Like any good citizen, John Reimringer adores the city in which he resides. And so he wrote a story about it — or at least around it.
Vestments, the winner of the 2011 Minnesota Book Award for Novel and Short Story, explores the “age-old and yet urgently contemporary issues in the Catholic Church.” Or, deep down and more charmingly, the book is a “love letter to St. Paul.”
Jonathan asked Reimringer a couple prying questions about books, writing and life in the Twin Cities. Here’s what we got out of him:
Q. Where is your favorite spot to read/write/think in the Twin Cities?
Honestly, it”s my house. I know that”s boring, but I”ve got an office with a tree outside, and a roomy glassed-in porch, and I”ve always liked to write at home. Plus, my neighbors are the kind of people who”ll loan you a belt sander, or come over with a fifth of Bushmill”s if they know you”ve had a bad day. So the essentials are covered.
Q. What”s the last book that you read that you couldn”t put down?
Graywolf author Alan Heathcock”s short-story collection, Volt. I met Alan at the Sewanee Writers” Conference this summer, and he”s a great, great guy and a stunning writer.
Q. What are you working on right now?
A novel set in Saint Paul in the 1920s, during our gangster era. My dad grew up here at that time, and I”m interested in exploring the world of his childhood.
Q. What”s your writing process like?
If I”m into a project, I like to write at least ten hours a week, and spend time on research as much more as possible. Ten hours and above is where things start to happen, but probably the most important thing is to sit down for a little while each day, so that your subconscious gets involved and works on the story even when you aren”t. When I first started writing, I used to need to write first thing in the morning, and it”s still one of my favorite times, especially for early drafting. But I”ve trained myself to write at any time of the day. If you”re a full-time teacher, you can”t afford to be picky.
Q. Do you have a muse?
Well, my wife, Katrina Vandenberg, who”s also a writer, sometimes threatens me . [Vandenberg, like Reimringer, has a book published through Milkweed Editions.]
Q. What are your final summer goals? What”s on tap for the fall?
My biggest goal this summer was to get far enough into the new novel that it would be easy to pick up and work on no matter how busy I am this fall. Which leads to your other question: I”m teaching five classes, launching the paperback edition of my novel, and Katrina and I are expecting our first child, a daughter, in mid-September. It should be fun.
Q. In a sentence, tell us what you love about St. Paul.
Saint Paul is a city that works, in every sense of the word.
Reimringer will be at Micawbers Books, 2238 Carter Ave., St. Paul, at 7 p.online casinosm. Wednesday, Sept. 7 for the launch of the paperback edition of Vestments.