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Author Archive: "Andrew Porter"

Houston and Me

Earlier this week I talked about Texas, where I currently live, but today I want to talk more specifically about the city of Houston, which is where my recently released novel, In Between Days, is set.

I moved to Houston in my early 20s and in many ways still associate the city with my early years as a writer — those years when I was just starting out and figuring out what I wanted to do, those years when everything in my life seemed to revolve around coffee shops and used bookstores and bars. Perhaps I've romanticized that period of time a little too much, but I know that when people ask me when it was I realized I was a writer, I always think about Houston — about those long nights alone in my apartment typing away on my antiquated computer, about the people I knew then and the great conversations we used to have about writing.

Back then, Houston was still a relatively cheap place to live, and the Montrose area in particular was a wonderful place to live as a writer. There was a large and ...

Dysfunctional Families

In the coming months, I'm sure I'll be asked a lot of questions about the issue of family in my work, not only because it's such a prevalent theme in my recently released novel, In Between Days, but also because it was one of the central themes of my short-story collection, The Theory of Light and Matter. Of course, whenever people ask me to elaborate on my interest in families — and, specifically, dysfunctional families — I can't help but feel that they're secretly expecting me to divulge some interesting detail about my own or to admit that, yes, the families in my fiction are in many ways a direct reflection of my own family. But the truth is, the family I grew up in bears little resemblance to the families in my fiction, and moreover, the characters I describe couldn't be more different from my own parents and siblings .

And yet still, the question remains: Why this preoccupation with dysfunctional families?

I guess the best way I can answer this question is by explaining that my interest in writing fiction grew out of my interest in people ...

Being a Texas Writer

I have lived in San Antonio for the past eight years, and earlier in my life I lived in Houston on two separate occasions, both times for a year. All in all, I've spent a quarter of my life (roughly 10 years) living in the state of Texas. Still, when I'm introduced at readings or referred to in articles as "Texas writer Andrew Porter," it always sounds a little strange to me.

The truth is, when I think of the term "Texas writer," I think of someone like Larry McMurtry, a writer who grew up in the state of Texas and who knows its history like he knows the history of his own family, who feels connected to it in the same way Joyce did to Dublin. When I think about my own life by comparison, my connection to Texas seems tangential at best. After all, I spent the first eighteen years of my life living in Pennsylvania, went to college in New York, and spent a good portion of my 20s and early 30s moving around the country — from New York to Berkeley, from Los ...

Reading Tours

Hello again! This is turning out to be a busy week. With the release of my debut novel, In Between Days, last week, I'm now embarking on my first set of readings. Last night I read at BookPeople Bookstore in Austin, tomorrow I'll be reading at Brazos Bookstore in Houston, and Thursday I'll be reading at Trinity University in San Antonio.

I've always enjoyed doing readings, and even though it's a little nerve racking to read from a new work for the first time, it's also very exciting. In some ways, I think that the reading tour is like the reward at the end of the journey, the gift for all the hard work you've done .

Of course, I know that a lot of writers don't feel this way, that many consider the reading tour an onerous duty that they have to endure. But for me it's never felt this way. There's an inherent thrill in reading your work out loud, in sharing the words you've written in a public setting, in talking with people afterward about your intentions, your struggles, your goals. In most cases, the people ...

Transitioning from Short Stories to the Novel Form

Today I wanted to talk about a question that people have been asking me ever since they learned that my novel, In Between Days, would be coming out this fall. Invariably, after learning of the novel's existence, someone will ask, "Was it difficult?"

"Was what difficult?" I'll say.

"Writing a novel," they'll say. "You know, compared to your first book?"

It's a natural question, I suppose, and also an understandable one given the fact that I've spent the majority of my writing life focusing on short stories and am largely known as a short-story writer. Still, it's a question that always seems to catch me off guard and one that I'm not always sure how to answer.

What I can tell you is this: the circumstances surrounding the writing of these two books were very, very different. With my short-story collection, The Theory of Light and Matter, there was no deadline, no promise of eventual publication, and during certain periods of time, no interest or hope. I wrote the stories in that book with the blind faith that someday someone would want to publish them. Every once in a while ...

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