Author Interview: Billy Coffey

October 22, 2010

You like free books, right?

Well I’ve got some more free books to hand out today.  About a year ago, I had a Q and A with one of my blog friends, Billy Coffey who was working hard at publishing his first book, Snow Day.  The book is finally in print, and Billy stands as the first blogger I’ve had the pleasure of featuring twice on my blog. 

To say that Billy is a first time author is a complete misnomer, since his blog posts all read like meticulously crafted mini-novels.  His blog is always charming and insightful in a simple and down to earth tone.  Billy’s like the one guy in the room full of loudmouths who speaks the least and with the quietest voice, but when he speaks, it always counts.  To have a complete novel from Billy feels like a hardbound, two-hundred page string of blog posts about a seemingly ordinary day when school is cancelled due to the weather, but ends up being much more significant in the life on one man.  Fiction lovers just can’t go wrong.

I’ve got a few questions for Billy about the book and his advice to aspiring authors, and then you can win a free copy of his book just by commenting or tweeting this post!

Billy, it’s been a while since we last heard from you on my blog. What have you been up to?

I have been delivering mail for one thousand college kids (emphasis on kids), helping with third and first grade homework, cheering on the Yankees as they pursue yet another World Series title, and finishing another novel. 

Those first grade spelling lists can be tough…Snow Day could be about any number of things. I could imagine a mischievous band of ragamuffins on an adventure to recover the mystical…well, why don’t you just tell us what it’s about?

Snow Day is about a man named Peter Boyd, who at Christmastime is facing the very real possibility of losing the factory job that provides for his family. He wakes one morning to find a snowstorm has hit his small town. That would usually be more nuisance than anything else, but added to the stress of unemployment, it’s more than Peter can bear. He feels as though the layers of his life are being stripped away, so he decides to take the day off. It’s a snow day, like the ones he had when he was a boy in school.

The book details that one day in Peter’s life when the storm that has been raging within him meets the storm raging around him. Peter spends time with the family, friends, and strangers in his town who are facing their own storms. Each of them will offer a piece to the puzzle of why we all must sometimes suffer loss, and each of them will show Peter that those layers of his life that are being stripped away are in fact revealing a dignity and a meaning underneath that his job could never provide.

Actually, that sounds quite a bit better than what I had imagined.  You’ve got a unique writing voice that’s attracted you a solid following of readers. How would you describe your voice?

It’s a cross between Gomer Pyle and Frasier Crane. I can be flowery and deep when necessary, but I do it by saying things like “ain’t” a lot.

How did you discover what it means to write like Billy Coffey? How have you honed your craft to make Snow Day the best piece of writing it can be?

I think the only way writers can find their own unique voice is to write, and then write more, and then after that to write again. In that regard it’s just like everything else—the more you practice, the better you get. But in another way it’s frustrating because you realize nothing you write will ever come out precisely the way you want. 

How do you think I will feel when I read your book? Is this an up-all-night-with-the-girlfriends-cry-a-thon, or perhaps will I get so fired up, that I’ll want to drop kick a poodle? Or maybe there is some other reaction to your book that I can’t even think of…

Hopefully both. There are a couple chapters that may make you weep like an eighth grader at a Justin Bieber concert and some that might get you into trouble with the SPCA, but for the most part I think it’s a very calm book. Things are moving so fast nowadays. I wanted to write a book that would allow readers to just sit still for a little while and exhale.

What do your kids think of your book? Or your wife?

If this book has done one thing, it’s cemented my hero status with my family. To them, I’m now a strange combination of John Wayne and Yoda. Both of the kids took the book to Show and Tell. They didn’t take me, though.

Maybe if you actually dressed like Yoda and John Wayne.  Just start saying things like, “Pilgrim, out here, due process a bullet is…”  Or not.  Anway, what’s next for you?

I’ve turned in my second novel and am waiting for the final okay. It’s called Paper Angels, and it’ll be published in November of next year. Once that’s accepted, I’ll start book three.

