Wisconsin native Kirk Farber moved out west after college looking for new experiences and, as a bonus, found the literary agent who would make the dream of publishing his first novel a reality. Postcards from a Dead Girl was launched Feb. 16, and independent booksellers have voted it as one of their favorite 20 new releases; it’s an “Indie Next” pick for March 2010. The irreverently funny novel chronicles the experiences of an eccentric telemarketer named Sid who receives postcards from an old girlfriend who has died. Or has she?
When he’s not writing, Farber’s busy processing bizarre book requests through the interlibrary loan department of the Colorado library where he works. In between scheduled book signing appearances, Farber took a few minutes to answer some questions for the Alibi via e-mail.
What was the first thing you ever wrote creatively?
When I was in fifth grade, I wrote a science fiction story about a kid in the future who traveled underground to his friend’s house by way of a secret underground tunnel. He and his friend then traveled underneath the city using a system of these technologically advanced tunnels. These would of course be known as subways, so my foray into science fiction didn’t quite make it far enough into the future.
You’re kicking off your first book tour for your first book. How does that feel?
I’m both excited and nervous. It’s kind of a surreal time. I’m hoping people will enjoy the book, and I’m looking forward to meeting new people while I’m visiting bookstores—readers, writers, booksellers. Should be quite an experience.
Sid’s emotional state is kind of based on a time in my life after my mom died, the first month of my freshman year in college. All my friends were at different schools and I was away from my family, so for a couple of months I was in a bit of a disconnected state.
Do you and your protagonist, Sid, share any quirks? To what extent is he influenced by your experiences?
Sid’s emotional state is kind of based on a time in my life after my mom died, the first month of my freshman year in college. All my friends were at different schools and I was away from my family, so for a couple of months I was in a bit of a disconnected state. But, much like the tone of the book, I used humor to offset that. Also, like Sid, I enjoy a good trip through the automatic car wash. Very peaceful.
Were you trying to convey any specific message when you wrote this book? Or were you just letting out the creative monster?
I’d say more of the creative monster. I liked the idea of a character receiving postcards from someone they weren’t sure was alive or not, and wanted to see how that would play out. It ended up being about love and loss and grief and hope, but I didn’t have a specific message in mind ahead of time.
Your writing is often humorous. Do you deliberately try to be funny, or does it come out that way naturally?
Thanks, that’s a big compliment. I think it’s a natural thing. I’ve always enjoyed making people laugh. Usually I find those who take themselves too seriously to be the most funny (myself included), so Sid is an easy target.
You credit a lot of your success to the writing group at Redbird Studio in Milwaukee. What was the most helpful criticism that you received while sharing your work with them?
Just having a community of people who were so dedicated to writing was really the key with Redbird. Being able to show up every two weeks knowing I’d get honest feedback really kept me on task.
What are you reading right now?
I haven’t had time to read these past weeks due to getting ready for promoting Postcards from a Dead Girl, but when I get some time, I’m looking forward to reading The Leisure Seeker, Fever Chart and How I Became a Famous Novelist. Maybe I should read that last one first ...