About My Year as a Clown
How does a man really feel after the break-up of a 20-year marriage?
Publisher: Against the Grain Press (Dec. 26, 2012)
Category: Contemporary Fiction/Literary Fiction/Humor/Relationships
Tour Date: June 24th Through July, 2013 (Dates may vary)
Available in: eBook, 325 pages
With MY YEAR AS A CLOWN, Robert Steven Williams introduces us to Chuck Morgan, a new kind of male hero-imperfect and uncertain-fumbling his way forward in the aftermath of the abrupt collapse of his 20-year marriage.
Initially, Chuck worries he’ll never have a relationship again, that he could stand in the lobby of a brothel with a hundred dollar bill plastered to his forehead and still not get laid. But as the emotionally raw, 365-day odyssey unfolds, Chuck gradually relearns to live on his own, navigating the minefield of issues faced by being suddenly single-new routines, awkward dates, and even more awkward sex.
With My Year As a Clown, Robert Steven Williams will attract fans of the new breed of novelists that includes Nick Hornby, Jonathan Tropper, Lolly Winston, and Tom Perrotta, delivering painfully honest glimpses into the modern male psyche while writing about both sexes with equal ease and grace in a way that’s hilarious and heartbreaking at the same time.
7 Things about My Year as a Clown
- · First Person/Present Tense
I wrote Clown in first person present tense to give the reader that sense of being in the front car of a rollercoaster. I wanted the reader to feel like they were in Chuck Morgan’s head. That might be uncomfortable for some because being on the receiving end of unfiltered thoughts can be freaky, especially for women, who may be getting a perspective about relationships, break-ups, and love that they’ve never experienced. I’ve had several women tell me that they learned a lot about their husbands from reading my book – go figure!
First person also gives the writer the opportunity to play with the unreliable narrator – what fun it is to misdirect. Often Chuck is unaware that he’s not seeing the situation clearly and I had to be inventive in ways of letting the reader in on this at the right time without tipping off Chuck that he wasn’t firing on all cylinders.
- · Edited by Joy Johannessen, she’d worked on The Lovely Bones and many other great books
What an honor and privilege it was to work with Joy. I’d met her over ten years ago, but I wasn’t ready to work with her on a novel until last year. I learned so much in the process and her insights and support elevated my game and boosted my confidence. The results are significant and I think they contribute greatly to the positive response readers have.
As I stated in question one, the unfiltered, raw emotional experience readers get by being inside Chuck’s head was carefully conceived. We recognized that women could struggle with some of what happens in Clown, but Joy saw that this uncharted territory was exciting and a breakthrough that could foster fascinating debate amongst the sexes – do men and women really see relationships differently? What does commitment really mean? Can love last? Are all men dogs?
- · This book is emotionally true, not factually true.
And yet lots of things that happen in this book, happened to someone, not necessarily me or an actual person. Often I create composite characters and situations, pulling from a variety of sources, some that are from my experience, some from friends, some from things I read in the news, some stuff I just make up. I often got lost in what was true and what wasn’t, and honestly, it makes no difference as long as I’m true to the emotional facts. Because so many people believe this to be my story, I think I succeeded.
- · My Year as a Clown takes place in Putnam’s Landing. That name comes from Max Shulman’s book, Rally Around the Flag Boys!, a story written in 1957 about Westport, Connecticut, the town I’ve lived in for the past twenty years. I wanted to pay homage to Max, who is one of many great writers that have lived here dating back to F. Scott Fitzgerald in 1920 (by the way, I’m making a documentary film about his time in town).
· I recently did a reading where I pulled passages from Max’s book and then read bits from mine to compare and contrast the town’s preoccupation with real estate values. Back in the 50’s there was concern about the Army putting in Nike Missile bases and hurting property values; in Chuck’s Putnam’s Landing, trees fall faster there than in the Amazon because of the McMansion craze.
- · I won a silver medal in popular fiction from the Independent Publisher Book Awards. The competition included university presses and small publishing houses. It was quite an honor to grab the silver given I self-published this book. But let’s be honest here, I had an unfair advantage over those University Presses and small publishing houses — I assembled a collection of people who loved my work, believed in this project and we’re willing to help out because they thought it was worthy of their time. It didn’t hurt that they all were industry professionals with a deep understanding of traditional publishing as well as how things were changing. They helped with the cover, the typesetting, the website, the book trailer/video and in distributing it digitally. You can read more about the making of this book on my website.
