Fiction Points: Scott McClanahan

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Scott McClanahan (credit: HTMLGiant)

Scott McClanahan is the author of the novel Hill William (2013), the nonfiction work Crapalachia: A Biography of Place (2013), and the short story collections Stories (2008), Stories II (2009), Stories V! (2011), and The Collected Works of Scott McClanahan Vol. 1 (2012), which includes the out-of-print Stories and Stories II. He cofounded the production company and press Holler Presents with Chris Oxley, who plays beside McClanahan in the band Holler Boys. McClanahan also makes films, available online via Holler Presents. Crapalachia received positive reviews from the New York TimesThe Paris Review, Paste, and The Washington Post, among others; The Huffington Post gave Stories V! a heartfelt rave, and The Fader has called McClanahan “one of [its] favorite writers.”  He appeared on Dzanc Books’ “20 Writers to Watch: An Alternate List” list in 2010 and won Philadelphia’s third Literary Death Match in 2012. He lives in West Virginia with his wife, the writer Juliet Escoria, who has also been featured on Points.

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?

First, I’d never introduce myself as a writer, but I’d probably ask them about being a nun or a penguin. That seems a hell of a lot more interesting. I think if you found a penguin talking you should probably ask the talking penguin about how it learned to talk rather than babbling about your stupid writing. “Well, it’s called flash fiction Mr. Penguin because it’s really short and flashy.” Nah.Read More »

Fiction Points: Elissa Washuta

elissawashutapicElissa Washuta is the author of Starvation Mode: A Memoir of Food, Consumption, and Control (2015) and My Body is a Book of Rules (2014), the latter of which was a finalist for the Washington State Book Award. Washuta has received fellowships and awards from Artist Trust, 4Culture, Potlatch Fund, and Hugo House. Her essays have appeared in Buzzfeed, The Chronicle of Higher Education, Literary HubSalon, Third Coast, and elsewhere. Washuta is a member of the Cowlitz Indian Tribe and teaches nonfiction in the Institute for American Indian Arts’ MFA program, where she is also the faculty advisor for Mud City Journal. Additionally, she serves as the undergraduate advisor for the Department of American Indian Studies at the University of Washington, from which she earned her MFA. She lives outside Seattle.

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?

Differently than I would answer almost anyone else, probably, because my first book, My Body Is a Book of Rules, is about sex, (psych) drugs, violence, alcohol, Indigenous identity, and the nuns who tried to teach me how to live. I might whisper to the penguin that I still have all the issues of Cosmopolitan from December 2007 to May 2011 that I used to create a quote-comparison of the magazine’s sex tips and text from The Catechism of the Catholic Church.

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

Prescribing Information,” one of the chapters in My Body Is a Book of Rules, takes the form of a list of the prescription drugs for bipolar disorder I used and, occasionally, abused between 2006 and 2009. The voice is inspired by that of the information pharmacies dispense alongside prescription drugs. Throughout the book, I write about the effects—helpful and harmful—of those drugs, including Seroquel, Abilify, Xanax, Ativan, and lithium.Read More »

Fiction Points: Elizabeth Ellen

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Elizabeth Ellen reads from Fast Machine

Elizabeth Ellen is a writer and editor who resides in Ann Arbor, Michigan. She is the author of the story collections Before You She was a Pit Bull (2006) and Fast Machine (2012), an assemblage of her best work from the last decade. A chapbook of her flash fiction, entitled Sixteen Miles Outside of Phoenix, appears in Rose Metal Press’ A Peculiar Feeling of Restlessness: Four Chapbooks of Short Short Fiction by Four Women (2008), and Ellen released a poetry collection, Bridget Fonda, in 2015. Her short story “Teen Culture” won a Pushcart Prize in 2012, and her work has been published online or in print by American Short FictionBOMBHTMLGiant, The GuardianLazy Fascist ReviewMcSweeney’s, MuuMuu House, and Vol. 1 Brooklyn among other venues. Ellen also co-edits the journal Hobart and oversees its book division, Short Flight/Long Drive Books.

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 tell them the same thing I tell everyone who asks that question: myself. Because I’m a narcissist and solipsistic. And the two nuns and the penguin don’t interest me half as much as I interest myself. LOL. Though I can’t imagine telling anyone in a bar I’m a writer. Read More »

Fiction Points: Mira Gonzalez

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Mira  Gonzalez (credit: her Tumblr)

Mira Gonzalez is the author of the poetry collection i will never be beautiful enough to make us beautiful together (2013) and Selected Tweets (2015), a collaborative double-book with recent Fiction Points interviewee Tao Lin. Her work has appeared in Vice, Hobart, MuuMuu House, The Quietus, and elsewhere. Gonzalez’s poems, tweets, essays, and musings are also available for your reading pleasure on her Tumblr page, at Thought Catalog, and in the two drug-infused columns she writes for Broadly. In 2014, i will never be beautiful enough… made the shortlist for the Believer Poetry Award; Flavorwire named Gonzalez among its “23 People Who Will Make You Care About Poetry in 2013,” and her book has been reviewed by The RumpusNylon, Vice, and other publications. Gonzalez lives in Brooklyn and hails from Los Angeles.

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 would probably be too confused by the penguin in a bar and concerned that my writing would offend the nuns to even tell them my name. I get worried about offending people. I want everybody to like me.
Points is a blog primarily for drug and alcohol historians. What do you think this audience would find most interesting about your work?
I mean, if drugs and alcohol are what they find most interesting then I guess they would be most interested in my drug and alcohol use, particularly my use of less common drugs such as DMT. Or, I guess what I’m saying is that if I were an alcohol and drug historian, I would be most interested in less common, particularly psychedelic drugs, such as DMT.

