Silver Medal Winner for Popular Fiction from the Independent Publisher Book Awards.
With My Year as a Clown, 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 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 lucky. But as his emotionally raw, 365-day odyssey unfolds, Chuck gradually relearns to live on his own, navigating the minefield of issues faced by the suddenly single—new routines, awkward dates, and even more awkward sex.
Edited by Joy Johannessen (Alice Sebold, Michael Cunningham, Amy Bloom), My Year As a Clown will attract fans of the new breed of novelists that includes Nick Hornby, Jonathan Tropper and Tom Perrotta. Like others in that distinguished group, Robert Steven Williams delivers a painfully honest glimpses into the modern male psyche while writing about both sexes with equal ease and grace in a way that’s both hilarious and heartbreaking at the same time.
Writing is my therapy. Writing is an affliction. Writing is something I have to do in the way that people have to breathe.
What was the experience like writing My Year as a Clown?
Lots of fun, but extremely difficult – in some ways as painful as what women say giving birth is like. You have good days and you have bad days writing. Books are never really finished, just abandoned. I was in a panic at the end, thinking I just need to do one more rewrite and it will be perfect. But no work of art can ever be perfect.
How did you come up with the title?
It just came to me before I’d even written a word. I knew immediately that it was a home run. Funny enough, some of the marketing people that helped me with this book thought it would confuse people, that some would think it was about the circus. We made sure you didn’t have anything clownlike on the cover – I was okay with a minimal amount of confusion – we’ve all been clowns in our lives at some point or another. That’s the point.
Can you tell us more about your main character (use yourself if non-fiction)?
Chuck’s the sort of guy that can’t even get lucky with a hundred dollar bill plastered to his forehead in a brothel. He’s loyal, loves football and he loved his wife. But perhaps he had a thing or two to learn about relationships and it took his wife leaving him for another guy to have him wake up.
What are his strengths and what are his weaknesses?
Chuck was loyal to a fault – he was also out of touch with the reality of what was happening in his marriage. Chuck was in a rut. But Chuck is reliable and faithful and when his wife leaves him, he opts not to be bitter, believing that true love is still possible. At the end of the day we all face choices and Chuck chooses to believe that love is worth believing in despite the heartache.
Are there any supporting characters we need to know about?
There’s a pot selling rabbi, a misogynist older brother, an over-bearing but loving mother – there’s a neighbor who’s own marriage has gone wobbly and now has a hankering for Chuck. There’s a beautiful yoga instructor. And of course, there’s the soon to be ex-wife and the lawyers.
Can you open to page 25 and tell us what’s happening?
What’s so funny about this question is that my book is only out digitally and depending on your font setting, my page 25 could be different than yours. I have printed copies which I sell at book readings and gigs (I’m a singer/songwriter too) – page 25 – Chuck just got another phone number from a friend – you see when you get divorced, your married friends start foisting numbers at you, their friends that are divorced, assuming that since you’ve both been dumped, that could form the basis of a wonderful relationship.
What about page 65?
Chuck has a bit too much to drink and smoke and ends up out on the streets looking for adventure. I don’t want to spoil it, but I can tell you that a shotgun, police and his best friend’s wife are involved.\
Now that My Year as a Clown has been published, what is your next project?
I’m working on a film about F. Scott Fitzgerald’s time in my hometown of Westport, CT – he lived here in 1920. I’m also finishing up another novel about a struggling songwriter that gets mixed up with the mob.
Do you have anything else you’d like to tell our readers?
There’s a free download of a song that Chuck writes for the beautiful yoga instructor that he falls for. I actually wrote the song and recorded it. I was lucky to have Declan O’Rourke, the esteemed Irish singer/songwriter produce the track.
One other thing: My Year as a Clown was edited by Joy Johannessen. She worked with Alice Sebold on The Lovely Bones. I was very fortunate to have Joy work with me on this book. Thanks so much to everyone for reading.
ABOUT ROBERT STEVEN WILLIAMS
Since leaving the music-biz executive ranks, Robert Steven Williams has put in his 10,000 hours. His first novel, My Year as a Clown, released on the indie imprint Against the Grain Press, received the silver medal for popular fiction from the Independent Publisher Book Awards in 2013.
Robert was also a finalist in the Raymond Carver Short Story Contest and was awarded the Squaw Valley Writers Community Thayer Scholarship. His short fiction has appeared in Carve Magazine, The Orange Coast Review, and the anthology Tall Tales and Short Stories Volume II.
He was the executive producer of the critically acclaimed BOOM! Studios CBGB Comic series. He wrote story seven in Book 3. In August of 2011, the series was nominated for a Harvey Award for Best Anthology.
He’s attended Bread Loaf, Sewanee and the Squaw Valley Writers’ Conferences. He’d worked closely with the esteemed fiction writer, Barry Hannah.
Robert’s work has also appeared in Poets & Writers Magazine, Billboard, USA Today and LetterPress, a newsletter for writers. He is co-author of the best-selling business book, The World’s Largest Market.
Robert Steven Williams is also a musician and songwriter. In 2005 he released the critically acclaimed CD “I Am Not My Job,” featuring Rachel Z (Peter Gabriel, Wayne Shorter) and Sloan Wainwright. He studied songwriting with Rosanne Cash, Jimmie Dale Gilmore, and several top country writers. The song, The Jersey Cowboy, was featured on NPR’s Car Talk. Robert was the subject of the documentary by Jason Byrd Round Peg, Square Hole.