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Mira Gonzalez has a conversation with Andrew Duncan Worthington | Mira Gonzalez

Mira Gonzalez has a conversation with
Andrew Duncan Worthington

My friend Andrew Duncan Worthington mailed me an advanced review copy of his first novel ‘Walls’ on May 11th, 2014, along with a $5 check to pay me back for a gin and tonic I bought him when I was visiting New York the previous month. He asked me for a blurb to put on the back of the book. I obliged after reading the novel and enjoying it, but then I realized that writing blurbs is a terrifying nightmare and I suddenly felt completely incapable of writing one. Anyways, here are the blurbs I ended up writing:

If you feel positively about even one of these things: sex, drugs, happiness, the laughter of small children, bacon, cashmere, any disney movie, efforts to reverse global warming, adorable animals, then you will LOVE Walls by Andrew Duncan Worthington.

I once heard a story about Andrew Duncan Worthington secretly putting orange juice in guacamole because he thought it would taste good, but then the guacamole just tasted like orange juice and it was bad. He didn’t do anything like that with this book.

One time I bought Andrew Duncan Worthington a drink, then I moved across the country and he mailed me a $5 check to cover the cost of the drink, which was $8.

One time Andrew Duncan Worthington brought blood sausage to a rooftop barbecue and I ate it because I felt bad that nobody else was eating it.

Andrew Duncan Worthington looks a lot like Dermot Mulroney, who is an actor that I didn’t know about at all until someone told me Andrew Duncan Worthington looks like him.

An engrossing book and one that is often difficult to swallow, emotionally. Ultimately redemptive, uplifting, great characterization. Well done. -An Amazon customer review for Freedom by Jonathan Franzen

Ultimately, none of my blurbs were used to promote Andrew’s book. Which I think was a really smart decision on behalf of Andrew and/or his publisher.

After all my blurbs were rejected, I offered to interview Andrew instead. It took us ~1.5 months and 52 emails before we finally sat down and had a Gchat conversation. Which, by the way, has nothing to do with Andrew, who is very reliable. It is entirely due to me constantly forgetting to respond to his emails for multiple weeks.

The following is my conversation with Andrew Duncan Worthington, author of Walls, which is available now via Civil Coping Mechanisms.


Mira Gonzalez: Okay, so lets start this way: I’m very stoned, sitting on my bed. I’ve done nothing today besides dye my hair one shade darker brown for no reason and I mostly didn’t prepare for this interview, which I think will make it funnier, but that wasn’t a conscious choice on my part. Now describe your surroundings to me, please. (That was my first interview question.)

Andrew Duncan Worthington: Okay, I understand your state of mind. I am working on lessons for the rest of the week. I am sitting in bed next to Maggie [Lee]*. There is a bedside lamp. The air conditioner hums.

*Maggie Lee is Andrew’s girlfriend who he lives with

Mira: Nice. Hi Maggie. Okay another thing about this interview is that I have a copy of your book, and I read it, and I enjoyed it very much, but I seem to have lost my copy entirely. It’s just gone. So, I guess I’m just gonna wing it for this interview.

Andrew: Maggie says hi. Did I send you a digital copy?

Mira: No. You sent me a galley or something, along with a $5 check

because you owed me for that gin and tonic I bought you.

Andrew: No, I sent you digital stuff. It is in our email thread from July 6.

Mira: Lol… Jesus. I have no memory of that, but you’re right.

Andrew: We got up to 50 emails before we did this interview. Damn we’re good.

Mira: Damn… 50 emails… Yeah so, thats a good thing to mention here. We have been trying to do this interview since like… May? June? I kept flaking and now we’re finally doing it and I’m stoned and can’t find my copy of your book. So that’s good.

Andrew: Maggie is scratching my back right now. May 11 is when the thread begins, but I guess you probably didn’t get the book until a few weeks after that. Do you want to do it again another time?

Mira: No this seems good. It’s better this way. Lets consider this above portion to be the ‘intro’ portion, now begins the part where I ask you questions. Are you prepared?

mira gonzalez walls


Andrew: I am prepared. Oh yeah, I also want to point out for all those reading

that you smoking weed is legal because you live in California.

