Fiction Points: David Dellecese

DavidDDavid Dellecese is the writer and co-creator (with illustrator Andrew Cieslinski) of the comic-book series Holidaze, about a bar at which a cast of holiday and other mythical icons imbibes and unwinds. Holidaze has earned praise from fellow comic writers such as Todd Dezago and blogs including Bleeding Cool, Comic Crusaders, Panels on Pages, and Pipedream Comics. In addition to his work on Holidaze, Dellecese writes the blogs The Dorky Daddy and All-Star Comics Review. He is an award-winning print, broadcast, and online journalist and screenwriter, and his filmmaking was recognized by the mayoral proclamation that turned October 7, 2006 into “David Dellecese, Filmmaker Day” in the CIty of Utica, New York 

Two nuns and a penguin approach you at a bar, and you tell them you write comic books. When they ask you what you write about, how do you answer?

With that kind of lineup at the bar, I’d think we were already IN the comic.

But if they asked, I’d tell them I write a comic book series about what holiday and mythical icons like Santa, the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy do when they punch out at the end of the day, which usually involves commiserating over drinks at their favorite bar, Holidaze, and getting into some type of trouble.

The cast of Dellecese's Holidaze.
The cast of Holidaze.

I’d also be sure to tell them that it began as a digital comic available online and on mobile devices through Amazon Kindle or the comic service comiXology, and I’d be especially sure to tell them that we have a 142 page print collection of Holidaze hitting Amazon in…I believe, the Fall. Because I’m told that penguin has money to spend and those two nuns like to let their habits down and have a few laughs now and then. Read More »

Fiction Points: Kevin Maloney

                 Author Kevin Maloney

Kevin Maloney is the author of the novel Cult of Loretta (2015), which centers on a fictional drug that blends the eye-opening properties of psychedelics with the depressant effects of heroin–and stranger elements sprung from its creator’s imagination. An excerpt from Cult of Loretta appeared at Vol. 1 Brooklyn in June. Maloney’s short stories have been selected for publication in such venues as Hobart, PANK, Monkeybicycle, and Pamplemousse, among others. A graduate of Johnson State College with a resume that includes stints in teddy bear sales, teaching, apprentice electricianship, organic farming, and more, Maloney now works as a web developer when not writing. He lives in Portland, Oregon, with his partner and daughter. 

Two nuns and a penguin approach you at a bar, and you tell them you’re a writer. When they ask you what you write about, how do you answer?

I’d say I’m a fiction writer working in the dark comic tradition of Joseph Heller, Kurt Vonnegut, and Louis-Ferdinand Céline. If the nuns and penguin weren’t familiar with those writers, I’d say that I write humorous stories about the wonders and horrors of being alive.

Points is a blog primarily for drug and alcohol historians. What do you think this audience would find most interesting about your work?

In my novella Cult of Loretta, the majority of the characters become addicted to a fictional drug called “screw.” The drug is an amalgam of substances, incorporating the otherworldly hallucinations of DMT with the addictive/destructive aspects of heroin. Specifically, screw makes its users believe they’re inside of their mothers’ vaginas, about to be reborn as butterflies. I utilized a fictional drug because I wanted it to serve fantastical literary purposes, not document an actual substance.Read More »

Fiction Points: Juliet Escoria

Juliet Escoria
Juliet Escoria

Juliet Escoria is the author of Black Cloud (2014), a collection of related stories, each of which features a corresponding video and is introduced in the print version of the book by an image of Escoria that represents its themes. Lazy Fascist Press will publish her debut poetry collection, Witch Hunt, in May 2016. Black Cloud was named a best book of the year by The Fader, Salon, and Flavorwire, among others. Escoria’s work has appeared in publications including Electric LiteratureHobart, Vice, The Believer, and Guernica. Escoria holds an MFA in Fiction Writing from Brooklyn CollegeBorn in Australia and raised in Southern California, she now resides in West Virginia. Escoria has been called “a gutter punk Grace Paley” by none other than previous Fiction Points participant Adam Wilson.

Two nuns and a penguin approach you at a bar, and you tell them you’re a writer. When they ask you what you write about, how do you answer?

