Today I will be enjoying various festive things. Today is my 48th birthday and so I will not be around much. I will be playing video games with my daughter and who knows what else Denise has planned this evening. So, Short Attention Span Theater will return on Friday. I turn things over to one of my fellow authors who appears in the Booked Anthology with me...Caleb J. Ross. So, please enjoy.
Sometimes a reader has to read a story more than once to really get the vibe the author was laying down. Your story did that to me and at the end, I was very entertained, but was there some super-secret subtext that I might be missing?
If there is, it’s a secret even to me. It’s a story of a man and wife pair who sell live rats in jars to oddball collectors (Merkle, the lead protagonist, says about the jars: “Not exactly a ship in a bottle. More like a battleship stuffed into an eyedropper, or if Cinderella were a nineteenth century Chinese princess with a glass slipper binding her feet.”). The impetus to the story is when one of the sales goes wrong; Merkle accidentally brings the wrong man back to her hotel room for the transaction. She spends the story trying to find the correct seller while simultaneously dealing with the recent loss of her unborn child. The two issues come together in quite a disturbing climax. Typical Caleb J. Ross domestic grotesque stuff.
What can you share about your writing process?
I have two young kids, so my writing time is sparse. During the day I keep scrap paper in my pocket to jot down ideas. I then, in the evening, transcribe those ideas until I hit my 250 words/day minimum goal.
I used to have time to romance the writer’s life a bit more. I’d have a cigar or two, turn the lights low, and really fall into a special zone. Not anymore.
I’ve also had to expand my idea of “writing” to keep from punishing myself for lack of productivity. Over the last couple of years—sans the past few months as I focus on my next novel—I’ve gotten into making YouTube videos in a big way. So, I started counting my video making time as writing time. It’s all creative in the end, I suppose. In fact, I hope I get this damn novel finished so I can go back to videos for a while.
For anyone interested, check out my channel, Burning Books.
Share some Booked dirt if you have any dirty little tales to tell about Robb and Livius.
If I said anything, they’d certainly unleash back at me ten-fold. Actually, they are both stand-up guys. In fact, consider this my official dare for them to do something interview-response-worthy. Your move Booked.
How did you find the podcast to begin with?
They actually found me, in a round-about way. Back in April 2011 I sent a tweet from the @TheVelvet account about Christopher Dwyer’s novel When October Falls being a good way to bide time until Christopher Baer writers another novel. Robb and Livius were apparently Baer fans. Our friendship blossomed from there.
In fact, I think that was the start of Robb and Livius’ involvement in The Velvet community, which ultimately grew into many of the relationships they have now with many of the writers they’ve had on the show.
The writing community can be its own worst enemy at times. What are some of the issues you see cropping up? Solutions?
I’m not entirely sure what you mean. Any community has faults, especially when members outgrow what originally brought them in. But my experience with writing communities has been largely positive.
I suppose if I can say anything it’s that writing communities do have the potential to insulate its members from the wider reading public. Members get so obsessed with the memes and trends within the circle of writers that they forget they are writing for readers, not other writers.
The social media is…(your chance to expound in as abstract a manner as you wish.)
From a marketing (re: book selling) perspective social media is the online “mouth” part of “word of mouth,” but it’s not both the “word” and the “mouth.” Authors still need a worthwhile “word” to mouth about.
What is one question you are sick of being asked—not in interviews, but by individuals who know you are a writer?
What do you write about? This, because, most of the people who ask me have no idea what domestic grotesque is, nor do they have sense enough to thinking about what it is before jumping to the conclusion that grotesque = perverted/gross/sexual/prison-worthy. Domestic grotesque is simply a term I use to define the combination of domestic situations (family, marriage, etc) with strange or visually jarring imagery.
What else do you have out or coming soon for readers to grab?
I recently got the rights back to my novella As a Machine and Parts, so I released it under my personal imprint. It’s a fantastic short book about a man who is slowly turning into a machine. Before that, my first novel, Stranger Will, was re-released in March. Readers who like dark fiction with heavy themes will love Stranger Will.
Do you think that a writer can a writer excel at his or her craft if they do not read?
No. Definitely not. Craft is learned from reading. Sure, anyone can write a workable narrative without reading—movies, video games, and life in general will develop a sense of narrative—but when it comes to learning craft, reading is a necessity.
What is in your TBR pile right now?
I’ve got over 100 books on my Goodreads to-read shelf, but of those the contenders for my next reads are Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea, Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mocking Bird (somehow I never read this growing up), and a collection of Harry Crews works. I’ve never read Crews, but friends who know my tastes say I’ll love him.
What is one thing about you that would surprise the readers who do not know you personally?
I don’t care for poetry. Even though I love the beauty of language, and often pride myself in being able to craft a narrative that has a strong sense of language, it’s tough for me to respect poetry.
Share something interesting but completely trivial about yourself.
Growing up, I collected everything. A few collections: tea bags, Kool-Aid packets, condoms, single serving restaurant condiments, and fishing tackle.
YouTube channel: http://www.youtube.com/calebjross
Caleb’s books: http://www.calebjross.com/works/booklength/
Pictures and bios you can use if you want can be found at this link:
Twitter status that started it all with Booked. Podcast.