- · I am a die-hard Philadelphia Eagle fan
There’s a bit of football in this story, but I don’t want to turn off the women who can’t stand football – the sports parts are about loyalty and commitment, passion too. I also wanted to explore how sports affects relationships and also how it fits into a guy’s life and drives a woman nuts. At the same time, I wanted to make sure the historical references are accurate. So far, nobody has pointed out an incorrect fact.
- · The book is divided into Days, not Chapters
Because My Year as a Clown chronicles a year in the life of Chuck Morgan where Day One is the spectacular but brutal break-up of his marriage, I decided to divide the book into Days rather than chapters. I think it works well as a device and people often wrote to me saying I’m on Day so and so – or I just got through Day 42 and wow. The book isn’t a journal or diary, but it does have that sensibility.
Praise for My Life As a Clown:
“Realism, humor and insight are mostly the order of the day in My Year as a Clown: a fairly complex novel whose epilogue drives home the notion that, while Chuck’s life may have some things that go well, it does not have a Hollywood-type happy ending.”- Charles Baker, IndieReader
“Williams’ characters give us the real-deal: a gut wrenching and often humorous look, showing us the everyday horrors of what it’s like to start all over again as one approaches middle age.”-Suzan-Lori Parks, novelist, playwright and screenwriter. Winner, 2002 Pulitzer Prize for Drama for Topdog/Underdog
“Merits aplenty it had. Topping them was the humor sometimes gentle and subtle but that reached ROFL proportions at times. There were a number of eccentric characters that stay with me months later as memories that get confused with memories of someone I once knew. Not that I’m confusing the characters with someone I ever knew but when something triggers a vague memory of them, I’m at first searching my memories of real people from my past before it dawns on me they were characters in a novel. Which is high marks for the author. The journal like format for the story gave it an easy flow and worked well to allow us to follow Chuck through the morass of the first months and the slog towards happy that followed.” Joy Renee, Joyful Story
“Chuck is an interesting character, but in the end he is just the guy next door. An average Joe of sorts. I really enjoyed reading the book in the guys view. There are a scarce amount of books following the man’s POV after a divorce or break-up (or just in general). I also loved how it seemed that Chuck was writing some sort of journal to keep his sanity throughout Claudia leaving him.
I really enjoyed the array of characters the author gave us. Chuck met some rather interesting people along the way.
I enjoyed the journey and it really made me think about myself and what I would do in a similar situation. Even though I’m a chicka and he is a male, I still found myself connecting to him.”-Carole Rae, Carole Rae’s Random Ramblings
“My Year As A Clown is an honest portrayal of both heartbreak and healing. When Chuck finds his wife’s betrayal I really felt his pain. Yet through the humor, humility and honesty, Williams was able to lead us into the depths of an emotional male. All of the doubts, insecurities, and even the fears have all been revealed. I enjoyed the true honesty of My Year As A Clown and highly recommend Williams novel to anyone that needs a pick me up or even words of encouragement.”- Brianna, A Book & a Lattee
About Robert Steven Williams:
Robert Steven Williams is an author, singer-songwriter, and musician. His debut novel, My Year as a Clown (Against the Grain Press), was released in January 2013.
As a writer, Williams was a finalist in the Raymond Carver Short Story Contest and was awarded a Squaw Valley Writers Community Thayer Scholarship. He attended Bread Loaf, Sewanee and the Squaw Valley Writers’ Conferences, and worked closely with the esteemed fiction writer, Barry Hannah. His short fiction has appeared in Carve Magazine, The Orange Coast Review, and the anthology Tall Tales and Short Stories Volume II. Additionally, he was the executive producer of the critically acclaimed BOOM! Studios CBGB Comic series, nominated in 2011 for a Harvey Award for Best Anthology. Robert’s work has also appeared in Poets & Writers Magazine, Billboard, USA Today and LetterPress, a newsletter for writers. He is also co-author of the best-selling business book, The World’s Largest Market.
As a musician, Williams studied songwriting with Rosanne Cash, Jimmie Dale Gilmore, and other top country writers. In 2005, he released the critically acclaimed CD “I Am Not My Job,” featuring Rachel Z (Peter Gabriel, Wayne Shorter) and Sloan Wainwright.
My Year As a Clown Web Tour Schedule
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