Tag Archives: EBCP

M. Brett Gaffney: The Interview

Dear Readers, Pints is very lucky in that I have been able to meet and become friends with some amazing artists (especially writers, because, well, I go towards what I love, what can I say?). And, so I like to share the bounty of my good luck with you dear Readers and introduce you to some of these incredibly talented people and so I bring you another EBCP interview!

M. Brett Gaffney writes in a way that hovers between the beautiful and strange, the haunting and real. Her characters are often at the edges of things or states of being. As a writer, Gaffney brings empathy to all that she portrays. I’m lucky to have an interview with her for this latest installment of EBCP (Extremely Brilliant Creative People)!

11157014_10153288376147700_1537762123_n

1.) When did you begin writing? And why?

I started writing sometime in middle school. My first love was drawing and it wasn’t until I started drawing Pokémon that I wanted to make stories for them. So really, my first explorations were in fan-fiction (a practice I still advocate to writers today). This led to poetry when I tried to understand my victimization from bullying and subsequent depression through writing. Pretty dark soul broken heart type stuff, but it opened doors so a belated thanks to Pokémon and bullies.

2.) Describe how you approach an idea for something to write.

I either get an image in my head (out of the ether or influenced by art), in which case I chase the imagery of it before the story. Or, I have a concept, an idea, or story first. Like my poem, “Zombie Girl,” started out as an idea, a want to write about body image and eating disorders through the lens of a zombie. Lately I’ve been very driven by music. I tackled a poem the other day about my time as a haunted house actor, but it mostly came about because I was listening to some fierce female vocals from rock band In This Moment.

3.) One of the things I’ve been very drawn to in your writing is that you have a great grasp of the line that can be toed between the eerie and beautiful. What draws you to this? And, how do you accomplish this tone?

First, thank you! That’s exactly what I strive for in my poetry. I write along that line because it’s honestly how I see the world. Most of my favorite artists’ work (music, film, writing, sculpture, etc.) is fairly disturbing in content but that’s what makes it beautiful. I’m bored by fields of flowers, but add a dark figure lurking by the tree in that field and then you have something that holds me there. The hidden menace. Underlying fear. And I believe fear is so inherently tied to love as emotions go, so really the eerie and beautiful combo makes sense. The ghost is both terrifying and beautiful because we fear death, and we fear death, because we love life (I had a sort of epiphany about this while re-watching Poltergeist at an airport in New Orleans).

Also I just find a lot of gross stuff interesting. And I want my readers to like it too. If they do, win, if they don’t, still win, because I probably freaked them out and then hopefully they’ll ask themselves why. I think I accomplish this tone largely through word choice, mixing up an ugly image with a lovely simile so that it’s this whole new thing.

4.) You’ve worked on a series of poems about Waverly Hills Sanitarium. What at first made you go towards this subject? Can you tell me about the writing process of these poems?

I first learned about Waverly Hills on a double feature Sy-Fy channel program, Ghost Hunters and Spooked, the Ghosts of Waverly Hills Sanatorium. I love these paranormal shows but that night something about the history of Waverly really pulled me in. Initially terrified me. Tales of a tunnel used to cart dead bodies to waiting hearses, painful treatments to cure tuberculosis, which at that time was still a mysterious disease, and of course the idea that spirits may still haunt the old hospital. Though the history is tragic, it’s not simple, and that more than anything is what made me start writing. In Kentucky, Waverly was a beacon of hope for so many TB sufferers and when the doors closed in 1961, many patients were reluctant to leave, as they had spent much of their life here, formed a family with other patients and staff (who mostly lived on the grounds). Programs like Spooked painted Waverly as a hopeless and terrifying place, and while I do believe it was for many (the body count well into the thousands), I also know that the stories of the people there are more rich and complicated than a cheap horror tale. And I want to give them a voice.

Writing the poems has been and continues to be a challenge. There are so many aspects of Waverly that I want to address and yet I don’t want to just regurgitate history. I’ve relied heavily on C.C. Thomas’ book With Their Last Dying Breath as a guide to the actual events of the Sanatorium, and from there fill in the blanks with images and memories. My grandmother suffered illness for many years and so I pull from those experiences as well to try and understand what it must have been like, not only to be a patient at Waverly, but to visit loved ones there, tend as a nurse, etc. Half of the poems are rooted in history while the other half involve the ghosts (literal and metaphorical) and hauntings of the building. I’ve been to three different tours on location and I intend to visit Louisville many more times while writing these poems. It’s a project I’m still working on and I would very much like to turn it into a full-length collection.

5.) Could you describe what you consider your overall style?

Still trying to figure this one out. But I try to write what I know I like to read. Narrative. Imagistic. Weird.

6.) I know that you’re a fellow horror fan. In what ways has horror influenced your writing style (if it has)? What are some of your favorite works of horror?

I used to be terrified of horror. I remember Michael Jackson’s music video Thriller gave me nightmares for weeks. My grandmother had books on unexplained mysteries (in the bathroom of all places) and reading about phenomena like the Bermuda triangle really freaked me out. And yet I kept going back to these things, even though they scared me, because they were also fascinating. Until I watched Poltergeist in seventh grade (at a Catholic school Halloween party mind you). That movie scarred me for years. I avoided everything horror until late in high school when I picked up the Vampire Chronicles by Anne Rice. Then I was back in the game, and asking myself why Carol Anne and her abduction frightened me so much. In college I started binging all the horror movies I’d missed out on growing up. And now I’m pretty much obsessed.

Horror (film and literature) has taught me a great deal about how to use fear to get at the heart of certain subjects, how to use monsters as metaphor, among many other invaluable lessons. When I watch horror movies with friends that are not fans of the genre, I like to ask them why they react the way they do. Why does this or that scene gross you out? What about the monster made you leave your light on that night? I think fear is one of our most powerful emotions and goes a long way to characterize each of us.

Some (emphasis on ‘some’) of my favorite horror authors are: Stephen King, Shirley Jackson, Emily Carroll, Anne Rice, Rick Yancey, Toby Barlow, Charlaine Harris, Joe R. Lansdale, and Henry James (because Turn of the Screw still gives me chills).

Some (again with the emphasis) of my favorite horror films are: Poltergeist, The Shining, REC, Grave Encounters, Cabin in the Woods, Shaun of the Dead, Let the Right One In, Evil Dead franchise, Absentia, The Exorcist, The Exorcist III, High Tension, Rosemary’s Baby, Hellraiser franchise, Yellowbrickroad, The Devil’s Backbone, The Innocents (again, damn you Henry James), The Haunting in Connecticut, Shutter (2004), The Wicker Man (1973), Paranormal Activity franchise, The Descent, Last House on the Left (1972 version which I can’t watch again), The Hills Have Eyes (1977), Phantasm franchise, It Follows, The Blair Witch Project, American Horror Story (Season 1), The People Under the Stairs, Black Swan, Exorcism of Emily Rose, Them (Ils), Martyrs, and I suppose I have to stop somewhere.

