Thursday, February 2, 2023

The 40 But 10 Interview Series: Niamh McAnally

 


New year, new interview series! Looking forward into 2023, I have decided to retire the literary Would You Rather series, but didn't want to stop interviews on the site all together. Instead, I've pulled together 40ish questions - some bookish, some silly - and have asked authors to limit themselves to answering only 10 of them. That way, it keeps the interviews fresh and connectable for all of us!


We're joined today by Niamh McAnally. Niamh is an Irish-born author, former TV director, and youngest daughter of the late BAFTA award-winning actor, Ray McAnally, and actor, Ronnie Masterson. Niamh has traveled all over the world and lived and worked as a volunteer in many island nations in the Caribbean and the South Pacific. In 2016 she helped a solo sailor crew his boat from Florida to the Bahamas. It was only supposed to last a month. Niamh soon realized she had not only found the life she loved but also the love of her life. She and Captain Gary have sailed as far north as Maine in the USA and south to Grenada. They are now joyfully married. Many of her stories are inspired by her travels on land and at sea. Flares Up: A Story Bigger Than The Atlantic from UK-based Pitch Publishing was conceived when she photographed Paul Hopkins and Phil Pugh’s moment of triumph after they had 3,000 nautical miles across the Atlantic. Her short story Haul Out is featured in the anthology A Page from My Life, and she has been published in The Journal, The Irish Times, Sail, and Subsea magazines. Niamh blogs as The Writer On The Water. www.thewriteronthewater.com





What’s the best money you’ve ever spent as a writer?

Traveling the world as a volunteer. Having helped small businesses and families in places like St. Barth’s, New Zealand, Vanuatu, Fiji, Tonga, Palau, Vietnam, Sweden, Spain, Bahamas and the Caribbean, I have research material for more books than I could manage to write in a lifetime. One of my projects was to help a solo sailor crew his boat from Florida to the Bahamas. It was only supposed to last a month but somewhere on the high seas a spark ignited between us and we kissed the flame. A month turned into four, a year into six. We are now married. Best investment ever. The story features in my memoir Following Sunshine and living on our sailboat Freed Spirit put me in the right place at the right time to be inspired to write Flares Up.

 

Describe your book in three words.

Inspiring. Relatable. Unputdownable.

 

If you met your characters in real life, what would you say to them?

“Why?” And I did. The protagonists of Flares Up are two real, middle-aged men who got into a fourth-hand, twenty-foot wooden boat and rowed it 3,000 nautical miles across the Atlantic. I wanted to know why they did it — not the prepared why they told the press, or the noble why they told their friends, but the real why they told themselves in the dead of night. The why that drove them during the years of preparation and enabled them to say goodbye to loved ones they prayed they would see again. The why that made quitting not an option when they faced storms and equipment failure in the middle of Poseidon’s rage and they why they had yet to discover once they stepped on dry land and reflected on who they had become during those 70 days, 9 hours and 11 minutes at sea.

 

Do you read the reviews of your books or do you stay far far away from them, and why?

Yes, I read both those written by professional reviewers as well as book lovers. Why? Because even though opinions can be subjective I am always on the lookout for suggestions and positive critiques on how I might improve my craft.

 

What’s the single best line you’ve ever read?

As writers we are taught to “show” don’t “tell”. The best example I have ever read of this is by Hilaire Belloc in The Cruise of the Nona when he “shows” us the size of the vessel: “Four men were happy on board her, five men she could carry, six men quarrelled.”

 

What’s something that’s true about you but no one believes?

That I’m an introvert. I’m a former TV director/actor. I have a very gregarious personality, enjoy public speaking, and making someone laugh so most people think I’m joking when I say I am an introvert. But once I explain that unlike an extrovert who gains their energy from being around other people, an introvert revitalizes in their alone time and spends that energy in public, then they get it. When I feel “peopled-out” I know I need some quiet time to reflect and go inward.

 

If you could have a superpower, what would it be?

An ability to clean the oceans, restore the coral reefs to vibrant health and return captured dolphins and whales to the wild.

 

If you could spend the day with another author, who would you choose and why?

Nora Roberts. The first book of hers I read was The Reef. I am a former scuba-diving instructor and when I read her passages that take place under water, I was so sure she was an avid diver herself. Not so, apparently. I’d love to chat with her about how she combines her research with her writing skills to craft such believable settings and environments.

 

What songs would be on the soundtrack of your life?

