Meet the Author

A Conversation with Kristopher Jansma

Q: How does an adjunct professor working on two New York-area campuses manage to do any writing, let alone the thoughtful, sophisticated work that went into The UNCHANGEABLE SPOTS OF LEOPARDS?

A: During the semesters, I’ve typically taught five sections a week—though I’ve done as many as seven, and yes, often on two campuses, though they are thankfully close to one another. When you factor in the preparation and the grading and the advising and another four or five hours at a tutoring desk, it’s a lot of work, as thousands and thousands of other young adjunct professors around the country can tell you. But I actually get more writing done during these packed semesters than I do over the summers. When I know I can just get to it later, it’s too easy to put off. But when I’ve only got one free hour to write, and that it might be my only hour for the next two or three days . . . I have to give it everything I’ve got.

Beyond that, though, teaching gives me the chance to spend several hours each day thinking about writing and talking about writing…figuring out how to make it interesting to younger people who often don’t read or write very much outside of class. When you walk into a room full of eighteen-year-old students and it is 8:15 AM and half of them haven’t even gone to bed yet, you’ve got two options: One, you can just get up there and give them material and tell them it’ll be on a test or a quiz…Or, two, you can get up there and tell them, “Here’s why it matters. Here’s what you’ll be able to do, if you listen to what I have to say. And then I want to hear from you because this goes both ways.” If you go with option number two, when you walk out of that classroom at 9:30, you’re going to easily be twice as jazzed as they are—and that’s when I want to sit down and write something I’ve never seen written before.

Q: It’s interesting that you have written a novel that deceives its readers with Mephistophelean glee but that truth clearly means so much to you. What do you have to say about our current cultural preoccupation with regard to truth?

A: Like “Professor Wallace” I am really fascinated with fakers and plagiarists and liars. I’m really a terrible liar myself and I’m always intrigued by people who can do it so effortlessly. Growing up, I used to love the character of George on Seinfeld, who advises Jerry on passing a lie detector test: “It’s not a lie if you believe it.” And that’s one thing I wonder about—do these people really believe their own lies? A writing professor of mine once opined that fiction was “something that could have happened, but didn’t.” Jonah Lehrer wrote several things that Bob Dylan might well have said, but happened not to. Stephen Glass made up stories which could have happened, but didn’t. That’s fiction.

And people are upset by betrayals like these—and rightly so—because when you write something and say it is true, you’re asking people to go out on a limb and take you at your word. If they find out you’re lying, then it’s a breach of that contract. To me it’s important to keep in mind that James Frey started out trying to sell A Million Little Pieces as a work of fiction. Nobody wanted to publish it. Call it a true story, however, and it becomes a bestseller that sweeps the nation and garners Oprah’s seal of approval. Of course that was terribly, terribly wrong of him to do. But it also begs the question: Why does the same exact story fail to move us until we’re told “this really happened”?

People forget that fiction can be every bit as truthful as nonfiction. When the reader begins by accepting the premise that what they’re about to read is not a factual account of real events or the actions of real people…And yet they will still hang on every twist, and still fall in love with the characters and pump their fists in the air when they do well and sob when they fail . . . Well, that’s a very real thing.

Q: The novel takes readers around the world and back again, to many different locales: Tokyo, Luxembourg, Sri Lanka, Iceland . . . Have you been to all these places? How did you do the research necessary to transport readers to these places? And I’m assuming you aren’t fluent in French and Russian and Japanese and Icelandic . . .

A: No, I’m not at all. In fact I may be the world’s worst language student, and I have the report cards to prove it. I studied French in grade school and Russian in college, but I can barely remember a dozen words of either. Italian was the only course I ever failed outright. The only language I did well with was Latin, in middle school and high school, because we never had to speak it out loud. I could take my time on the translations, and I could also usually see the links between the Latin words and the English derivatives.

For the translations in the book, I got by with a little help from my friends. My sister-in-law speaks fluent French. A student of mine had done a semester abroad in Japan, and she very kindly helped me out there. And thanks to social networking, I was able to reach some old friends who helped with the Russian and even the Tamil and the Luxembourgish! They also helped me with some of the cultural details, because there was simply no way I could manage to go to all these places myself.

I did go to the Grand Canyon, and rafted the river with my family, and also to Luxembourg with my wife, and we spent a day in the old city there. I was also able to go to Ghana with my in-laws, who were taking a sabbatical to teach in Kumasi. But I haven’t been to Dubai or Iceland or Sri Lanka. Yet. Those stories required a lot of research, in libraries and also online. It’s pretty incredible what you can do these days. A few mouse clicks and I can be looking at a street view right outside of the Colombo Fort Railway Station. I can look at the cocktail menu for Vu’s Bar in the Jumeirah Emirates Towers. I can go onto a forum where Indian couples are discussing Hindi weddings.

People say you should write what you know, but that so depletes our possibilities, and by extent, our literature. It was important to me that the novel not just be limited to what I knew already. For me, writing has always been an excuse to learn a lot more than the little I know.

Q: Your readers are likely to have come across other unnamed narrators, like Ellison’s invisible man or Dostoevsky’s paradoxalist from the underground. However, few such narrators are as teasingly and playfully presented as the alias-rich voice of your novel. Why did you choose not to give him a real name, and did you have as much fun with the whole nameless motif as you appear to have had?

