Tag Archives: novels

A New Review and a New Essay

Dear Reader,

If you’ve been reading this blog for more than a week, than you might well know my love for Colson Whitehead and Nathan Englander.

So this is a double-header of favorites. At Nerds of a Feather, I reviewed Whitehead’s new novel (read it here) and at Ploughshares I discussed my favorite Englander story (read it here).

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Best Books of 2015

Well, hello, Dear Readers,

It is time now for my list of my favorite books that I read in 2015. I read a good amount of books (*by good, I may mean an extremely large number of books). Some were published in 2015 and some were not. The only books I deemed ineligible were ones which I reread in 2015 but had read for the first time in a previous year. I also decided to only select one book per author in cases where I read multiple books by the same author over the course of the year.

The numerical order is (as always) irrelevant. I just really enjoy putting numbers in front of things.

1.) Lock In by: John Scalzi. This book not only does something brilliant with narrative voice and a reader’s perceptions, but also is a clever and fun mystery that also has an extremely brilliant sci-fi premise.

2.) Trigger Warning by: Neil Gaiman. This isn’t my favorite overall Gaiman story collection, but there are some stunning gems in here and, honestly, even just “good” Gaiman is still pretty awesome.

3.) Voices in the Night by: Steven Millhauser. Now, yes, I love Millhauser. I love Millhauser times one million. But, I REALLY loved this collection. Millhauser might be getting even better as a writer, which is somewhat mind blowing that that is even possible.

4.) Ways of Going Home by: Alejandro Zambra. This is a slim book. Yet, it seems like it was overflowing with pages (in a good way). Nine months after reading it, I’m still thinking about how beautiful this book was.

5.) Ghost Hunters: William James and the Search for Scientific Proof of the Afterlife by: Deborah Blum. Yes, this subject matter is to me what catnip is to a cat. However, Blum’s writing makes this also an excellent and compelling read for anyone.

6.)  The Skeleton Road by: Val McDermid. I’d never read McDermid before and went in expecting a good, but maybe light mystery. What I got was an extremely well-written novel about the weight of guilt and the lasting effects of violence.

7.) Ghosts: A Natural History by: Roger Clarke. Enjoyable and expansive. Just what I was looking for.

8.) Unbecoming by: Rebecca Scherm. I have some qualms with the end of this novel, but up to that point this was a brilliant and unsettling character study.

9.) Baba Yaga by: Toby Barlow. This book is perfect. I need say no more.

10.) Finders Keepers and Bazaar of Bad Dreams by: Stephen King. Neither of these Kings were perfect, or even top-King, but each had some parts that were top-King and, dammit, I love Stephen King. So, I’m including both, because together the excellent parts added up to some quality reading.

11.) There’s Something I Want You to Do by: Charles Baxter. Man. Man. This writing was exquisite. One of my favorite collections I’ve read in a long time.

12.) Wallflowers by: Eliza Robertson. If you haven’t read a story by Robertson, I suggest you do so RIGHT NOW. If she’s not on best young writers lists soon, soon, soon, then I will be appalled.

13.) Three Moments of an Explosion by: China Mieville. Let me count the ways I love Mieville. Or, maybe, I shouldn’t because there are thousands. He is all that is perfect.

14.) Once Upon a Time: A Short History of Fairy Tale by: Marina Warner. It is short, but it’s also dense. And, as always with Warner, the writing and scholarship are excellent.

15.) Windows on the World: 50 Writers, 50 Views by: Matteo Pericoli. Just lovely little snapshots into writers.

16.) Wonders of the Invisible World by: Christopher Barzak. Barzak just keeps on impressing me. His writing is lovely and filled with heart in  a way that many writers can’t accomplish without feeling treacly.

17.) Slade House by: David Mitchell. I’ve had Mitchell issues before. But I loved this one: creepy, evocative, and a read in one sitting book.

18.) Fifteen Dogs by: Andre Alexis. Alexis writes so beautifully that I often feel intensely jealous. And then I just feel happy that I get to read his work. Warning: I’m not someone who cries during reading (except for rare moments. JK Rowling, YOU KNOW WHAT YOU DID), but I had to put this book down several times because I was actually shaking from how heartbreaking some of it is.

19.) Half an Inch of Water by: Percival Everett. Everett’s writing always shines and in these short stories that shine comes through even more. Lovely.

20.) The Buried Giant by: Kazuo Ishiguro. I debated including this title. It was wonderfully written (which shouldn’t be a surprise with Ishiguro at the helm) but it was by no means my favorite of his works. It’s flawed, in many ways, and yet, months later I continue to go back to some of the ideas and images.

 

And here’s to a hopefully equally brilliant 2016 in books!

 

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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.

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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!

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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

 

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ean weslynn: the interview

Dear Readers,

Here at Pints and Cupcakes, I like to think that all great artists should gain as wide an audience as possible. In that spirit, I am inaugurating a new post. Every month or so, I plan to feature an interview with an EBCP (Extremely Brilliant Creative Person). I hope you all enjoy this new segment on your favorite blog (I’m your favorite, right? Right? Guys??).

