Interview with Author David Armand




Dixon Hearne, Louisiana native and fellow Southern writer, recently interviewed award-winning author David Armand for Belle Reve Literary Journal. The present interview highlights some aspects of the author’s writing life. As with all interviews, however, so much more remains to be discovered between the covers of an author’s books.


David Armand is an award-winning author and authentic voice in Southern literature. He was born and raised in Louisiana. He has worked as a drywall hanger, a draftsman, and as a press operator in a flag printing factory. He now teaches at Southeastern Louisiana University in Hammond, where he also serves as associate editor for Louisiana Literature Press. In 2010 his first novel, The Pugilist's Wife, won the George Garrett Fiction Prize and was published by Texas Review Press. His second novel, Harlow, was recently released by Texas Review Press (Fall 2013) to very favorable reviews and enthusiastic readers. David lives in Louisiana with his wife and two children and is currently at work on his third novel.

 
DH:  Mr. Armand, how long does it take you to write a book?

DA:  Since I don’t write every day, it takes me about 2-3 years to complete a novel. Both of my books are just shy of 200 pages, and each took closer to three years to complete.

DH:  What is your work schedule like when you are writing?

DA:  I think about writing all day, every day. Even if I’m not physically in front of the keyboard, I’m always storing away images, bits of dialogue, interesting words I come across.

DH:  What do you like to do when you're not writing?

DA:  I enjoy spending time with my wife and two children, reading, watching movies, and listening to music.

DH:  Which writers inspire you?

DA:  I love the work of John Steinbeck, William Faulkner, Ernest Hemingway, Raymond Carver, Cormac McCarthy, Flannery O’Connor, Ron Rash, Tom Franklin, Larry Brown, Quentin Tarantino, and Joel and Ethan Coen.  

DH:  What are you working on at the moment?  

DA:  I’m working on my third novel, The Gorge. I’m about three-quarters of the way finished.

DH:  What’s it about?

DA:  The Gorge takes place in the Bogue Chitto State Park (before it was a state park) in Franklinton, Louisiana. At the opening of the novel, a young girl’s body is discovered in the brush near Fricke’s Cave, and the young man who discovers her body is accused of the crime.

DH:  Do you aim for a set amount of words/pages per day?

DA:  When I am working hard on a particular scene, I try to write about 1,000 words per day, but I don’t beat myself up if I don’t get there. I am happy if I write 300 words per day so long as they’re 300 of the “right” words.

DH:   Do you write on a typewriter, computer, dictate or longhand?

DA:  I write both in longhand and on a computer. Often, I will handwrite on a yellow legal pad then type it up on a computer later, revising along the way.

DH:  Do you work to an outline or plot, or do you prefer just to see where an idea takes you?

DA:  I never use an outline or plot: I always start with an image then let it take me where it wants me to go.

DH:   Do you read much and if so who are your favorite authors?

DA:  I read constantly: my favorite authors to read lately are Dennis Lehane, Wiley Cash, Stephen King, and Thomas Harris. I’m learning a lot about “pacing” from reading their work.

DH:  Have you found yourself in any of your characters (similarities, habits/traits, experiences, world view)? If so, is it okay? or bothersome?

DA:  Yes, I think a lot of my characters are amalgamations of myself in a way. The character I relate most to is the boy Leslie in Harlow. In fact, his story is not much different from my own. I think this is okay since readers have told me that they sense an authenticity in the characters I’ve

drawn mostly from personal experience.

DH:  Where you see yourself (your writing life) in five years?  I know it's unpredictable, but readers (especially writers themselves) might be interested in your aspirations.

DA:  I definitely think about the trajectory I'd like my career to follow. I certainly wouldn't want to have my first book or two be a bestseller like Charles Frazier's Cold Mountain, for example. While that's actually one of my favorite novels, the question of how to follow up a book like that (in addition to its extraordinary success) is daunting. I would like to publish a novel every other year, if possible, continuing (but slowly and steadily) building a readership. It would be nice to continue teaching, but with a smaller course load, and focus primarily on writing.
I also try to think of my novels as part of a larger picture: in other words, I'd like for them all to have a cohesiveness about them, a similarity in purpose and place and theme.

DH:  Thank you for the informative interview, Mr. Armand. I’m sure readers of Belle Reve will want to check out your two novels as soon as possible – and the one in the works!

Contact Information: 

Author Website:  www.davidarmandauthor.com

Book Purchase: Harlow and The Pugilist’s Wife are available at: amazon.com, Barnes and Noble and local book stores. Also available directly from Texas Review Press.

For signed copies, contact the author at Louisiana Review Press.


Special thanks to Dixon Hearne for contributing this interview to our journal and to Author David Armand for allowing our readers a closer look into his life and work.

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Belle Rêve Literary Journal is a southern literary experience. Our mission is to capture everything that makes the South and its residents unique through the best contemporary literature we can find. We publish new works weekly.