Last year, I went to AWP [the Association of Writers & Writing Programs’ annual conference] for the first (and so far, only) time. When I was waiting in line to get on the plane, this guy said “How many of you here are going to AWP?” No one responded and I felt sorry for him, so I admitted that I was. For the next ten minutes, I found myself trapped in a conversation about what I wrote about, what I did, etc. He seemed like a very nice man, but when I have those types of conversations, I can feel my soul slowly dying.

I told him I wrote “Thinly veiled autobiography,” which is the line I tell everyone, unless they are friends of my parents, and then I just tell them “short stories” and refuse to go any deeper. So I would probably ignore the fact that they were nuns and penguins and tell them that. Read More »

Fiction Points: Leslie Jamison

Author Leslie Jamison
Leslie Jamison

Leslie Jamison earned her MFA at the Iowa Writer’s Workshop and, more recently, pursued a PhD in literature at Yale University, where her research focused on addiction narratives. She is the author of a novel, The Gin Closet (2010), and the essay collection The Empathy Exams (2014), as well as two forthcoming works of nonfiction: Archive Lush, which entwines cultural criticism, literary analysis, and journalistic reportage with Jamison’s own narrative, and Ghost Essays, a collection that centers on haunting and obsession, love and loneliness. The Gin Closet was chosen by the San Francisco Chronicle as a Best Book of 2010 and as a finalist for the Los Angeles Times’ Art Seidenbaum Award for First Fiction. The Empathy Exams won the 2014 Graywolf Press Nonfiction Prize; reached #11 on the New York Times bestseller list; and garnered praise from The New Yorker, The New York Times Book ReviewCosmopolitan MagazineNPREntertainment Weekly, The San Francisco ChronicleBook Riot, and many, many other publications. Jamison is a columnist for The New York Times Book Review, and her work has appeared in magazines and journals including Harper’s, The Virginia Quarterly Review, The New York TimesA Public SpaceOxford AmericanThe Believer, and more. She currently resides above a smoke shop in Brooklyn.

Two nuns and a penguin approach you at a bar, and you tell them you’re a writer. When they ask you what you write about, how do you answer?

What are they drinking? Might depend on what they’re drinking. Is the nun on her sixth shot? Does the penguin have a tell-tale seltzer? I’d probably say my work is interested in the difficulties of intimacy, the struggle to get outside our own lives, and the way we (all of us) are always reckoning with the complicated experience of living in a body.Read More »

Fiction Points: Brian Alan Ellis

Brian Alan Ellis
Brian Alan Ellis

Brian Alan Ellis is the author of the story collections The Mustache He Always Wanted But Could Never Grow (2013), 33 Fragments of Sick, Sad Living (2013), and Something Good, Something Bad, Something Dirty (2014), as well as King Shit, a 2014 collaboration with illustrator Wayne Thornton. His fiction and nonfiction has appeared in journals including Vol. 1 Brooklyn, Electric Literature, Juked, Atticus Review, Monkeybicycle, The Heavy Feather Review, Zygote in My Coffee, and many, many othersHis short story “Jerry’s TV”, which originally appeared in the 2011 flash-fiction anthology The Incredible Shrinking Story, was adapted for the stage and performed by the Buntport Theater Company in Denver, Colorado. Ellis lives in Tallahassee, Florida.

Two nuns and a penguin approach you at a bar, and you tell them you’re a writer. When they ask you what you write about, how do you answer?

I’d be scared if that happened and I’d probably just shriek, “But I’m a writer!” while gradually creeping towards the exit. If they managed to ask what I write about before I made it out I would probably shout, “Escaping!” which is generally the most honest answer I could come up with under regular circumstances. Read More »