For my first ever EBCP interview, I have chosen the wonderful and insanely talented ean weslynn. I met ean weslynn (he’s a fan of no all-caps in his name and so I’m respecting that throughout) quite a few years ago now. I met him through his writing and was insanely impressed with his storytelling skills. I came to know him on a more personal level and was just insanely impressed all around. He’s hilarious, wildly intelligent, and so imaginative in his works that basically I just want to listen to him talking about his work around the clock (and, usually, with writers that is NOT the case, let me tell you). So, here Dear Readers, is a small glimpse into the mind of AWESOME.

Ean photo yes, he is in a onesie and on-set.

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

I’m gonna start this out sounding pretentious but even though I didn’t start writing until later in life, I was always a storyteller.

From a young age I knew that I liked making people laugh but it wasn’t until I was well into my twenties that I realized I could do it while not in the room.

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

Ideas are as common as they are fleeting.  Normally when I have an idea I write it down (thank god for the notes app) and then promptly forget about it.  I try to go through my note app once a week by emailing myself the note, bullet point it and then use it as an action list. I go down the line and implement edits, flesh out story concepts or whatever the note may be.

This works well when I have time to work but I’m not sure what to start with.

3.)     You’re currently working on some screenplays…tell me everything about that process and also what you’re working on

I’m currently working on a few things.  A short. A web series. A feature. A TV pilot. A PSA and another web series, cause why the hell not?

Each process is different.  Most were my ideas; some were not.

For instance, the short is a collaboration.  My producing partner’s idea that we developed together and then I went off and wrote it by myself.

The web series was a one-off idea that people seemed excited about so I spent some time with it.

The feature became a feature when the story I was writing was too short for a TV series concept but too necessary not to write.

The TV pilot was the inevitability of my time as a novelist.

The PSA was the result of a drunken pool-side conversation with an acquaintance.

And the other web series is something that just kept coming back up in my head.

But once I start writing it’s always the same process: write it.  Print it out.  Edit with pen and Sharpie.  Put in the edits.  Print it out.  And if it’s in bad shape I type the whole thing back in to promote scene cohesiveness.

4.)     When I first met you, you were working on a novel/ series called The Freshman 15. Can you tell me about that project and where it stands now?

Writing a novel was a great experience because it made me realize I’m not a novel writer.  As I wrote the prose for Freshman 15 I found myself writing it as if it were a TV show.  After self-pubbing the book on amazon and then reflecting upon the experience it made me realize that the entire time the story itself wanted to be a TV show, I was just not in a place to see it yet.

5.)    I had the delight of reading some extremely funny and smart short scripts you’ve written for a potential web series (Day Drunk Gays). Would you describe this (as you’ll do it way better than I will)?

Four gay guys + infinity mimosas + camera = why hasn’t someone else already done this?

6.)    What got you interested in working more on screenwriting than on novelling?

When you tell someone that you are a writer, they will inevitably tell you about how they wish they could be a writer, and then they will go into great detail about their great idea that you should totally write for them.  A little while later, they will ask you who some of your favorite writers are.  This question always embarrassed me because my favorite writers are TV writers.  Joss Whedon, Carter Bays and Craig Thomas, Jane Espenson, David X Cohen just to name a few.

7.)    You have done some producing…What was that like?

It was funny, I fell bass-ackward into producing, it wasn’t my initial goal because honestly I didn’t know what it entailed.  It wasn’t until I was on set for my first production assistant job when a producer turned to me and said ‘you are a producer.’

My nosiness, along with my ADD and my desire to have my fingers in multiple pies means I’m a natural.

I have learned a few things though for those who aren’t sure what a producer does. A producer does whatever they can to help everyone else do what they do.

In short, producers make shit happen.

8.)    Ideal shows you’d love to work on, projects you’d like to be involved with, etc

Sadly, the one show I would have loved to been a part of was canceled shortly after I moved to LA.  For those of you who haven’t seen ‘happy endings’ please do so immediately.  It is a great show full of manic comedy and great characters that are easy to relate to.

9.)    You’re also getting into acting…Where/when/ why did you discover that as a passion?

In truth, I’ve always been a performer.  Singing in church from the age of three until I was smart enough not to be down with church anymore (around 9) but luckily that was the time I could join the school choir (save the arts!)

Musical and show choir dominated my high school career, but when I matriculated at UW-Madison I decided I no longer wanted to be on the stage.  I wanted to be normal.  Something I share in common with the protag in the Freshman Fifteen.  But as is always the case, those born into the spotlight can’t stay behind the curtain for long.

That makes me sound up myself, but in reality, I got back into acting for a selfish reason, just not the one you’d think.

If I act in the things I write, that’s one less person to have to deal with, plain and simple.  I know how it’s supposed to sound, feel and I don’t like having the option of blaming someone else.

10.) Thing you think every writer should know

I’m not good at being brief, so i have a few things that every writer will find out in their own time:

1) Writers write.  

2) Writing is actually rewriting.  No, actually, rewriting is writing, yeah, that’s it.

3) If you don’t enjoy writing it, no one will enjoy reading it.

