Writer Kirk Lynn On Escaping, Attending, and Destroying Everything

Jan 25, 2016

Credit Kirk Lynn

On this edition of The Write Up we chat with novelist, playwright, and professor Kirk Lynn about the craft of writing, the adventure of theater, and the deep desire to abandon society and escape into the wild. We also discuss his debut novel Rules for Werewolves.

Lynn began writing prose in college, but found the companionship of his desk and typewriter not so satisfying. So he took a chance on theatre. It was on the stage that he found his passion for the human voice. Along with six friends, Lynn founded Austin’s Rude Mechanicals , now called the Rude Mechs. For nearly twenty years this growing company has produced some of the more daring and critically acclaimed plays to come out of Texas, a number of them penned by Lynn, including Stop Hitting Yourself and Lipstick Traces: A Secret History of the 20th Century.

Lynn has a gift for voice. Whether he’s writing from the view point of a founding father, a new mother, or a runaway teenager, Kirk inhabits a voice to such depth that we forget the writer and engage the character. Rules for Werewolves is a chorus of voices narrating the struggles of a group of young people attempting to create an mini-utopia in the uninhabited houses of American suburbia. Lynn incorporates chapters of pure dialogue, first person point of view, and poetic inner monologues to trace the compelling story of the societal marginals.

We dive into what drives Lynn as a writer and the disciplines that shape his craft. We also talk about the path his career has taken since his early dreams of writing. We discuss his marriage to poet Carrie Fountain and how becoming parents has influenced both their work.

Lynn is currently Head of Playwriting and Directing in the Department of Theatre and Drama at the University of Texas. We talk about Lynn’s approach to teaching and the strange sensation of standing before a classroom of students as a presumed “expert.”

Years ago Lynn gave up alcohol. The experience has impacted how he approaches life and writing. He talks about drinking and sobriety with humor and insight.

Sitting with Kirk Lynn is a thrill. His energy and wit seem endless. Whether talking about Jack Kerouac, parenting, or public nudity, it’s always a pleasure to hear from this beloved Austin writer.

-Owen Egerton