7.) What is one thing you think every writer should know?

Write what YOU want to write. Be open to criticism and growth, but don’t change for others. The publishing market will always evolve, popular styles and subjects will come and go, but you are the only you. Write you.

8.) Writer or writers you’d most like to meet

Patricia Smith, Mark Doty, Stewart O’Nan, Stephen King, Anne Rice, Toby Barlow, Suzanne Collins, Kouta Hirano, and so many more.

9.) Thing you are most proud of in your writing?

I love freaking people out. Recently I read some poems at a literary reading and out of all the people I talked to afterwards, a writer friend told me she would have a hard time sleeping that night because my stuff bothered her (in a good way I think). I’m pretty proud when my work frightens people because that means I’ve hit a nerve somewhere, made a connection.

Also, another friend told me she would write fan-fiction about my characters. That might be the most flattering comment I’ve ever received.

10.) You also act as an editor at Gingerbread House Literary Magazine. What do you most love about doing that kind of work? In what ways does editing, shape your own writing?

Being a part of Gingerbread House has been, and continues to be, the most rewarding experience. Somewhere around the third issue or so, I also fell into the role of Art Director as well as Editor, soliciting artists for work to match up with our poems and short stories. I love finding the right image for our publications, and it’s such a great feeling when it all fits.

I love seeing it come together the week before the release of a new issue. Our staff is made up of some truly remarkable and talented people, and we’re all very proud of our publication, our contributors, writers and artists both.

Reading through submissions, proofing the issues, I’m continually reminded of why I myself write, why I submit to journals. As an editor, I’m so excited to show others what we publish, for them to share in what we think is the essence of magic and story. It’s a daily inspiration to work on this magazine.

11.) The most difficult thing you find about writing in ten words or less.

Revision.

12.) What is up next in the world of M. Brett Gaffney?

Pizza. My boyfriend (and fellow writer), Dan Paul, just ordered us some Mio’s, so I’m pretty excited about that.

M. Brett Gaffney, born in Houston, Texas, holds a BA in English from Stephen F. Austin University and an MFA in poetry from Southern Illinois University Carbondale. She is an associate editor / art director of Gingerbread House literary magazine, and her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Stone Highway Review, Slipstream, Wind, Penduline, Cactus Heart, Exit 7, REAL, Still: the Journal, Licking River Review, Permafrost, Scapegoat Review, Zone 3, and Rogue Agent among others.

And don’t forget to check out Gingerbread House Magazine or her poem “Zombie Girl” (links above), check out more of her work such as these great poems ,or to follow her on Twitter @MBrettGaffney

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Brontë Wieland: The Interview

Hello Dearest Reader! Pints is back with a new EBCP (Extremely Brilliant Creative Person) interview. This time, I’m talking with writer Brontë Wieland.

I first met Brontë when I was working on the planning committee for UW-Madison’s very first literary festival (Madison Lit Fest). Brontë was only a freshman but was already getting involved on campus (maybe this is only surprising to the me, the queen of not getting involved). I remember being struck with how motivated he was as well as by the excellent ideas he brought to the planning table.

Because of this, I remained curious to see where Brontë ended up. He was writing, so I encouraged him to send me some of his stuff. He sent me a play at one point which I still think about years later. There was an originality and skill that I almost couldn’t believe. Later, I also read some of his short stories and was equally impressed. His writing was polished, engaging, and utterly original.

Since first meeting him, I’ve expected big things to come from him. And, I think, after reading this interview, you Dearest Reader will as well!

Snapchat--3446682785133595730

1.) When did you begin writing? And why?

Tough question.

Romantic version: I always had the heart of a writer and reader inside me and began writing short fiction in childhood. I had the insatiable urge to send a message and show the world my voice.

Real version: The first story I ever wrote was plunked out in all caps when I was ~9. A ship sailing through the Bermuda Triangle was wrecked on an island inhabited by fairies who saved the travelers and who many of the travelers eventually fell in love with. My second story was maybe a year or so later, written when I pulled a Pokémon book called Go West, Young Ash from my bookshelf and began copying it word for word, changing some words for their opposites so it wasn’t plagiarism. I stopped after about half a page. I was bored. The novel was called Go East, Young Klash. Luckily, it was never published. Then I didn’t write again until sixth grade when there was a short story competition my teacher forced us to participate in. I wrote about an average earthworm who always wanted to grow an afro. One day, he did grow an afro and eventually sacrificed himself to save life on Earth from a supervolcano. Mrs. Schroeder thought it was shit. Everyone’s a critic…

I didn’t start writing seriously until just before college. I’d always loved books, but that summer I read A Moveable Feast and learned to appreciate prose. I wanted to make something beautiful like that.

Why? Let’s go story by story.

Story 1: I had a tale to tell and it needed telling.

Story 2: I wanted to write something great.

Story 3: I wanted to have fun and do something that had never been done.

I think that accurate summarizes the motivations that keep my pen moving still.

2.) Describe how you approach an idea for something to write.

Every story is a little bit different. Sometimes I see a scene, an image, or a character. Sometimes I sense a story, a plot, an arc. Or maybe I feel an emotion. The first step has always been to let it ruminate. Gestation period varies. Sometimes months, but occasionally just hours.

My second step is usually to scrawl endlessly in a notebook in a script I can barely read. I get clips and blips of words and phrases and I jot them all down. Later is when I reorganize and then sit in front of my computer to agonizingly hammer it out at 1wpm over the next couple weeks.

I think that’s the most common, but there’s a lot of variance. On occasion I do just sit down and type until there’s nothing left to say.

3.) You write a lot towards the speculative and fabulist realms of fiction, what draws you to those kind of story elements? What do you think is the most important aspect to get “right” in this kind of writing?

I do, don’t I?

To me, these types of stories have always been the most real, the most Ur. Storytelling, from its infancy, has often been fantastic, grander than life, stretching the boundaries of existence. What I’m trying to do is tell the truest story possible. Real life has never been necessary to do that.

I feel like there’s something special, reverent, and liberating to tell stories in a way reflective of how they may have been told 10,000 years ago or 100,000 years ago. It feels like connecting with the minds that came before me, joining the ranks of hundreds of previous generations and thousands of previous storytellers. We’re all cut from the same cloth. We’re all telling the same stories starring the same people. It’s magic.

Or maybe I’m just scared my depictions of real life won’t be sufficient.