Now that you’ve actually been published, what would you say to aspiring writers who don’t know how to get a book from their head to print?

Write every day. Doesn’t matter what it is or how good it is, just write every day. There are so many great books out there about the craft and the process of submitting to publishers and agents. Read them all. And read everything else, too. Anything you can get your hands on.
 
Pay attention. To everything. Because there are stories everywhere, and all you have to do is pull them out of the air.
 
And when you reach the point when you’re ready to start submitting your manuscript, always follow this one rule — try one more time. I received so many rejections. I’m the king of rejections. But if you always try one more time, you won’t fail.

All you have to do to be entered to win one of a couple of free copies of Snow Day is tweet this post, or leave a comment right here.  Could be about anything, snow days, your favorite kind of fiction, anything at all!  Winners will be chosen randomly this weekend.  You can also order Snow Day right here.

39 responses to Author Interview: Billy Coffey

  1. Growing up in Southern Ohio, it snowed a lot. I have so many memories of them and what we would do. Now that I am an adult (in age) I like in West Texas and there is no snow here at all. It’s the one thing I’d like to be able to show my son.

  2. Great idea! We all loved snowdays! That supprise break in the middle was always a welcome treat as a kid. This got me thinking about my “adult” attitude toward these “interuptions” of life. I know I’m usually anoyed! I’ll be adding your book to my growing Goodreads to read list! Thanks!

  3. Hey Matt,

    Thanks for the great interview and the chance to win a book!

    As my local Starbucks will tell you, I’ll do anything for some free Coffey!

    Sorry.

    Dave

  4. Great dialogue between two of my favorite imaginary friends! Matt, you were exactly right about “Billy’s like the one guy in the room full of loudmouths who speaks the least and with the quietest voice, but when he speaks, it always counts.” To say I was reduced to tears a few times while reading Snow Day is an understatement. Thanks, Matt!

  5. Writers need to write. Very profound. But they need to hear it, else they find all kinds of stalling techniques.

  6. Thanks for the great interview! I’ll definitely put Billy’s book on my to read list. I agree with you about your review of his blog. They do read like novels. He’s amazing and I’m glad to hear of his ongoing success.
    Also, glad to discover your blog as well. I like the premise:)

    Warm regards to both you and Billy, Juliana

  7. Wow. This sounds like a great book! It would make a great Christmas gift, too. I think I’ll order several copies! Thanks, Matt. I always enjoy your awesome interviews.

  8. Great interview…thanks for posting. Would love to check out this book!

  9. I’m actually interested in getting a copy of the Snow Day book. Billy Coffey has been posting about it for a while now and it has tweaked my interst greatly.

  10. Thanks for the humorous interview! And thanks for the chance at winning the book… sounds like a great read! Thanks.

  11. Thanks for the great interview of a growing writer! Snow Day is amazing, but that should be NO surprise.

  12. I loved snow days as a kid and still to this day get super excited about snow. Even winters like last year where we broke records! I’m still a kid at heart in the winter.

  13. I used to love snow days too – well until the Blizzard of ’78. Now I prefer vacation in the tropics. ;) I look forward to sitting still and exhaling.

  14. I was following Karen Zacharias and she raved about Billy Coffey, so I started reading his blogs. Great stuff! He’s the real deal.

  15. If Katdish wins the book I’LL drop kick a poodle…

    Great interview Matt & Billy. Oh yeah, and the book is awesome too! Everyone should buy a copy. Or twenty.

  16. I was given an ARC of this book by a friend on goodreads but would love to be entered to win a copy of the final book!

  17. Sounds like a great book. I have an idea for a novel that turned into some chapters a while ago, but I have let it slip… maybe this is the kick up the butt I need!

  18. Thanks for the interview.

    And I like free stuff. Sounds like a win-win situation :) .

  19. Howdy. I linked over from Katdish’s place. Hmmm, Gomer and Fraiser? That is an intriguing combination (as a side note, sometimes I feel like the imaginary child of Erma Bombeck and Dave Barry). Anyway, thanks for this interview. And thanks Billy, for all the insight. Hope it’s okay for me to print this interview and tuck it into my notebook for inspiration…

    Blessings.