Mira: Oh yeah, thats right. I have a prescription for anxiety and depression, so it’s legal for me to be stoned. If any cops are reading this please don’t come looking for me

Andrew: (laughs to myself/himself)

Mira: Okay, first question: what did you consume today? Please list all the things you consumed today… Only things you consumed orally… I don’t want to know about anything you consumed that you didn’t consume orally…


From 6 am to noon I consumed the following:

– two glasses of water

– toothpaste (some probably didn’t get rinsed out)

– 1 burger king iced coffee

– 2 burger king breakfast burritos

– 1 bottle of water

From noon to 6 pm I consumed the following:

– 1 bottle of water

– 1 falafel sandwich

– 1 tylenol

– 1 bottle of water

From 6 pm to present (almost 10 pm) I consumed the following:

– 1 glass of water

– 3/4 of a cheese pizza with sun dried tomatoes

– 1 glass of water

… and now here I am

Mira: How often, on average, do you consume items from Burger King?

Andrew: I probably have only had Burger King once a year since 2011, when I lived near a Burger King and had it somewhat often. Currently, it is right outside the train station by my job, so I’ve gone there a few times recently. I can’t tell if I’m losing my interest in it or not. The food isn’t very good. The coffee is automatically creamed/sugared, which annoys me, because I like black coffee.

Mira: While writing your novel Walls (Civil Coping Mechanisms, 2014), how much Burger King would you estimate you consumed? Do you think your Burger King consumption increased or decreased while writing it?

Andrew: I probably consumed it once per week while I wrote like 60% of the book. I was living in West Harlem. I would go there while I did my laundry because it was right across the street. While writing the rest of the book I didn’t eat it at all, from what I can remember.

Mira: So what you’re saying is that you moved from West Harlem to Brooklyn (where you live currently) and both places were walking distance from a Burger King?

Andrew: No, West Harlem was. I think there is one in Bed Stuy where I live now, but I don’t go there because I don’t know why. Also, I used to live in Bed Stuy before I lived in West Harlem. I ate Burger King probably 25 times in Harlem. I think maybe I confused you. I might have said “bk” and it meant Burger King, not Brooklyn.

Mira: Oh, yeah, that is confusing. From now on lets only refer to them as ‘Burger King’ and ‘Brooklyn’, but if you use the abbreviated version (bk) i will assume you mean Burger King and not Brooklyn

Andrew: Sounds good

Mira: How long, approximately, did it take you to write Walls? Did you meet any significant road blocks that made you stop writing for periods of time?

Andrew: Yeah I met some roadblocks. I wrote the chapter titled “Walls” in 2010 when I was first moved to NYC and it was shorter and in third-person. I sent it to a bunch of presses and no one cared. Then a year later in the fall of 2011 I wrote most of the rest of the book but I didn’t realize it was the same book at first. Also, the “Tour Guide” sections [excerpt example] were originally landscape descriptions, like just regular ass landscape descriptions, and then one day I got the idea to make them part of the tour guide concept. From there, it finally came together. The Julia Page chapter [excerpt from that chapter] was one of the last parts I wrote. Then I organized the book into a novel and sent it to a bunch of presses and nobody cared but CCM and they said they wanted it and I said “Yes.” BUT, that was like 2 years ago and I was kinda like “This book is stupid” and “This isn’t really a novel” and so I rewrote some parts and reorganized it with new chapters and stuff and finally liked it and that was like, a few months ago.

Mira: So did you give up on it 2 years ago, then pick it up again and start writing more and reorganizing just a few months ago? What prompted you to start working on it again?

Andrew: Yeah I guess from like 2012-2013 I didn’t work on it because it seemed so far away and I had other things to be excited, stressed, depressed about.

Then like last Fall or Winter I realized I wanted to make it something better because it was actually going to happen. It’s more or less the same content now, but it flows better and makes more sense and there are some new chapters… to spice things up?

