I tried for a long time to juggle these two lives until the day when one of my project friends got killed in a stupid accident playing chicken with a train. I decided then I would try to live only one life – one that had some kind of purpose.
Check out previous interviews in the One Thing Leads to Another series here.
Researching and formulating questions for this series (especially well ahead of deadline) is one of my favorite parts of interviewing; it’s a process that invariably leaves me with a whole new appreciation for the author in question. I love how one interview gives a glimpse, and a couple blog posts present an idea, but immersing yourself in as many of an authors’ words as you can find offers–well, it’s not a whole living person, obviously, but the shape of their collected words is, I think, maybe a shadow of the whole?
I usually come away from the experience with a desire to be president of the fan club, or the conviction we could be best friends, or possibly wishing they would adopt me (sometimes all three.) I always come away from the experience beyond thankful they agreed to participate in this series, and never has this been more true (including the fan club/best friends/adoption part) than the weeks I spent getting to know the word-shape of Francisco X. Stork. I read the interviews and the reviews and the articles and learned a lot. But I was sick earlier this year, really sick, and ended up indulging myself by reading his complete online journal, something I don’t normally have time to do. It was kind of an extraordinary experience. I was left not only wanting to immediately re-read all his books, but also wanting to read everything, to talk and listen and explore and to ask questions every day forever. I wanted to be kinder and more creative and honest and to think carefully about all kinds of topics. I was inspired. What an extraordinary man. And then I got to interview him and that felt pretty extraordinary too.
Thank you, Mr. Stork. (And if you would like to start a fan club or are looking for a new best friend or possibly want to adopt me, I’m totally in.)
Always Something There to Remind Me
Please describe your teenage self.
I was a mixture of outgoing and shy. I did things like act in plays and compete in speech tournaments but I also spent a lot of time alone reading and writing very corny poems and stories. I was a little insecure about my looks. I thought maybe my nose was too big.
What did you want to be when you grew up? Why?
I always wanted to be a writer since I was a little kid. But there was a period during my high school years when I really, really wanted to be a light house keeper. Doesn’t everyone at one point or another?
What were your high school years like?
I went to Jesuit High School in El Paso, Texas. The school had a very rigorous academic program and I struggled at first. But after a few months I discovered that I could actually get good grades if I studied and from then on high school was more enjoyable than not. I actually liked going home and spending my evenings doing homework, Jesuit High School was an all-boys school so the other thing that was fun was going to speech tournaments at high schools where there were actual girls! During those four years I met many teachers that were inspiring but I will always be grateful to Father John Hatcher (now the director of St. Francis Mission in the Rosebud Reservation of South Dakota) who saw that I was smarter than I let on and challenged me to just be myself.