‘Big Fish’ author chats with writers

by Christine June
USAG Kaiserslautern

Writing 15 minutes each day was one of many bits of advice passed down to future writers by award-winning author and illustrator Daniel Wallace May 20 at U.S. Army Garrison Kaiserslautern’s library on Landstuhl Regional Medical Center.

Kaiserslautern was the second to last stop on Mr. Wallace’s tour of eight Army installations in Italy, Belgium and Germany as part of the Army Europe Libraries’ Conversations literary discussion series. The Installation Management Command-Europe Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation sponsored Mr. Wallace’s tour.

The day before visiting Kaiserslautern, Mr. Wallace was in Heidelberg, where 75 people attend the free discussions and readings of his work. Close to that number of people also showed up for his presentation at the Landstuhl Library.

Mr. Wallace said he wanted to share with his audience the nature of the writing process, the best way to go about it and to think of ways to be successful as a writer.

He told those attending the literary discussion that he wrote five novels that were rejected by publishers before getting his most famous work, “Big Fish: A Novel of Mythic Proportions,” published in 1998. This novel was the basis for Tim Burton’s 2003 film “Big Fish.”

“It was very enlightening to hear him talk about the process of getting your work ready, how to get an agent and when you would get one,” said Mary Ressner, from Ramstein High School, who attended the literary discussion to get ideas on how she can get her works published.

Mr. Wallace’s other books include “Ray in Reverse,” “The Watermelon King: A Novel” and his latest, “Mr. Sebastian and the Negro Magician.” 

He has published more than three dozen short stories in venues such as The Yale Review, The Massachusetts Review, Shenandoah, New Stories from the South, and The Best American Short Stories. His work has been translated into 18 languages.
“It’s vital to have authors who are currently writing come to our facilities and share what they know and have learned about writing with people who have that ambition and who could be a new voice,” said April Harward, a garrison library technician, who organized Mr. Wallace’s visit to the Landstuhl Library.

Gary Shteyngart, best-selling author of “Absurdistan” and “The Russian Debutante’s Handbook,” is the next visiting writer for the IMCOM-E Conversations literary discussion series.

He will also be visiting eight installations including Mannheim on Aug. 10, Landstuhl on Aug. 12 and Heidelberg on Aug. 13.