4.) You also write drama, did you come to one genre before the other? What sort of differences do you find in your writing process for these two forms? Do you prefer one over the other?

Fiction came first by far. I don’t remember reading or seeing a play before high school. I didn’t write a play until college.

As it turns out, my process is exactly the same. The main differences is I don’t usually write plays in LibreOffice.

They’re both beautiful arts and, you know, I can’t decide. I’m trying to think of moments I’ve had writing each that would sway my decision and keep finding examples for both and flip-flopping. That said, I think playwriting has informed my fiction more than fiction has influenced my playwriting. Stage constraints that I faced in playwriting changed my perspective of fiction completely. I had to learn how to make magic with just bodies, I couldn’t do any prosaic handwaving and neither could I weigh myself down with overexplanation. And I learned.

5.) Could you describe what you consider your overall style?

I don’t think I’ve found that yet. I’ve been experimenting and I have a lot of experimenting to go. The best I can do is say that I usually write in 1st person and I think a lot about culture, identity, and change.

6.) In your story “Empty Head, Flat Nose” (which can be read HERE), you write a science-fiction story that seems both absolutely futuristic and, yet, somehow still rooted in today—it’s one of the most brilliant aspects of the piece, I think. How did you achieve that balance? What sort of world-building went into this story?

My dad is a real down-to-earth guy. He sees things like they are, no illusions, and in a lot of ways has always kept me rooted while encouraging me to push forward. My mom tells me ridiculous things constantly and she always believes really wholeheartedly in what she says. One time my mom told me she heard about a guy walking home on New Year’s Eve. So, this guy, he was just minding his own business when a stray bullet fired celebratorily across town smashed through his noggin and got stuck in his brain. The guy survived. He was otherwise unharmed. No permanent damage. Obviously, sitting in the airport, listening to my mom tell me that is where and when “Flat Nose, Empty Head” was born.

I wondered what the chances were of surviving something like that and figured, they’re a lot higher if you don’t have a brain.

Anyway, I feel like the present day, real aspects of the story are my dad. The strange, futuristic ones are my mom. In terms of how I went about creating and maintaining a balance between these forces, I knew instinctively that this story needed to be as close to the present as possible or it wouldn’t work. There’s nothing special about a mechanical brain in a future that’s infinitely advanced. If this were in 1000 years, people would be rockin’ empty heads all the time and our skulls would be more a fashion statement than a body part. I kept that in mind constantly. I put as much of 2011 into the story as possible and only let the future seep through slowly. Another important chore was to make sure Sunny and especially Matt (since it’s his voice we’re hearing) felt completely comfortable in their world except for Sunny’s surgery which was a shocking innovation. Anything can feel like the present if the people you’re listening to believe it’s the present.

Part of all of this, of course, was the world building. Because I needed to feel comfortable in this near-future too. To gather the rhythm of the world, I wrote about the doctors who performed the surgery and their marriages and vices. I wrote about the company who financed the research and their intentions. I wrote about the lab techs’ hating their jobs. I wrote a bit about Matt’s parents. There was also an accompanying story about the time Sunny killed Matt’s cat when they were toddlers.

7.) What is one thing you think every writer should know?

We should all know what Junot Díaz said to an Atlantic reporter about gender and representation.

“I think that unless you are actively, consciously working against the gravitational pull of the culture, you will predictably, thematically, create these sort of fucked-up representations. Without fail. The only way not to do them is to admit to yourself [that] you’re fucked up, admit to yourself that you’re not good at this shit, and to be conscious in the way that you create these characters. It’s so funny what people call inspiration. I have so many young writers who’re like, “Well I was inspired. This was my story.” And I’m like, “OK. Sir, your inspiration for your stories is like every other male’s inspiration for their stories: that the female is only in there to provide sexual service.” There comes a time when this mythical inspiration is exposed for doing exactly what it’s truthfully doing: to underscore and reinforce cultural structures, or I’d say, cultural asymmetry.”

What we should do with that knowledge is realize how broadly it applies and constantly question our cultural structures.

8.) Things you’d most like people to get out of your writing:

An elevated heart rate. Because they liked it, because it made them think, because anything. If my work makes someone question their assumptions, I’ve succeeded. If I ever found out someone felt a  sense of wonder at my writing, I’d probably cry.

9.) In many of your pieces that I’ve read, you incorporate folkloric ideas, along with ideas about the nature of storytelling. What draws you to these themes? What are some of your favorite folklore tropes or stories?

The nature of storytelling is something I’m obsessed with. I always love finding a new story or a story told in a new way. Like I mentioned above, I’m fascinated with how folklore and storytelling link us to the past and how they create a connection between cultures and peoples. The only thing more astounding than the Aarne-Thompson classification system is that we, over thousands of years, developed a storytelling framework robust enough to support it. The similarities, the differences, they’re impossibly complex. It says to me that storytelling has been foundational in our development as a species.

In my writing, I’m often trying to learn more about these traditions and do my part to extend and continue them.

Favorites are so hard. I think in general, my favorites are always stories about deception. Either being deceived or deceiving others. I also like talking animals.

10.) Writer or writers you’d most like to meet:

China Miéville, Haruki Murakami, Ursula K. LeGuin, Angélica Gorodischer, Junot Díaz

Sad fact: Could’ve met Miéville at Socialism 2012 in Chicago but I ended up not going. Terrible idea.

Then, there’s a list of writers that, because I follow on Twitter and occasionally interact with, I feel are people that could in some alternate reality be my peers. They’re doing the type of fantastic work I like to pretend I’ll be doing some day. I’d love to meet some of them.

They are: Sofia Samatar, Aliette de Bodard, Usman T. Malik, Alyssa Wong, Ken Liu

11.) Thing you are most proud of in your writing?

Two things.

  1. That I’ve stuck with it.
  2. That other people have enjoyed it.

12.) Question you wish I would have asked?

Favorite thing I’ve read this year and favorite thing I’ve written this year.

Read: definitely Mondays on the Dark Night of the Moon by Kirin Narayan, which I reviewed on my blog. It’s outstanding.

Written: a story that you and about three others have read so far called “Bilingual Cooking Night #1, Banana Bread.” I will optimistically say, be on the lookout for this one in the next year!

13.) The most difficult thing you find about writing in ten words or less.

Editing. Forcing myself to write. Not using the internet.

14.) What is up next in the world of Brontë Wieland?

A lot less writing than usual, actually. From now until June, I’m trying to live as much in the moment as possible. In June I’m leaving Spain, so I want to take in everything I can until then. In June I’m flying to Singapore, then Tokyo, then Manila, then Melbourne. So I’ll be trading writing time for experiences until August when I fly back to Chicago and work my way down to Iowa, where I’m starting in the Creative Writing and Environment program at ISU. From there, who knows? Hopefully fame, fortune, and glory.

