Post­ed by Nao­mi Firestone-Teeter

Over the next week, we’ll be post­ing Words from our Final­ists,” so you can get to know the 2011 Sami Rohr Prize final­ists a lit­tle better.

First up…Austin Rat­ner

Austin…meet our Read­ers
Readers…meet Austin

What are some of the most chal­leng­ing things about writ­ing fiction?

Rejec­tion. It’s worse than dating.

What or who has been your inspi­ra­tion for writ­ing fiction?

I have always writ­ten inces­sant­ly from the time I was a child.

Who is your intend­ed audience?

Who­ev­er will take me.

Are you work­ing on any­thing new right now?

I just fin­ished a nov­el about two broth­ers on a road­trip from L.A. to Cleve­land in the sum­mer of 1999. I’m in the mid­dle of anoth­er about a labyrinth.

What are you read­ing now?

Franken­stein by Mary Shelley.

When did you decide to be a writer? Where were you?

If I had to pin­point it to one moment it would be a Mon­day lec­ture on nasopha­ryn­geal bac­te­ria in my last year of med­ical school, the day after the Cleve­land Indi­ans blew the 1997 World Series.

What is the moun­tain­top for you — how do you define success?

Most peo­ple think of suc­cess as celebri­ty, but as Car­rie Fish­er said, celebri­ty is just obscu­ri­ty bid­ing its time. I’ll be most­ly sat­is­fied if I have a mod­est read­er­ship in my life­time, the respect of a few crit­ics, and if peo­ple are still read­ing my books 4000 years from now and com­par­ing me to Shakespeare.

How do you write — what is your pri­vate modus operan­di? What tal­is­mans, rit­u­als, props do you use to assist you?

I used to like to write in an L.L. Bean chamois shirt and I wore out the elbows and had my dry clean­er sew patch­es over the holes with scrap fab­ric from old laun­dry bags. One patch was bright pur­ple and one was orange. One day I decid­ed I need­ed to tough­en myself up and I threw it out.

What do you want read­ers to get out of your book?

A per­sua­sive dream.

You can read more about Austin Rat­ner by vis­it­ing his web­site: http://​www​.austin​rat​ner​.com/​S​i​t​e​2​/​H​o​m​e​.html

Orig­i­nal­ly from Lan­cast­er, Penn­syl­va­nia, Nao­mi is the CEO of Jew­ish Book Coun­cil. She grad­u­at­ed from Emory Uni­ver­si­ty with degrees in Eng­lish and Art His­to­ry and, in addi­tion, stud­ied at Uni­ver­si­ty Col­lege Lon­don. Pri­or to her role as exec­u­tive direc­tor, Nao­mi served as the found­ing edi­tor of the JBC web­site and blog and man­ag­ing edi­tor of Jew­ish Book World. In addi­tion, she has over­seen JBC’s dig­i­tal ini­tia­tives, and also devel­oped the JBC’s Vis­it­ing Scribe series and Unpack­ing the Book: Jew­ish Writ­ers in Conversation.