A: Absolutely, I had fun with it. I love The Invisible Man and Notes from the Underground. My favorite unnamed narrator might be from The Aspern Papers by Henry James. The narrator in that story is trying to con an old lady and her niece out of some valuable papers, and he’s very upfront with us all along about how he manipulates them. He says he invents a nom de guerre, as in a war name used by a soldier, when he introduces himself to them—but he never tells us what it is. And then, later in the book, he casually mentions that he’s confessed his true name to the niece, and you almost drop the book because it’s so unfair that he’d tell her and not you! Anytime a book can trick you into thinking something like that, you know you’re in good hands.

Unnamed narrators have long been a fascination of mine, because here you have someone who is telling you a story, most likely confessing all sorts of personal and intimate things, and yet withholds the most basic social intimacy. And this creates a kind of suspicion. Anyone making a confession is also trying to sell you something–a version of events, a justification for wrongdoing, or even just a humanity behind certain actions. But when the person won’t even tell you his name, then it makes you think twice about his agenda.

Q: Your novel is strewn with unattainable women and with quite a few highly available gay men. Would you like to talk a bit about the sexual mood of the book?

A: Well, I think the women are only one of many unattainable things that the narrator yearns for, especially in the first half of the book. He wants to best Julian in the story contest, he wants to write this novel, he wants to fit into this world of privilege, and he wants Evelyn to run off with him. But to be always wanting something and never actually having it is to exist forever in a fiction. It can always be whatever you imagine and never what it truly is. Maybe that tells us something about his reticence to be with the women in the book who are attainable.

As for Julian’s “high availability,” the narrator implies this at various points, but conspicuously he never considers that Julian might love, or be loved, by these men. They are so interchangeable to the narrator that he meanly refers to them all as “Simons”—a joke he shares with Evelyn. And yet there is real love between Julian and the narrator, which is not sexual, but which the narrator cannot seem to speak about.

Talking about sex all the time is the mark of someone who doesn’t know anything about real love, and I wanted that to come across in the way the narrator talks about Julian’s sex life, as well as his own.

Q: The way in which your narrator approaches the honeymooners in Dubai reminded me a lot of M. Clamence in Camus’s The Fall. Do you count that book among your influences? What do you see as your major influences, for that matter?

A: There were a lot of influences on Leopards, that varied wildly from chapter to chapter. I did read The Fall, quite a long time ago, so maybe it crept in there. I had mainly been thinking, in that chapter, of telling a sort of Thousand and One Nights type of story within a story—which rose up out of the Middle Eastern setting, but which also fit that moment nicely, where the two halves of the novel meet. It’s a little jarring, and the reader needs a little jarring there. Other chapters came out of other, different places. I wrote the eponymous chapter just after seeing Waiting for Godot on stage for the very first time. The next week I saw the British film Withnail & I and that got me thinking about the next chapter, which I named “Anton and I” out of respect to the film, which is brilliant. And “In the Writer’s Colony” had a bit of “In the Penal Colony” behind it, at least at first . . . I think I had just been teaching that story and it seemed to resonate with the themes. The whole book came together in this way. I’d be working on other things and then I’d run across something somewhere that just felt like Leopards.

Q: Your teaching has given you some rather prickly views about the state of higher education, and you aren’t shy about expressing them in your novel. What’s wrong with teaching at the collegiate level these days, and how do you think we might start changing it?

A: Well, first, let’s be clear: many of those opinions are the narrator’s, not mine! And he expresses them at a pretty low point in his life, when he’s losing all faith in his life as a writer.

Two years before I began working on Leopards, I was teaching at a city college and I was totally new to the job. I’d sent out CVs to dozens of schools and no one was hiring, and then just a week before the semester began, the chair at this college called me up and said that someone had just quit and would I take two sections? I said of course I’d do it, and he said, “Great. Pick out a textbook and show up on the first day!” And that was basically it. There wasn’t an orientation or a syllabus or a list of course expectations or anything.

So I walked in on the first day and started talking about William Zinsser and more or less made the rest up as I went along. I brought in readings I liked and some I thought they’d like. There were thirty-five students in each class. By week four or five, I had maybe twenty-five still showing up. By the end of the semester, I only had fifteen coming regularly, and about five more kids who showed up just enough to pass. And I was so upset—I thought for sure I’d be fired. Some of the kids were doing really well and were really into it, but I knew a huge portion of the class would fail.

Finally I found another professor to talk to about it and he laughed and said not to worry. The attrition rate for first-year students at the college was over fifty percent. It was just a given that kids would either give up, drop out, or fail because they couldn’t handle it even if they tried hard. No one saw it as their own failing, because it was built into the system . . . so I wrote the first pieces of that chapter back when I was feeling that disillusionment pretty intensely.

But in the years since that first class, that school has put more effort into supporting its teachers and its first-year students. I began teaching at another college, which also had a high attrition rate and lax admissions standards . . . but they were working hard to change it. There are practical paths toward improvement, but the main thing is that someone has to care about the students. College needs to be a place where a student can discover they’re capable of more than they ever believed possible—not the other way around.

Q: The two main characters of THE UNCHANGEABLE SPOTS OF LEOPARDS, your nameless narrator and his “frenemy” Julian McGann, have a great deal in common—they’re both gifted but slightly deranged writers who have trouble putting down roots—and yet you manage to develop them as distinct and different characters. How did you manage to keep them from blurring together?