“Columbus” by Mary Black

“Shiver me Timbers” by Bette Midler

“I Hope You Dance” by Lee Ann Womack

“Follow the Sun” by Xavier Rudd

 

Are you a toilet paper over or under kind of person?

Definitely over. And as for whether the glass is half full or half empty? My answer is neither. The glass is always full: half with water, half with air.

 

 ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~



Flares Up is a true story of adventure, tenacity and the capacity of the human spirit to triumph over adversity.

Firefighter Paul Hopkins, 55, survives a brain haemorrhage. The experience motivates him to undertake the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge – to row 3,000 miles across the Atlantic. He teams up with entrepreneur Phil Pugh, who is aged 65 but renowned for undertaking extreme physical challenges in honour of his disabled son.

They encounter major financial and physical setbacks, which cause years of delays and put a strain on both their marriages. Finally, on 12 December 2019, in a fourth-hand 20ft wooden boat, they set off from the Canary Islands.

Violent storms, 30ft waves and equipment failure leave both men seasick, dehydrated and sleep-deprived. Alone on the ocean, they are forced to examine their lives. Was the decision to undertake this challenge brave, selfish or foolish? After 70 gruelling days at sea, they cross the finish line, two changed men. Will either of their wives be there to greet them?


Buy a copy here: 

FLARES UP: A Story Bigger Than The Atlantic

Monday, January 30, 2023

The 40 but 10 Interview Series: Joey Hedger

 



New year, new interview series! Looking forward into 2023, I have decided to retire the literary Would You Rather series, but didn't want to stop interviews on the site all together. Instead, I've pulled together 40ish questions - some bookish, some silly - and have asked authors to limit themselves to answering only 10 of them. That way, it keeps the interviews fresh and connectable for all of us!


Today, Joey Hedger joins us. Joey is author of Deliver Thy Pigs (Malarkey Books) and In the Line of a Hurricane, We Wait (Red Bird Chapbooks). A former Floridian, he currently lives in Alexandria, Virginia. You can find his writing at joeyhedger.com.

 




Why do you write?

I write because I genuinely enjoy writing. I’ve always loved reading fiction, and I always wanted to do that, in whatever way possible: create fiction. It’s an absurd activity, almost embarrassing—putting words on a page and asking people to pretend they’re real. But it’s also a form of communication that makes sense to me, because there’s already a sense of creativity and vanity in communication, but when someone says back to me what they thought of my writing, it really tells me something about them, in the sense that they saw a certain scene EXACTLY as I did, or completely opposite. Now that my book’s been out for a while, those are the things I’ve noticed.

 

Do you have any hidden talents?

I’m a pretty good guitar player, an okay piano player, and a pretty bad banjo player.


What’s the most useless skill you possess?

Magic tricks. When I was a kid, I learned a bunch of coin-based magic tricks, and even made up a few, that are still floating around in my brain with little to no purpose.


Describe your book poorly.

A group of losers try to make their town smell less bad.


Would you and your main character(s) get along?

My main character is named Marco Polo Woodridge, and he’s sort of weirdly compulsive, individualistic, depressed, and mourning (at the time of the book’s beginning). I think we’d get along okay, especially as kids, but only if our families knew each other. He feels like the kind of person you’ve known for a long time, but neither of you really call or reach out anymore.


What is your favorite book from childhood?

I was quite obsessed with Brian Jacques’ Redwall series as a child.


What are you currently reading?

I am currently reading Unruined by Roger Vaillancourt, a recent title released by my own publisher Malarkey Books. I’m biased, because I feel like all the other “Malarkey” authors from this last year are my book siblings, but I get each title when it comes out through the publisher’s book club, and they really are some of the best books I’ve read in a while.


 What’s the one book someone else wrote that you wish you had written?

99 Stories of God by Joy Williams. There’s something so precise and minimalistic and beautiful and absurd about that book (and Williams’s writing generally) that always gives me a proverbial knuckle sandwich in the gut anytime I read it that makes me simultaneously want to quit writing and also improve in any way I can.


  What’s on your literary bucket list?

 This might not be exactly a bucket list wish, but I would love to see my book get physically passed around between readers. I would love for someone to discover and read my book because someone else handed it to them and said, “You should read this.” An odd dream of mine is that I stop selling books entirely because there’s a secret network of people just passing my book from person to person to person until its reach has gone so much farther than I could ever take it.


Do you DNF books?