To find out more about Brontë , visit his website here or follow him on Twitter @BeezyAl

Brontë Christopher Wieland is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin–Madison. Raised in Wisconsin, he’s living in Spain until August when he begins the Creative Writing and Environment MFA at Iowa State University. 

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Tony Quick: The Interview

I promised you, dear readers, more EBCP (my series of interviews with Extremely Brilliant Creative People) and now we’re back with an awesome bang! Tony Quick is an amazing writer who I’ve been lucky enough to work with, read the work of, and talk to about writing. His writing excites me because it feels like he’s doing something new and never standing still—I’ve yet to read a piece by him that feels the same. Also, and more importantly, he manages to create worlds that feel both excitingly new as well as completely lived in.

I think his answers to these questions help to reveal just why exactly he is such a gifted writer. And I hope you, Dear Readers, will check out the links to his work and website which can be found below the interview so that you, too, can become quick fans of Quick (I apologize, but there was no way I wasn’t saying it).

Tony Quick

  1. When did you begin writing and why?

I started writing when I was six or seven years old. I’d take sheets of paper, fold and staple them to make little booklets, then write stories heavily inspired by the Arthur and Magic School Bus series. I’ve never wanted to be anything but a writer and thankfully, as I’ve grown older my writing has matured with me.

Now why exactly I started writing is a harder question to answer. I was just as awkward as a child as I am as an adult so I suppose writing was a release valve on my imagination and a way to use up the mental space most people set aside for social cues and remembering people’s names.

  1. Describe how you approach an idea for something to write.

Often, I’ll get a visual in my head that won’t leave me alone—a character, a setting, a situation playing out—and let that churn in my mind. That means daydreaming, spinning out scenarios, and letting the idea grow until I have something to harvest. From there, it’s a matter of sketching and outlining (I’m a firm believer of plotting on paper before writing the actual prose. Even if I veer off script, having a road map saves me a lot of time that would otherwise be spent wandering in the boondocks).

Music also plays a role in transitioning from idea to narrative. When I find a soundtrack that suits a story, it acts as an emotional primer that sets me in the scene and I can use it to return to a similar state of mind to the one I possessed during my daydreams or planning process.

  1. You’re currently working on a novel. What has that experience been like? Can you tell us a little about the book?

I’ve been working on a novel titled Scarecrow and Locust about three young people—Hugo, Phoebe, and Demetre—who live in a famine-ravished world after a plague decimates the planet’s crops. Desperate to survive, the three decide to assemble a team and pull heists against Scarecrow, the private military corporation that traffics what little food there is through Baltimore’s ports. As you might imagine, the situation quickly gets out of hand. Their group gets caught up in a war between the Scarecrows and the Ravens criminal gang in a struggle for Baltimore’s future.

Writing a novel is an arduous, backbreaking ordeal. Scarecrow and Locust began as a terrible short story that Rick Bass politely described as “Confederacy of Dunces-esque.” Not quite what I was going for. Renovating that original botched story into a serious first draft, then rewriting that from scratch took persistence, faith, and sixteen months of my life. That’s what writing a novel takes: tenacity, trust, and time.

Support also helps. I’m fortunate enough to have fantastic first readers such as yourself and Stefanie Brook Trout (a remarkable writer who I’m convinced will become a future favorite to scores of readers when she makes her debut). Having two talented writers tell me I’m not crazy for playing Ahab with this particular whale has been instrumental in keeping me afloat.

  1. You also write poetry. Did you come to one genre before the other? What sort of differences do you find between your writing process for these two forms? Do you prefer one over the other?

When I first came to study at Iowa State University, I kept a yellow post-it note over my desk that read “Fiction First” because I wanted to remember that my commitment to story came above all else. But poetry has always been lurking in my background. I had the opportunity to study with poets Karen Anderson and Jeff Coleman as an undergraduate at St. Mary’s College of Maryland and during my brief stint at Iowa State, I took a poetry workshop that grew my appreciation for the form.

Studying with Debra Marquart, I realized how useful examining the minutiae of language and the constraints of writing poems on such a small canvas helped my prose. I also realized how much I enjoy engaging in wordplay and manipulating structure in ways that wouldn’t quite fly with straightforward prose. And they can cross feed one another. All my poems have a narrative weaved into them and my short story “The Dictator’s Daughter” was first written as a sci-fi poem.

I’d highly recommend anyone that’s interested in strengthening their prose seriously consider studying and writing poetry. Trust me.

  1. Could you describe what you consider your overall style?

Honestly, I’m not sure yet myself. I’m early enough in my writing career that I’m still experimenting with different approaches and molding my style. The problem with evaluating one’s own writing is that you’re likely to project what you hope your style is rather than what it actually is. (You’ve read more of my writing than most. I’m curious to hear your description of my style.)

  1. We’ve had a few conversations about “Genre” vs. “Literature.” Can you talk about your feelings on that debate?

There are some writers and editors who prefer to segregate between capital “L” literature and small “g” genre. And there are some on the other side of the fence who love their genre fiction but won’t read any works that lack speculative elements. But I think it’s important to remember these prejudices, like most, are constructions without any real bearing. Many literary classics—Milton’s Paradise Lost, Shelley’s Frankenstein, Shakespeare’s The Tempest and Hamlet—have speculative elements. This need to divide and subdivide seems to speak more about those who take part than the content of the work itself.  The quality of writing is what matters in the end, regardless of whether the protagonist is a 19th century ghost in Louisiana, a middle aged academic battling alcoholism and age, or a 22nd century detective locked in orbit.

  1. What is one thing you think every writer should know?

Persistence. Persistence. Persistence. Returning to the keyboard day after day, soldiering forward when the words aren’t flowing, and then honestly assessing what can be used in the next iteration and what must go requires tenacity. Especially when it comes to novels. Short stories are flings—fun, exciting, and meant to come to an end after a few weeks or months. Novels are relationships, commitments that last for years. That means work, adaptability, and compromise.

Don’t quit. Soldier on. To me, the difference between a capital “W” writer and someone who just likes to write is the willingness to continue putting down words even when it doesn’t seem fun, even when rejection letters are piling up. There’s this line in John Irving’s The Hotel New Hampshire that I always come back to. “You’ve got to get obsessed and stay obsessed.”

Stay obsessed.

  1. Things you’d most like people to get out of your writing.

Entertainment, above all else. I’ve been an avid reader for as long as I can remember and my favorite books are those that I have to put down while I’m reading them to say “Holy shit!” and digest the latest development before continuing on. I feel like a shill for Big Library saying this but reading should be fun! And I don’t necessarily believe that entertainment comes at the expense of character development, theme, or any other element of craft.

