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#119 Simon Van Booy

119 Van Booy Headshot.jpg

This conversation was absolute and total heaven.

Much like Simon Van Booy's latest book, the story collection "The Sadness of Beautiful Things," this episode covers a wide variety of topics. However, even as we moved from beginnings, to endings, to the thought and work it took to get various stories right, we kept coming back to one central theme: what does it take to write a good story?

Simon is a brilliant guide in this arena, and shared the circumstances of the stories he's been told while traveling that lead, over time, to the ones that made up this collection. We talk about the trickiness of happy endings, how to deal with the tough stuff, and so much more. I've been counting the days until this book came out because I'm so excited for you to read it, and to get to hear this chat. Happy listening.

Discussed in Episode 119 with Simon Van Booy:

  • How a weekend away at a farm house in the country with his children spurned the idea for his first short story.

  • “Suffering or forgetting doesn’t erase all of those beautiful moments that you’ve had with someone.”

    On the Buddhist idea of attachment and losing someone that you love

  • Finding the point where Simon would leave the true story behind and write in his own direction

  • “To some extent we all have the power to change the things that happen to us.”

    On the grey area of always trying to be in control

  • “If you want to love one person then you have to love everybody or it is unauthentic.”

    On seeking out someone to bring a child into the world with and/or spending your life with.

  • Being anchored to a past negative event that determines how they see things in their lives now

  • “I prefer to start my stories off in the worst possible situations.”

    On writing happy endings that work. 

  • “Life is meaningless and that is why it is meaningful.”

    On us just being a blip in the universe

  • Joseph Campbell and George Elliot - on people preferring to expect negative consequences and the art of pessimism

  • “I certainly think we are all connected, I mean we have to be.”

    On the idea that we are here to overcome the illusion of separatism. 

  • Seeing people in different lights and the ideas of overlap

  • “People don’t really feel like I am judging them…. I am the epitome of safety.”

    On Simon getting people to divulge their stories to them

  • “I see Americans as risk takers and extraordinarily curious.”

    On living in America and the news portraying Americans as completely polarized

  • “A great tool for writing is reading.”

    On being open to new ideas

  • “I’ve taken this idea about connecting and have wrote in a way that maybe help people realize things about themselves that they didn’t see before.”

    On his work lasting through time and other books that stay

  • “The question isn’t how do I write a short story, but what is the story I want to tell.”

  • “The story chooses us, rather than us choosing the story.”

    On making the process of choosing a story less complicated 

  • “I choose what to write with the same power that I choose what to dream.”

    How writing impacts the writer.

This episode sponsored by listeners like you via the Secret Library Podcast Patreon