John Irving's latest novel is In One Person.
From his Q & A with Joy Shan at the Yale Daily News:
Q. You come from an academic background: college and then an MFA program at the University of Iowa. What made you decide to get an MFA instead of just jumping into writing?--Marshal Zeringue
A. I think the choice to go to an MFA program in creative writing was guided by the fact that I was a very young father. I became a father in my early 20s … before I graduated from college. And in those days, there were really only two MFA programs in creative writing. I know that sounds inconceivable, but the only two that had any kind of credibility were in Iowa and Stanford. And Iowa had a better reputation because they put more of an emphasis on your writing and there were fewer academic requirements … If you were accepted at those programs at that time, you’d go to Iowa if you cared about your writing.
Q. Your academic life didn’t end there — you went on to teach creative writing. What made you decide to teach the craft as well as practice it?
A. I knew at a young age that I wanted to write novels, and I wanted to write long novels. The prospect of writing journalism in order to support my writing habit was very unappealing because I felt certain that I would have less time to do the writing I cared about in that circumstance than I would have if I had a college teaching job. And I also had a background as a wrestler, so I could enhance my teaching position with a coaching job. So between the coaching and the teaching, I didn’t have to worry about money. That was huge … there was no commercial burden. I could take as long as I wanted to write a book. The fact that I didn’t have to associate writing with making money means that I could write novels as ambitious as I wanted … I didn’t find teaching distasteful, I didn’t dislike coaching, I was in both cases talking about something I thought I knew. I felt...[read on]