Monday, May 15, 2023

The 40 But 10 Interview Series: Melissa E. Jordan


I had retired the literary Would You Rather interview 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!

Melissa E. Jordan was primarily raised in Connecticut, and currently lives in the northwestern part of the state. Her recent poetry collection, Red Low Fog/Transcript (Animal Heart Press, 2022) is a hybrid poetry/fiction collection in the form of a documentary transcript. Each interview subject speaks in their own specific category of poetry. Her previous collection, Bain-Marie (Big Wonderful Press) was published in 2015. Jordan’s poems have appeared in The Cossack Review, The Dillydoun Review, Open: Journal of Art & Letters, Word Riot, Otis Nebula, Terrain, Off the Coast, Rat’s Ass Review, and elsewhere. Jordan, who has worked as a newspaper reporter, freelance journalist and as a communications specialist for an anti-hunger agency, is currently working on a graphic verse novel/alternative history project with her husband, the writer/illustrator Michael A.Reilly. 

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

 Probably what every writer who picks this question will answer: Invisibility.

 The unrestricted ability to closely observe people without having to participate in any way? That's such an intoxicating idea. (I don’t know about other folks, though, but I’d rather stick to strangers. The old adage about never hearing something good about yourself when you eavesdrop is a wise one.)


Describe your book in three words.

 Fictional verse documentary


Describe your book poorly.

 Dude tries to blow up an Adirondack ski lodge and people react to it, often while rhyming!


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

 Julia Garner, with her scrappiness and clouds of curls – plus a verified ability to do a fierce Southern accent – would be ideal for Delphine, the young children’s book author who is essentially the heroine of Red Low Fog/Transcript. Domhall Gleeson would be fantastic as her troubled husband, in both his initial charming mode and his later, Travis Bickle-like tirades.

 For the documentarian/narrator (Alex)  Diego Luna would be dreamy. I’m not sure about casting Alex's wife and artistic partner, Birget, but an actor from one of those Nordic whodunits would probably be ideal! (Or Anna Torv, who’s actually Australian but can seemingly do any accent.)  

 While writing the fifth main character in RLF/T, Harry Ange. I often pictured John Lithgow. He’s gentle but a bit acerbic, which JL could do in his sleep. (He’s also my mother’s cousin, and the character himself felt a bit like family when I was spending time with him.)


What genres won’t you read?

 Super-gorey thrillers. Even though the mysteries I read don’t have to be completely cozy, crime novels with torture and body horror are beyond the pale for me. Especially when the psychos specialize in turning young women into interesting corpses, or in kidnapping children.


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

 The beet is the ancient ancestor of the autumn moon, bearded, buried, all but fossilized; the dark green sails of the grounded moon-boat stitched with veins of primordial plasma; the kite string that once connected the moon to the Earth now a muddy whisker drilling desperately for rubies.

― Tom Robbins, Jitterbug Perfume


Do you think you’d live long in a zombie apocalypse?

 I’ve wondered about this! I think the two types of people with the best shot of survival are either the usual fearless warrior types – or those who would find the smallest space and hole up for the duration. I’m exceptionally good at the latter.


If you could remove one color from the world, what would it be and why?

 Lime green. I tend to have childishly violent reactions to anything in the neon family.


 If you could time travel, would you go back to the past or forward into the future?

Absolutely, the past. Right now I’m researching 1600s New England for an alternative history project, and the longing to be transported there, even briefly, is overwhelming. (I should say, especially briefly, all things considered.) I’d also love to wander around in “clan of the cave bear” territory.


Are you a book hoarder or a book unhauler?

 I’m definitely a book hoarder by nature, but right now I’m facing a big unloading in the coming months. My husband and I are in the process of getting our home ready for sale, and hope to be traveling in a van or boat later this year. So we’re facing the torture of parting with books, after the luxury of completely filling this massive wall of built-in bookcases we were lucky enough to have for many years.

 Our rural post office has its own version of a little free library, so we’ve started going down there with tote books full of old DVDs and paperback mysteries. It’s oddly liberating so far, but that’s because I haven’t really sacrificed meaningful ones yet.


Melissa E. Jordan’s Red Low Fog / Transcript tells the story of a bombing at a ski lodge in upstate New York, which is entwined with the love story of Thomas Kearne (who is a suspect in the bombing) and his wife, Delphine Kearne (whereabouts unknown). Drawing on the traditions of urban myth, documentary, fairy-tale, small-town gossip, folklore, and reality TV, Jordan leads us through multiple twists & layers of intrigue and mystery.

buy the book here:

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