Monday, January 25, 2010

Author Interview w/ Mykle Hansen

Mykle Hansen is the author of Eyeheart Everything (a collection of short stories) and Rampaging Fuckers of Everything on the Crazy Shitting Planet of the Vomit Atmosphere (a novella collection). He also has had short stories appear in the Bizzaro Starter Kit and Magazine of Bizzaro Fiction.

Help! A Bear is Eating Me
is his first full length novel. How does one describe this novel? Picture Holden Caufield, all grown up, on tons of drugs. Sarcastic, manipulative, abbrasive, hateful, used to being in control, instilling fear in everyone around him. Now imagine him pinned beneath his own car with a bear chewing on his feet...

Here is a bit of his bio from goodreads:
"A jack of all trades since birth, Mykle Hansen still tries to spend most of his time writing. He lives in Portland, Oregon with his wife and child, in a orange castle surrounded by a moat of man-eating chickens. He writes all of his author biographies in the third person."

I want to thank Mykle for sending me a copy of his novel, complete with signature and an original drawing of a bear eating someone on the inside cover!

I would also like to thank him for letting us peek inside his head, by answering a few questions!

How old were you when you first started writing, and what was the first story you ever wrote?

When I was 4 or 5, my Mom would let me bang on her Smith-Corona electric typewriter just to hear the noise. So I guess I've always been writing something. In high school I got busier because writing was something I could do during boring classes; it looked like diligent study. Much of my early work was about dismembering teachers, smashing teachers' brains, boiling teachers in lead, etc. But when a poem of mine won a local teen literary award with cash money attached, I started taking it all way too seriously.

What's the craziest or most embarrassing job you have ever held?

Once I was the receptionist for the president of the College of Home Economics at the University of Minnesota. All day long, people would call in asking how to pickle beets, convert teaspoons to tablespoons, iron wool socks, unclog drains and so on. If I couldn't find a qualified answer I'd just make something up. I lasted 3 days.

Describe your writing style in 5 words.

Mental dentistry with laughing gas

What do you feel has most influenced you as a writer?

I try not to think about it too much, but I can't deny that Donald Barthelme was a huge influence during my formative years. When I'm stuck, I still ask myself "W.W.D.D.?"

These days I'm far more focused on the practice than the craft; how to stay motivated, how to judge my own work honestly, how to avoid getting bogged down and discouraged, how to gather strength. So I'm influenced by writers with strong work ethics; Carlton Mellick III is a friend of mine who's taught me a lot about that. Also, there's a place in Portland called the Writer's Dojo that has an excellent library of Advice From Writers On Writing, which has been deeply inspiring and helpful in that regard.

How did "Help! A Bear is Eating Me" come about? Is there a second novel in the works?

I heard there was a book called The Mezzanine, by Nicholson Baker, about nothing but one man's internal monologue while he's riding down an escalator; the author's challenge was to make the reader care. And it occurred to me it would be really funny to try the polar opposite of that: I'd write the internal monologue of a guy being mauled by a bear, but I'd try to prevent the reader from sympathizing.

There will be no direct sequel to HELP!, but later I may do the further misadventures of Image Team and their titanic ad agency. Right now I'm focused on shorter stuff while I try to improve my chops.

How do you determine if the story you are writing will become a novel, or remain a short story?

I think that's an artificial distinction that has always mattered more to publishers than to writers and readers, and which is mattering less and less. For instance, the novella has gotten short shrift from mainstream publishers for a long time because they fear thin books won't sell -- Heart Of Darkness notwithstanding -- but the POD presses have been proving them wrong. On the other hand, I have a children's book that I can't get published because it's 16 pages too long, but cutting it just doesn't work. I generally prefer brevity to expansiveness, but most of all I really hate to make a story longer or shorter than it needs to be.

What was the publishing process like? Any tips or pointers you would share with future writers?

My first book, EYEHEART EVERYTHING, was printed, bound and published in the middle of the night at Kinko's. Self-publishing is widely considered a really bad idea, but I came out of the 'zine world, and I thought of my book as just a really thick 'zine. It was really well-received by friends, friends of friends, their friends, and even some strangers. It opened a lot of doors for me.

My next two books were released by a small but ferocious publisher, Eraserhead Press, via Print-On-Demand. POD is also considered a really bad idea by all the wise elders of mainstream publishing, but it's working great for us. So my advice is: ignore professional advice!

If your house was on fire, and you could only rescue 5 novels from your bookshelves, which 5 would you save and why?

I'd grab the works of Richard Brautigan -- Trout Fishing In America, Revenge Of The Lawn, A Confederate General In Big Sur, The Abortion, In Watermelon Sugar -- because all five are rare first editions borrowed from a friend of mine in San Francisco. Then I would go to San Francisco and return his books, while also drinking his wine, sleeping on his couch. taking a nice vacation and maybe getting back some of that money he owes me.

What is your take on E-books and E-readers, as an author and as a reader?

I have a friend who tours with bands, and he loves his Kindle. He has tons of reading time on the bus, but no extra cargo space for books. An E-reader is perfect for his lifestyle. I don't begrudge anyone that. Also, I'm not sentimental about ink on paper, nor do I think it's about to vanish. And frankly, I love gadgetry of all kinds.

However, the major E-publishers are pushing hard to create monopolies that will be bad for everyone but them. E-books need to be an open format, bought and sold in an open market, delivered via a neutral Net. Amazon's Kindle program sucks in that regard, but nobody else has solved the distribution problem nearly as well as they have. So the Kindle still scares publishers, and that will be reflected in the low number of books released for it until things get better.

What authors/novels/ websites would you recommend to our audience?

They should read 1001 Books To Read Before You Die, 1001 Movies To See Before You Die, 1001 Albums To Hear Before You Die, and 1001 Objects To Put In Your Butt Before You Die.

Be sure to check out his website And go ahead, buy a copy of Help! A Bear is Eating me while you are at it. You know you want to!


  1. Great interview, Lori!

    Help! sounds very interesting.

    Love the question about saving five books :)

    Loved this answer in particular:

    "Mental dentistry with laughing gas"

  2. Yeah, being the book whores that we are, Im thinking that question will be a keeper for all my interviews going forward!!!