I prefer to call it DNFY (Did Not Finish Yet). There are admittedly a few books on my nightstand as well as many more that I’ve dropped back off at the library or the used book store that I’m convinced I’ll get back to eventually. Even if just as a ghost.



~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~



It’s been a year since defiant vandal Marco Polo Woodridge lost his father in a gruesome factory accident at J. Lowell’s Meat Factory, the noxious Midwestern pork giant that employs the majority of Prairie Ridge, Illinois’s residents. Despite the smell of death in the air—both from the lingering memory of Charles Woodridge and the thousands of pigs slaughtered daily at J. Lowell’s—the people of Prairie Ridge live in a state of regretful acceptance of the company’s hold on the community. That is, until Marco Polo teams up with Susan and Margaret Banks, the mother-daughter duo committed to restoring Illinois’s native tree population and sticking it to the man all the while. With grit, humor, and Midwestern charm, Pigs examines what happens when you bite the hand that feeds, and what happens when that hand is the very one destroying you.


 Buy the book here: 

 http://malarkeybooks.com/store/deliverthypigs


Friday, January 27, 2023

The 40 But 10 Interview Series: Kate Mueser

 



New year, new interview series! Looking forward into 2023, I have decided to retire the literary Would You Rather series, but didn't want to stop interviews on the site all together. Instead, I've pulled together 40ish questions - some bookish, some silly - and have asked authors to limit themselves to answering only 10 of them. That way, it keeps the interviews fresh and connectable for all of us!


Today we are joined by Kate Mueser. Kate was going to become a concert pianist, but instead became a bilingual storyteller with a penchant for music. She spent over a decade working for German broadcaster Deutsche Welle, where she reported and presented an award-winning documentary feature on the future of the book and hosted a TV show on German pop music, her own web video series, and a youth radio show. Kate holds a bachelor’s degree in Piano Performance from Indiana University and a master’s degree in Modern European Studies from Columbia University. A California native, she has spent nearly her entire adult life in Germany, with brief interruptions in New York City and Las Vegas. The Girl with Twenty Fingers is Kate’s debut novel. It was was largely written while she was pregnant with her twins, during her toddler’s naps. You can find her at katemueser.com 





Why do you write?

 To quote from my debut novel, THE GIRL WITH TWENTY FINGERS, I write because “there is meaning outside of words, but not without them.”

 

What do you do when youre not writing?

 You’ll find me blowing bubbles at the playground with my three young children.

 

Whats the best money youve ever spent as a writer?

 I hired David Imrie from noveledit.net to do development edits on my first two novels.

 

Describe your book poorly.

 A girl loves ___, then hates it, then loves it again.

 In the book, music fills in the blank. But I bet you could fill it in with a lot of other things from your own life.

 

What is your favorite book from childhood?

 I loved Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O’Dell.

 

Whats the one book someone else wrote that you wish you had written?

 Daisy Jones & The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid is genius.

 

What songs would be on the soundtrack of your life?

 My novel is centered around Mozart’s music, but I envisioned the book orally and it interweaves music from a broad spectrum. A soundtrack to the book will be published online as well. When it comes to my own life, here are a few musical selections that bring back memories:

 The Boxer by Simon & Garfunkel

JS Bach’s Concerto No. 1 in D Minor BWV 1052

Johannes Brahms’s Intermezzo Op. 118, No. 2

Use Somebody by Kings of Leon

Wordplay by Jason Mraz

 

Whats the one thing you wish you knew when you were younger?

 You cannot become anything you want, because there will always be someone better than you.

 

What scares you the most?

 Not being good enough.

 

Are you a book hoarder or a book unhauler?

 Unhauler. Back when Amazon just did books (that makes me feel old!), I would buy all my books used and then sell them again. I hate clutter and I only read books once. Now I only buy eBooks.



~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


Sarah’s hope of becoming a concert pianist was shattered when she bombed an important performance of a Mozart concerto. Now in Munich, she feels like an imposter in her job as a food magazine editor. A chance encounter in a music shop leads to a surprising friendship with an elderly widower with a unique grand piano. When they start meeting to play Mozart’s works for four hands, Sarah unravels the mysteries of his war-time past, uproots a musical secret in her own family — and finds the strength to redirect her own future.

Laced with melodies from Mozart and Schumann to Toto and Nena, The Girl with Twenty Fingers will delight readers, while asking the question: Can music change lives? Kate Mueser’s debut novel cracks open notions of failure and second chances, living to the fullest and dying without regrets, and cultural identity and privilege, making it both timeless and urgently relevant to our age.


