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Author Interview

14 Questions with Author William R. Hincy

By June 1, 2020October 21st, 2021No Comments

We chat with author William R. Hincy to pick his brain for author advice, writing tips, and so much more!

#1: What was the first thing you ever wrote?

“I’m sorry”—I was a kid and I got in trouble a lot! Coincidentally, it’s also the last thing I wrote. (I’ll try to remember to take the trash to the curb next week, dear.)

As far as fully developed writing, the first thing I ever wrote was a short story entitled “Left to Soak,” which was published in 2005 and featured in my personal anthology, Without Expiration. Incidentally, it is centered around a hospitalized woman reflecting on the fact that her husband on 46 years has never helped wash the dishes. He doesn’t offer an apology at the end, but they do manage to come together once again as the story closes.

#2: Your new novel But the Ripping Apart is about coming to terms with one’s demons. What drove you to write about this?

They may not come to terms with them as much as just accept them, maybe even surrender to them, which isn’t necessarily a healthy thing, but it is an intensely human thing. The first chapter is based on a real encounter my wife and I had with a hoarder when we were first dating. At the time I was a single dad (a #girldad before it was a thing), and to say I was figuring things out on the fly would be too kind.

Jack struggles with his demons more than I did, but to not acknowledge that they played a part in forming the person I was (and am) would be disingenuous. Our vices, torments, and broken pieces are as much a part of us as our more noble qualities. I hope by offering some real blood to Jack’s story, it will encourage the reader to reflect on their demons in a space without judgment, guidance or expectation. The greatest thing a writer can offer their reader is a space for self-reflection.

#3 What have the responses been to the book so far?

With a title like But the Ripping Apart, I was worried that readers might miss the humor infused throughout the book, even in its darker moments, but thankfully that hasn’t been the case. Although the book deals with characters that have made a mess of their lives, readers have identified with the humanity in them and been able to laugh and cringe and cry as Jack fumbles his way through parenting and trying to help Ms. Lyon with her hoarding. Most rewarding of all, I’ve received numerous emails saying that the book made them evaluate where they were as a parent or partner.

#4 What did you think of the interpretation of your book in the But Ripping Apart book trailer?

The trailer did a phenomenal job of capturing the mixture of concern, dismay and disgust I felt that inspired the novel. What I especially love about it is how Jack is caught in this sudden alternate reality and feels alone with his dismay as Ms. Lyon and Erica seemingly ignore the mess around them. It was exactly that dissonance that made me reflect on my inner mess, and led to the fictional examination of Jack’s psychological and emotional hoards. As a bonus, the trailer features some lines of narration that I cut from the end product but always cherished, so it’s like they found their forever-home here.

A tense scene from “But The Ripping Apart” Book Trailer

#5 If you could pick a director for But the Ripping Apart film, who would it be and why?

The name that immediately pops to mind is Alexander Payne. When it comes to dark humor and satirizing American culture, we may be soulmates. I may be a rogue or just not very smart in this regard (and countless others, I’m sure), but I feel like this book is meant to be a novel. Jack, Erica and Ms. Lyon’s story is a literary one—when we read, we’re forced to internalize the words in a way that is particular about the written medium. I fear that symbiosis between writer and reader could be lost when adapted to film…or Mr. Payne would just do a far better than I ever could, which is a very real possibility!  

#6 Who is your dream cast?

I’m a big Constance Wu fan; the way she can cut you with an expression one moment and then melt the tension with a lush smile the next would be perfect for Erica. Jack is quick-witted but tormented just below the surface, so some like Alexander Dreymon would do a stellar job. Meryl Streep is the obvious choice for every female part (wouldn’t her playing an alcoholic hoarder, retired schoolteacher be breathtaking), but I could see Katey Sagal doing a phenomenal job as well.

author william r. hincy

From left to right: Constance Wu, Katey Sagal, Alexander Dreymon

#7 What’s your next book about?

My next book is an epic absurdist satire titled Pirates of Appalachia. Set in the post-Trumpocalyptic world, it revolves around a band of bootlegging pirates who sail the Ohio River to sack the now Independent City of Pittsburgh. The citizenry is the manifestation of our collective social media personas come to life, and from that starting point the characters journey back to their humanity in alternatingly fantastical, dark and surreal ways. It basically gives me license to mock anything and everyone, which is right up my alley. Oh, and there are mermaids.

#8 What made you choose to self-publish?

An earlier version of But the Ripping Apart was actually traditionally published under a different title about seven years ago. Unfortunately, the publisher failed to meet even their most basic requirements, like copy-editing the book. After the novel languished for years, I decided to take my career in my own hands and requested out of my contract. After more than two years editing, revising, and working with a wonderful editor, the result is the “remastered”—if I can borrow a term from 90s VHS tapes—cut of that novel. I’ve always intended to be a hybrid author, publishing independently and traditionally, but I never intended to do both for the same story!

author william r. hincy

Intense close-up from “But The Ripping Apart” Book Trailer

#9 Any regrets?

Not at all. I don’t even regret signing on with the traditional publisher. It’s all a learning experience, and I’ve come to find that the exhilaration comes from the challenges and process of writing, not from the product. It is A LOT of work, but it’s allowed me to play a larger part in the creative expression of the work that I didn’t have with the traditional publisher. It also meant I had full quality control and could ensure I put out the most polished version of the book possible.

#10 What’s your #1 tip for self-published authors?

Link up with a GOOD editor!! I can’t add enough exclamation points to that sentence, which a good editor would then point out are redundant. Editors are worth their weight in sparkles, rainbows, butterflies, and all those magical things you’ll feel when readers connect with your work. There have been countless indie titles I’ve read with promising premises and characters that have been underdeveloped or muddled by poor copy-editing. If you spend money anywhere, spend it here!!!

(Judging by my experience, this same advice applies to traditionally published authors.)

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Click to read our blog on four incredible self publishing success stories.

#11 What would you to say to the version of yourself who set out to write this novel?

There’s not much you could say to that guy. Maybe cut back a bit on the whiskey and add some vegetables to your diet? At which point, he’d say the same thing to me, and we’d rag on each other for a bit before forgetting what we were bickering about and splitting a bottle of Bulleit Rye.

#12 What advice do you have for burgeoning novelists?

Write the stories that are important to you. Writing a novel is like taking a road trip by yourself and narrating everything you do along the way; it will be long, you’ll get tired of hearing your own voice, and you’ll never get through it if you don’t find delight in the journey and interest in the places you’re stopping. If what you’re writing isn’t absolutely vital to you, you’re going to run out of gas and find yourself stranded along the way. Also, bring snacks and loads of caffeine.

#13 What are you reading right now?

Black Easter by the talented writer and editor Dario Ciriello. It’s a supernatural thriller with a ton of insight into the human condition. I like to jump genre, era, nationality, and indie/trad published, learning and rounding out my pattern of thought along the way. I like to think of myself as a citizen of the literary world. A bookish globalist, if you will.  


Hincy’s current read.

#14 What are you watching right now?

The current show we’re binging is Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist. As the kids used to say, it’s fab! I’m a longtime sucker for karaoke, so any show that involves singing and dancing usually hooks me in, especially when it’s spontaneous. There’s a karaoke scene in But the Ripping Apart that is based on an epic night of karaoking in the San Fernando Valley. 


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