[Author Interview] Bob Siqveland | The Vicissitudes of Fortune
Featured Authors Talk About It
ATAI: Tell us a little about you.
Bob Siqveland: I’m now 73 but am happy to say that friends and relatives still tell me to “grow up.” I tell them, “I know a bunch of grown-ups and they’re not much fun.” I tell those that will listen to find their passion. I have five or six passions, all on the right side of my brain. These include painting, wood carving and music (as a recording artist and songwriter). I once considered getting an MRI just to see if I even had a left brain. But, among the ironies of life, I have been involved in left brain businesses most of my life, primarily as a venture capitalist and manager. I have to credit my time as a Commander in the Army for nurturing certain leadership qualities that I have carried forward in my career. I have started a number of companies in the past 50 years and currently work in the gaming industry. I don’t think I will ever retire. I love the motion and energy of being productive, plus to re-tire, you must have been tired in the first place…which I never was.
ATAI: How long have you been writing?
Bob Siqveland: I have been involved in written communications most of my life, but in 2003 I decided to write a novel. It was a response to the disclosures from a John Jay College of Criminal Justice study about pedophilia in the Catholic Church. As a Catholic, I was angry and titled the book accordingly. The story ended up being about growing up in the 1950’s and 60’s, not unlike Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye.
ATAI: What was your most recent release?
Bob Siqveland: The Vicissitudes of Fortune
ATAI: What do you love most about writing?
Bob Siqveland: In a nutshell, the creativity. Like a painting, or a wood sculpture, creating art from nothing and have people say, “loved it. I laughed, I cried, and almost everything in between.” That is the reward.
ATAI: What do you find most challenging?
Bob Siqveland: Almost everything after having finished my manuscript. The fun is over, now I need editing, publishing quotes, marketing gurus, etc. and, the least fun requirement—$$Moolah.
ATAI: Where do your ideas come from?
Bob Siqveland: Something someone said, a verse from a song, a personal reaction, I write it down, then add a sentence which turns into a paragraph which becomes a chapter. After that, my metaphorical creative horses break out of the corral and run to the four winds. I lose control and at some point, stop to catch my breath, recruit some help (like an editor) to go round up the mustangs. Almost seems that I’m not steering the story, it’s pulling me along. That probably sounds weird, but segues to your next question.
ATAI: What is your writing process?
Bob Siqveland: Most unconventional I’d have to say. Jack Kerouac’s On the Road might have been the best example of “stream of consciousness” writing. I understand. I have no outline or structure. Something strange happens. Where I find myself searching for a word or a name in conversation, when I write, there is uninterrupted flow…like magic. I keep forging ahead until the bell rings, then I bring in the reserves to clean up the mess. Kind of strange, huh?
ATAI: Do your characters (or message) ever seem to have a life of their own or an agenda of their own?
Bob Siqveland: With my characters, I sometimes feel a conflict of interest. Playing God with these people’s lives is emotional as well as creative. I gave birth to an iconic character who became my friend, developed him and then killed him to make the story work. I felt sad; a strong sense of loss. I didn’t write for two days. Some of my readers were mad at me for doing that, but it made the story work.
ATAI: What’s your favorite part of your book (or one of your books)?
Bob Siqveland: In The Vicissitudes of Fortune, Billy Stone, a Vietnam vet goes to Mexico to put his life in perspective. My sentient radar is on overload as he purges his demons. His time there is special to me as the author. He sits down to watch and absorb a sunset.
Only once did his mind get caught up in thoughts about Nam, that being when a flock of pelicans did their dive bomb thing, not far off shore, snapping up the surface fish as they submerged and took off again with gunny sack chins full of wriggling appetizers. They would circle and come back for more, the first batch probably still wriggling in undigested stomachs. In any event, it sparked the vision of diving Douglas A-4 Skyhawk’s strafing the jungles with napalm, and in the heat of the day, he shivered.
And so tomorrow became today while certain events that happened yesterday lost their clarity and faded into a bigger and more generic timeframe called the past, slipping away like grade school best friends forever, whose names and faces become harder to remember, while strangely, one might recall the faces of the parents. Time has been called a thief, but for the dispassionate, it’s but a pickpocket; for those who lust from the very depths of their spiritual marrow for connection to every grain of life’s essentia, time is a mugger, and Billy had always been a person of passion.
If there were dog days of summer in Mexico, they were different than the northern hemisphere intensity, and for Billy they were metaphorically, puppy days; soft and warm and fuzzy, with eyebrows that said a hundred things, and nights when sweet pup breath and a pink tongue seemed to lick the wounds of a survivor in a loving effort to bring solace. A little at a time, it did. Still, like puppy tails, Billy’s mind was in constant motion. The only truth Billy knew for sure was that he had lived, others not.
ATAI: What are you working on next?
Bob Siqveland: I’m just not sure. This story took a lot out of me. I’m not sure I can do any better. We’ll see.
ATAI: Where can people find you online?
Bob Siqveland: http://bobsiqveland.com/
ATAI: Thank you for sharing with us and our audience.
Bob Siqveland: Thanks for reading this interview and I truly wish all you writers much success and great reward.
*NOTE: ATAI does not edit the responses of the authors.
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