Buy the book here: 

https://www.blackwaterpress.com/product/the-girl-with-twenty-fingers/


Tuesday, January 24, 2023

Indie Ink Runs Deep: Kyle Mitchell and Spirtless But Actually Not

 


Every now and then I manage to talk a small press author into showing us a little skin... tattooed skin, that is. I know there are websites and books out there that have been-there-done-that already, but I hadn't seen one with a specific focus on the authors and publishers of the small press community. Whether it's the influence for their book, influenced by their book, or completely unrelated to the book, we get to hear the story behind their indie ink....



~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~



Today's ink story comes from Kyle Mitchell, who's recently released an illustrated collection called  Spiritless But Actually Not






Indie Ink Runs Deep: Kyle Mitchell








I’d still like to get a face tattoo but my mom paid me $400 in 2018 to promise to never. And $400 is $400. I was planning on getting “God is dead” in German tattooed across my left jaw, like Gott ist tot.


I truly, truly regret making that promise. Anyway.


Fast forward to summer 2021, I was lying in bed debating driving myself to the emergency room. My hand was swollen like a goddamn softball. Why?


(Also, I want you to envision this—like, literally, a softball. I was like, this has to be an emergency. But then I fell in love with capitalism all over again, thinking about how I have no medical insurance, I can’t afford the inevitable amputation. Panic, sleeplessness.)


Allow me to explain.


I tattooed my hand.


Am I a tattoo artist? No. Of course not. I bought a tattoo gun off Amazon for like $80 and it came with some pretty ink from China.


I took a ballpoint pen to my left hand and drew a pyramid getting split by lightning. (It’s a tarot card—the Egyptian depiction of card 16—the Lightning Struck Tower, indicative of cataclysm and apocalypse (two things I like).)


I then tattooed over that ballpoint pen—and hilariously I did everything correct. Like, sanitized everything. Trying to avoid, for example, a medical emergency.


But what I didn’t realize until I was lying in bed that night, literally having a panic attack—my hand the size of a SOFTBALL—I tattooed my fucking tendon. Like the tendon that connects your middle finger to your hand, that runs along the middle knuckle.


I shoved that needle so far into my skin that I tore up the actual tendon lying beneath. I went through the skin.


(And how do I know it was the tendon? Only because the pain was acute and excruciating, far more than skin deep. But I am, in fact, not a doctor…)


A normal, professional tattoo artist of course doesn’t even really go all that deep. There’s a sweet spot. I just wanted to make sure that the ink stuck, you know; I ran over that red lightning bolt a hundred times until the blood and ink were indistinguishable.


I find it hilarious, in retrospect. Took like 7 days but the swelling went down. I’m fine.



~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~







Kyle Mitchell grew up in Arizona. Existential exhaustion beneath panoramic sunsets, unable for one's life to place the mystery of it all.



Monday, January 23, 2023

The 40 but 10 Interview Series - rob mclennan

 



New year, new interview series! Looking forward into 2023, I have decided to retire the literary Would You Rather series, but didn't want to stop interviews on the site all together. Instead, I've pulled together 40ish questions - some bookish, some silly - and have asked authors to limit themselves to answering only 10 of them. That way, it keeps the interviews fresh and connectable for all of us!


Today, rob mclennan joins us! Born in Ottawa, Canada’s glorious capital city, rob mclennan currently lives in Ottawa, where he is home full-time with the two wee girls he shares with Christine McNair. The author of more than thirty trade books of poetry, fiction and non-fiction, he won the John Newlove Poetry Award in 2010, the Council for the Arts in Ottawa Mid-Career Award in 2014, and was longlisted for the CBC Poetry Prize in 2012 and 2017. In March, 2016, he was inducted into the VERSe Ottawa Hall of Honour. His most recent titles include the poetry collection the book of smaller (University of Calgary Press, 2022), and a suite of pandemic essays, essays in the face of uncertainties (Mansfield Press, 2022). An editor and publisher, he runs above/ground press, periodicities: a journal of poetry and poetics (periodicityjournal.blogspot.com) and Touch the Donkey (touchthedonkey.blogspot.com). He is editor of my (small press) writing day, and an editor/managing editor of many gendered mothers. In spring 2020, he won ‘best pandemic beard’ from Coach House Books via Twitter, of which he is extremely proud (and mentions constantly). He spent the 2007-8 academic year in Edmonton as writer-in-residence at the University of Alberta, and regularly posts reviews, essays, interviews and other notices at robmclennan.blogspot.com


 



 

Why do you write?

