Craig Childs - House of Rain
home about audio books writings wish list


Field Notebook

November 26, 2019
Interview with the Author

This interview first appeared at The Last Word on Nothing

QUESTIONER: I see you wrote a new book that just came out. Its called Virga and Bone: Essays from Dry Places. Does anybody ever make fun of you for that title?

AUTHOR: I dont understand the question.

Q: I mean, Viagra and Boner, you havent thought of that? What does virga mean?

A: Its when rain falls but doesnt touch ground, a meteorological term. It returns to vapor, usually as a result of heat rising off the desert surface that dries rain out of the air.

Q: Because this is a desert book, and deserts are dry. Why virga?

A: Virga is one of the elements of a desert. Youll see it forming on the horizon like spider strands. It makes the clouds look as if theyre walking without touching ground, tentacled like jelly fish. The idea behind the book is that Im writing about encounters with desert elements, desert gods. Virga is one.

Q: You intentionally flew through a sheet of virga in one of the chapters in a small plane. Would you call that a stupid thing to do?

A: The storm had lost steam, last of its precipitation dropping over Monument Valley. We sailed through it. Other pilots have said big virga you dont want to get near, but this was perfectly safe. It was like flying through silk.

Q: You could fit this book in your pocket, an afternoon read. Why write such a short book? Do you think youre running out of things to say?

A: Its less epic in scale than other books, but its about a subject close to my heart. I wanted to keep it short, something that would fit in your hand. Its personal, a love letter to the desert, but with science, history, and context. Since there are an infinite number of places on this planet you can put your feet on the ground, Ill never run out of things to say.

Q: You wrote this in a week, right?

A: Yes. It was an experiment. I wanted to write with a singular voice and thought, and have a book be influenced by one place. I got my notes and journals together and went to a spot outside of Tucson, a friends house in the desert, rammed earth walls, hard-pack floor, a writing table, a lamp, and a bed to sleep in. A great spot to hunker down and get work done.

Q: Whats so great about deserts?

A: The way the earth is stripped down, I see deserts as a tincture of everything. The world is drawn to such a fine point. There is less to see, but so much more of it.

Q: Do you write drunk and edit sober?

A: I dont see what this has to do with my book.

Q: You mentioned in the introduction that you sent a picture of your workspace to your girlfriend and she asked, Im assuming tongue in cheek, if you were in a Turkish prison. Have you ever been in a Turkish prison?

A: Is this relevant?

Q: Has your girlfriend ever been in a Turkish prison?

A: Im done.

   All content © 2024 Craig Childs. Facebook