Prose writers are competing with the golden age of television, so-so cinema, and the omnipresent world wide web. Rather than complain about potential readers opting into these diversions, we need to make sure we’re creating content worthy of competition with these entertainment juggernauts. In a non-stop world we’re asking people to set aside time to read our words and it’s our responsibility to make sure we’re giving them a good time in exchange. When someone reads a Tony Quick story, I want them to take their next steps barefoot because I’ve knocked their proverbial socks off.

9. In some of the writing of yours that I’ve read, there has been some dealings with ecology and environmental issues. When/how did this become a part of your work?

Ecological issues began to feature in my writing after I began to study at Iowa State University. The MFA program has an environmental focus and though I decided to leave the program, I was still interested in writing about some of the potential challenges that come when man clashes (or cooperates) with the nature.

That said, I’m not interested in using my fiction as a soap box or political treatise. The pandemic in Scarecrow and Locust, for example, is the result of a mutating version of modern day wheat stem rust. As a fiction writer, I’m less interested in writing about how mono-cropping and the lack of diversity in agriculture makes us more susceptible to this particular brand of ecological devastation than speculating on how characters might react and adapt in the midst of that disaster. I trust my readers to negotiate their own interpretations.

10. Writer or writers you’d most like to meet.

John Irving

Stephen King

Lauren Beukes

Karen Russell

Jonathan Lethem

William Gibson

11. Things you are most proud of in your writing?

“When your characters are stuck in a tree, start throwing rocks.”

I don’t know which writer is responsible for that line but it’s advice I try to follow as best I can. The problem is that my characters become more tangible and dear to me the longer I’m with them and scuffing them up mentally and physically as the story progresses wrenches my heart.

Hard as that can be, there is something gratifying in sculpting characters that feel—to me at least—like real people that I worry for and fret over even as I’m putting them in harm’s way. Kind of a bizarre thing to be most proud of, huh?

12. Questions you wished I would have asked?

I’m actually impressed by how thorough you’ve been so this is a hard question. Maybe a question about what I’m reading right now. I’m cycling between Plot & Structure, a craft book by James Scott Bell and Women Destroy Science Fiction, a gargantuan 400 page special issue of Lightspeed Magazine featuring female authors. I’d particularly recommend “A Burglary, Addressed By A Young lady” by Elizabeth Porter Birdsall and “A Guide to Grief” by Emily Fox.

13. The most difficult thing you find about writing in ten words or less.

Can I answer in haiku form?

The hardest part of

Writing words on the keyboard

Is the lack of ducks.

14. What is up next in the world of Tony Quick?

I’m planning on writing some new short stories and editing this second draft of Scarecrow and Locust. I’m beginning to research literary agents for later down the road when I’m ready to send out queries. I’ve also marked out a couple of days for crossing my fingers and picking four leaf clovers because, you know, better to be lucky than good.

Check out some of Tony’s writing here: “The Dictator’s Daughter” (in Devilfish Review)

To find out more about Tony, visit his website here

Tony Quick is an African American fiction writer and poet, born in Baltimore, Maryland and raised in nearby Prince George’s County. He holds a bachelor’s degree in English literature from St. Mary’s College of Maryland and has held various positions, from undergraduate English instructor, to accounting assistant, to fiction editor for Iowa State University’s literary magazine, Flyway: Journal of Writing and Environment. His fiction has appeared in the quarterly speculative online magazine, Devilfish Review and his poetry is featured in Prairie Gold: An Anthology of the American Heartland.

4 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Ean Weslynn 2: Return of the EBCP

Back when I first started running occasional interviews with some of my favorite EBCP (Extremely Brilliant Creative People), I began it all with writer/ actor/ all-around extraordinaire Ean Weslynn. I’m happy (well insanely delighted would be the more apt word) to say that since the interview Ean’s webseries, the hilarious Day Drunk Gays, has appeared to much acclaim! And, so I decided to ask Ean some more questions and hopefully get some of you (yes, YOU, there reading this!) to get some links to Day Drunk Gays in all of its glory!

So five quick questions for Ean Weslynn— the OEBCP (the Original Extremely Brilliant Creative Person):

1.) What is the biggest thing you learned about translating a written script into a filmed series?
i learned a lot over the past few months.  one, i learned that even when i’m writing for myself, i’m not a great actor.  two, that good writing leads to great acting (for others, not myself).  but the biggest thing i learned was how many times things are written in this medium.  it’s often said that writing is rewriting, and i’ve never rewritten things more.  before we even shoot something, i rewrite the script numerous times.  then we have a table read, i hear what works and what doesn’t and i do a final pass or two before we shoot.  on the day, we have a rule with the actors that they give us a solid take as written then they can take their own liberties.  but the work isn’t done then.  in the editing bay, it’s not a matter of just which take to use, but it’s how much time between lines.  the pacing is the thing that can make or break a good script.  the editor has a ton of power and i’m happy to say that my producing partner is a way better editor than i am a writer, but we work well together.
2.) What was the best thing about the filming process?

the best part about filming for me is actually getting to sit at the table with my boys, surrounded by the crew and knowing that we wouldn’t be there if i hadn’t spent all that time rewriting that silly idea i had that i thought others might find funny.

3.) The most unexpected thing?
the most unexpected thing about this process was actually how well the cast worked together.  it might surprise people to know that the first time the four of us were in the same space was about 15 minutes before we shot the first episode, brunchr.  i think there’s a real chemistry between the guys, but they were all cast based on my interactions with them.  i thought they were funny, they got my sense of humor and i had a feeling that they would like one another.  luckily i was right!
4.) If you had to describe Day Drunk Gays in a ten word pitch:
like brunch with your gay friends but with worse writing!
5.) What’s next in the world of the show and the world of Ean Weslynn?
i actually just finished up the next few episodes that we will be shooting in early april.  we will start to have more guest appearances and we will see the boys away from the table.  the important thing to remember about the show is that it’s about day drinking friends, not brunch.
in regards to me, it’s amazing how little time one has to day drink with his friends when he’s writing a show about day drinking friends.  i mostly spend my time writing and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future.
For MORE:
Follow Day Drunk Gays on Twitter: @daydrunkgays
Check out there website: http://www.daydrunkgays.com/
And, OBVIOUSLY, actually check out the series and watch it here: http://www.newnownext.com/bottomless-brunch-forever-day-drunk-gays-episode-1-watch/02/2014/

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Interviews, Writing

Kristin Gulotta: The Interview

I met Kristin Gulotta in a poetry workshop. I remember reading a poem of hers for the first time and being stunned. Her use of imagery was vivid and she had a certain something in her poems that I can’t quite put into words. Since that first poem, she has become one of my dear friends and this has given me the chance to continue to get to read her amazing poetry, playwriting, and fiction. Kristin is the real deal—a wonderful writer and a wonderful person. I am delighted to have interviewed her as my third EBCP (Extremely Brilliant Creative Person, if you’re new to Pints and Cupcakes). So, enjoy dear reader, and check out a link to one of Ms. Gulotta’s fabulous poems!

kristin

1.)        When did you begin writing? And why?