Fiction Points: Maria Flook

Author Maria Flook
Author Maria Flook

Maria Flook, currently a Senior Distinguished Writer-in-Residence at Emerson College in Boston, is the author of the story collection You Have the Wrong Man (1996); the novels Mothers and Lovers (2014), Lux (2004), Open Water (1995), and Family Night (1993); two books of poetry, Sea Room (1990) and Reckless Wedding, which won the Houghton Mifflin New Poetry Series in 1982; and the nonfiction works My Sister Life: The Story of My Sister’s Disappearance (2011) and Invisible Eden: A Story of Love and Murder on Cape Cod (2003), a New York Times bestseller. Her work has also appeared in, among other places, the New York Times Book Review, The New Yorker, The New Criterion, and TriQuarterly. Family Night received a PEN American/Ernest Hemingway Foundation Special Citation and was a New York Times Notable Book of the Year upon its publication. In 2007, Flook was recognized with a John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Award in Fiction. She is also the recipient of a Pushcart Prize and a National Endowment of the Arts Fellowship. She holds an MFA from the University of Iowa. Prior to her appointment at Emerson, Flook taught at the University of North Carolina at Asheville, Warren Wilson College, Rhode Island College, and the Graduate Writing Seminars at Bennington College.

Two nuns and a penguin approach you at a bar, and you tell them you’re a writer. When they ask you what you write about, how do you answer?

I write about the human condition, and I am especially interested in fringe populations, and the challenges they face. Estranged persons, who have disconnections, from family, from acceptable factions of society. I like to follow them as they face their problems and try to find answers or at least find refuge from whatever devils are chasing them.Read More »

Fiction Points: Stephen Elliott

ED. NOTE: Long-time Points readers may remember our Fiction Points series from its first appearance way back in 2013. Fiction Points consists of interviews with contemporary authors whose writing often features drugs and/or alcohol. Having discovered new authors in the last two years, Fiction Points curator Amy Long wanted to bring back the series. Read more about the aims and historical significance of our Fiction Points series in Long and Managing Editor Emeritus Eoin Cannon’s introductory post to the first Fiction Points.

We begin the series with Stephen Elliott. Stay tuned for interviews with David DelleceseBrian Alan Ellis, Juliet Escoria, Maria Flook, Leslie Jamison, and Kevin Maloney. New Fiction Points posts will appear every Tuesday for the next six weeks.

Author Stephen Elliott

Stephen Elliott, founder of the online literary magazine The Rumpus and currently Senior Editor for Epic Magazine, is the author of seven books: the novels Happy Baby (2004)What it Means to Love You (2002), A Life Without Consequences (2001), and Jones Inn (1998); the erotic short-story collection My Girlfriend Comes to the City and Beats Me Up (2006); and the nonfiction works Looking Forward to It: or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying About It and Love the American Electoral Process (2004), based on his time on the 2004 campaign trail, and The Adderall Diaries: A Memoir of Moods, Masochism, and Murder (2009). He edited the collections Sex for America: Politically Inspired Erotica (2003) and, with Greg Larson, Stumbling and Raging: More Politically Inspired Fiction (2005). A film adaptation of The Adderall Diaries premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival in 2015. Elliott has directed two movies himself: About Cherry (2012) and an adaptation of Happy Baby, expected to release this year. His work has appeared in publications such as Esquire, The New York TimesThe BelieverGQ, Best American Erotica, Best American Sex Writing, and the Best American Non-Required Reading anthologies for 2005 and 2007Elliott holds a Master’s degree in film production from Northwestern University and was a 2001 Wallace Stegner Fellow at Stanford University, during which time he also served as Stanford’s Marsh McCall Lecturer in Creative Writing. He lives in Brooklyn.

Two nuns and a penguin approach you at a bar, and you tell them you’re a writer. When they ask you what you write about, how do you answer?

This question doesn’t make any sense. Why would I tell them I’m a writer? Why would they approach me at a bar? I tell them I don’t talk to penguins. I haven’t spoken with penguins in a long time and I intend to keep it that way. I say I write about “stuff”. Or, more likely, I try to find out what they do, who taught them to talk. Are they real penguins or just butlers who look like penguins. I’m the least interesting person there; I would try to keep the conversation about them and their history and concerns.Read More »

