IndieView with Grace Covill-Grennan, author of Blockhead

How long did it take you to write it? I didn’t outline for Blockhead. It’s an amazing book, and the collage of styles, voices, and genres felt influential in how I ultimately structured Blockhead as a collection of small pieces with a mix of genres. End of Interview:
Get your copy of   Blockhead from the publisher. Do you outline? About Publishing
Did you submit your work to Agents? Right now I’m moving around a lot, living between Eastern Oregon and the Bitterroot Mountains in Idaho. My publisher, Another New Calligraphy, designed the cover. Share this:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window) I edited in phases throughout the process. Where did you get the idea from? I also have a house rabbit named Acorn. I think as I was writing it I felt that to some degree I was writing to/for other tradeswomen and gender nonconforming folks, and fellow tradesworkers who’ve read Blockhead have said they haven’t read anything else that engages trades work in this way. I can’t listen to music while writing, unfortunately. I think my process is pretty typical: brain-dumps of memories, thoughts, feelings, then a slow process of refinement and revision. Do your research ahead of time on what would work for you in terms of a publishing setup. If so, do you do so extensively or just chapter headings and a couple of sentences? When did you start writing the book? I grappled a lot with how to describe other people, what to expose or not, the ethics of that. I started recording the memories, fragments, and vignettes that would become Blockhead in fall of 2018. About Writing
Do you have a writing process? I surprised myself with all the strange details I had apparently squirrelled away in my mind throughout the years. Was it a particular event or a gradual process? I tried to be very matter-of-fact and just report what I had directly experienced, but I also wanted to be careful to not publish things that could be perceived as reinforcing messed up stereotypes about, for example, how working class men behave, and so on. I also felt inspired by R. Because of these factors, I felt it didn’t have a good chance if submitted to a mainstream press. I felt inspired my Maggie Nelson’s approach to creative non-fiction: she’s so fearless in baring her experiences, and has an incredible ability to use a memoir-like form to access issues and themes so much bigger than any individual’s experience. Somewhat winging. Grace Covill-Grennan – 21 October 2019
The Back Flap
Grace Covill-Grennan’s Blockhead documents the author’s experiences working as a carpenter in the building trades. If yes, what gets the fingers tapping? I think I was in a period of reflection and having all these wild, hilarious, sad memories flood over me as I thought about the building trades and what it means to be a carpenter. About You
Where did you grow up? Where do you live now? I grappled a lot with how to describe other people, what to expose or not, the ethics of that. I tried to be very matter-of-fact and just report what I had directly experienced, but I also wanted to be careful to not publish things that could be perceived as reinforcing messed up stereotypes about, for example, how working class men behave, and so on. Do you edit as you go or wait until you’ve finished? I get too distracted! We all know how important it is for writers to read. About the book
What is the book about? The more I paid attention to them the more I remembered, and at a certain point I realized there was enough there to create something out of them. Were there any parts of the book where you struggled? What are you working on now? My decision to be published by a small press was guided by the nature of book: it was relatively short, and unusual both in its content and form. Did you get your book cover professionally done or did you do it yourself? I didn’t really have time, it just sort of jumped out of my head in a rush and then I scrambled around trying to arrange the pieces, adding things, and editing for the next several months. I’ve also heard from those outside the trades that they found Blockhead to be a fascinating window into a usually self-contained world, and that accessibility for those outside construction work was a goal of mine in writing it as well. In broad strokes, Blockhead is about my experiences working as a carpenter in the building trades. If so can you please describe it? Are your characters entirely fictitious or have you borrowed from real world people you know? I still go back to Portland to do carpentry jobs there occasionally, too. I borrowed heavily from real-world experiences and people for Blockhead, and did my best to blur and jumble any identifiable details to preserve privacy. Right now I’m gearing up for a month-long writer’s residency on a farm in Nebraska. The book explores issues of gender, class, craft, and labor to create an entry into the particular moods, subjectivities, and characters that populate the job site. Do you have a marketing plan for the book or are you just winging it? It’s about people I’ve worked with and my memories of them, craft and building, apprenticeship, trades culture, as well as gender, class, and how I’ve seen them manifest in construction work. I submitted my work directly to a handful of small presses. Do you listen to music while you write? What made you decide to go Indie, whether self-publishing or with an indie publisher? In addition to carpentry and writing, I enjoy fiddle, trout fishing, quilting, shape note singing, and plant and bird identification. Don’t be shy to ask direct questions of publishers you’re thinking of working with. What would you like readers to know about you? Are there any particular authors that have influenced how you write and, if so, how have they influenced you? I’m hoping to use the residency to start work on a poetry collection. Zamora Linmark’s Rolling the R’s. About a year. I’m reaching out to some places I’ve been published before about publicity, as well as setting up consignment and an event at some small bookshops in Portland, OR. What came easily? I played with layout and format a lot for Blockhead since there are so many parts to it, that was an interesting and new part of the process for me. It was sometimes challenging, too, to strike the perfect balance in tone: somewhat removed, observational, letting the situations and characters speak for themselves, but at the same time pushing myself to be at least as vulnerable and candid as the people I was writing about in terms of my own emotional stakes. Do you have a target reader? Any advice that you would like to give to other newbies considering becoming Indie authors? Tapping into the reservoir of memory and just letting myself be a vessel for all the stories and recollections was so effortless and amazing. There are a lot of different models, each with distinct advantages and drawbacks. I grew up first in Seattle, WA, then later, as a teenager, in rural northeast Pennsylvania.