When I was nine. My fourth grade reading teacher was this really cool, fun, hippie chick, who was always telling us to use our imaginations and having us write stories and poems. At the end of the school year, she told me that she really liked my writing and that I should keep doing it–and then she handed me this little green journal with gold-lined pages to fill up. So, I did. I still have it, and there’s some beautifully horrible work in there, the poem “Living in a Bottle of Toothpaste” (“Living in a bottle of toothpaste / isn’t much fun; /  Your [sic] very weak, since you don’t get any sun”), and a horror story called “The House on the Bluff,” in which a man moves into his dream home, only to realize that all of his neighbors are (da-da-duh) dead.  Anyway, writing’s just felt like something I needed to do ever since.

2.)    Describe how you approach an idea for something you’re going to write

Hmm. . .  I don’t really feel like I approach the ideas. I feel like they approach me, or at least, I prefer to think of it that way, that there’s something a little special and magical about it, and a kind of falling in love happens.

Just let me have my dream.

3.)    What is your “aha” moment when it comes to thinking of poems to write—do you start with something you want to write about? Or do you just start writing?

I’ve written both ways. In workshops, as you know, you’re sometimes given exercises and just have to write, hoping something will come. But, I’ve never felt comfortable with that approach on my own. I can’t journal either.  So, I write when I get struck by some idea or image or song or person. A “fell swoops” kind of thing. I guess in lieu of journaling or any other writing routine, I’m diligent about finding or looking at or learning about new things, so I have opportunities for a spark to happen.

4.) I remember hearing you read a poem about fracking…Are environmental issues something important to your writing? How did that poem come about?

I actually have two fracking poems now. (fracking poems. heh.). Like anything I write, those poems started with an idea that became overwhelmingly important once it appeared to me. So, fracking was (is) important, and I was also feeling really affected by so many horrible things I’d learned about, not just fracking but factory farms, GMOs, the disappearing honey bees. So, that all ended up in my work. I have another poem about Mitt Romney’s “binders full of women,” because that struck me pretty significantly after the debate. But, I wouldn’t say I make a point of dealing with environmental (or political) issues, especially because that seems like it’d get sort of preachy and annoying. And, you know, sometimes beds or chocolates are really important too.

5.)    Do you mostly want to work within poetry? I know you also write short stories, how does that process differ for you? Do you have a preference between the two? What makes you turn one idea into a poem and one into a story—is that a conscious decision?

 

I think I do feel most at home working in poetry, but I don’t want to limit myself to that. I’ve had to specify for my thesis (and for applying to MFA programs), and I was really torn between choosing fiction of poetry. Well, and playwriting, but mostly fiction and poetry.  So, I took a fiction workshop to help me decide–and that settled me on poetry. I just like how quickly I can get an idea out in a poem so that, within a couple of days, I’m working on revisions. Fiction takes so much longer, and by the time the ideas are all out, I don’t always have the patience to start whittling and polishing. Though, I have been playing around with prose poetry some, and that’s kind of a nice compromise between the two.   As for choosing which ideas might end up as stories or poems, I don’t know if it’s conscious. It sort of just feels like I see some ideas as more . . . cinematic, I guess, or as just needing more words and details than a poem would usually allow. So, those are stories.

6.)    I’ve had the pleasure of reading a good deal of your writing (though never as much as I’d like since I want to read EVERYTHING by you), but could you describe your style/ types of writing you do:

The feeling is mutual! I love all your work. But describing mine. . . based on what I’m doing now, which is what I feel I’ll be continuing with for a while, I suppose narrative, formal. Historical. It’s sometimes humorous, occasionally a little sentimental, but almost always telling a story. I really love making characters and writing from their perspectives. But some of my work is lyrical or a little confessional, too. So, that’s my poetry. My stories tend toward horror or suspense.

7.)    You’re currently working on a creative writing thesis…Can you tell me what that’s about? How has that kind of concentrated process been for you?

I’m doing a project book, a collection of poems on my current obsession: dime museums, which were popular in the 19th century and were amazing buildings stuffed with wonders: freak shows, theatre, fortune tellers, phrenologists, musicians, magic lantern shows, art, historical artifacts, faked artifacts, wax works, etc. P.T. Barnum got his start with them. So, my work is from the points of view of different “exhibits” or spectators, trying to give an idea of the excitement and awe you’d have visiting a dime museum, but also looking at some of the troubling parts, especially concerning “human anomalies” and how they were treated or viewed. And I’m thinking about how we’re all sort of little dime museums – a jumble of the wonderful and creepy, real and fake.

I’m really enjoying working on this. It’s been fantastic to have an excuse to spend lots of my time writing – and to do research just because I need to know more (or everything) about this. I’ve read a bunch of books, and I recently went to the Chicago History Museum to research the Libby Prison War Museum, a dime museum Charles Gunther opened in 1898. I actually got to read – and hold in my own hands – bunches of his personal letters related to the museum. It was thrilling!

8.)    Dream projects you’d like to work on:

Well, this will probably seem out of left field, but tucked in the back of my heart is this longing to write about Scopitone films. They were popular from the late ‘50s until the ‘70s and were sort of the precursor to music videos. So, musicians had to make these little films to promote their songs, and they’d play on Scopitone machines that worked like jukeboxes. These films are the best, most campiest things ever. They’re full of scantily clad, gyrating women (or men) and crazy costumes and sets. I seriously love them all. So, I want to write a book about them and make a documentary. Really, I’d just love to be able to interview anyone involved with them who’s still around – and I need to see (and own) a Scopitone machine.

 

9.)    What is your revision process like? Is that hard for you? How do you decide when a piece of writing is finished?

I’ve gotten much better at doing the work of revising, mainly because I’m working in forms. In my own writing, I feel that I’ve sometimes used free verse as an excuse to be sloppy and let myself get away with thinking, “It’s okay if the ideas are vague or abstract. That’s how poetry is.” But, in most forms, there just isn’t room to be sloppy or complacent. To say what I want and also conform to the restrictions of forms (rhyme scheme, meter), I have to keep working at it. And yes, it’s hard. I just finished writing a crown of sonnets. Well, it’s not finished, because I’m still revising. But all seven sonnets are there. It’s been torture. Maybe with forms it’s a bit easier in some ways to know if something is or isn’t done: a sonnet has 14 lines, so at 14 lines, you’re technically finished. But, it take a lot of reading and re-reading and playing around to get the words to say what I want before it’s really be finished. I’m also lucky to have the inimitable Ron Wallace as my thesis advisor – and he’s been great about telling me where the ideas get tripped up. Usually, I already know these are the rough spots, but it’s good to hear from someone outside my own head that they are – and it’s motivating.

