BAM: You took up pool in 1998—nearly nine years ago. At what point did you decide to write about it?
Heather Byer: In the early summer of 2002. I was working on a novel at the time, and my literary agent suggested I write about pool. She knew I played and had this other weird life. Initially I thought I’d write a nonfiction book with vignettes from my own life woven through it. But the vignettes really came through for my editors, and in the course of many drafts the book evolved into a memoir.
BAM: So it’s an accidental memoir; that’s interesting because your book doesn’t feel confessional or driven the way many memoirs do.
HB: It’s funny that you say that, because in the book I call myself an accidental hustler. I play badly, and when I win it seems like I’m hustling. When I was writing, I found revealing my insides challenging—even excruciating—at times.
BAM: After working on this book for three and a half years, do you define yourself as a writer?
HB: I do now! It took a long time for me to think of myself as a writer, especially living in New York. Here, everyone is working on a novel the way everyone in Hollywood is working on a screenplay.
BAM: In your book you fall from a ranking of three, out of a possible seven, to a two. What’s your ranking now?
HB: I’m back to being a three. I was a four—briefly. I very much want to be a four, and am sure I will be again, but my captain would rather have me as a lethal three.