SIX MINUTES WITH MICHAEL ANTHONY:
Joining LitPick for Six Minutes with an Author is Michael Anthony, author of Civilianized: A Young Veteran’s Memoir. Michael is an Iraq War veteran who wrote about his experiences upon returning home. Check out the two Five Star reviews of his book: https://litpick.com/books/civilianized-young-veterans-memoir.
How did you get started writing?
One of my favorite quotes on writing is by P.G. Wodehouse, “I know I was writing stories when I was five. I don’t know what I did before that. Just loafed I suppose.” I feel as though it’s the same for me. I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember. I never intended to be a “writer” or an “author.” I just wrote because I wanted to. It wasn’t until I was 21, and just back from Iraq that I decided to seriously give writing a chance — almost dying tends to give you a new perspective on life. I ended up signing my first book deal when I was only 22!
Who influenced you?
Too hard to pick just one or two. Most likely, it’s an amalgamation of all the books and people I’ve come across in my life.
Do you have a favorite book/subject/character/setting?
My favorite book of all time is All Quiet on the Western Front by E.M. Remarque. It’s the only book that I would ever describe as “beautiful.” The writing, the story, the pacing, the scenery, the emotion. E.M. Remarque is able to capture so much of the beauty and horror of war that it’s remarkable.
It’s a novel, but it’s the truest description of war that I’ve ever read.
What advice do you have for someone who wants to be an author?
I’m going to go on a limb and guess that the advice “write every day,” has been given ad nauseam, so that’s not going to be my suggestion; however, I will say that along with writing as often as possible, the key to being a successful writer and author is: brutal honesty. A writer needs to be absolutely, radically, brutally honest with themselves. Writing, good writing, is about heart and soul, and in order for a writer to put their heart and soul on the page they need to be honest with themselves. What is important to me? What isn’t important to me? Why?
A writer must be honest with themselves as a writer and also as an editor. To improve as a writer, you need to be honest with yourself about what works in your writing and what doesn’t. When an author isn’t honest with themselves (in either instance) it shows on the page.
Where is your favorite place to write?
I would say that 99% of my writing takes place in my home office. It’s the only place that I’ve ever written. I’ve gone through different desks and different computers, but always at home, listening to music.
What else would you like to tell us?
One of the main themes my memoir focuses on is the depression and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) that many veterans face when returning home from war. Every day in the U.S. there are 22 veterans who kill themselves. I wasn’t in the best headspace when I returned from Iraq, but writing was one of the things that kept me going and helped get me out of my funk. Writing may not work for everyone, but to anyone who finds themselves in one of those bad headspace, I just want you to know that there are solutions and answers to your specific problems. The tough part is just finding the specific solution/answer for you. But please know that the answers are out there.
Michael, thank you so much for giving us a glimpse into your soul and for being vulnerable enough to write a book that shows the effects war has on a person. May you continue to be an inspiration to many, and thank you for your service to this country!