  20. Great interview, Matt! I always love reading about Billy! It’s a “Snow Day” at my house! Can’t wait to jump in it! :D

  21. Never experienced a Snow Day (I live in sunny California), but I’d love to experience one vicariously through Coffey! :-)

  22. Great interview!

    I especially liked this thought:

    “Because there are stories everywhere, and all you have to do is pull them out of the air.”

    Great advice!

  23. True Story: As a small child I always wished for a “white Christmas”. When I was 14 yrs. old I woke to the sound of my mother’s voice, she was standing at the window above the kitchen sink and she said “Well, I’ll be…”. I said “You’ll be what, mana”. She turned with one of the biggest grins I’ve ever seen on her face and said “I believe you’re gonna get that white Christmas you’ve been wishing for.” And I did. It started snowing 2 days before Christmas and snow was on the ground for a week. It was the best and I’ll never forget it! Hey by the way, how about a free book. Thanks, Melanie

  24. Thank you for this review! I’ve added this one to my reading list also as it sounds like my kind of book to read (among many).

    The only snow day I got when I was a kid was back in the 70s when a rare snowstorm came to the Houston area (TX). That was a blast!

  25. Great interview, Matt. I almost laughed out loud when Billy said they took the book to show and tell but not dad. Nice. :)

  26. I would love to win a copy of this book…Been reading Billy for a while! Good stuff.

    And I put him on my fave blogs in response to your question last week! Gotta be brownie points there!

    Nice interview.

  27. Really good writing advice; thanks! Can’t wait to read the book!

  28. Thank you for posting this Matt! I’m really going to get busy this weekend!

    nicodemusatnite.blogspot.com

  29. Been meaning to order this – cuz I am a devoted Billy Coffey blog reader and fan of him in general – but I think I’ll wait to see if I win it first. Is this, perhaps, a SIGNED copy? Really wanting one of those!

  30. There is only one thing I don’t like about Billy Coffey – the Yankees. Sorry Billy.

  31. Sounds like a great read, and I’d love to win a copy! I’m not an “avid” follower of Billy’s blog, but I should be. I enjoy each post I read.
    Cat

  32. Being put in the same category as Yoda is one of the world’s highest honors!

  33. I grew up in PA and we would occasionally have snow days. I remember once mom kept us home from school and we thought it was because of snow. come to find out it was because it was so cold. I balked and went for the afternoon. (What in the world was wrong with me that I liked school that much?) I like reading all kinds of books and this sounds like one I would enjoy and can then pass on.

  34. If Snow Day is even half as good as Billy’s descriptions of it, it will be a stunner. Have been living with and loving the concept for months now and can’t wait to read it.

    Love Bill’s blog, now off to explore Matt’s – nice to ‘meet’ you Matt!

  35. I was pleased to read the interview with Billy Coffey about his book, Snow Day; recently it was an “Amazon Recommendation” for me, which intrigues me enough to at least check it out.

    Thanks for the insight into the story and the author behind it. I’d love a copy of the book, even more so if I can get it for free!!

  36. I can’t wait to read Snow Day….We don’t have many of those in Mesa, Arizona….have to travel a bit north to Flagstaff for that but it’s always magical to me because I don’t have to shovel it just enjoy it’s beauty…..Great Interview, Lori

  37. I love reading Billy’s blog and I’m looking forward to reading the novel as well. Thanks for the encouragement to write more. :)

  38. a snow day is an involuntary sabbath for the mind, body, and soul. it can be viewed as a prison or as a gift from God. i choose to see it as a gift- a day without driving, shopping, hustle and bustle, and sometimes even tv or phones. this gives us the opportunity to spend time doing what often gets left behind, such as quiet time with the Lord, taking a nap, reading a novel, playing a board game with our children, writing a real letter, or just observing all of the beauty that surrounds us. let it snow! let it snow! let it snow!

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