A: Over the years I spent in classes and workshops with other writers, I think I developed a sense for the many, many varieties of writers out there. And if we are slightly deranged then I’d say we each go about it in our own unique way. No, seriously though, every writer comes at the task differently and for different reasons, and our literature is more diverse for it.

The narrator sees Julian as a writer who is naturally gifted—simply more talented than himself. But like many novice writers, the narrator doesn’t understand that, ultimately, talent is somewhat beside the point. Plenty of people with talent lack drive. Julian’s dedication comes from this kind of total obsessiveness, but this also threatens him. He’d rather be writing than sleeping or bathing or eating or experiencing the outside world. It can become an addiction, and it can really break people, as it does in Julian’s case.

The narrator’s dedication comes mainly from his envy of Julian’s dedication, and he romanticizes the sacrifices that he sees his roommate making . . . which I think we all do sometimes. We talk about how much Hemingway could drink and Byron’s scandalous sex life, and even come to believe that self-destruction is a prerequisite for being a writer, instead of a very perilous side effect. Anyway, as the narrator learns, envy can be a very good motivator, but I think it can only take you so far. You’ve got to have something else to get you through the final stretch.

Q: THE UNCHANGEABLE SPOTS OF LEOPARDS is prefaced by a sort of all-points bulletin, asking anyone who thinks he or she may be the author of the book to please contact Haslett & Grouse. Has anyone come forward yet?

A: No, but we’re keeping our eyes open! Until then, I’m more than happy to continue taking the credit.

*****

Special thanks to Elaine Broeder at Viking for providing this conversation with Kristopher Jansma, and for allowing me to host a giveaway of The Unchangeable Spots of Leopards. Leave a comment on this post to enter the giveaway; the winner will be announced on March 29th.

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258 Responses to “Meet the Author”

  1. Michelle Says:

    Sounds like a good read.. would love to win a copy.

  2. Would love to win a copy–great review! Hm, I wonder what he would do if some crazy did try to come forward and take the credit…

  3. I’m so excited to read this book, it sounds fantastic. I’m hoping I can convince my book club to pick it for April.

  4. Moriah Glasgow Says:

    Here’s hoping I win a copy! I’m looking forward to reading it.

  5. I am really looking forward to reading this!

  6. painsthee Says:

    It sounds amazing, I can’t wait to read it. Contemporary lit is really getting so much more interesting.

  7. Stephanie Deeter Says:

    Winning a copy would be awesome

  8. The books sounds amazing.

  9. Tara Peltier Says:

    Looking forward to reading this book.

  10. I’ve got this on my “to-read” list… sounds really interesting. Thanks for the chance to win!

  11. Kathryn Juergens Says:

    This is on my list of books to buy! Thanks for alerting me about the giveaway and for the chance to win.

  12. Thanks for the interesting interview! I was attracted to the book by the premise and had it on my TBR listnow Im even more intrigued. Cheers!

  13. I would love to win a copy of this book.
    Thank you for directing me to your blog.

  14. Lela Coleman Says:

    Fantastic sounding book. Great interview and review. Looking forward to moving it from “to read” to “read!”

  15. kimberly hoefs Says:

    I would really love to win a copy, i love your cover..very cool and sounds like a great read…thanks so much

  16. I’ll be honest – I only skimmed the interview because I don’t want to know too much before I read the book. So…fingers crossed that I win a copy so I can come back and read the interview more thoroughly. 🙂

  17. This book sounds fascinating! My brother is a professor at a small private college and I know how overwhelmed he can get teaching along with his additional responsibilities.

    Please consider me for the giveaway. Thanks!

  18. I would love to read the book – and would love to win a copy to provide feedback.

  19. Looking forward to reading this one.

  20. What a wonderful interview! I am so looking forward to reading this book. Thank you so very much for alerting me your blog and the book giveaway.

  21. I have entered a giveaway on Goodreads and I’m hoping to read the book soon! 🙂

  22. I so want to read this book. It sounds so good and seems right up my alley of books to read.

  23. Would love to win a copy!! 😀

  24. Hey, thanks for letting me know about this giveaway on GoodReads. I really enjoyed your review and the interview. I’m adding your blog to my reader! Always great to find another book site. 🙂

  25. This book sounds so unique! I would love to own a copy; thanks for this great opportunity 🙂

  26. I would love to win this! Hilarious and Witty, I can’t wait!

    alholm.co at gmail dot com

  27. Her answers to the questions are exceptional! I’m excited to read the book. I hope I can win a copy 🙂

  28. this was a really interesting interview, can’t wait to read the book!

  29. Kathy Connolly Says:

    I would love to read this book. Had it on my to-read list at Goodreads and after reading this blog, want to all the more!

  30. This is one of the books on my to-read list so I really hope I win it. Thank you for the great interview and I am a new follower.

  31. I’d love to win a copy.

  32. A wonderful interview, fingers crossed for the give-away!

  33. I have been trying to win this book on Goodreads for months!! Looks like an interesting read and I am even more intrigued after reading this. Would love to win a copy!

  34. I recently put this on my ‘must read’ list and can’t wait to get started! A copy would be FANTASTIC!

  35. Thanks for the heads up via Goodreads….Happy to have come across your site! And would be thrilled to win 🙂

  36. Margaret Rose Says:

    Always like to read something with a new twist on life. Sounds like this might be it. Have it on to read. Thanks for the opportunity to win.