4) There’s no such thing as writer’s block. 

This one needs a little explanation:  I’ve found that if I can’t write about what I want to write, it’s because there’s something else I need to write.

So I write whatever is going on in my head.  I just get it out. Sometimes it’s personal stuff, other times it’s a new idea I’m more excited about.  Sometimes it’s my brain’s way of telling me that there’s something wrong with the scene: a character missing, a plot point, or something more fundamental like motivations.  But I never know until I write it out.

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

Catharsis. Be it laughter or crying.  Preferably a mixture a both.  My favorite moments of narrative are where they are so honest, so primal that you lose control of your body.

12.)  Writer you’d most like to meet.

Joss Whedon.  He has not only inspired me, he’s inspired other writers that inspire me.  His dialogue is so totally his own, I hope that one day people will be able to tell something I wrote simply by hearing the characters talk.

13.) TV show you could imagine living in

This one goes back up to Happy Endings.  But if it has to be a current TV show…True Blood.  I loves me some True Blood.

14.) what is coming up next for the world of Ean Weslynn?

ean weslynn is going to have a nap and zen fire zee missiles.

15.)  the most difficult thing you find about writing in ten words or less.

Making sure what’s in my mind gets on the page.

Bio: ean is a writer, actor, producer and all around human being living in LA.  he’s single (for good reason) unavailable guys to the front of the line.  (oh this isn’t a dating profile is it?)

To contact ean with questions about his work: Eanweslynn@gmail.com

For more on ean weslynn and to become even more of a fan of his insanely brilliant awesomeness:

Twitter: @eanweslynn

facebook.com/eanweslynn

eanweslynn.wordpress.com

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Whatevs

So, I’ve been having a time lately. You know: graduation and the all-capsness of the FUTURE looming before me. The what am I doing with my life thing? Am I making good decisions? How the hey am I going to survive missing the good friends I’ve made in college when we are all separated by miles and miles? These are terrifying thoughts. Terrifying life thoughts that I am unwilling to have and, yet, keep creeping into my brain. How do I go about combating such terror? Well, I’m a pop culture, readaholic, overcaffeinated nerd, so the obvious answer is to step away from the freewrites and blog for a second about Things which are recently pleasing me. So, here are some Bits ‘O Awesome which keep this particular pint thief very happy.

1.) I got a story recently picked up by a magazine that has been a lifelong dream to get into. This began a pretty good week.

2.) I also have gotten some poems recently picked up (and a shout out of support to the awesome literary journals which picked up said poems: Utter, Emerge, and Zouch. All you editors rock and I hope everyone goes out and reads up on your awesomeness and/or submits some writing).

3.) I have been listening to some great music lately which always cheers me up. Jack White’s “Blunderbuss” (which is brilliant and further convinces me that my life rule of “If it’s Jack White, then it’s alright” still applies to everything), Of Monsters and Men’s new album “My Head is an Animal” (which reminds me, in a good way, of if Mumford & Sons were slightly more cheerful and had female vocalists thrown into the mix), Andrew Bird’s “Break it Yourself” (lovely as always, Mr. Bird), and I finally got my paws on Miles Benjamin Anthony Robinson’s wonderful “Summer of Fear.”

4.) There are not one but two Joss Whedon movies out this year. TWO JOSS WHEDON MOVIES, PEOPLE. How can this not make everyone happy?

5.) White Raspberry Truffle coffee. Oh my god. This drink, this drink is so good. It sounds wrong, right?? But it is so right. It reminds me of a drink (the Mocha Raspberry Truffle) that used to be at one of my absolute favorite cafes which closed down and caused me to think I’d never have something so wonderful again but look, look, here it is in all its glory and yes I am really caffeinated as I’m writing this sentence but whatever I say whatever!

6.) The rather promising looking sci-fi and fantasy year in film. I’m super excited about Prometheus (I grew up on the Alien films. I may have been the only four year-old whose favorite film was Aliens.) and I’m so excited to see Ridley Scott return to this world. Plus, Looper (and Rian Johnson is an interesting filmmaker—I loved Brick and I appreciated The Brothers Bloom, so it’ll be interesting to see how his foray into time travelling sci-fi turns out). And then, of course, The Hobbit. THE HOBBIT.

7.) Writing. I’m working on a novel and it’s going swimmingly. I won’t say much so as not to jinx it, but I’m pleased so far.

8.) Summer. I have plans for the summer. Plans which involve a pile of books. A large pile of books.

9.) And speaking of books (which probably is the most oft-used way that I begin a sentence): I’m currently staring happily at a pile of to-reads that includes My American Unhappiness By: Dean Bakopoulos, The Monkey’s Wedding and Other Stories By: Joan Aiken, The Ecstasy of Influence By: Jonathan Lethem, and Solitatire By: Kelley Eskridge.

10.) My late-night chatters, coffee sharers, roomies, next door neighbors, family, future cave fellows—who make me laugh out loud, swap stories with me, don’t mind the fact that sometimes I break into song like I’m living in a Bollywood musical, and basically just keep me going. To you, I say: Love, Cupcakes, etc.

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