Lucy Silag: Tell us about your first “spark” of the idea for SPARK. How did that idea grow and change over time and drafts?
Atthys Gage: It’s hard for me to pinpoint, but there is a persistent image that I associate with SPARK: someone is walking past a vacant lot; there are a couple of homeless types standing around a big metal drum, warming themselves on the scrap-wood fire lit within; sparks fly upward. The only thing is, that scene doesn’t appear in the book and never did in any version. It is, apparently, a sort of catalyst scene. Like an enzyme, it allowed the process of writing the book to take place but wasn’t consumed in the process.
LS: What has surprised you most about the experience of taking your book from an idea to a finished product?
AG: I was struck by how my own feelings changed as we neared the end. At first I was willing to fight for every little thing. Or, if not fight, then endlessly agonize over how to fix something that wasn’t quite right. By the end, I was more likely to just eliminate the problematic passage with a sweep of the blue pencil. It’s almost as though the book itself was so ready to be done and out in the world that it began resisting my efforts to fix it anymore. I’d reach out to straighten a clause or rub out a questionable comma, and it would slap my hand away like a moody teenager. Just leave it alone! Go away! I honestly think the poor thing was tired of all the attention. Continue reading