  37. Really looking forward to this! Thanks for reaching out to me on Goodreads!

  38. This review is totally awesome! Crossing my fingers to win!

  39. I’m really looking forward to this one. I have my fingers crossed that I win the drawing. Thanks for the heads up!

  40. I got notice of this when the author commented on my good reads “what to read” list. This has been on my radar for awhile. Not only is this a really great, informative interview, the reviews on goodreads have me attracted to this book like glue to paper. I love books with a tilt in the direction of unusual.

  41. Dawn Lowery Says:

    I would love to win a copy of this wonderful book so that I can share it with the non profit organization that I operate. We would LOVE to be able to loan this wonderful literary work to patients who are recovering in the hospital from surgeries and illnesses *on a personal note-I would also LOVE to read it* Good luck !

  42. Thanks for the interview. Would love to win a copy!

  43. Heather Hart Says:

    Wanted to read it prior to the interview, now even more so! Hope to win a copy!

  44. Thanks for an insightful interview that makes me want to read the book ASAP! Please enter me in your raffle.

  45. Alyssa Leavitt Says:

    This book sounds interesting!! I’m excited to read it!

  46. Catherine Says:

    Thanks! Really looking forward to this book! 🙂

  47. Danielle S. Says:

    I’ve been wanting to read this book for some time now. I have a feeling I’ll really like it. Thanks for the giveaway.

  48. What a great interview! Now I’m even more interested in reading the book. I also wish it were possible to take one of Mr. Jansma’s classes! Thank you for bringing your giveaway to my attention!

  49. I’d love to win a copy!

  50. great interview. look forward to reading the book

  51. I’m very excited to read this one!

  52. I’d like an edition of THE UNCHANGEABLE SPOTS OF LEOPARDS, please, courtesy of this giveaway. Thanks for the notification! FACT: I am going to like this book.

  53. Thanks for the heads up on my GoodReads page about the giveaway! I’m looking forward to reading the book.

    Cheers!

  54. Sounds like a very interesting and enjoyable read! Looking forward to reading it!!

  55. This does sound like a good book for a book club to use. Your interview gives good background for the discussion. Thanks again!

  56. I am looking forward to reading this book. The craft of writing fascinates me both as a teacher and a student.

  57. Would love to win a copy. Sounds very good.

  58. This looks like a good book, I look froward to reading it! Thanks for the interview with the author.

  59. Amanda Johnson Says:

    I would love a copy of this book!

  60. I would love to read this! Thank you for linking me to the contest from Goodreads

  61. Gail Shochet Says:

    I’m looking forward to reading this and would love to win a copy, thanks!

  62. Thanks for letting me know about this giveaway. Great interview. Hoping to win! Good luck to all who enter. 😀

  63. Amanda Petersen Says:

    Would love to read this book it sounds wonderful!

  64. This looks like an interesting book; hope to find time to read it soon. Thanks for giving me the heads up on the giveaway!

  65. Sounds like a good book To read. Would love to win a copy

  66. Kathleen K. Says:

    The book sounds interesting. Great title and plot. Always looking for great new writers. Looking forward to winning a copy.

  67. Lindsey Shultz Says:

    Looking forward to this one.

  68. Very informative……I can’t wait to read it. I hope I can win a copy!

  69. Really looking forward to reading this! Great interview!

  70. Bonnie K Says:

    Thanks for the heads up about the giveaway on goodreads. This book looks amazing and from I just read here it sounds even better. Love to win it.

  71. Sounds like a great read! I will probably look for it even if I don’t win…

  72. Can’t wait to read this book. Isn’t it strange how being busy can motivate you to get even more done?

  73. I love to read and I hope to be able to read this book soon!

  74. Really interesting to get the author’s perspective. Sounds like an interesting read! Thanks for directing me to your blog, J.A.!

  75. Sandra Padgett Says:

    Entered to win this book on Goodreads, but no luck. Looks like a good book to get into. Thank you for the info on the giveaway. Good luck to everyone.

  76. Interesting read! Looking forward to reading the book whether I win it or not. 🙂

  77. Thanks for invite, and very nice interview.

  78. This sounds like such a neat book!

  79. This has been under my radar 🙂 I want to read so it would be really nice if I win a copy 🙂

  80. Katie Brandano Cusick Says:

    Solid interview! Please consider me for you giveaway. Great website and loved the 3/21 post.

  81. Elisa Owens Says:

    This sounds like such a great book. I can’t wait to read it! 🙂

  82. Great interview and awesome insight on the characters and the author before reading thw book.

  83. I want to read this book so badly!

  84. This book looks awesome!

  85. This book sounds amazing. I’m intrigued by both this interview and with your write up after reading the book. I can’t wait to read.

  86. Carol Unger Says:

    I’m always looking for new authors to follow and if this is an example of what I could expect from this books and any others that you may write, it appears that you would be one to follow. Here’s hoping that I will be the lucky one to get your free copy of “The Unchangeable Spots of a Leopard” to wet my appetite for other greats books of yours to follow!

