He also hates cats and tequila. Which is why his authoring of the third chapter of Tequila Kitty (found here) seemed so appropriate. And, lastly and definitely not least importantly, he's also a friend. I sat down with him recently over a glass of his hated tequila to discuss books, writing, and his own process.
Q: Tell me about what your writing. You write in a lot of different genres: poetry, prose, songs, drama, film criticism. Do you think they all feed each other, or do you have one particular genre that you consider your calling more than the others?
I view writing as a form of expression. It allows me to tap into my various thoughts, beliefs, and experiences. But there’s not just one genre that lets me expose all those elements. Some things I feel are better said through a poem than through a story, a three act play rather than a three verse song.
Then there are the articles and music reviews and film critiques. That’s my thirst for knowledge and new experiences coming out, as well as the desire to share that information with people. I would say my background is definitely in creative non-fiction and I derive a great amount of joy from writing a well-research, well-executed article.
Q: What would you say are your strengths as a writer?
I’d like to think I turn a good phrase here and there and pull together a coherent storyline with relatable characters. When I write, I spend a good amount of time making sure my characters are familiar enough so the reader doesn’t have to work excessively hard to see things from the character’s perspective. Another strength, and perhaps my greatest weakness, is I’m known for writing too tight sometimes – my sentences and paragraphs flow in such a way that editing can be a long and tumultuous project.
Q: What are you working on now?
I’m currently piecing together a collection of short stories, tentatively called THE PEOPLE WE MEET. I’ve spent a good portion of the past decade focused on my poetry and journalism, so writing short stories has been an exciting challenge. It’s forced me to dive deeper into the themes that surround my writing and my life.
Q: What publications has your work appeared in?
I’ve spent the past three years as a contributing writer and editor for Junkyard Arts, an online magazine aimed at exposing the masses to what’s happening in the art world and what’s worth paying attention to. You can also find my work at SalemFilmFest.com, where I am Online Media Editor.
My work has also been featured in Thirsty Magazine and several newspapers.
Q: Who are your primary influences, or inspirations, as a writer?
My influences are as varied as the genres I write in, but at the core they all seem to share a knack for packing great description and wit into crisp, memorable lines. Writers like Gay Talese, Leonard Cohen, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Neil Simon, and Hunter S. Thompson have masterful styles that I keep returning to for guidance.
Q: What inspires you the most (e.g. music, landscape/nature, written word, life, etc.)?
More often than not I pull inspiration from real life experiences, especially when writing poetry.
Q: Do you find there’s a difference in writing poetry or prose? Which comes easier to you? Which do you enjoy writing more?
There’s a definite difference for me between writing poetry and prose. Poetry has always been easier for me to write. My best poems usually come from brief moments of inspiration that turn into a feverish writing session that can last anywhere from 20 minutes to three hours. Prose takes more time and development, which is fun, but is more of a commitment for me than poetry.
Q: What are you reading right now?
Right now I’m catching up on Jack Kerouac’s THE DHARMA BUMS because I should have read it a while ago. I’m also reading BOOK BUSINESS: PAST, PRESENT, and FUTURE to prepare for my summer at the Denver Publishing Institute.
Q: What authors, when you read them, make you think, “I’m giving up writing because I will never be as good as them?”
Breece D’J Pancake. He was able to capture so much emotion without having to become overly verbose. His writing at times is very stark and completely captivating.
Q: I know this is the hated and borderline unanswerable question, but it has to be asked. Why do you write?
Because when I don’t write, food is tasteless and my blood is quick to boil. Writing gives me purpose, fuels my ambition, and allows me to express the world that I see. But most of all, writing is what I’m meant to do. I get very frustrated when I can’t write for long periods at a time.
Q: If you weren’t writing, what else would you be doing?
Publishing. Managing an independent press/independent bookstore. I want to provide an outlet to great writers who might be intimidated or feel burned by the big publishing houses. There are too many poems and stories and books that have never reached the public because the writers have been turned off by the whole process, and I think that’s a shame.
Q: Name your top five favorite books and/or top five favorite authors?
Oh man…why did you have to ask? My five favorite books, in no particular order: The Rum Diary (Hunter S. Thompson); On the Road (Jack Kerouac); Stranger Music (Leonard Cohen); The Prophet (Kahlil Gibran); and CASH: An Autobiography (Johnny Cash w/ Patrick Carr).
Q: What is your non-writing claim to fame?
Officiated the wedding of Sarah Murray and Liam Walker. A pretty big accomplishment in my book.
And now we get into the non-writerly, more silly-ish questions of the interview, as paraphrased from James Lipton of Inside the Actor’s Studio:
Q: What is your favorite drink?
Q: What is your favorite curse word?
Fuck…it is such a versatile curse. Good for any fucking occasion.
Q: Favorite food?
Hot Dogs from Coney Island in Worcester, MA. And cheese. Man, I love cheese.
Q: What is your most vivid memory?
The night I met “The Man with the Bomb”. You’ll have to pick up the book when it comes out to find out more.
Q: What is your favorite sound?
The excited greetings of friends when I arrive to the party.
Q: What is your least favorite sound?
An unattended, screeching fire alarm.
Q: If heaven exists, what do you think god will say upon meeting you at the pearly gates? What would you want it to say?
I would want God to say “I hear you have some questions. Want to talk?” But It will probably say “How did you get in here?!”