Writing has become my best thinking form. I work to document, articulate and comprehend. I am trying to figure everything out. I suppose, even to keep missing a moving target allows me to capture some sense of that patterning of motion.

 

What made you start writing?

Compared to paper and pen, art supplies were expensive.

 

What do you do when you’re not writing?

Live, mostly. Sleep, watch television, read, errand. Review. Attend children, house, laundry, dishes. Edit/publish journals, chapbooks. Fold and staple. Organize readings and a small press fair. Attend others’ readings. Hang out with friends. Spend time with dear wife.

 

Do you have any hidden talents?

Yes.

 

What’s the best money you’ve ever spent as a writer?

Rent.

 

How do you celebrate when you finish writing a new book?

Consider what might come next.

 

Describe your book in three words.

We stayed home.

 

What are you currently reading?

I’m in the midst of a mound of titles (as per usual), including Manahil Bandukwala’s Monument (Brick Books), Emmalea Russo’s Confetti (Hyperidean Press), David Dowker’s Dissonance Engine (Book*hug), Sarah Heady’s Comfort (Spuyten Duyvil), Ewa Chrusciel’s Yours, Purple Gallinule (Omnidawn) and Brian Teare’s The Empty Form Goes All the Way to Heaven (Nightboat), etcetera. I’ve been working through some Bernadette Mayer titles lately as well, including Works & Days (New Directions) and MEMORY (Siglio), and rereading Rosmarie Waldrop’s Gap Gardening: selected poems (New Directions). I’m simultaneously reading a variety of trade editions of X-Men, Doctor Strange, Green Arrow, Doom Patrol (Silver Age). I’ve the new issue of The Capilano Review beside my desk, but I haven’t had a moment to open that yet.

 

What would you do if you could live forever?

Investing money might be a requirement, for the sake of future expenditures.

 

Are you a book hoarder or a book unhauler?

I feel the world “hoard” in regards to book collecting is incorrect. I have constructed and curated a personal library some ten thousand titles deep (not including the eight to ten thousand comic books assembled downstairs), most of which sits on our living room poetry shelves. I delve into this library regularly. Hoarding suggests one has absorbed thoughtlessly, and for no purpose beyond gathering for its own sake. Every library has purpose.

 I know some writers who curate their collections with a greater precision than mine, such as Cameron Anstee, Gregory Betts or Derek Beaulieu, but I’ve always leaned far more into the excesses of writer/reader-collectors such as jwcurry or Dennis Cooley. The stacks are endless.

 That being said, I regularly gift doubles of books already set on our shelves. We don’t need more than one.

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~



essays in the face of uncertainties
Mansfield Press, 2022
 
This suite of pandemic essays exist within those first one hundred days of original lockdown, marking time through moments, anxieties and the elasticity of time itself. What are days, weeks, months? In this stunning collection of deeply personal essays, Ottawa writer rob mclennan wanders through literature, parenting, family, the constant barrage of cable news and the slow loss of his widower father across the swirling, simultaneous anxieties and uncertainties of an increasing sense of isolation.
 

“mclennan’s writing is clear and haunting. This is a book that will stay with you for years to come.”
—Anne Thériault
 
“The short lyric essays that comprise this book in one long meditative stream are indeed written in the face of uncertainties: not knowing where the pandemic of 2020 and on will lead us or how it will change us. The narrator/author stays home with his wife and two daughters while the map of the fallen to Covid expands and the numbers mount. In the face of the terrifying reality of death and political neglect, we are ensconced in the peaceful home of a small family that continues to work and play in isolation. mclennan writes with great elegance and compassion, and his expansive reading of books and authors from all over the world is brought into his narrative with great skill and ease. As a result, we find ourselves at the centre of a very large world of writers talking to each other across the globe and we see clearly that in this lockdown we are not alone. We never were alone. This book is a beautiful companion for our time and a very absorbing narrative that is hard to put down once you begin.”
        —Kristjana Gunnars

Thursday, January 19, 2023

The 40 But 10 Interview Series: Addie Tsai

 



New year, new interview series! Looking forward into 2023, I have decided to retire the literary Would You Rather series, but didn't want to stop interviews on the site all together. Instead, I've pulled together 40ish questions - some bookish, some silly - and have asked authors to limit themselves to answering only 10 of them. That way, it keeps the interviews fresh and connectable for all of us!



