This session Byrdcliffe has been blessed with enormous talent among our residents. For this resident spotlight we are featuring Brett Singer, a writer who has returned to Byrdcliffe for his second summer residency in two years.
1. What kind of artist are you? What type of art do you create?
Primarily I’m a writer, fiction and non-fiction. I also play guitar and sing, covers and original songs, and act occasionally.
2. What are you currently working on?
A novel set in the Bronx during the 1970s. Also a screenplay, a TV pilot, and another novel I’ve been working on for a couple of years that is (hopefully) almost ready to send out.
3. Who are your greatest influences, both in your field and others?
Wow, that’s a harder question than I thought it would be. Going with my gut, I’ll say John Irving (A Prayer for Owen Meany, The Cider House Rules) and Douglas Adams (The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy). A recent book I’m almost finished reading that hit me harder than I expected is The Making of Zombie Wars by by Aleksandar Hemon; it’s both funnier and more serious than the title makes it sound. Last year I was lucky enough to take a class with the brilliant Heather Sellers. I learned a lot from her in a short time (four days), and her memoir You Don’t Look Like Anyone I Know had a major influence on my writing. Highly recommended.
Outside of my field, the musicals A Little Night Music and Fiddler on the Roof; plays by Eugene Ionesco, Shakespeare, Chekhov; and yes, the musical Hamilton. It’s as good as people say it is. Plus comic books (love reading them, have no desire to write them), Mad Magazine, and The Simpsons.
4. How did you find out about Byrdcliffe?/How did you end up at Byrdcliffe?
My wife found Byrdcliffe and thought I would enjoy going. She was right. I love it here.
5. How has your time at Byrdcliffe contributed to your progress as an artist/writer?
Being at Byrdcliffe allowed me to feel comfortable calling myself an artist. I’m not a visual artist (I can barely draw a straight line) but I am a writer and I take that seriously.
6. As one of the returning residents the session, how would you compare your Byrdcliffe experiences? Would you consider returning for a third time?
Last year was great. I was extremely productive, worked very hard to use every moment to write. This time I was a bit more social — I wasn’t ANTI-social last year, just more so tthan his year. That was pleasant and made me even more productive. Part of what makes Byrdcliffe so wonderful is the people. For me, it’s a treat to be able to spend time with artists of different disciplines and hear about their work, their process. It’s also great to simply hang out with so many intelligent, funny, creative individuals. I was still productive, but I allowed myself to relax more and I believe doing so made my work that much better. More than once someone would say something that I incorporated into my novel, not a line of dialogue, more of a suggestion that I agreed with.
A third time: absolutely. This is a fantastic and magical place. I feel very lucky to have found Byrdcliffe when I did, and am extremely grateful for the opportunity to return.
7. Where can people check out more of your work?
www.brettsinger.com has links to most of my published writing for publications such as The Daily Beast and my blog DaddyTips.com. If you’re feeling adventurous and want to check out my music, go to facebook.com/brettmusic. Also twitter, tumblr, and sometimes even Instagram.