William Alexander: Winning National Book Award 'surreal'by Cathy Wurzer, Minnesota Public Radio,
Elizabeth Dunbar, Minnesota Public Radio
MINNEAPOLIS — William Alexander is back home in Minneapolis after an eventful trip to New York City, where he received a National Book Award on Wednesday.
Alexander's debut novel "Goblin Secrets," received the Young People's Literature Prize. The fantasy story is about a boy in search of his brother, set in a world where acting is illegal unless you are a goblin.
Alexander told MPR's Cathy Wurzer that receiving the award was "incredibly surreal." Here are some of his other thoughts:
On joining the ranks of authors like fellow Minnesotan Louise Erdrich:
"I seem to be. It's rather bizarre, but I am enjoying it! The moment of astonishment has not quite ended yet. I'm enjoying it, but yes, I'm still not really sure what shape the world is in."
On why fantasy stories are important:
"Oh! Where to start? Fantasy reminds us that there are other possibilities; I mean they stretch those muscles."
"You're reminded that the way things are isn't the only possible way that they could be. It's not that they convince you that, for instance, goblins are real, they just stretch that sense of possibility just enough sideways that you don't get tricked into thinking that this is it — that the current shape of the world is the only possible shape it could ever have."
"Things are changing constantly," he said. "Plus they're fun. Goblins are fun."
On how he wrote "Goblin Secrets:"
"People keep asking: How did you come up with these ideas? It's a little like the way dust bunnies form under the sofa. You've got one idea that's this long hair that other things glom onto. Eventually it gets big and starts to move, and then you start to notice it, and you either sweep it up or write it down."
On his favorite things about his next book, "Ghoulish Song," due out in March:
"It happens in parallel to 'Goblin Secrets.' They happen at exactly the same time in the same city, and you don't necessarily have to know that. They stand alone. But if you do know that, you can see the other book happening in the background of either one of them. There are a few characters in common that bounce between books. When they're off stage on one, they show up in the other. And that's fun. It took a lot of outlining, but it was fun."
On what he's doing with his National Book Award:
"It's sitting on my desk, well away from children who could knock it down, and it would probably knock a hole in the floor like in a Looney Tunes cartoon where you have those coyote shaped holes in the canyon floor."
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- Morning Edition, 11/16/2012, 8:24 a.m.
Cathy Wurzer is the host of Morning Edition for MPR News.