Gerald Arthur Winter interview with Meg Tuite
Anything you want to share with our readers about the inspiration for this story?
I was inspired to write "Poker Face" by my own memory as a child living near the LIRR crossing where our neighbor was a cop and knew Babe Ruth. The story, though written as fiction, is based on my vivid recollection of that evening in 1947. I tried telling the story to classmates in grammar school, later in high school, and even in college, but by then I was sure no one would ever believe it. Though I'm a seasoned writer, there are some stories that we hold onto long enough until, like fine wine, they pour out smoothly and finally ring true.
Do you have a specific writing schedule that you adhere to and/or any tricks that help you, that might useful to our readers?
I raised two children who have their college educations and are married, and I worked as a commercial artist in NYC for 25 years, so my writing schedule in my youth was mostly by the light of the moon. Now that I have more time to myself, I try to write at least one hour in the morning before checking my e-mail or turning on the news. Doesn't sound like much, but that discipline alone will lead to greater discipline over time to the point where you can say "I'm a writer" as opposed to whatever else you've been doing to survive. Another practice I have is taking a 5,000 word story and forcing it into a 3,000 word mode. You'd be amazed how that practice will help your writing.
What are you reading at this time?
Currently I'm reading two books: The Complete Stories of Flannery O'Connor and Freaky Green Eyes by Joyce Carol Oates. My current novel in progress is written from a teenage girl’s POV, so I thought I'd challenge myself by reading two of the best women writers.
Name the top two or three most influential writers in your reading life and maybe a note on why.
The first influence on my writing was H.G. Wells, because I could escape with his tales. Next, was Charles Dickens for his depth. Then Hemingway for his simplicity of the sentence, which I developed at Rutgers school of Journalism in the 1960's. But, the greatest influence on me was Thomas Wolfe for his magnificent prose. Though I'd been told by younger writers that Wolfe's Look Homeward, Angel would never be published in this modern age. I felt that way about Henry James when I was 20 years old.