10.) You’re an insanely fabulous reader of your own work, having made appearances at such places as the Wisconsin Book Festival. How do you prepare for readings?

 

Aw, shucks. Thanks. I’ve done a fair amount of theater, so I feel pretty comfortable in front of a crowd – at least when I have something that I can lose myself in. Even though some of my work is personal/confessional, the writing is removed enough that I can think of it like a character and sort of trick myself into thinking I’m taking on a role. I also spend a little time rehearsing before a reading, mainly thinking about where I’ll need to take breaths. Sometimes, I’ll even re-format the work I’ll be reading, break it up by where my breaths need to come, to keep the reading smooth.

11.) Thing you think every writer should know:

Keep reading and learning and putting ideas in your head.

12.) Thing you’d most like people to get out of your work:

To feel it’s true or real–and maybe to feel they’ve discovered something new.

13.)  Writer you’d most like to meet:

Honestly, I don’t know how to choose.

14.) Thing you are most proud of in your writing:

When I capture something true.

15.) Who are some of the writers and artists who have most inspired your work?

Well, here are some that come to mind.

For their mastery of forms: Christina Rossetti, Edna St. Vincent Millay, Ron Wallace, Mark Jarman

For being wonderfully creepy, horrifying, and/or surprising:  Alfred Hitchcock, Orson Welles, Edgar Allen Poe, Charles Baudelaire, Katherine Dunn, Samuel Beckett

For the ways they make my heart catch, or break it: E.E. Cummings, Pablo Neruda, Shel Silverstein, Charlotte Bronte, Paul Simon, Victor Jara, Albert Camus, Werner Herzog, Susan Mitchell

For their humor and wit: Allison Burnett, David Sedaris, Shel Silverstein

16.) What is coming up next for the world of Kristin Gulotta?

A flurry of MFA applications. But right at this moment, a pumpkin cheesecake.

17.)  The most difficult thing you find about writing in ten words or less:

Knowing I need to fix something but not knowing how.

Thank you, Kristin, for such an engaging interview! Dear Readers, if you’d like to check out one of Kristin’s gorgeous works of poetry, please follow this link to an issue of Goblin Fruit

Bio: Kristin Gulotta is a creative writing major at UW-Madison where she’s also on staff with the Madison Review (and, formerly, with REDzine).

To contact: Kristin.gulotta@gmail.com

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Interviews

10 things-October 2013 edition

I haven’t done one of these in a while. But here are 10 things that are currently keeping me sane (which is a heavy task between writing a novel, taking my MFA classes, teaching college composition, and maintaining the high levels of self-AWESOME that everyone is accustomed to from me).

1.)    Donna Tartt has a new novel out (and I’ve ordered it). Ms. Tartt is basically a flat out badass. The Secret History, her first novel, is often cited as being her best. And it is amazingly brilliant. But, her second novel The Little Friend, is one of my favorite novels of all time. In the years since it was first published, I have read it five or six times. It is exquisite and sublime and if her new novel The Goldfinch comes anywhere near to its wonderfulness than I am going to be one happy clam. Here’s a conversation between her and her editor that was up on Slate.

2.)    Daniel Alarcon has a new novel coming out this month, too! Like, what? It is a bountiful month indeed. Alarcon’s first collection, War by Candlelight, was filled with gorgeous stories including one of my top 100 “A Strong Dead Man.” His novel, Lost City Radio, is on my list of best first novels. So basically all I have for this one is ridiculously high expectations. Here’s some more info from Alarcon’s website.

3.)    The Pinocchio lizard, believed extinct, was recently spotted. Gorgeous, no? Here is an article up on National Geographic!

4.)    I have been getting back to baking. I was thrown off by starting school up, but, now I am into pumpkin scones and deliciousness full speed ahead. This weekend will be chocolate-stout cupcakes!

5.)    I am hard at work on the novel. Stage magicians are in this. STAGE MAGICIANS. That should just make everyone happy.

6.)    I have a prose poem coming out soon from Cease, Cows and one of my favorite ghost stories that I’ve written will be in the winter issue of Supernatural Tales. These are both wonderfully fantastic publications. So, I’m doing the happy dance of writerly acceptances.

7.)    I started a new interviewy project of Extremely Brilliant Creative People and so far have had the chance to interview the fabulous Dan Pankratz and the amazing ean weslynn. Next month, there will be a pretty awesome poet being interviewed too, so stay TUNED.

8.)    I have found out that the town I’m now living in not only has a shop with a pretty kickass puppet collection but that there is also a store that carries treacle. Treacle tarts will be made. I have wanted to make them since I first read Harry Potter and I could never find proper treacle. Until now. Sound the freaking trumpets!

9.)    Squashes are out. And squash season means one thing: ravioli. From scratch.

10.) My people continue to be amazing and as always a moment of thanks for having them in my life. Plus, then I have someone to make food for. It is win-win.

So, not all is bad in the world of Pints and Cupcakes. This seems a good time to remind all you, Dear Readers, that if you want more daily updates and rantings than consider following me on Twitter @PintsNCupcakes

 

Happy October!

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Dan Pankratz: The Interview

I met Dan Pankratz years (wow…that’s weird to write) ago. He is one of those writers who always makes me want to read just one more thing by him and so luckily he lets me be his friend and read his stuff. I think he deserves a much wider audience though (I know despite my awesomeness, Dear Reader, I do not equal out to every reader in the world) and so for my second Extremely Brilliant Creative Person interview (EBCP), I have selected him. Dan was willing to answer some questions and give us a sneak peek into the unique world of his novel series that he has been working on. So, enjoy Dear Reader, and please check out links to more of his work.

DanFinalPhoto

When did you begin writing? And why?

I started creating things in second grade. I was a huge fan of the Captain Underpants series then, so I drew comics. I created a Marvel-sized universe of superheroes—Flame, Windgirl, Waterboy, to name a few. Flame was my favorite. He was a ninja garbed character with a hand cannon. I was terrible at drawing, though. My best friend Keith in grade school used to draw a lot of things back-to-back with me, but eventually we split the work and I did the writing while he drew. By the time I was in sixth grade I’d turned completely to full-length prose. I started off by writing a really bad high fantasy novel. Though I’ve kept the scripts, I don’t think I’d even show them to a future spouse if it comes to it.

