Q: Well, Mr. Fulghum, what’s new?
A: The play goes on: You may recall that my novel, If You Love Me Still, Will You Love Me Moving? – Tales From The Century Ballroom, was published in the Czech Republic in 2013. Then it was adapted for the stage as a musical, and opened in the Czech National Theater in Prague on June 8, 2013. The production has been successful enough to extend the run for another two years – into 2017.
Q: What else?
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. The next big editing task is to sort out the pieces – to divide the material into two books for the Czechs.
That’s in process now – September 2015.
A: “The Maze of the Mind – the Haven of the Heart” for the first book of stories and essays. And then a book of small pieces that fit into a different format, which is entitled “Kindling for the Fire.”
A: The first in May, 2016 – the second in the following Christmas season.
Both only in Czech – not English.
Q: Why so much activity in Czech?
A: All of my books have had considerable success in the Czech Republic.
There are 23 different titles available – some bi-lingual.
I’m not sure why this has happened. A mystery to me. I usually say 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 dancing 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 lived in Prague for several weeks in 2013 – to watch the musical come together, and to enjoy being in a country where I’ve previously spent most of my time only on book tours. Residency in Prague was a rich, provocative, and memorable experience.
There must be something Slavic in my DNA.
Q: Why no new books in English?
A: American publishing seems to be in turmoil. Lots of cutbacks in titles, publicity, editorial staff, and the willingness to take risks. My former U.S. publishers are not interested in my writing now. And Amazon has moved to a dominant place in publishing – it’s pricing makes it hard for writers to make any money. As with the music business, the book business has undergone radical changes. And the focus seems to be on violence, crime, anguish, drugs, and the cyber-world. Not my style.
Q: Anything else that’s new?
A: I’ve taken up sculpture again – went to the Penland School of Arts and Crafts this summer to improve my technical skills, and have produced a substantial number of small works. Not for sale – just for the pleasure of the process of creating in stone and steel and wood and bone.
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 another new book: simply “?!” – 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 I still write regularly for my website journal, www.robertfulghum.com and post on Facebook: www.facebook.com/robertleefulghum.
Q: Anything new going on outside literature?
A: I signed on as a member of The Beat Goes On Marching Band 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 eccentric sense of time 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. Watching a parade and being in a marching band prove to be very different experiences – I’ve learned a lot and had a lot of exhausting fun.
I’ll march with them again when I can.
A: I’m planning to go to Shoe School this coming year. I’ve always wanted to make my own shoes – and there’s a place that will teach me.
Q: Anything else?
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.
I’ll begin my second marathon in two weeks – same plan – slowly, slowly – the marathon of a determined turtle. And I also bought a folding bicycle, which I don’t ride far or long, but enough to enjoy rolling along…as long as I remain in good health – and my doctor says I’m good to go.
On the wall of my studio is a sign that says:
NOTICE FROM THE MANAGEMENT:
YOU HAVE MORE TOOLS AND IDEAS AND PLANS
FOR THE ROAD AHEAD THAN YOU HAVE ROAD AHEAD.
And I am…