Read More »

Fiction Points: Sean H. Doyle

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Sean H. Doyle

Sean H. Doyle is the author of This Must Be The Place (2015), a memoir in fragments. The book received praise from the Chicago TribuneVol. 1 Brooklyn, Gawker, and Poets & Writers. His work has appeared in MonkeybicyclePANKVol. 1 Brooklyn, WhiskeyPaper, and other venues, including on his own website, which offers a wonderfully overwhelming and oft-updated look into his brain. Doyle also makes music as shenxian. 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?

Did the nuns ask me to confess some character flaw? I don’t normally tell people—or penguins—that I write. In my experience, folks who offer that up right away are usually welders or CEOs in disguise. I’d probably answer by telling them that I write about my inability to unsee the world and the things that happen around me or to me or inside of me.

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

Maybe the audience would find my work interesting because my work doesn’t apologize at all? Drugs and alcohol are a part of every life, even those lives seemingly free of imbibing. My life has not been perfect, will never be perfect, and my experiences with drugs and alcohol have been important to my understanding of my past/current/future self and how I fit into and out of the world around me.Read More »

Fiction Points: Wendy C. Ortiz

WendyCOrtiznewWendy C. Ortiz is the author of Excavation: A Memoir (2014), Hollywood Notebook (2015), and Bruja (forthcoming from Civil Coping Mechanisms in late 2016). Entropy Magazine put Hollywood Notebook not only on its Best Nonfiction Books of 2015 list but also on its list of Most Notable Books in the same year; Excavation was named among Large-Hearted Boy‘s best nonfiction books of 2014 and featured in Bustle‘s “11 Groundbreaking Books about Women Making History with Their Thinking, Activism, and Courage.”  Ortiz’s work has appeared in the New York TimesPalabraThe Rumpus, and Vol. 1 Brooklyn, among other venues. For the entirety of 2014, she wrote a monthly column for McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, “On the Trail of Mary Jane,” about Southern California’s medical-marijuana dispensary culture. Ortiz cofounded and, from 2001 until 2015, curated the Rhapsodomancy Reading Series in Los Angeles, where she was born and raised and currently resides.

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?

Am I on LSD? Well, okay, two nuns and a penguin. I write about growing up in the late 1980s and early 1990s in the San Fernando Valley of Los Angeles; gestating into adulthood in the Pacific Northwest, and living in Los Angeles since 2001. More specifically? Adolescent sexual agency, sexuality, spirituality in its broadest sense, power dynamics in relationships, “relationships” and many of the things that fall under that umbrella, and what it’s like to live in this body at this time. Read More »

Fiction Points: Rob Roberge

RobRoberge
Rob Roberge

Rob Roberge is the author of the memoir Liar (2016), three novels–The Cost of Living (2013), More Than They Could Chew (2005), and Drive (2001)–and the short-story collection Working Backwards from the Worst Moment of My Life (2010). Liar has been excerpted by The Rumpus and praised in The LA Review of BooksPublisher’s Weekly, and Kirkus, and Roberge’s previous work earned him a spot on The Literary Review’s “Ten Writers Worth Knowing” list as well as the admiration of authors including Steve Almond, previous Fiction Points participant Stephen Elliott, Janet Fitch, and Cheryl Strayed. His work has appeared in the Alaska Quarterly Review, The Nervous BreakdownPenthouse, The Rumpus, and  ZYZZYVA, among other venues. Roberge is also a musician, singing and playing guitar in the Los Angeles-based band The Urinals. He teaches in the University of California Riverside/Palm Desert’s MFA program and received his own MFA from Vermont 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?

Hmm. Well, I probably wouldn’t tell them I’m a writer unless they’d asked what I do, as I try not to force that info on people (and, I would suppose, Penguins). And I’m terrible (as many writers are) at answering the question of what I write about. Sometimes I say black humor, but that’s only an aspect of it—not the whole deal. I probably write the most about the quietly horrifying gap between who we know we are capable of being at our best, and who we actually are in our day to day lives.Read More »

Fiction Points: Tao Lin

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Tao Lin

Tao Lin‘s novels include Eeeee Eee Eeee (2007), Richard Yates (2010), and Taipei (2013). Lin is also the author of the novella Shoplifting from American Apparel (2009), the short-story collection Bed (2007), and two books of poetry: you are a little bit happier than i am (2006) and  cognitive behavioral therapy (2008). His most recent offering is Selected Tweets (2015), a collaboration with poet–and upcoming Fiction Points interviewee–Mira Gonzalez. Lin is also founder and editor of the press MuuMuu House and cofounder, with writer and filmmaker Megan Boyle, of MDMAfilms, which has released Lin and Boyle’s features MDMA (2011) and Mumblecore (2011), as well as their documentary Bebe Zeva (2011). He has taught at Sarah Lawrence College and presented his work at, among other venues, the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York City. He has written for Vice, The Rumpus, and a variety of online publications and platforms. Lin holds a BA in journalism from New York University.

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?

If I feel like answering the nuns and penguin in a curt manner so they don’t feel encouraged to talk to me more, or if I feel not in the mood to try to define my writing in a sentence or few sentences—which is most of the time—I mumble something like “I don’t know” or “novels” or “myself”. If I feel like talking to the nuns and penguin, or if I am in a good mood and feeling garrulous, I answer something like “my next book is about Terence McKenna and psychedelic drugs and it’s called Beyond Existentialism” then start talking about that more depending on how they respond.Read More »

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 »