Why is writing important to you and why do you think it's an important medium for the world? After practicing the craft for decades I'd say writing is essential to me. It is the the way I contribute in a creative way to a new day's bright beginning. If I do not write which is a visceral act for me, I am not comfortable, feel fat, a bit on tilt the rest of the day. Not good company. In short, though it is difficult to be a writer and have conventional relationships, I try all the same, in appreciation of the opportunity to practice that which I've been fortunate to do. A writer does not know all that he or she has touched, the way the world is a better place as a result of your work. In my case I believe my work has been important to my culture, exploding & moving along certain stereotypes, breathing new life into old conventions. I feel we are also entertainers and maybe stimulate, raise a smile. Sometimes I hear back and for me that is the bottom line. Especially when I am invited into classrooms and students are engaged.

What are your tried and tested remedies to cure writer's block? You know I have been fortunate to have earned a living with my writing and editing, too, so I could not afford to be blocked. One way, though, if I feel myself sitting there & unable to move through, I resurrect in my mind's eye exactly where I am stuck, in a place, in a character--and then actually ask myself--what's in that place, what do you see? What does that character have in mind right now? Whatever comes up, the answers, that's what I write down. I have broken through.

What is your favorite time to write? Morning writer, fresh as a daisy and close to my dreams.  

What's the best piece of writing advice you've ever received and would like to impart to other writers? I was a friend & colleague of Kurt Vonnegut and Kurt used to say when I told him I was feeling down, or he himself was down, about this he said, "Work gets me through." So, work, work, work. Another practical piece of advice is from David Mamet. Action. Keep the story, your protagonist moving forward.

What excites you most about being a writer in today's age? Writing for me is a physical act as well as a meditation. For me it's a high in itself, purely. I have been busier during our unfortunate and terrible pandemic. I work each & every day as though it is my last. Even now I do not forget that I am fortunate in having the opportunity. Decades of practice have allowed me to put work aside when it comes to helping family & friends. This is rewarding, if not exciting.  Maybe through my work I can provide a moment of respite, some enjoyment.

Anthony Valerio's Before the Sidewalk Ended: A Walk with Shel Silverstein is out now.