A Map of the Falling Sky: On the Passing of Jason Molina

On March 18, I finally got a Google Alert about Jason Molina. It delivered news I did not want to hear. At only 39, Molina (who fronted the bands Songs: Ohia and Magnolia Electric Co.) had died of liver failure brought on by severe alcoholism, alone in his Indianapolis home the previous Saturday. Molina reportedly wrestled with a somewhat mysterious health issue that came to light when he uncharacteristically cancelled a 2009 tour with fellow indie-folk artist Will Johnson (who produced a collaborative album with Molina that year and remembers his friend here). Rumors and then news of rehab stints circulated across the Internet. But I hadn’t known about Molina’s struggles then. I’d been too busy battling my own body in New York, and it did not seem odd to me that the ordinarily prolific singer-songwriter hadn’t released anything in several years. If anything, I assumed he’d taken a well-deserved break. (Some of you may be understandably lost at this point; Jason Molina was not Amy Winehouse. I’ll back up in a minute. But for now, if you don’t know the incredible body of work on which you’ve missed out, use this currently-streaming live performance, recorded in 2007 at Cat’s Cradle in Carrboro, NC, as your reading soundtrack or download songs from Molina’s catalog courtesy of Secretly Canadian, the label that patronized Jason since its inception and calls him its “cornerstone.”)

Jason Molina (1973-2013)
Jason Molina (1973-2013)

Read More »

Remembering a Drug Activist: Siobhan Reynolds: 1961-2011

I didn’t keep up with my drug-related news over the holidays. I didn’t check Facebook or read any blogs. My mother was in town, and I was playing tourist. What could possibly happen, anyway, I thought, with legislators on holiday and courts out of session? Apparently, a lot.

Siobhan Reynolds, 1961 - 2011

I got an email last week alerting me to pain relief activist Siobhan Reynolds’ unexpected death. I couldn’t believe it; I searched the Internet wildly, hoping to prove this was just a rumor. But pieces at Time Magazine, The Logan (OH) Daily NewsDrug War Rant, Reason, TalkLeft,, and the American Thinker confirmed that Siobhan had, in fact, perished in a plane crash on Christmas Eve. She died with her partner, attorney Kevin P. Byers (who was piloting the small aircraft), and his mother, Eudora Byers, during an unfortunately unsuccessful attempt to land at the Vinton County Airport in Ohio.Read More »

In the Ether: Rick Doblin on Psychedelics and Addiction

As Rick Doblin, founder and executive director of the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS), Rick Doblin, mentioned in the second installment of his three-part interview with Points (Part I is here), the organization — part psychedelic research lab, part advocacy group, and part pharmaceutical company — has begun a slew of interesting and productive studies on the uses of psychedelic drugs like ayahuasca and ibogaine for the treatment of all manner of addictions. In this, the final piece of his talk with Points, Doblin discusses that work. He also expounds upon his and MAPS’ particular understanding of addiction and situates it within a historical context that even includes AA co-founder Bill W. 

Points: I know you’re doing some really interesting work on addiction and addiction treatment. That’s an area on which Points frequently focuses, and I think our readers would be particularly interested in hearing about it.

Aldous Huxley gave Bill W. LSD-25 in the 1950s

Doblin: Well, if we go all the way back to Carl Jung and the early part of the previous century, he had the sense that there would be a spiritual component to the treatment to addiction. And Bill W. who started AA, tried LSD when he was sober in the 1950s, and he thought that it had tremendous potential for the treatment of addiction. And it’s actually written about in the book Pass it On, which was published by AA about Bill Wilson’s life. [Ed. Note: Speaking of Jung and Bill W., the AA founder’s letter to the philosopher can be read here. Jung’s reply is here.] So the sense is that there is a lot of denial going on in addiction. There are a lot of things that people are not seeing. In a supportive context, psychedelics affect the membrane that separates the conscious from the unconscious. And particularly with the more classic psychedelics like LSD or psilocybin, there is a flood of material that people have tried to suppress or tried to deny, the whole denial process. People make a fuller accounting of their lives and what they’re doing. And then there’s also the potential for a spiritual connection that people have under psychedelics that they can then draw strength from. And based on that connection they can move forward in their lives and feel connected. A lot of drug abusers don’t feel connected to themselves, to others. They are separated from love and they seek support in the drugs. And with a deep spiritual experience that can come from psychedelics, people can draw strength from it.Read More »