  87. I’m really intrigued to check this out. Sounds like fun

  88. Great interview (and thanks for giving me a head’s up on your giveaway!)

  89. I really want to have the book as there is no other way i can have it from our local bookstore!Ever more eager to read it as the subject is close to my heart yet needs to be explored at lenght and that will come with this book!

  90. Jennifer Says:

    Great interview. Excited to read this book.

  91. I have been wanting to read this book for quite some time now. After reading this interview, I am even more excited! I’m moving this right to the top of my “must read” list.

  92. Holly Simpson Says:

    This isn’t my usual genre of book, but it sounded interesting enough for me to step out of my zone and give it a try. Thanks for the chance to win!

  93. Heather Rose Says:

    I’m quite excited to read this!

  94. Kristine Says:

    I found the recommendation for tho book in Aprils Cosmo magazine! Really looking forward to reading it and finding out what all the hype is about:)

  95. This sounds like something I should read.

  96. Would love to win a copy!

  97. I would love this, thank you!

  98. Keep building the buzz! Cheers to debut author, Kristopher Jansma, bound to capture the hearts and minds of readers from all walks of life.

  99. I’d love to get a chance to read this book. I love the idea of writers writing about writers, so this book spoke to me the moment I heard about it. Thanks for letting me know about the giveaway on goodreads!

  100. This book sounds really intriguing (marked it on Goodreads already!). I really sympathize with the author’s observation that it’s much easier to write (or do anything) when you only have certain windows in which to do it – while there are days I’d love to be an independently wealthy yogini with one hell of a personal library and all the time in the world to write, I know it wouldn’t be long until I’d need to schedule myself busy just so I could find some time to do what I love.

    Thanks for the post and the shout out to come find you on Goodreads!

  101. Would love to read this book…thanks for the opportunity to win!

  102. Meg Wilson Says:

    Pick Me! I work in a public library suffering budget cuts! If I win, I’ll donate the book to the library when I’m done reading it. We need more than 6 copies for 750k people!

  103. Really looking forward to reading this.

  104. Thanks for mentioning the giveaway on my GoodReads! Can’t wait to read this.

  105. Would love an opportunity to have this book on my shelve! Fingers crossed! Thanks for the opportunity. Great interview!

  106. I can’t wait to read this, it sounds like a great book!

  107. I’ve got this book lined up on my to-read list on Goodreads. Very excited to get my hands on it.

  108. I would definitely be interested in reading this one. Thanks for alerting me on Goodreads.

  109. I’m bookmarking this conversation until after I read (win?) this book. I don’t want to risk learning too much about it before I get my hands on it! (I’m a bit of a superstitious reader!)

  110. Looking for a chance at this book. Can’t wait to read it.

  111. Kam Plasek Says:

    As a current graduate student and graduate assistant, I really appreciated the response to the first question about finding the time to write. I imagine that the students most likely influenced the writing of the novel (I know my students influenced my own writing for school!) and that in and of itself intrigues me. Inspiration often comes from the most unexpected places.

  112. I’m definitely intrigued. Will be interesting to re-read this interview after reading the book.

  113. As a budding writing myself, I look forward to reading this book!

  114. maryannesquire Says:

    Interesting interview…I definitely would like to read the book now. Adding your blog to my Read list too. Thanks.

  115. I can’t wait to read this. Winning would be really great.

  116. I was hooked when I read what the book was about and now I want to read it even more after reading the interview.

  117. Kelli Robinson Says:

    This has been on my radar (and my Good Reads “to read” list) since it was published. Great author interview; great review. Would love to win a copy!

  118. Would love to read this one! Thanks for the interview

  119. natasharenee07 Says:

    Awesome; I’d love to win it! Thanks for letting me know about the giveaway.

  120. I have just finished reading “The Invisible Man” in school.
    It was a good read and above you mention that you love that book.
    Personally, I am trying to expand my reading horizons. I have always
    wanted to be a writer since a very young age and was
    often taught that to be a good writer, I would have to be a good reader.
    I usually love reading fantasy and adventure but I am stepping out of those
    zones and acquainting myself with other genres. I would love to read this book and winning it would be most helpful.

  121. I would love to win a copy of this novel! I can’t wait to read it. Thanks!

  122. This book sounds incredible… an original voice in and of its own. 2013 just got much better for storytelling enthusiasts. Can’t wait to read this.

  123. Great interview, hope to read his work soon.

  124. Sounds fantastic – looking forward to reading it!

  125. Please add my name to the drawing! Thanks!

  126. Natalie Sober Says:

    Second question’s response, third paragraph. EXACTLY. So looking forward to reading this, and the interview q’s +a’s were perfect prep. Thank you!

  127. You conducted a wonderful interview. The questions were well chosen. Thank you for having this giveaway and thank you for letting me know.

  128. I would love the opportunity to win this book, I’ve been so excited to read it and would love to add it to my limited book collection.

  129. Linda Rice Says:

    What a great teacher you must be. Wish I had you as a professor in college…I might have become a writer myself. Please add my name to the drawing….and here’s to many more books from you,

  130. Thanks for sharing the review, and the interesting interview 🙂 would love to win a copy, this book sounds fascinating!

  131. this looks very interesting, would love to win!

  132. Nauman Mithani Says:

    This is all quite interesting. My interest in this book is now affirmed.

  133. Already on my “to read” shelf! Thanks for the chance to win a copy!

  134. Thanks so much for letting me know about this on GoodReads. I can’t wait to read it!

  135. Sarah Barnes Says:

    This has just made me more interested in reading this novel. Thanks for sharing this interview with me. Of course I would love to win.

