Sunday, March 7, 2010

Author Interview w/ Patrick Wensink

Patrick Wensink is the author of the bizarre un-put-down-able collection of short stories "Sex Dungeon For Sale!", which is published by Erasurehead Press. He discovered we had a mutual online author buddy, I discovered he had an interesting book that I wanted to get my hands on, and luckily, for me, he was in a giving mood!!

According to his Goodreads profile.."he has done a lot of things he is not proud of. But he's also done some pretty interesting stuff. Over the years he has bottled and sold his own line of Wentastic BBQ Sauce, got married in a doughnut shop and even found the time to author a few greeting cards."

He had a fun time answering the following questions. I had a fun time reading them, and I hope that you do too!!

Who was your role model growing up and why? Who is your role model now?

Uhhhmmmmm, this is when I’m supposed to say Gandhi, right? Or, wait, no, Abe Lincoln. Yes, Abraham Lincoln. But I’m a writer and writers always say Shakespeare, don’t they? Crap! How about that time Lincoln and Shakespeare arm-wrestled? I think Gandhi was the ref.

At what age did you first start writing?

I’m not one of those guys who wrote a book in grade school. In fact, anyone who claims to have written a work of fiction that young is probably a liar. And if they are a liar, well, they’re probably a good writer. Damn. I did a lot of journalism in college and worked as a rock critic for many years. That was good training, since entertainment writing lets you be more creative than hard news. Somewhere along the line I started writing fiction and that gradually swallowed my urge to write newspaper stuff until all I did was fiction. According to my records, this was some time in the last decade.

What was the writing and publishing process like for Sex Dungeon For Sale!?

I actually pitched Eraserhead Press a novel I wrote, but they said they wanted something shorter from first-time authors. Luckily, I had a desk drawer full of funny, weird short stories that had been published a little, but mostly not. My editor read them and, I think, got back to me within a few days and said Eraserhead wanted to publish it. Then we hired a group of market researchers and scientists to help come up with a title that showcased my grace, class and dignity. They suggested we call it “Sex Dungeon for Sale!” and the rest is history.

Describe Sex Dungeon for Sale! in 5 words.

More Fun Than A Mustache

Which of the short stories do your readers seem to enjoy reading the most? Which did you enjoy writing the most?

The cool thing about “Sex Dungeon for Sale!” is that everyone gravitates toward separate stories. It’s like a Rorschach Test of your sense of humor. Millionaires and important politicians gravitate toward “My Son Thinks He’s French,” probably because it’s funny. While Astronauts, avant-garde sculptresses and submarine captains lean more toward “The Many Lives of James Brown’s Capes,” probably because it’s also funny. However, ballerinas, private detectives and the Sasquatch seem to enjoy “Pandemic Jones,” which isn’t really funny at all, but a longer noir-type story about a pharmaceutical company conspiracy. Oddly, some people really enjoy the Foreword I wrote, which is basically making fun of pretentious forewords in books by telling some rambling, esoteric story about Nazi spies and Bruce Willis.

Personally, I felt like I really found my voice when I wrote “My Son Thinks He’s French”. It was funny, but had a strong emotional core, which is what I shoot for. It was one of the first stories I had published in a lit magazine (Hobart) and I am still proud of that little guy.

What are you reading right now? What books are currently sitting in your TBR pile?

Eerily enough, I was halfway through “Ray” by Barry Hannah when he died this past week. I’m also reading Will Self’s “Junk Mail” which is a collection of his newspaper articles.

My TBR shelf is large, as I’m a compulsive book buyer. Especially at yard sales and thrift stores. One new book I’m very excited about is James Greer’s “The Failure.” James is a cool guy and has said some very nice things about my work in the past. I cheated and read the first chapter and am very eager to continue.

Which 5 books would you save if your house were on fire?

1. “How to Save the Really Important Stuff from a Burning Home”; 2.“Firefighting for armatures”; 3. “Arson and Insurance Money Made Easy.”; 4. “Fodor’s Guide to Caribbean Islands for the Recently Wealthy”; 5.“The Collected Stories of Flannery O’Connor” .

What is your take on eBooks and eReaders, both as an author and a reader?

I don’t own an e-reader and “Sex Dungeon for Sale!” isn’t available as an e-book yet. But I have no problem with the format. Anything that encourages people to buy books and keep reading seems like a good thing to me. It does make me feel bad for bookstores, though. I used to live in Portland, OR and Powell’s Books is home to many happy memories for me.

What books/authors/websites would you recommend to our audiance?

I always recommend “U.S.!” by Chris Bachelder. That’s one of those brilliant books that shocks me when nobody’s heard of it. It’s about a group of liberals who bring Upton Sinclair back from the dead, only to see him assassinated over and over and over again. It’s hilarious and poignant.

How did you become the proud creator of Wentastic BBQ sauce? Where did your obsession with all things BBQ originate from?

What’s that AC/DC song, “It’s a Long Way to the Top if Want to Make Barbecue Sauce?” About five years ago I began brewing up my own barbecue sauce and canning it to give to friends as a gift. (Part of the joke was that the label featured a picture of me, cross-eyed drunk)I got lots of positive responses and very few cases of food poisoning, so I began selling it at a street fair in Portland. I actually wrote an article about my experience called “Anarchist Clowns Stole My Money,” it’s up on my website ( I have since moved across the country and dedicated way more time to writing, so, sadly, the Wentastic BBQ Sauce Company has closed its doors.

Thanks for the questions. I had a lot of fun answering them. Hopefully I didn't ramble too much.

Not at all, Patrick! Thanks so much for allowing me this opportunity to let everyone take a peek inside the head of a bizarro fiction writer!!

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