I have a writing group, I head out to literary functions, and I made this rule where when one of my writing friends asks me for a story, an essay, or a blog I never say no. Because of this rule I’ve been published by The Good Men Project, Nailed Magazine, Molotov Cocktail, and other places. I’m featured in Clackamas Community Colleges new print magazine Out of the Minds of Babes and one of the paintings my brother and I did is on the cover of the same mag.
So when Kait Heacock asked me to be a part of The Next Big Thing Blog I said, hell yes. Kait is a frequent contributor to PDXX, an all female written collection of fiction, creative nonfiction, interviews, and poetry. She is also a driving force behind Girl on Girl, interview series, featuring writers Chloe Caldwell, Kerry Cohen, Lidia Yuknavitch. Kait’s stories and essays have also appeared in places like The Portland Review, Tin House’s open bar blog, and more.
So, here are a series of questions the long line before me has answered and the questions I’ll send off to the next writers:
1. What is the working title of your next book?
Ooligan Press is publishing my memoir on Iraq and Katrina and it’s called The Wax Bullet War, but I’m working a novel call Road to Ruin, and a book of crazy non fiction stories I’m calling Picking Daisies in Valhalla or something like that.
2. Where did the idea come from for the book?
WBW started as a daily journal I wrote while at war in Iraq, but it’s turned into a look at PTSD and a soldier’s struggle to get through it. The book of shorts is the same, but snap shots of different funny/sad hardships during a very difficult time in my life. The idea for the novel came from watching a crop circle documentary. I just stuck a protagonist with a noir persona set against the strip clubs in Portland. The original name for the novel was Origin of the Species 2.
3. What genre does your book fall under?
WBW – Creative NF
Painting Daisies in Valhalla – Chained short NF stories
Ruin – Dark Comedy with a touch of absurdity
4. What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?
This is a funny questions because in the Wax Bullet War I have a whole chapter about all us soldiers sitting on the flight line waiting for helicopters to take us on our mission and this is all we’d talk about. Who would play me? After hearing what other people thought – Mike Madsen, David Duchovny, John Cusak – I decided I wanted an unknown actor to take on my role.
5. What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
This is tough. When I write NF I try to stop at a happy point. When I write fiction I write love stories. WBW is a chronicle of the inhumanity and humanity of warfare and it’s effects on the people who serve as seen through the eyes of an infantryman and art school dropout.
6. Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
Neither right now. I think the best books are coming from the small and university presses and I found you don’t really need an agent to deal with them. I was able to negotiate a good percentage off sales so far and I don’t have to give a cut to anyone. So, I’ll see how this goes, but don’t get me wrong, I’d definitely sign a contract with a big house and I’m sure I’d need an agent for that, or if my book was optioned so John Cusak could play the sensitive artist soldier in Wax Bullet War: The Movie!
7. How long did/will it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?
I’m prolific. For the longest time when people would call me that I took it as a compliment. Then I looked it up and realized that they just meant I write a lot. That doesn’t mean what I write is good. I tend to compartmentalize. Is that a word? When I wrote WBW it took me a year solid with the most amazing editor on the planet, Mike Magnuson. Mag has five books out with the big houses and if you haven’t read The Right Man for the Job you should. Now a days I work on the novel until I get an itch to write a short NF story that would fit into my collection. Then I usually pound that out and send it to one of the magazines that like my stuff: Fool’s Gold, Sudsy Penguins, The Breech…
8. What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
I could only hope to be compared to someone like Vonnegut or O’Brien. I really try to make all the sentences in my NF interesting, but I don’t really worry about following a style. Fiction is a bit different. I have my heroes that I obviously steal from and a few of them are from this awesome city I live in: Palahnuik, and Yuknavitch. I also really dig Heller, DeLillo, Irving, et cetera.
9.Who or what inspired you to write this book?
Writing the Wax Bullet War saved my life. I was a wreck coming back from war and writing it out was the way to exorcise my demons. They all scurried from the tip of my pen and each keystroke. But honestly, I don’t know if inspiration truly is motivation for good writers. I believe if you wait around for inspiration you’re wasting time you could be using to write. Writing is more of a mania than an act for me.
10.What else about the book might pique the reader’s interest?
Wax Bullet War – violence, humanity, sex, war, and I puke and shit myself a number of times (This is non fiction).
The Road to Ruin- A desperate middle manager in a security company falls for a stripper by going with her to her alien abduction support group only to lose her. He tries to win her back by sinking into the Portland underground where he hangs out with the mentally ill, homeless, artists, and poets.
As for my NF short story collection: I’ll keep posting them as they get published here on my blog.
Part of this was to link to another writer so they can answer the same questions. I’ve decided to put a fork in the road and send it off to two writers. The first is Kase Johnstun. Kase and I went through grad school together at Pacific. He teaches writing at Kansas State University right now and his stories have appeared in crazy-awesome places like Creative Nonfiction Magazine, The Chronicle Review, and Prime Number Magazine. He is also a regular contributor for The Good Men Project. The second writer I’m linking to is John Barrios. John is a poet and musician here in Portland and currently a contributing editor for Nailed Magazine. He published two chapbooks for Norton Coker Press, wrote about music for Devil in the Woods Music Magazine, and has written for Small Doggies Online Journal.