  136. I’m really looking forward to this book; I would love to win a copy.

  137. I am REALLY looking forward to this book. There’s nothing I enjoy more than a book of fiction about a book of fiction about a …. Well, you get the idea. Thanks for the review and the interview!

  138. Maureen Lipsky Says:

    Wether I win or not I have earmarked this book as a must read for me. Love the comments and looking forward to reading it but it would be nice if I won.

  139. Jennifer McFarland Says:

    The Unchangable Spots of Lepoards is a book that seems to belong on my TBR pile, like the top.

  140. Really great interview! The concept of a nameless narrator has always fascinated me, and I actually haven’t come across any in my reading yet, although I guess now I should check out the ones mentioned above.

  141. A wonderful interview. I’d very much like to win a copy 🙂

  142. Very interesting interview! I want to read this novel even more now!

  143. Jocelyn H Says:

    This book looks really interesting. Sounds like it’s right up my alley, literary fiction that is gripping and with an interesting twist. Thanks for getting in touch on Goodreads, and please sign me up for the contest!

  144. This sounds really exciting and I would love to read it!

  145. Marla Burt Says:

    I can’t wait to read this book. It sounds intriguing.

  146. This is on my list to read! 🙂

  147. Great interview! Book sounds awesome! Thanks for the chance of winning a copy. 🙂

  148. Stacie Jenkins Says:

    This interview makes me want to read the book even more!

  149. This is a great interview – I really want to read the book!

    (I would love to win a copy! )

  150. Sounds like a great read. I would love to win a copy through the giveaway. Thanks for directing me to it through Goodreads.

  151. Agnes G. Says:

    Thanks for letting me know Mr. Clemens! Of course I would love to have a copy. Really looking forward to reading it/

  152. Looking forward to checking this one out. Interesting blog!

  153. Waterwings Says:

    A great interview on what sounds like it’ll be a great read! Would love to win a copy!!! 🙂

  154. I guess I’ve had this book on my to-read list since it was first introduced on Goodreads. The title really caught my eye. I’m still looking to win it–if I should be so lucky. My mother was good at writing and wrote articles for a Christian magazine from time to time. Right after WW II, when few gifts were available, she wrote and illustrated a book for me as a Christmas or birthday gift. It’s something I’ve always treasured and will pass on to the kids in the family. For her 80th birthday my brother published it for the family and each one represented there received a dual language edition: the original German and the English most of us learned. I can do the translations, but know that otherwise I’m a mediocre writer at best.

    The conversation above has really intrigued me. Since I read a lot, I’m always keen to hear what authors have to see. But don’t worry, I’ll never steal anything from anybody. No imagination for it.

  155. Hi, I would love to win a copy of this book. I first came across this book on goodreads, and was intrigued by it’s provided blurb/short summary on the site. I read the interview, and I must say it was very intriguing when I the author talked about how people’s perceptions change on a novel that is based on real life, compared to ones that are not. ” Why does the same exact story fail to move us until we’re told “this really happened”?” I agree with what he said, how the readers would be more intrigued/captured in a book that has “Based on a true story” printed on a book or even stated in the beginning of a movie. I feel that it is really interesting to know about our minds. 🙂

  156. Thanks for letting me know about the giveaway over on Goodreads! I’d love to read this one! Aren’t we a tad bit preoccupied with truth/Truth/truths? I think the whole Frey fiasco just highlights that. Have you read Flimsy Little Plastic Miracles yet — same theme! 🙂

    • jaclemens Says:

      Yes, I have read Flimsy Little Plastic Miracles – if you scroll down the blog you will find the review and giveaway I did for that one, as well as a short Q&A with Ron Currie, Jr. This one also reminded me of Wonder Boys by Michael Chabon.

  157. leopard skulks and nears
    eyes alert, heartbeat quickens
    sinewy flesh cools

  158. TJ Vierra Says:

    Heck yeah, I’d love to win! But even if I don’t I’ll read it anyway.

  159. Yes, thank you for the Q&A. It gives a better understanding on what this book might be about. Seems interesting though, enough to make me post a comment here. Would like to read it.. one day, looking forward for it. Thanks.

  160. So many books, so little time…
    Winning a copy of this one would certainly move it up the list 😉
    [Thanks for the tip on Goodreads.]

  161. This is one book I would love to win!!

  162. I am hooked even before I have started reading this! I so want to win this, I´ll write a long review and share this with all my literary friends, sounds like a book that will win my heart and intellect and that will become a favourite! Thank you! 🙂

  163. Sounds like a good book!

  164. Ennio Ramazzini Says:

    I would love to read and win this, I have also traveled around the world, I am italian, guatemalan, norwegian and a writer/reporter, so the theme appeals to me and also the theme of the search for the truth and if there is such a thing. I´d love to win this and share it with friends. Thanks for the interview!

  165. This book seems like it could be one of my favourites, I love it when literature and writing is the running theme in the book, love intelectual plots, love that he plays with the characters and the “truth”. I would love to read and win this! Will write a great review!

  166. Danielle Palmiotto Says:

    Sounds like a great book, would love to win a copy!

  167. Michelle Says:

    I’ll agree with everyone else who says winning a copy would be great! It sounds like a fantastic book.

