Thursday, October 3, 2013

Andrew F Sullivan's Would You Rather

Bored with the same old fashioned author interviews you see all around the blogosphere? Well, TNBBC's newest series is a fun, new, literary spin on the ole Would You Rather game. Get to know the authors we love to read in ways no other interviewer has. I've asked them to pick sides against the same 20 odd bookish scenarios. And just to spice it up a bit, each author gets to ask their own Would You Rather question to the author who appears after them....

Andrew F Sullivan's 
Would You Rather

Would you rather write an entire book with your feet or with your tongue?

Feet. I want that dexterity. I want to be able to talk to myself while I write and read the dialogue out loud. My feet will only grow stronger and wiser through writing. I will run forever and no one will be able to catch me when climb a tree using all four limbs.

Would you rather have one giant bestseller or a long string of moderate sellers?

A long string of moderate sellers. A huge back catalogue for readers to discover like busted artifacts buried in the sand. Stories that keep popping up in different places, old libraries, abandoned attics. A name more like a whisper than a shout, a reminder someone never took off the fridge. Something that creeps along the periphery until you realize it’s always been there, lurking, waiting, watching. Something you can’t swallow in one sitting.

Would you rather be a well known author now or be considered a literary genius after you’re dead?

When we die, we die. We are worms, we are loam, we are earth, we are not. But we do it for ourselves, we do it because we have to do it, because if we don’t, we feel sick. Give me the glory when I’m long dead and gone so it does not go to my already inflated head.

Would you rather write a book without using conjunctions or have every sentence of your book begin with one?

Without conjunctions. Set them all aflame. Sweep the ashes. Decorate your bedroom.

Would you rather have every word of your favorite novel tattooed on your skin or always playing as an audio in the background for the rest of your life?

Tattooed. I like music too much—I need a soundtrack that varies, that keeps me on my toes. I want to see how the words change over time, how the ink bends with age, obscuring old meanings to inflate others with a wrinkle or a scar. Blood blisters and calluses might develop to create something no one intended, to expose some truth momentarily before they burst or slough away. The skin will change the story.

Would you rather write a book you truly believe in and have no one read it or write a crappy book that comprises everything you believe in and have it become an overnight success?

The one book I believe in and then another one after that and another one after that. I have had enough day jobs that compromised me, showed me what I was worth to the supervisor, the boss, the pace of the line. Keep your fingers out of the gears. The story remains yours, remains a bond with the reader. You own its end. Writing is work or labour, whatever you want to call it. But it’s yours. Just remember your hands are not clean. They never were in the first place.

Would you rather write a plot twist you hated or write a character you hated?

Character all the way—you love to loathe, to explore the people who despise you and find little pieces of yourself embedded in their skulls, little mirrors to remind you most monsters look like us, just with harsher lighting. The plot twist will come from that character if it has to—they leak pus all over the place.

Would you rather use your skin as paper or your blood as ink?

Blood. I need to be practical. If I pace myself, it’s an endless supply. You will smell my work from miles away and stray dogs will linger at my door until I die.

Would you rather become a character in your novel or have your characters escape the page and reenact the novel in real life?

Let them escape. Bar the windows. Lock the doors. Call the police and ask to remain anonymous. Maybe start writing about dinosaurs, demonic knights and the first woman who ever walked the earth, 50 feet tall. Maybe even start writing Pokémon fan fiction. Wait and see what happens. Plan to be the very best.

Would you rather write without using punctuation and capitalization or without using words that contained the letter E?

Everyone needs the letter E. i will suffer without the unnecessary accoutrement writing each sentence like a text at two am because that s when all the meaning happens anyway

Would you rather have schools teach your book or ban your book?

Ban it. Steal it from your libraries. Tell your kids it is dangerous to read, dangerous to write, dangerous to consume someone else’s words. And it is. And it should be.

Would you rather be forced to listen to Ayn Rand bloviate for an hour or be hit on by an angry Dylan Thomas?

The punch. Always the punch. Ayn Rand is an old altar with a lot of stale offerings.

Would you rather be reduced to speaking only in haiku or be capable of only writing in haiku?

Speaking in haiku, counting syllables like breathing or a pulse. I can always write out notes for longer requests. I can always cut out my voice box if things get out of hand.

Would you rather be stuck on an island with only the 50 Shades Series or a series in a language you couldn’t read?

A series in a language I can’t read, just so I can pass the time. 50 Shades is already a pretty convenient whipping boy. I’d like to be rescued speaking a new language, uncovering each sentence as I waited for a boat or death or another seagull to get snared in one of my traps made from coconuts and human hair. Japanese or Portuguese, please. Something my throat might struggle to say out loud.

Would you rather critics rip your book apart publically or never talk about it at all?

Tear it up on a live news stream, let everyone know. At least you provoked a reaction, something visceral in the gut. If they hate you that much, they won’t forget you. They’ll let you fester, scratch at you, pluck away new scabs from the wounds. When you die, they’ll build a statue for you. Everyone likes their heroes better when they’re dead.

Would you rather have everything you think automatically appear on your Twitter feed or have a voice in your head narrate your every move?

Keep it all in my head. Narrate each embarrassment, each faltering conversation, each bathroom disaster. Just don’t let the world know what I am thinking at a reading when the poet has gone on for twenty minutes and the wine has run out.

Would you rather give up your computer or pens and paper?

For practicality, I would have to give up the computer. Just in case the world falls down into flame and ash and there are no more sockets for our devices to suckle from anymore. I would, however, also like to give up any and all essays about why writing with pen and paper is so great, how it helps you get in touch with some inner creative self. I have seen enough dead horses beaten raw in my life.

Would you rather write an entire novel standing on your tippy-toes or laying down flat on your back?

Tip toes, stretch out those legs, make it all ache. Put the hurt on the page each day. Throw suffering at the work until its finished and then go see a doctor for some tendon surgery.

Would you rather read naked in front of a packed room or have no one show up to your reading?

Naked and aroused in full view of the packed house. Let them see it all since they’ve come to see you spill some of yourself on the floor anyway. Leave some blood on the floor. Don’t offer to clean it up.

Would you rather read a book that is written poorly but has an excellent story, or read one with weak content but is written well? 

Written poorly with an excellent story. I can’t stare at a plastic bag in the wind all day. Eventually I am going to fall asleep, no matter how the wind moves it. Eventually I am going to die and I won’t remember the structure of your sentence or the syntax. I will remember the king died though—and I will remember the king died from his sorrow.

And here's his answer to David Maine's question from last week:

Would you rather have your novel turned into a comic book aimed at 12-year-olds, or turned into a Starz “adults only” miniseries with lots of gratuitous nudity and violence?

12 year olds because they will get something out of it. They will learn to tell their own stories. They are the ones who still have imaginations without boundaries and they are more likely to forgive you if the adaptation goes astray. 12 year olds will remember you long after Starz ends up as a hologram projection inside the eyes of their parents. They will tear down everything you built, but use all the pieces you left behind.  

Check back next week to see what Lavinia Ludlow would rather
and see her answer to Andrew's question:

Would you rather write YA books or experimental poetry 
for the rest of your life? 

Andrew F Sullivan is from Oshawa, ON. His stories have appeared in places likes JoylandThe New QuarterlyGrain, and EVENT. Sullivan is the author of All We Want is Everything (ARP Books, 2013)He edits fiction for The Puritan and sprouts novels like limbs. Sullivan no longer works in a warehouse.

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