Author Q&A: Ross Simonini (The Book of Formation)

Ross Simonini makes art.

Ross Simonini is interviews editor at the Believer.

Ross Simonini is a founder/producer/interviewer for The Organist.

Ross Simonini wrote a novel called The Book of Formation.

Ross Simonini is half of the band NewVillager.

Ross Simonini invented the original form of this Q&A for the Identity Theory music section in 2005.

Ross Simonini has degrees in music, physics, and writing.

Ross Simonini teaches at Columbia University.

Ross Simonini lives near big trees in California.

Podiatric Calendar by Ross Simonini

In what way do you think literature has the ability to change the way people live their lives?

Literature directly shapes the meaning of the language in our minds and culture. We are all affected by it in every moment of our day. It is the story of human knowledge.

What was the last book you gave as a present?

A biography of Joan of Arc

What is the best writing advice you’ve ever received?

In an interview, George Saunders once told me that all art is a transference of energy.

Which author do you re-read most frequently?


What is the best sentence you’ve ever read?

I love you.

Podiatric Calendar II by Ross Simonini

Describe your writing routine.

I’m an experimental process kind of writer. Different approaches for different projects. I think the process should be an expression of the product, and vice versa. These days, I'm choosing to not write fiction for a while. I'm choosing inaction — thinking outside of written language — which is equally important to writing. 

What is your go-to activity when procrastinating on writing?

For me, procrastination and distraction are tools that encourage a more diverse life. When I don’t want to write, I make art, music, take a walk, conduct an interview, cook, eat, have sex, edit, dance, socialize, stare at the wall, watch something, or read something, and all of these activities are enjoyable and worthwhile to me. 

How do you decide when to be done with a written work?

For me, nothing is ever really done — done is dead — but, at some point, if it’s to be published, I just stop working on it. 

Name a writer who is a deep influence on you who you suspect hardly anyone you know has read.

Amos Tutuola 

Do you ever listen to music when you write? If so, what’s on your playlist?

I don’t, but I often make music after writing. 

Ross Simonini Drivers License

How do you stay accountable to your own positionality when working with political content? 

I do not identify with any particular position to which I have to be accountable.

Best bookstore you’ve ever been to?

Bart's Books in Ojai, California.

If you were standing in line at a bookstore and noticed the person in front of you was holding your latest book, what would you say to them?


What literary landmark would you most like to visit?

My local public library

Do you own an e-reader?


Is Facebook good for you?

Never been on it.

What about Amazon?

It’s certainly useful, but I am increasingly wary of its power. 

What job have you held that was most helpful for your writing?

All my jobs have orbited around art: journalism, editing, music, radio, teaching, and, when I was younger, selling books. 

What is one of your vices?


What is one of your prejudices?


Favorite books you’ve read in the past year?

Under the Skin by Michel Faber

David Hammons: Bliz-aard Ball Sale by Elena Filipovic

Road to Heaven by Red Pine

Favorite word?


Images "Podiatric calendar I & II (2017)" by Ross Simonini

Scroll to Top