“I couldn’t get the book published, and I kept reckoning with myself, consulting with my soul.”
“For three years, Paul Harding’s unpublished novel, Tinker, sat in a drawer. The writer, a former Boston rock drummer who grew up in Wenham, (MA) had tried selling it, but nobody was interested.”
The Boston Globe
This week 42-year-old Paul Harding won a 2010 Pulitzer Prize for his novel Tinker. It was the end of a long journey. He’s quoted in The Salem News saying, “I told myself, ‘You’re a writer who writes, and it may be that this never gets published and you teach Freshman Composition the rest of your life, but you have a perfect wife and kids, and that’s already cool.'”
The University of Iowa grad (MFA/Iowa Writers’ Workshop ) and current visiting faculty member told the Iowa City Press Citizen,”I worked on it for 5 to 6 years and actually tried to have it published, but couldn’t find an agent or a publisher. From the moment I saw one copy in between two covers, it was all gravy from there.”
Back in 1990 Harding helped formed the grunge band Cold Water Flat while a student at the University of Massachusetts. According to Sam Butterfield, the band toured throughout the Northeast and disband in 1996. Harding graduated from Iowa in 2000. (Wonder if he ever met screenwriter Diablo Cody who would have been attending Iowa at the same time. The Juno—Iowa Connection.)
Carole Goldberg, of the Hartford Courant says Tinker is: “A beautifully written meditation on life, death, the passage of time and man’s eternal attempt to harness it… one of 2009’s most intriguing debuts.”
The big contract for his debut novel? According to The Boston Globe, an initial run of 3,500 copies and a $1,000 advance.
Let’s review Harding assets before that killer book deal:
—1992 Olsmobile station wagon (good for hauling drums around)
—Drum set in corner (leftover from his Cold Water Flat band gigs)
—A 191 page novel, unpublished & unwanted and in sitting in drawer
So since January of 2009 he’s not only had his book published, but it is currently the #11 bestseller at Amazon and a Pulitzer Prize winner to boot. (And now a nice meteoric rise in book sales.)
Congrats to Harding. The Pulitzer win is actually somewhere around the 50th for someone connected to the University of Iowa.
If you want to see something really unusual for these parts, check out this freaky video shot Wednesday night here in Northeast Iowa. (And be patient because the magic doesn’t start to happen until the 29 second mark.):
Check out NPR to read an excerpt from Tinker.
Trivia: According to Wikipedia, “a cold water flat is an apartment which has no running hot water.” Would make a fine title for a novel or screenplay.