Amber Dermont is the author of the novel, The Starboard Sea, and the short story collection, Damage Control. A graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, Dermont received her PhD in Literature and Creative Writing from the University of Houston.
From her dialogue with writer Julianna Baggott:
[Baggott:] What kind of child were you, inside of what kind of childhood, and how did it shape you as a writer?--Marshal Zeringue
[Dermont:] What a beautiful question! I was a silent, sharp-eyed child. To this day, my mother still asks, “What were you thinking?” My parents are rare book dealers and, throughout my childhood, books served as my constant and loyal companions. Mom and Dad were always happy to place books in my hands and neither believed in dumbing down their recommendations. As a kid, I read stories that were well beyond my immediate comprehension. When I was nine years old, my dad suggested I read James Kirkwood’s P.S. Your Cat’s Dead, a sexually charged romance between an out of work actor and the man who keeps robbing his apartment. The book is wild, exuberant and Kirkwood became the first author I can remember calling my favorite. I went on to read his novels, Some Kind of Hero and There Must Be A Pony, then lucked out and saw the musical, A Chorus Line, for which Kirkwood won both the Tony Award and the Pulitzer Prize. Kirkwood’s fascination with the mutability of human desire and the trappings of glamour and wealth made a lasting impression on me as a writer. I’m forever grateful that my parents weren’t afraid to expose me to stories that challenged my imagination.
I despise the pervasive myth of inspiration – the idea that an entire book can exist simply because of an accumulation of inspired ideas – but I don’t deny that inspiration exists. There are things that have no other explanation. Was there a singular moment of inspiration for this book?
I totally agree with you about the myth of a singular inspiration. Books arrive from so many different impulses. Lucky for me, I grew up on Cape Cod, and so if I’ve been inspired by anything, it’s...[read on]