Today we are joined by ADDIE TSAI. Addie (any/all) is a queer nonbinary artist and writer of color who teaches creative writing at the College of William & Mary. They also teach in Goddard College's MFA Program in Interdisciplinary Arts and Regis University’s Mile High MFA Program in Creative Writing. Addie collaborated with Dominic Walsh Dance Theater on Victor Frankenstein and Camille Claudel, among others. They earned an MFA from Warren Wilson College and a Ph.D. in Dance from Texas Woman’s University. Addie is the author of Dear Twin and Unwieldy Creatures. She is the Fiction co-Editor and Editor of Features & Reviews at Anomaly and Founding Editor & Editor in Chief at just femme & dandy.




Why do you write? 

 I write in order to make sense of the world and my place in it. I write in order to connect to others, to feel less alone.

 

 

What made you start writing? 

 I first wrote to make my mother happy, literally—I wrote a Mother’s Day poem to cheer her up. It ended up placing third in a contest, and that validation helped motivate me. But it was an assignment in English in high school that really changed my life. We were asked to write a poem that didn’t rhyme, and I made a decision to use the assignment to process the childhood trauma I was experiencing at the time. It was a lifechanging moment for me, and from that point on, writing became a lifeline for me.

 

 

What do you do when you’re not writing?

 If we’re speaking generally (and not bound by COVID restrictions/risks), I like to: read, take photos (largely self portraits on film), dance tango (although I haven’t been able to dance since COVID began and have no idea when I’ll get to return to it), see art in museums, or theater, dance, and other types of performance, watch films, rollerskate, and take trampoline fitness classes.

 

 

Describe your book in three words.

 Queer Asian Frankenstein

 

 

What are some of your favorite websites or social media platforms? 

 I really love Dracula Daily and also Writing with Color.

 

 

What is your favorite book from childhood?

 A Summer to Die, Lois Lowry

 

 

What are you currently reading? 

 Virginia Woolf and Vita Sackville-West: Love Letters

 

 

If you could go back and rewrite one of your books or stories, which would it be and why?

 When I first started writing fiction, it was in the form of “fanfic” of Anne Rice’s The Vampire Chronicles (but it was the 90s and we didn’t call them fanfic and for most of us, they lived on handwritten pages in a secret drawer or a folder on our vintage Macintosh desktops. In my Ricean tales, twin vampires Juliette and Josephine were the original vampires, and I would retell that mythology in varying ways. Recently, I’ve thought of resurrecting those twins in my own vampire lore, and seeing where the story might take me.

 

 

    What songs would be on the soundtrack of your life?

     Sufjan Stevens’ Should Have Known Better

 

 

    Do you DNF books?

     I will stop a book before finishing, but it’s pretty rare. If the language or the story doesn’t grab me enough, I’ll try once or twice more but I don’t force it to happen. The other reason is if the book is harmful or problematic enough – the last time I did that was with James Franco’s Palo Alto.


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


Unwieldy Creatures, a biracial, queer, nonbinary retelling of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, follows the story of three beings who all navigate life from the margins: Plum, a queer biracial Chinese intern at one of the world’s top embryology labs, who runs away from home to openly be with her girlfriend only to be left on her own; Dr. Frank, a queer biracial Indonesian scientist who compromises everything she claims to love in the name of science and ambition when she sets out to procreate without sperm or egg; and Dr. Frank’s nonbinary creation, who, painstakingly brought into the world, is abandoned due to complications at birth that result from a cruel twist of revenge. Plum struggles to determine the limits of her own ambition when Dr. Frank offers her a chance to assist with her next project. How far will Plum go in the name of scientific advancement and what is she willing to risk?


Buy a copy here:  

http://jadedibispress.com/product/unwieldy-creatures/


Monday, January 16, 2023

The 40 But 10 Interview Series - Justin Bryant

 



New year, new interview series! Looking forward into 2023, I have decided to retire the literary Would You Rather series, but didn't want to stop interviews on the site all together. Instead, I've pulled together 40ish questions - some bookish, some silly - and have asked authors to limit themselves to answering only 10 of them. That way, it keeps the interviews fresh and connectable for all of us!


