Thursday, March 9, 2023

The 40 But 10 Interview Series: Tyler McMahon


I had 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 Tyler McMahon, who is the author of the novels How the Mistakes Were Made, Kilometer 99, Dream of Another America, and One Potato. Tyler is a Professor of English at Hawai`i Pacific University and the editor of the Hawai`i Pacific Review

Describe your book in three words.

GMOs are complicated.


Summarize your book using only gifs or emojis.



If you could cast your characters in a movie, which actors would play them and why?

Good question. Maybe Jimmy Smits and Geena Davis? And the versions of them from my adolescence, if they’re available.


What is your favorite way to waste time?

I spend hours scrolling through the for-sale ads on craigslist and FB marketplace. Even when I’m not shopping for anything, I stare at old guitars, surfboards, bicycles, etc., thinking about whether or not they’re a good deal.


What are you currently reading?

A Children’s Bible by Lydia Mallet


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

It was in Patricia Lockwood’s Priestdaddy. I’m not sure if I remember exactly, but I believe it was: “Don Pablo’s was a fake Mexican restaurant that prided itself on the sizzling-ness of its food.”


What’s on your literary bucket list?

I’d love to write a murder mystery. It will likely never happen, but I wish I could do it. It seems like that’s what people love to read. Mystery writers are able to take on all sorts of cultural issues and big topics–while entertaining their readers. I have huge respect for those authors.


If you were stuck on a deserted island, what’s the one book you wish you had with you?

Probably Eduardo Galeano’s Century of the Wind. To me, it’s one of the most re-readable books ever.


Do you DNF books?

I feel like I finished nearly every book I started for the first 3 decades of my life–give or take. Now, I DNF all the time. Sometimes it’s not even a matter of disliking the book. I just lose the thread, or need to give it back to the library, or have something more urgent to read.


Are you a book hoarder or a book unhauler?

I hope you won’t think less of me, but I’ve definitely become an unhauler in my old age. I live in a small apartment, and am married to a voracious reader, so we’ve become very judicious about what books we keep around.



 A satire set within the biotech industry, One Potato features a bumbling but well-intentioned food scientist forced to walk a crooked line between nature and technology. Eddie Morales is quite happy as a lowly R&D man at a Boise-based biotech firm called Tuberware. His aspirations don’t reach far beyond processed foods and a simple life in Idaho. It comes as a shock when the company’s head calls Eddie into the office to discuss a situation in Puerto Malogrado—a tiny but tumultuous country in South America—where lax regulations allow Tuberware to market experimental crops. Eddie—not an expert on GMOs or PR—is dispatched to the Andes to help avert a media circus.  


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