READERSVOICE.COM: You studied literature but how did you get a start in copywriting?
DEMIAN FARNWORTH: I took a job at a marketing agency because I needed a job. A friend owned it. He handed me Influence by Dr. Cialdini, and I fell in love. I discovered that advertising bundled everything I loved about writing — literature, psychology, history, research, reading, testing, economics — into one discipline. And you could make a decent wage at it. From there I read every book on copywriting I could get my hands on.
RV: Where did you work in real estate marketing, and how did it work, exactly?
DF: Proquest Technologies was the name of the company, and we were online marketers to real estate professionals. We sold lead generation products and training. We used a website, AdWords, and email to attract and convert. It was a profitable company before the market collapsed. :D
RV: In one interview you talked about Jim Holt’s book Why Does the World Exist?: An existential detective story, and some of the little cliff-hangers he used. Which of these micro-cliffhangers should fiction writers use more, do you think?
DF: I think they can — and already do — use all of them: curiosity, amazement, challenges, a turn of phrase.
RV: Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathon Swift is one of your favourite novels. What are your favourite novels by Faulkner, Hemingway and Kafka, which you’ve said you liked, and what did you like about them?
DF: My favorite novel by Faulkner is As I Lay Dying. The story is all momentum. The plot is about a trip gone wrong to bury their mother. The characters are complex and creepy. And each chapter is from the perspective of one of these characters. So that is always shifting. Keeps you on your toes.
I liked Hemingway’s short stories better than his novels, but the novel that had the most impact on me had to be The Old Man and the Sea. I read that when I was in high school, and for a troubled kid who didn’t read, I devoured that book. I think the sadness moved me, the brevity kept me.
Kafka only wrote three novels, none of which are complete, but my favorite is The Trial because of the uncertainty and bewilderment the main character has in a world that he can’t make sense of at all.
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- copyright Simon Sandall.