Q: Well, Mr. Fulghum, what’s new?
A: The coming New Year, 2013, marks the 25th anniversary of the publication of my first book, All I Really Need To Know I Learned In Kindergarten. It’s still in print and still selling. Hard to believe…
Q: Anything special to mark the anniversary?
A: Quite a bit, actually. Work on the 25th anniversary edition has been done – to be released soon. And there will be a new volume of essays around the theme of what I’ve learned since Kindergarten was published.
Q: What else?
A: My novel, If You Love Me Still, Will You Love Me Moving? – Tales From The Century Ballroom, which was published very successfully in the Czech Republic last year, will be released in English in 2013. It has been adapted for the stage as a semi-musical and will open in the Czech National Theater in Prague on June 8, 2013.
A: A personal memoir – a companion to that novel – will be published in Czech in May in time for the Prague Book Fair. The title is The Argentine Tango Chronicles of Senor Don Roberto Juan Carlos Fuljumero y Suipacha – to be released in English in 2013.
Q: What’s the subject matter of the novel and its companion memoir?
A: In a word, dancing.
Q: That’s it?
A: To expand a little: It’s about the urge to dance – the process of learning to dance – and the dimensions of love and romance involved in dance. Especially tango. The framework of the novel is an echo of Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales. That’s a collection of stories told by pilgrims on the way to a holy shrine. My novel is a collection of interwoven stories from the lives of people on the way to realizing the possibility of dancing. Tango is the specific dance form involved. The Century Ballroom is the shrine.
The memoir concerns my introduction to tango and the months I spent in Argentina experiencing an intensive immersion in the deeper world of tango.
Q: Will these books include music?
A: Not an actual recording, but music is implied throughout both books by the illustrations done by my wife, the painter, Willow Bader. (You can see them on her website www.willowbader.com.)
Q: Why so much activity in Czech?
All of my books have had considerable success in the Czech Republic. I usually add that it must be that my editor and translator are much better writers than I am, but I’ll never really know because I don’t speak Czech. My Czech editor asked to premier the novel there. The new memoir is a companion to the novel – they go together – one fiction, one autobiography. You might say that the Czechs asked me to dance, and I dance with those who ask. I’ll be living in Prague for two months in 2013 – to enjoy being in a country where I’ve spent most of my time only on book tours.
Q: When will the new novel and memoir be available in English?
A: Probably by September, 2013. If the novel and memoir are successful in Europe, perhaps it will generate interest here.
Q: What else is new?
A: I’ve been assembling a new collection of essays and stories. The complicating news is that there are enough pieces to make more than two books, not just one. And I still write regularly for my journal on this website.
Q: And so?
A: The next big editing task is to sort out the pile and come to some decision as to whether there will be one big book or two or what? I’m working on that this winter and making good progress.
A: There are two working titles for the project. Either Kindling for the Fire or What I Learned After Kindergarten.
A: Perhaps in September of 2013, though the publishers may have some thoughts about how many books to release in one year or at the same time. These discussions are actively underway, however. Maybe there will be one big blast of new books all at once.
Q: Anything else that’s new in the near future?
A: I’d hoped to be able to say that I had written a musical. But after trying my hand several times at what that entailed, I realized I was in way over my head. I learned a lot – and had a good time exploring a world I knew little about. But I also learned enough not to continue. I have a new appreciation for what it takes to create a musical. And never mind about an opera…
Q: So what’s next?
A: A friend asked me that recently. I do sense fresh ideas in the far back end of my mental workshop, so I answered that I have a title for a new book: “?!” – A question mark followed by an exclamation mark.
Q: What’s it about?
A: I don’t know yet – that explains the title. But I am certain that as long as my life goes on, the writing will continue. Meanwhile, I’m still learning and dancing tango, and will be performing with my wife on the Czech book tour next spring.
Q: Anything new going on outside literature?
A: I’ve signed on as a member of The Beat Goes On Marching Band www.thebeatgoesonmb.org of Portland, Oregon. A long-held dream come true. It’s a big, active band – 200 or so members on the roster. Because they are based in Oregon and I’m not, I don’t get to march and play as often as I’d like. Just two big parades and a park concert so far. But they are patiently willing to accommodate my irregularity and to indulge my fantasy of being in a band. I play percussion in what they call “The Trash Line” – big brass cymbals and sometimes tambourine. I’ll be out there marching with the band as often as I can. The Calgary Stampede Rodeo parade in Alberta, Canada, is the band’s premier event for 2013. And I’ll be there.
A: I finished my first marathon last spring. I know that’s hard to believe. Admittedly, my time was a bit slow. It took me more than two years to finish 26 miles, loping along ten blocks at a time week-by-week. But I’m not in as much of a hurry as I used to be, and that’s a good thing…