Lovelace: Do you enjoy reading over your own books?
Sparling: Yes. Most of the time. Or, at least, more often than I might ever have expected. What I enjoy about reading my own books, I think, is being surprised by what I’ve written. I don’t ever go and set out to read an entire book by me. Most of the time when I’m reading over some of my published stuff, it’s sort of casual, like an accident. For instance, I hadn’t made any copies of Hush up and listen stinky poo butt for a few years and suddenly a few people wanted copies. When I’m photocopying the master copy, I’ll sometimes read some pages of it at random. I’m usually surprised and happy about what I read at those times.
I’ve read parts of Dad says he saw you at the mall that I’d entirely forgotten and they made me laugh out loud.
I did a little author visit to a teen writers group a friend of mine runs at the library, and at some point one of the teens wanted me to read the boner part near the beginning of Dad says he saw you at the mall. I briefly thought: I can’t read that part to these kids. But I read it and it made me laugh reading it in that context. I mean a good solid laugh that came out of a deep fear and a kind of communion I felt with those kids, just for that moment, as I read what I’d perceived as something outwardly inappropriate. What I think I loved, beyond the content of what I’d written so many years ago, was the boldness of just stepping back into it and not hesitating again after that first hesitation. It’s a bit like the decision I was talking about when you treat what you’ve crossed out in your writing as something dead, something to be walked away from and forgotten. As soon as you make that decision, you need to turn back and step directly back into that sentence and decide not ever to give up on yourself again until the day you give up on yourself again and, by giving up on yourself again, you make a new opportunity for yourself to once again decide never to give up on yourself again.