creations are, of how I make them change throughout the course of writing the book and control everything they say and do, like a puppet master pulling the strings. I think that’s one of the big differences between being a reader of a book and being its creator. It’s like the difference between being a consumer of sausage, who would think it’s delicious, and being its producer, who would have other ideas about it. Writing fiction is not pretty.
Do you have a favorite line or excerpt from your book?
I do have a favorite sentence that I wrote for the book – a perfectly formed piece of prose, if I do say so myself — but I can’t recite it here because it’s actually a very pivotal sentence and would give too much away. If anybody who reads the book wants to know what that sentence is, then email me and tell me what your favorite line is and then I’ll tell you mine. But speaking only of non-pivotal scenes, I’m especially proud of the salacious and thoroughly tasteless conversations that I invented between Tommy and his dad.
If your current release were to be turned into a movie, who would you love to see play what characters and why?
I would love to see Brad Pitt as Tommy because that would mean that the movie had a huge promotional budget and would probably rake in millions at the box office. Seriously, though, I would love to see Glorify Each Day made into a movie. I think it has a lot of cinematic elements already built into the narrative. I have no idea who the actors should be. I deliberately didn’t provide a physical description of the main characters because I wanted readers to draw their own mental pictures. I only described Cait – who is the main female character – as being the most beautiful girl that Tommy had ever seen. I think that’s the only description necessary – everyone who reads the book, male or female, will have an image in their mind of what the most beautiful girl would look like. I described Tommy as being tall and athletic, which is an important part of the story. But there are a lot of peripheral characters who are all very interesting and who have good stories to tell as well. So maybe my movie will have an all-star cast.
What are your favorite aspects of writing?
The thrill of creation. Coming up with an idea and seeing it come to life on the page.
Your least favorite aspects of writing?
There are aspects of the publishing side of things that are rather tedious, but I wouldn’t necessarily characterize those as being part of the writing process. I think the writing process – the formulation of ideas, research, writing, editing – it’s all very enjoyable and rewarding.
Who are some of your favorite authors/books?
I’ll name a few. Philip Roth – The Great American Novel. Thomas Pynchon – Gravity’s Rainbow. John Irving – The World According to Garp. J.P. Donleavy – The Ginger Man. David Foster Wallace – Infinite Jest. George Washington Harris – Sut Lovingood: Yarns Spun by a Nat’ral Born Durn’d Fool. George Washington Harris may not be familiar to some people, but anyone interested in Mark Twain and Southern literature in general needs to read him.
What are you reading right now?
I’m reading mostly nonfiction now. I’m doing research for my next novel and all the time I have for reading is dedicated to that. I read a lot of history – American history mostly.
If you could have a dinner party and invite five authors – dead or alive – who would they be and what would you serve them?
I would invite Norman Mailer, Gore Vidal, Saul Bellow, Ernest Hemingway and Susan Sontag, get them all good and drunk on wine, and then sit back on watch the sparks fly.
What is a book that you wish you could say that you had written and why?
Something along the lines of The Grapes of Wrath. A truly serious book about an important social issue – the kind of novel that could actually change society. I’m too much of a smart-aleck to write anything like that, but I envy those who attempt it.
What is the greatest piece of advice (for writing and/or just living) that you have heard?
Elvis Presley said that there were three things you had to have to be happy – someone to love, something to do, and something to look forward to. I’ll go along with that.Powered by Sidelines