Mira: So was Michael [Seidlinger]* wanting to publish your book on CCM a big motivator for you to make the novel into something you feel proud of?

follow up question: do you feel proud of this novel?

*Michael Seidlinger is the Publisher-in-Chief of Civil Coping Mechanisms, who is publishing Andrew’s novel.

Andrew: Well he accepted it 2 years ago, not sure if I made that clear. I just took forever to edit it. And when he accepted it, he wasn’t the head editor. There was this other guy… I think his name was Gabe. He was really into experimental genre-fusion stuff.

(I think) and then maybe a year or year and a half ago Michael took over. I think Michael liked “alt lit” stuff a lot and the other guy didn’t as much.

Mira: Do you feel proud of this novel? Do you feel like there’s anything you might have done differently? Like, you think that 30 years from now, you can look back on this and feel proud of it as a first novel?

Andrew: It was kind of the kind of writing where I felt I could keep always adding stuff, and I probably still could, but its nice to just cut it off. Once I gave myself a deadline, I realized what parts of the novel I could actually cut out. So I am happy with it now, although I still feel like I could work on it forever. But eventually you gotta say goodbye, right?

…in case I was unclear, I’m proud of it. Good job me.

Mira: Well, I think you should be proud. Good job Andrew, you go. Part of the reason I ask is because, although I feel proud of a lot of things I’ve written, I normally feel what you said, that I could always go back and add more or change something, but thats the kind of thing that can go on forever until someone gives you a cut off point.

Andrew: Yeah. I try to save new ideas and apply them in the future, I guess.

Mira: Have your parents read this novel? Or any family members?

Andrew: No one has read it except for reviewers and close friends, and not my family. I actually don’t have copies yet because of shipping issues. I’m going to send the fam copies, I’m sure they’ll read it. I’ve already told them “it’s fiction” etc.

Mira: So, has anybody told you that they felt a resemblance to any character in the book?

Andrew: I mean people have told me they feel the narrator is me. As for other characters, I dont think so.

Mira: To what degree do you believe that the narrator is you?

Andrew: I dont know. It would depend on the scale the degrees were being measured on. Part me, part not. I wrote it, but I didn’t live it all. I wrote a lot from life experience, but thats also very broad, all-encompassing.

I also recently became one of those folks who says “etc” at the end of sent messages all the time. I’ve done it a few times so far in this chat, I think. I caught myself. etc.

Mira: I feel like you say that in real life too, even though I know you don’t actually. It seems like something you would say in real life though. Are you working on another book now?

Andrew: I’m trying to work on two books but I’m also starting teaching in NYC public schools, so stuff is sorta on hold for sec. One book is called “long poems and short stories” and one book is a sort of “sci-fi” book about online dating and other things. The latter is a novel. I haven’t really done much writing so far this year, though. Just a lot of editing and a lot of NYC job stress stuff. I wrote a lot of cover letters too.

Mira: Damn, a sci fi book about online dating sounds sweet. Cover letters seem like such a mystery, to me. The fact that you can write cover letters seems honestly more impressive than you writing a novel.

Andrew: Oh, I didn’t say I was good. I probably have gotten like 5 of the 250-500 jobs I’ve applied to in my life.

Mira: But just the fact that you will sit down and write cover letters is impressive to me. By the way, a cool thing my mom taught me today is that if you’re unemployed you can just say you’re ‘job free’.

In general, do you think of writing as work? Or as a fun activity?

Andrew: Your mom is smart. I like to think of it as fun. I mean, if i thought of it as work then I’d be screwed. I have made very little money off writing. Also, it’s never good writing if its “work”. That said, I do think there is a discipline that is necessary, but thats the same way with like, being good at guitar or sports, which can also be fun and should be fun if thats what you do. I could be a really great really lame motivational speaker

Mira: Andrew you are a good friend, and I think you are a very skilled writer and have a million good qualities, but you would be a terrible motivational speaker.

Andrew: Agreed

Mira: Would you consider yourself a disciplined writer? Do you have a routine with writing? Or, did you have a routine when you were working on this book? Did you write every day?

