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.
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