  168. Sounds great. Hoping to get my hands on a copy soon! Thanks for the post/giveaway. Really looking forward to reading it.

  169. I would love to win a copy of this book! I was excited to see it on Goodreads, and I can’t wait to read it!

  170. Great Q&A. I look forward to reading the book!

  171. Kathy Worrell Says:

    Yes, I would love to win a copy of your book! Thank you!

  172. Fabulous blog… please enter me in the contest to win a copy!

  173. Thank for offering a giveaway. This book looks very interesting and I look forward to reading it.

  174. Kelly Whyte Says:

    I’d love to win a copy of your book. Thanks for notifying me of the contest !

  175. Ooooooooh. Lit fic crack? Hit me.

  176. I am utterly taken by the premise of an unknown authorship. Looking forward to reading this!

  177. Somehow, ‘The Unchangeable Spots of Leopards’ has become in the it-book of the season. I really want get into it.

    Nice interview, btw.

  178. Lauren Wagner Says:

    Can’t wait to read! Would love to win a copy, but I will be picking it up regardless!

  179. Elizabeth Buck Says:

    I am very much looking forward to reading this book!

  180. I added this book to my goodreads to-read after seeing Flavorwire call Jansma a “baby Calvino” and just received your comment. I would love to enter the giveaway!

  181. I entered to win “The Unchangeable Spots of Leopard” on Goodreads, because the brief description I read had me hooked. Now that I have read this interview, I want to read the book even more!

    Jansma’s responses are honest and heartfelt. His thoughts about fiction and lying are quite insightful. He cites George from Seinfeld, “It’s not a lie if you believe it,” and I agree with this statement. While many liars are aware they are concealing the truth, some believe their false statements. Similarly, addicts often believe they do not have a problem. Hiding the addiction is hiding the truth; thus, lying becomes second nature. Addiction is not, as so many believe, the prerequisite for becoming a talented writer but a destructive side-effect. Lying thrives in the company of addiction. Together they could easily lead to ostracism and ruin.

    Jansma’s comments has made me think about things that have happened and could happen to me and things that I have done and could do in response.

    A work of fiction tells what could happen, and, while a writer often writes about what he knows, should he or she not also write about what he or she wants to know?

  182. I would love to win a copy of his book.

  183. Looks like a promising read…

  184. Lois Sebastian Says:

    Very excited to read this book!

  185. So very intrigued by this book.

  186. Kathy Sherrick Says:

    I am even more intrigued now!

  187. This sounds like a fascinating book–I’m really looking forward to reading it!

  188. Great interview! Heard about this book from Joanna Robinson on Pajiba. Glad I got linked to this interview too. Hope to win it! Thanks.

  189. can’t wait to read this!

  190. Sounds amazing. Count me in!

  191. Kristin H Says:

    Had interest in this book before but after reading this I can’t wait. A bonus would be winning a copy. Thanks for the head’s up about the contestbas well.

  192. Kristin H Says:

    Oops. *contest

  193. Wayne Johnson Says:

    Fantastic interview, thanks for your work in getting the novel out there. I haven’t been more eager to read a novel this year. Wishing you great success.

  194. I am hoping I win a copy. I want to read it even more after reading this article.

  195. Sold on entering this giveaway (and reading this book regardless!)

  196. I’d definitely love to win a copy!

  197. Would love to win a copy! Thanks for doing the giveaway, so awesome!

  198. Fascinating. I like the in-depth of the converstaion on the book. I do hope I win one!

  199. Wandered into your blog via your Goodreads account and was delighted to discover this interview. Looking forward to reading the book even more now. Thanks for your careful and insightful questions here.

  200. Interesting interview. It gives a great insight into what this book can be. I’m hoping that I’ll be able to read it one day (I don’t know if there are any plans to publish it in Poland) and verify my predictions.

  201. Sounds really cool. Would be awesome to win a copy!

  202. Thanks for the heads up J.A. – definitely looking forward to reading this one. Sounds interesting and fresh/new. Here’s to hoping I get the copy and can read it sooner, rather than later!

  203. I would love to win a copy! Am really looking forward to reading this book.

  204. Wow! Sounds like a fascinating read with an amazing writing style — I’d love to win a copy — short of that, buy one!

  205. Elizabeth Says:

    Sounds like a great book. Hope I can win a copy.

  206. Linda D. Says:

    Books about writers and the writing process always fascinate me. This one sounds like a real winner! Might be a perfect one for my book group, too.

  207. This book sounds great, can’t wait to read it.

  208. Gretchen Says:

    I am looking forward to reading this and would like to win a copy.

  209. I’m greatly interested in the theme of the unreliable narrator, and would love to read this book. Many thanks for the opportunity.

  210. Would love a copy to broaden my scope of authors and perhaps give to my sons one day

  211. Absolutely riveting.

  212. Shawn Bonney Says:

    My husband is a bookseller, and this is a title that I recently added to my “To-Read” shelf. His store actually has a signed copy that one of the managers picked up at a book conference recently, but I would love to win a copy for myself. Either way, I plan to read what sounds like a fascinating, clever book.

