Stories should be like disobedient pets, always ready to defy, always challenging and frustrating, but sometimes, for reasons entirely unknown, delighting.”
How did you discover that you were a writer?
Mostly from my G.I. Joe guys. Once I realized I was more interested in my toys than what was happening on the TV show, I knew there was something weird about me.
Describe your writing process.
If try to write every day. If I can’t write, I read. If I can’t read, I watch Altered States. That usually does the trick.
What was the inspiration behind what you’ll be reading at Waterline?
I am reading a story called “The Unified Conspiracy Theory.” I am fascinated by conspiracy theories and what they tell us about ourselves. It can be a way to look at what we are afraid of and what we have a hard time admitting to ourselves. The more inaccurate the theory, the more it tells us about the world we live in and the more interesting it becomes.
What are you working on now?
I have a short story called “The Parts of a Shadow” appearing in Bourbon Penn later this year. The story is about the lost boys of Barrie’s Neverland being discovered and becoming wards of the state. I’m also working on a novel (but then again, who isn’t?).
What was the last great thing you read by another author?
I just discovered a writer named Cole Bucciaglia Nagamatsu whose work, especially the prose poem “Flightless Creatures” in the lit mag West Branch, is strange and compelling and beautiful. I have been telling anyone who will listen about Suzanne Burns’ short fiction. Her first book Misfits & Other Heroes is maybe the most underrated book of the 21st Century.
A story I just read called “The Men” by Lydia Millet in The Baffler still has me unsettled. It is a beautiful inversion of the Snow White story. It doesn’t do what you expect it to do. I love when that happens. No story should do what you expect it to do. Stories should be like disobedient pets, always ready to defy, always challenging and frustrating, but sometimes, for reasons entirely unknown, delighting.
I also love to read the work of my friends and people I know. People like Dan Leach, Ray Ziemer, James Charlesworth, Noah Kucij, Debbie Urbanski, and Blake Kimzey have taught me so much with their work. Looking at peers and seeing how they produce their own work is a very important process for a writer.
You’re organizing a literary dinner party. Which writer, dead or alive, do you invite?
I’ve heard John Crow Ransom, Franz Kafka, George Plimpton, and Truman Capote were all amazing at dinner parties, but as I age I am less interested in arguing with charming raconteurs and more interested in having a nice time. So, since Junot Diaz gushing over Toni Morrison is one of the sweetest things on the internet (https://youtu.be/J5kytPjYjSQ) and since they are two of the greatest writers in history and also happen to have gentle and beautiful spirits, my impulse is to invite them.