Justin Bryant is joining us today! Justin is the author of the 2013 memoir ‘Small Time.’ His fiction has appeared in Vol. 1 Brooklyn, Monkeybicycle, Thin Air, and others. He is a 2008 graduate of the MFA program at New York University and lives in Raleigh with his wife Sarah and their dogs Roxy and Bryce.





 

What made you start writing?

I started keeping a journal one year when I lived in England, and I found myself looking forward to sitting down to record my day every evening. Because it wasn’t really creative, I soon became a little frustrated, and I thought, ‘Well, I love reading fiction, so why not try to write some myself?’ The very first story I wrote and submitted was published, in The Iconoclast in 1991. Then reality kicked in and I picked up several hundred rejections before I was published again.
 

What do you do when you’re not writing?

I coach soccer for a living, which fortunately allows me a decent amount of free time to play with my dogs, work on my car, and play tennis. My life’s main priority is making sure my wife and my dogs are happy.
 

How do you celebrate when you finish writing a new book?

I enjoy this question because I’m not sure I have actually ever celebrated this. Maybe I should. It feels good to finish a first draft, but I know I have years of revision ahead of me, so I tend to be pretty understated about it.
 

Describe your book in three words.

Something is wrong
 

Would you and your main character(s) get along?

Yes, but they’re a lot younger than me and they would probably find me tremendously boring. They walk through jungles chasing supernatural jaguars and shark-human hybrids, while I sit on my couch with my wife and dogs, which is just the way I like it.
 

If you could spend the day with another author, who would you choose and why?

Olga Tokarczuk. It would be fascinating just to sit and talk about books and writing and try to get an insight into how her mind works and the way she sees the world.
 

What are some of your favorite books and/or authors?

The novel that made the greatest impact on me was ‘The Magic Mountain’ by Thomas Mann. ‘Memoirs of a Survivor’ by Doris Lessing and ‘Cancer Ward’ by Solzhenitsyn are up there. ‘Revolutionary Road’ by Richard Yates will always be a favorite. Most people find ‘Jude the Obscure’ depressing, but that book is special to me. I love Graham Greene, Peter Matthiessen, Fitzgerald, John Fowles, Donna Tartt, Colson Whitehead, Bolano, Nabokov, Valeria Luiselli…I could go on forever and I’m forgetting a lot.
 

What is your favorite book from childhood?

James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl
 

What are you currently reading?

‘Minor Characters’ by Joyce Johnson. Her memoir of growing up around the Beat Generation writers, and how the women in that movement were marginalized or trivialized. It’s a fascinating book and her prose is incredible.
 

Do you DNF books?

 Yes, definitely. Life is short and I’ve already lived 56 years of it. If I don’t connect with a book, I put it down and move on with no hard feelings.



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The Big West: a largely unexplored region of Calem, Central America, where time and gravity obey different laws, where sloped lakes and mineral snow decorate the landscape, and where a grand resort hotel existing simultaneously in three different eras hides from the modern world. As satellites rain from the sky during a solar storm, Geoff has come here to fulfill a mission he once believed in, but increasingly suspects is pointless. Is it just a malarial fever dream, or are his dead parents really here? Who is the shark-human hybrid always waiting ahead in the shadows? What business does a mercenary known only as ‘the tall man’ have with him? And is there any way for him to find his way back home?

 


In Thunder from a Clear Blue Sky, Justin Bryant creates a world as irresistible as it is unsettling, as soulful as it is strange. While a rag-tag team of military operatives navigates dystopian conditions, from extreme weather and technology blackouts to a fabled jaguar and a mysterious mercenary, this fever dream of a novel becomes increasingly feverish. But for all its beautiful ambition, at its heart lies a simple and powerful tale of love, longing, and devotion. I adore this bold, poignant book!

 - Jennifer Wortman, author of This. This. This. Is. Love. Love. Love

 

"Readers who enter the world of Justin Bryant's Thunder From a Clear Blue Sky will find themselves in a setting at once familiar and elusive. Here, a young man opts for military service as a way to alleviate his student loans -- and soon finds himself enmeshed in a surreal conflict, seemingly without end. Things get stranger from there, and that's before the solar storms come into play. Its reference points aren't the ones you'd expect -- Paul Auster's In the Country of Last Things, Lucius Shepard's Viator, and Adolfo Bioy Casares's The Invention of Morel all come to mind -- and its destination is wholly unexpected. This is a journey worth taking."

 - Tobias Carroll, author of Ex-Members and Reel


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