Faith, doubt, life – Q&A with Kyle Cupp

Today it is an honor to be a stop on the blog tour for Living in Faith, Dwelling in Doubt (Loyola Press, 120 pp., $13.95), written by Kyle Cupp. I’m a longtime fan of Kyle’s work, which I first encountered on the blog Vox Nova, a few years back.

I did write a little about this book at the end of September, when I first read it – a not-review that was a sort of a review. Today I wanted to present this Q&A with the author – and here it is. Enjoy! And read this book, it is wonderful!

-2How and when did Living in Faith, Dwelling in Doubt become a book for you? Was it an idea for a book, or was it a series of notes and essays that became a book?
This may sound strange, but I don’t think it really became a book for me until after my editor, Vinita Hampton Wright, took the manuscript I’d given to Loyola Press, cut out about seven chapters, rearranged the whole thing, and returned the draft to me for my review. I’d composed the manuscript in more or less chronological order, but Vinita restructured it with the work’s core story and themes in mind. As I read through it, I finally felt that I was reading a book.

Initial work had begun after the publisher and senior acquisitions editor at Loyola Press encouraged me to submit a book proposal after reading some of my blogging about faith and doubt and the relationship between the two in my own life. This was September of 2011.

I had a lot of themes in mind as I began early drafts, but during the writing process and with the feedback from the editors at Loyola, I narrowed the scope of the book to three basic ideas: how my faith has thrived in various environments of uncertainty, how my daughter’s fatal birth defect taught me that love has no time constraints, and how my relationships with family and friends have all necessitated and nourished my faith.

What is your practice when you write? Do you write daily, at a specific time, or do you write when the Spirit moves you?
Most of my writing gets done after my son and daughter are in bed and I’ve had a few minutes to relax and maybe drink a little coffee. Late at night, in other words. Sometimes I’ll get on a roll first thing in the morning, a time that would be optimal for me if work and school and such weren’t demanding my punctuality. I keep telling myself that I should get up an hour earlier each morning and immediately hit the keyboard, but as usual I don’t listen to me.

Do you ever find roadblocks, writers block or children’s blocks getting in your way? If so, how do you deal with blocks?
Oh, yeah. The worst offender, though, is just exhaustion. At nine at night my natural inclination is to make some popcorn and chill with a book or television show on DVD. Once I start down that path, though, there’s no going back. I have to fight the urge when I first feel it. I lose as much as I win.

What do you do for fun?
Diagram sentences. Well, not so much anymore. Pity my children, Fran: they will know of my love of the diagrammed word all too soon and all too well. In the meantime, I enjoy the usual stuff: combing dense tomes of continental philosophy, building constructions with my son’s LEGO blocks (and keeping them in my room so he can’t break them), asking divisive questions on Facebook and watching the fireworks. I also play video games.

Name five people or things you are most grateful for.
My wife, my children, my church, my education, and my socks.

Of all the lay ministry experiences you have had, which one has shaped you the most?
I’m going to say the combination of working with couples in preparation for their marriage and working with individuals in pursuit of an annulment. I meet people in love, eager and excited to bond till death do them part; and I assist people whose marriages have left them broken. I’ve come to appreciate the importance of being with others where they live and recognizing that people’s lives rarely conform to my expectations or to abstract rules. Life is messy. Morality is messy too.

Can you name a person who inspires you and tell us why?
My wife Genece. She loves me as I am while encouraging me to be the best person I can be.

What is one thing that you have not done yet, but that you would like to do?
Write a YA novel. It’s next on the agenda.

If you  could go anywhere in the world that you wanted, where would you go? Why?
New Zealand. It looks magical just on photo and film.

What is the best part of having your book published and what is the worst part of the experience?
I’ll start with the worst: burn out. The book is relatively short, just a little over a hundred pages, but the final few weeks of composition and revision just took all desire to write out of me. I lost interest in blogging for a while and still haven’t gotten back to my old production level.

The best part of having a book published? That’s easy. I’ve wanted to be an author since high school. So. Dream. Come. True.