I started writing because I was compelled. Writing made me feel powerful, too, which is super important for kids. Writing gave me the space to play god in a social hemisphere where I was otherwise powerless. Kids at my elementary school were vicious, and I didn’t have many friends. A lot of kids got bullied worse than me, though. I was lucky. I was just the kid that wrote in the corner. Nobody really paid any attention to me.

When I went to high school I stopped writing for two years. I’d like to think that was because of the necessary adjustments my life had to make. I was figuring out who I was and where I was going. After visiting Italy with my mother my junior year, I started writing a fantistorical (we’re not sure if this is a real term…but I, dear reader, want it to be a real term…so we’re going to just go with it)  novel set in a realistic Roman Empire type universe. Even though I’ve long abandoned the project, I’ve been writing every day since.

Describe how you approach an idea for something you’re going to write.

Hey Dan, are you having fun? Yeah, seems like. Will others have fun reading this? If yes, then get to work, fool.

My instincts have never failed me when it comes to understanding the difference between personal writing and the kind of writing that can be shared. A lot of my poetry is personal and will never see the light of day. It’s the kind of stuff I write to help myself cope and understand the universe. But that’s for me. My writing that I consider shareable has some personal elements, but it’s more disguised.

You’re currently working on a series of novels…tell me everything about that process and also what you’re working on.

This seems like a tease for information about book two. I’m not biting. (It totally was a lure, of course. Curses! Foiled again!)

At current, I’m finishing up revisions for book one. It’s an insane amount of work. The novel is almost at 800 pages now, with nine unique perspective characters and almost forty or so others on the side. It’s hard to keep things consistent.

My schedule every day goes like this: I wake up at about eight, then write or edit until lunch. A lot of times I’ll write beyond that, or have an evening crunch, but I do my best work in the morning. I have several types of days beyond that, depending on where I am with a particular writing project.

First and foremost, I have free-write days. On those I just spew crude drafts of chapters. These usually happen when I’m starting a novel. The further I get in, the more specific certain days become. For instance, in my upcoming novel House of Spiders, I have seven perspective characters that I alternate between for each chapter, sort of like how Game of Thrones. Some days I’ll write or edit only from a specific character’s viewpoint. This morning was a Ben day, for instance, while yesterday was a Desna day, and so forth. It helps keep things consistent.

Right now I’m finishing up the end of Part Two for my novel and digging into Part Three, though by the time this interview gets posted on the internet I’ll hopefully be done with the whole thing. Halloween is my absolute deadline for the entire book, after all, so I should be in the thicket of writing the crude draft of book two, Garden of Fire. That’s the hope, anyway.

Do you mostly want to work within the bounds of novels? Do you write anything else (poetry, nonfiction, scripts, etc)?

My next project after finishing the five novels that comprise The Glass Towers will be either be a series of television scripts and/or a graphic novel. I think I’m lucky among writers in that I have way too many ideas. It makes me excited.

Could you describe the style/ types of writing you do:

I focus almost entirely on character and as diverse a cast as possible. I infuse a lot of personal questions and issues from my life into my writing, usually disguised. I like visual descriptions, probably more than you would like, or so you’ve told me! (Pints is kind of a harsh critiquer, folks. It’s shocking but true)

I like capturing the most important moments of a person’s life in a bottle, and letting that firefly blink or wither. That’s what my scenes feel like to me, at any rate.

What got you interested in the idea of doing a series of novels?

This might sound insane and egomaniacal, but I want The Glass Towers to cast a shadow alongside Harry Potter and Twilight (Twilight? Maybe Pints is a little frightened about recommending him now…). The level of prestige and depth that can be obtained from writing is staggering, and the stakes are high. I crave that. Above all, though, I want to reach people and make them feel something valuable. Urban fantasy has a horrible reputation for being all about vampires and shitty romance, and that territory needs to be taken back. There’s treasure to be found beyond all the bad gothic make-up and fake plastic teeth. I just know it.

Dream projects you’d like to work on

There’s a graphic novel series about anthropomorphic fish that I intend to write and draw before I die. It’ll probably end up being a web comic, but we’ll see.

You do a lot of visual work to incorporate into your writing (character sketches and such). What got you into adding that component?

I play a lot of video games and watch a lot of television, probably more than I read novels, I think. There are just so many amazing stories on so many platforms that I can’t help but explore a wide berth. It’s wired my brain towards specific visual interpretation, though, and that definitely appears in my writing. I had a professor once refer to my writing as cinematic.

TimelineSmall

Thing you think every writer should know.

Whenever you resume working on a particular project, don’t ask yourself, where do I pick up from here, but rather, why did I stop?

Also, if you’re not writing on a daily basis, you’re doing it wrong.

Things you’d most like people to get out of your work.

Value, mostly. I want people to forget who they are and dissolve in the page until they’re done with the book.

Writer you’d most like to meet.

Patrick Rothfuss. Because, beard. No, more than that. He’s like my chaplain of the word. His writing is a cornucopia of radical. I bow at his altar. But most importantly, I just want to be friends with him. He’s a phenomenal guy, and I’m not friends with many fellow writers. (Well, thanks, Dan…Dear Reader, your easily offended blogger storms off the set).

Thing you are most proud of in your writing.

I think I write children in a unique and fresh way. I always have the most fun writing from their perspective, at any rate. I also think I handle the introduction and understanding of fantasy elements at a natural pace. A lot of fantasy writers throw strange things at the reader too early, and that’s part of the reason why I love urban fantasy over high fantasy. It takes the world we know and slowly coaxes you in like a warm bath—at least, that is, until you realize those bubbles aren’t exactly what you thought they were.

What is coming up next for the world of Dan Pankratz?

After House of Spiders is done, I need to find a stable job for now and seduce an agent into taking up the introduction of the book to the publishing world. I’m honestly terrified in a sharp, knife-sinking sort of way. It’s really hard to publish right now and this is all I ever really want to do with my life. We’ll see how things go.

The most difficult thing you find about writing in ten words or less.

Writing women for what they are: as people, as human. (The blogger sighs…. But, seriously, Dan is making himself sound like more of a man-jerk than he actually is. I think?)

 

For more information check out Dan’s blog or feel free to send an e-mail!

Dan Pankratz is an alumnus of University of Wisconsin-Madison with a degree in English-Creative Writing. He is currently seeking an agent for his first novel, House of Spiders, while working on the book’s sequel. Be sure to check out his blog at http://danpankratz.blogspot.com/

Contact him: Danwpankratz@gmail.com

 

1 Comment

Filed under Interviews, Uncategorized