Author, I Never: An Interview with Eliot Sappingfield


Eliot Sappingfield

author of A Problematic Paradox

Author, I Never is a new segment in which I interview fellow authors about the writing process, breaking into the industry, and breaking rules. I try to mix it up a little and ask some hopefully novel questions along with some of the old standards, and finish it up with a round of I Never (kid friendly version) to find out what cardinal writing rules we've broken.



Question the first: Eliot, when did you first know you wanted to be a writer?

 It was during college. I’d been double-majoring in physics and philosophy for reasons that made sense to me at the time, and came to a realization that I wasn’t enjoying what I was doing. So I decided to work on what I really loved. Plus, physics was really hard.

Question the second: What has been your proudest or most exciting moment as an author so far?

There was a point midway through writing Paradox where I realized that it was coming out better than anything I’d worked on before. I went and told my wife, and she said something like, “well that’s great.”

Question the third: At what point did you think to yourself "I've made it" or at what point do you think you'll feel that way?

Nah. I’m too anxious for that. Unless I get to the point where I can wear a brand-new pair of socks every day and just throw them out after. Also, seeing my name on a printed book was deeply humbling, but that was more of a “you better not screw this up because someone paid a lot of money for those” kind of feeling.

Question the fourth: Did any experienced authors or industry people mentor or give you helpful guidance on your journey to publication?

Sure. I got loads of pointers and inspiration from every book I read- even the…uninspiring ones. Also, my agent and my editor were immensely helpful in letting me know when something needs a bit of polish, or more details. For example- I tend to forget to remind the reader that people have emotions from time to time.

Question the fifth: Have you ever had a time when you've felt like giving up?

Yes and no. Sending queries can be pretty discouraging, because there’s so little feedback. If you don’t get responses, you don’t know if they’re being read or even seen. At the same time, I wouldn’t give up, because writing is a big part of how I keep myself from going nuts.

Question the sixth: What was the most inconvenient time or place you were struck by inspiration?

I don’t really operate on inspiration, for me it’s more about setting aside distractions and actually getting work done. That said, I do tend to have ideas while I’m driving and can’t exactly commit them to memory.

Question the seventh: Can you give us a hint to help us find an "easter egg" or hidden item to look for in one of your books? Maybe an obscure clue if there's a mystery thread, or a reference you threw in to a favorite book or song?

Fun fact: when they send an author the first pass manuscript to review, (the one with the title page and all that included), they either don’t care if you change stuff on the small-print legal-ese page, or they don’t check that part very closely.

I love that fun fact! And now it's time for the...

I Never Round

The basic rules of I Never, the kid friendly version- I state a generally established writing rule (or at least a norm). If you've broken that rule, state your guilt for the record.

I never made up a word in my manuscript, and stood by it during copyediting.

Guilty on multiple counts.

I never had an amazing idea right before bed, and decided sleep was more important.

Not guilty. When I was a kid, I always swore that when I grew up I would spend money on whatever I wanted and I’d never go to bed before I absolutely had to. Got my wish on one of those.

I never started a story with a character waking up, looking in the mirror, or in a bathtub.

Innocent, but only by accident, because I didn’t know this is a rule.

I never worked on two manuscripts at once.

Innocent of this one. I’d get them muddled.

I never went several days or even weeks without writing.

Guilty. With me it’s extended periods of nada interspersed with absolute every-waking-moment obsession.

I never wrote "for a long moment."


Nope- not recently, anyway.

I never cheated during NaNoWriMo.

Only tried that once, ended up with 20,000 words of a story that I don’t hate, but didn’t really enjoy. It was like pulling teeth.

Thank you so much for appearing in Author, I Never! When and where can we look for, preorder, or buy your next or most recent book, and where can we follow you on social media?


You can pre-order A Problematic Paradox on Amazon, and other major book-oriented websites. It’s also on Goodreads, where I’m currently running a signed ARC giveaway. I’m @Hey_Buster on twitter, and I’m also on Facebook and I have a website which is eliotsappingfield.com.

One last bonus question! If A Problematic Paradox had a theme song, what would it be?

Science Is Real by They Might Be Giants.

DJ Spotify, this is your show now.

 Come back next week for another round of Author, I Never!