Would You Rather
Would you rather write an entire book with your feet or with your tongue?
My tongue. I wouldn’t want to have to clean the foot funk off my keyboard every time I finished writing for the day.
Would you rather have one giant bestseller or a long string of moderate sellers?
Like Carlton Mellick III, Cameron Pierce, Kevin L. Donihe and the other bizarro authors who I consider my role models in terms of book sales, my goal is to have a long, long string of books that sell to a small but dedicated group of readers. My plan is to put out one or two books a year to further that goal. My first book, The After-Life Story of Pork Knuckles Malone, is out now. My second book, Dungeons and Drag Queens, is on the way. Books three through six are in various stages of production. I do this because I love it, and I’ll keep writing weird shit regardless of whether anyone buys it, but a nice cult readership would feel good. I have no delusions that books about slime-spewing psychic pigs and sword-wielding drag queens would ever become bestsellers.
Would you rather be a well-known author now or be considered a literary genius after you’re dead?
As much as my rotting corpse would enjoy getting its props, I’m going to have to say I’d rather take my accolades now please.
Would you rather write a book without using conjunctions or have every sentence of your book begin with one?
So I think it would be far less annoying to go without conjunctions. And it would feel more natural than trying to start every sentence with one.
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?
I’d get Naked Lunch tattooed all over my body. “Did I ever tell you about the man who taught his asshole to talk” would be a rad tramp stamp.
Would you rather write a book you truly believe in and have no one read it or write a crappy book that compromises everything you believe in and have it become an overnight success?
I’ve already written plenty of books and short stories that I truly believe in that nobody has ever read and some of which will probably never be read by anyone except me, so I guess that answers that question. I think I would vomit if I achieved any sort of mainstream success.
Would you rather write a plot twist you hated or write a character you hated?
I write a lot of characters I hate. The main character in my short story “Lake Street,” which appears in the David Lynch tribute anthology In Heaven Everything is Fine, is a pathetic piece of shit. He has a few endearing qualities, but overall he’s not someone I’d want to hang out with. On the other hand, I’d only truly hate a plot twist if it was bad, and there’s little that can be done to salvage a story from a bad plot twist.
Would you rather use your skin as paper or your blood as ink?
I don’t think I’d even be able to fit three short stories on my skin the way I write, especially since I wouldn’t be able to reach my back, and it would be hard to erase and I’d have to shave or wax more often. But I’ve got a lot of blood.
Would you rather become a character in your novel or have your characters escape the page and reenact the novel in real life?
This is a horrible answer because a lot of people would die in very unpleasant, slime-spewing ways, but I think I’d prefer to have the characters from The After-Life Story of Pork Knuckles Malone do their thing in the real world.
Would you rather write without using punctuation and capitalization or without using words that contained the letter E?
i need to keep my E words but punctuation and capitalization are just adornments that I could easily do without
Would you rather have schools teach your book or ban your book?
Ban it! I think kids would be more likely to read it then. I didn’t read most of what I was assigned in school, but when I heard about books that I shouldn’t read, I was all over them.
Would you rather be forced to listen to Ayn Rand bloviate for an hour or be hit on by an angry Dylan Thomas?
Angry Dylan Thomas, in a bowtie, cigarette hanging limp from his lips, could hit on me all night long, and I would probably reject his advances, but they would be more enjoyable than that angry lady’s bloviating.
Would you rather be reduced to speaking only in haiku or be capable of only writing in haiku?
Writing in haiku
Is to me far pref’rable
To speaking in it
Would you rather be stuck on an island with only the 50 Shades Series or only the Harry Potter series?
I’m sure either would be just as effective for burning to keep me warm at night while I use a stick to scribble my own stories into the beach.
Would you rather critics rip your book apart publically or never talk about it at all?
I love getting ripped apart by critics! It’s a strong reaction and I find it very compelling. I’ve been critically pissed on a lot over the years, for my zine and for my chapbooks. One of my favorites was when a Goodreads reviewer said of my chapbook The Mutilation of Paris Hilton: “Absolutely disgusting. Why would anyone read this for fun?” I’m actually kind of weirded out that nobody has said anything bad about my newest book, The After-Life Story of Pork Knuckles Malone, since there’s a lot of offensive stuff in there.
Would you rather have everything you think automatically appear on your Twitter feed or have a voice in your head narrate your every move?
The voice in my head does a lot of narration as is. I take it that’s not supposed to happen? What about this internal laugh track? Is that supposed to be there?
Would you rather give up your computer or pens and paper?
I’d ditch the computer, although I don’t think publishers would be all that happy with the pages of hand-scribbled notebook paper I would have to submit to them. I think there’d be a noticeable uptick in rejection letters.
Would you rather write an entire novel standing on your tippy-toes or laying down flat on your back?
I was in a workshop once with a writer who revealed that he rarely touched a keyboard. He used dictation software. He just sat in his recliner and told his stories out loud. He only touched the keyboard to clean up the draft and do revisions. Seems relaxing and I could totally do that while laying down flat on my back, but I’d miss the physicality of writing.
Would you rather read naked in front of a packed room or have no one show up to your reading?
I would gladly read naked. I look better naked. In fact, if anyone wants to set up a naked reading for me, just let me know. I’ll need a big crowd though.
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?
The most compelling thing to me in art of any form is passion. As long as I get the sense that the author was absolutely in love with what the story they were writing, I don’t care how weak the writing is stylistically. This is part of the reason I’ve gravitated toward bizarro fiction. I love the stuff that publishers like Eraserhead Press and Bizarro Pulp Press are putting out, because the authors are dead set on telling wonderfully weird stories. Thankfully, many of these authors are also good stylistically.
And here is MP's response to the question Wayne Franklin posed to him last week:
Would you rather be forced to kill off your favorite character or to make your least favorite character your protagonist?
This is tough, because I think both would be really intriguing exercises. I'm going to go with making my least favorite character my protagonist, because it would force me to explore nooks and crannies of that character's personality that I may not have explored otherwise. That being said, looking back at the characters in my various published works, the ones I would say I like the least are the ones that weren't sufficiently developed.
Check back next week to see how JA Tyler answer's MP Johnson's question:
Would you rather write a 20 page essay about your bowling ability
or a weekly column about your bowel's abilities?
MP Johnson's short stories have appeared in more than 25 underground books and magazines, including Bare Bone and Cthulhu Sex. His debut book, The After-Life Story of Pork Knuckles Malone, was recently released by Bizarro Pulp Press. His second book, Dungeons and Drag Queens, is due soon from Eraserhead Press. He is the creator of Freak Tension zine, a B-movie extra and an obsessive music fan currently based in Minneapolis . Learn more at www.freaktension.com.