Andrew: No and yes. When I wrote the three significant chunks of the novel, I was disciplined. I had outlines and I wrote regularly, with a rough schedule. Although when I wrote the book I was also single, lonely and depressed, so it was good and even easy to do that. I also would drink a lot, which I don’t do as much now when I write. The same re: outlines/schedules when I did my big editing push in the Winter. After writing the novel, I wasn’t able to be as productive with schedules so I gave up at some point. I’m really kind of drifting. I’ll probably replicate the first book’s process, in terms of time management, when I get down to really writing this second novel. Right now I just write if I have free time and I feel like it.

Mira: Do you find it easier to be disciplined about writing when you are single and lonely and depressed, generally speaking?

Andrew: Yeah I mean, I write from exhaustion and dejection a lot, or at least I used to. Like I said, I haven’t been “on top” of writing lately. But yeah, if you’re sad and alone then its easy to make a purpose for yourself with writing. What do you think?

Mira: I find it easier to write when I’m single, lonely and depressed for sure. But i think that might just be a ‘what you’re used to’ thing… or something. Like, if Im very, very comfortable with a person I’m dating, and they also have things to work on, then sometimes I can write, but getting to that point takes years, for me. So being alone is usually when I can do my best writing.

Andrew: Yeah its definitely just my experience so far. Not a definitive model for all future writing. mean yeah, i feel a lot of people write from that, right? Like thats why people have journals and diaries and blogs and write stuff and talk about stuff. its all just trying to fill a void, in some sense, to some degree.

Mira: Yeah, thats all anyone is ever trying to do. I guess. Kill the void. Although, maybe there are writers out there who just ‘write fiction’ and don’t have to make themselves depressed to do it. God help the rest of us. Do you ever feel like writing makes you miserable? O do you ever make yourself depressed for the purpose of writing?

Andrew: I dont think so re: second question. First question, maybe, just because it’s another stress, or at least task, to do all the things to get my writing out to the world (basically, publication). On top of that, it’s this huge narcissistic enterprise, where you just think you’re important enough that people should listen to you. So that doesn’t help make it feel worth it, because you’ve already justified that it’s worth it, and theres this weird connection to your own writing. Then, it’s like “Oh crap, so people are going to read this and have their own opinions and thats valid?” and then its like “Okay, good thing none of this matters that much anyways.”



Mira: Before I enter the final phase of this interview, is there anything that you want to express to people who are currently reading your book, or who have already read your book, or who might read your book in the future? Or to anyone who might be reading this interview at all?

Andrew: If you buy the book, I guarantee satisfaction… I think. Also, don’t give up on your dreams.

Mira: Okay, now entering the final phase of the interview


Mira: I have 2 more questions but they’re both super important

Andrew: I’m getting nervous, Mira…

Mira: First question (I lied, i have three more questions): What is a food that you like a lot? Like, something you absolutely could not live without?

Andrew: Sushi

Mira: Would you rather give up sushi for the rest of your life, or give up oral sex for the rest of your life?

Andrew: Damn, yeah thats a good lead. Did you anticipate me saying “sushi”?

Mira: I didn’t. I thought you would say peanut butter for some reason.

Andrew: I would give up sushi.

Mira: Good call. Seems really insane to give up oral sex instead of [any food].

Andrew: Yeah, lol.

Mira: Okay now for my final question, are you ready?

Andrew: Pretty much.

*[10 seconds passes]*


Mira: Would you rather change sex every time you sneeze, or always have Nicholas Cage within 4 feet of you?

Andrew: Can you elaborate on “change sex”


Mira: Go from being physically male to physically female

Andrew: Oh, I thought you meant coitus. Um… I guess I’d do the sneeze thing, it’d be a new perspective. Nicholas Cage would be funny, but then it’d be like a fruit fly.

Mira: Yeah, good job. I had a hard time with that one. I’m still not sure what I would pick. Okay, I guess that concludes our interview. Any final words? Any goodbyes?


Andrew: No final words. Thanks to anyone who made it to this point.

Read excerpts at Vice and Atticus Review

Buy This Book:

andrew duncan worthington

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