  213. I have asked for the local library to purchase and put a hold on this book for me. However, I would love to own a copy for myself. I always loan good books to others and this one sounds like one that will make the rounds of my family and friends 😉

  214. I have wanted to read this book for awhile. It sounds very interesting. Winning a copy would be wonderful.

  215. Great article! Very good in depth interview.

  216. Nicole Bennett Says:

    Thanks for the post on my Goodreads page. I took a cursory scroll through your blog and I like what I’ve seen; consider it added to my RSS feed.
    This book is next on my “To Read” list and, whether I win a copy or drive myself down to the local bookstore to buy it, I’m really looking forward to reading it.

  217. Thanks for alerting me to the giveaway! This book is on my TBR, I love the title, and I can’t wait to read it!

  218. Would love to win a copy of this book!

  219. Thanks for the invite. Loved the interview and cant wait to read the book.

  220. Sabrina Lewis Says:

    Thanks again for letting me know about this! I’d love to read this!

  221. When this book was first introduced to me I knew then this is a definite must read. Thanks for including me for a chance to get a copy of this book. I can’t wait to read it.

  222. In my case, the time I got the most writing done was when I worked in food service as a burger flipper–I had plenty of time to think about what I was currently writing.

  223. Hey, thanks for letting me know about this giveaway on goodreads. I’ve been looking forward to reading it!

  224. Thanks for letting me know about the giveaway! This book sounds interesting, and I loved reading the author interview!

  225. thanks for telling me about the giveaway on goodreads! 😀 i look forward to reading it!

  226. This book sounds incredibly intriguing. I would love to read it and review it on Goodreads!
    -JJ
    jj-lynne@hotmail.com

  227. I am so looking forward to reading this book. Loved the interview :)Gayla

  228. Elizabeth Says:

    I am definitely interested in this book! I would love to win a copy. Thanks for telling me about the giveaway on Goodreads!

  229. What a great interview. Thanks! And thanks, too, for letting me in on the giveaway. I appreciate that. The book definitely has me interested….and thinking about it a lot. Even before I’ve been able to read it. Can’t wait to get it.
    Thank you again.

  230. Stephanie Frederic Says:

    I was most interested in his section about teaching at a university. He is a pretty neat guy, and I look forward to reading his book. Thanks for letting me know about this contest!

  231. This sounds like a great book. Great conversation with the author!

    I like the idea of winning this book !

  232. Kathleen Cronin Says:

    I’m looking forward to reading this.

  233. Kelly Irish Says:

    First read the review on Pajiba, was immediately interested. Sounds like a fascinating read & am always looking for new authors to start reading. Would really love a copy to add my collection.

  234. I don’t have a degree but I do enjoy reading and the English language and I wonder if we (the non-degree/college) readers misses out on the witticisms and do not gain as much pleasure from a novel such as this?

  235. I like his approach toward teaching, and hearing about the apathy he encountered in his first teaching situation. I try to get the same message across to my students: words matter. Unfortunately it is a message that doesn’t reach everyone. The kids are 11-12 and you can see that some of them won’t make it to college to meet and be inspired by authors because they don’t see why reading matters. I can’t wait to read this book, and I got ideas of other books to read from what he mentioned in the interview as influences.

  236. Jessica Mahoney Says:

    I love that you’ve referred to George from Seinfeld. It is quite interesting how people can fabricate their own reality. I look forward to reading your book and learning more about Julian and your other characters.

  237. Mandi J. Says:

    I would love to enter this draw! It sounds like such an amazing novel, and one I’d love to read :). Thank you for telling me about it through Goodreads!

  238. This is already on my ‘to read’ list…I would love to win it. And good luck to everyone else!

  239. Debbie Campbell Says:

    I can’t wait to read this! Thanks fo letting me know about the contest.

  240. Looking forward to reading this!

  241. I can’t wait to read it. 🙂

  242. I really want to read this book, but don’t have the money to buy it while it’s in hardback. I would love to win a copy. Thanks so much for letting me know about this giveaway!.

  243. Thanks for letting me know about this giveaway. I completely agree that it is easier to write when you don’t have much time. When I’m under pressure is when I write the best. I’ll go back to my writing and think, “Wow, I just wrote that?” The way you went about answering the various questions definitely allows the reader to get a better understanding of who you are as a person and an author, I appreciate that. It is nice to know your author on a personal level. Whether I win the book or I end up buying, I cannot wait to read it either way.

  244. katsings Says:

    Happy to enter this contest. Thank so much for the chance to win a copy! My friend reviewed it for Cannonball Read, and it was posted to Pajiba as well, and now I’m completely intrigued by it.

  245. Read a portion of it on Electric Literature’s Recommended Reading and would love a copy of the book.

  246. kateyzee Says:

    I’m glad you pointed me in your direction because his interview was really cool. Now I’m really interested in reading his book!

  247. Sounds like a great read. I’d love to throw my hat in the ring for a chance to win. Thanks for letting me know on goodreads!

  248. This sounds like a great book. I’m glad to discover this blog, too!

  249. Bonnie franks Says:

    Loved this interview, want to read this book! Thanks for the contest opportunity!

  250. Can’t wait to read the book 🙂

  251. Really looking forward to this one!

  252. Looking forward to reading, even more so with a winning copy ; )

  253. Sounds like a fun format for the book. I’m definitely curious about how the various locales all fit together.

  254. I would love to win a copy of this book. Looks very interesting!

  255. […] review was previously posted on 3/21/13; an interview with the author was also posted on […]

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