The lovely and talented Clifford Garstang invited me to participate in this blog tour. He wrote a book called What the Zhang Boys Know, which is loved by many folks. His work has appeared in Bellevue Literary Review, Blackbird, Virginia Quarterly Review, Shenandoah, and elsewhere, and has received Distinguished Mention in the Best American Series. He won the 2006 Confluence Fiction Prize and the 2007 GSU Review Fiction Prize. He has received fellowships from the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts and the Sewanee Writer's Conference.
So, let’s go:
1) What are you working on?
Right now, I’m researching southwest Arkansas in the 1930s. You’ve got a great many things coming together at that time, when the country was taking quite a turn, particularly for the rural folks pummeled by the Great Depression. I’m interested in how this hit people. Tenant farming. Lynchings. Roosevelt’s First Hundred Days. Bonnie and Clyde in Waldo, Arkansas. The Bonus Army. Ax murders. Baseball. Radio. A thousand other things. What a time to read about.
2) How does your work differ from others of its genre?
What a weird question. “Its genre” means that my writing is part of a group, yeah? So how does my writing not fit in with the work it fits in with? Huh. I dunno. I try to deal honestly and sympathetically with the people in my writing, but who wouldn’t say that? If the genre is “rural noir,” then I guess what I do is more noiry? I write the stories only I can write, of course. My voice, whatever the hell that is, a thing peculiar to me. And, believe me, “peculiar” is the right word.
3) Why do you write what you do?
I tried writing other stuff. I wasn’t very good at it. I enjoy this stuff that I’m writing, and people seem to want to read it. I like to work within a world with these fragments I get to piece together.
4) How does your writing process work?
Slowly. Lemme tell ya. Slower than that sweatpantsed guy in front of you at the Golden Corral dessert bar.
I scrawl notes about a thing. I read non-fiction about a place. I kick around ideas about some people. I have faith that it comes together at some point. Always has. I spend a great deal of time working out the people in the writing, jotting down a couple of folks talking to each other, this nasty conflict right at the edge.
I’ve invited some folks to take a shot at these questions the last week of April.
Holly West’s MISTRESS OF FORTUNE was a surprise favorite of mine when I read it a while back. She’s the author of the Mistress of Fortune series, set in late 17th century London and featuring amateur sleuth Isabel Wilde, a mistress to King Charles II who secretly makes her living as a fortuneteller. Holly’s short stories also appear in Feeding Kate: A Crime Fiction Anthology, Needle: A Magazine of Noir and Shotgun Honey Presents: Both Barrels. I figure she’ll post at DoSomeDamage.com
Lein Shory and I went through LSU’s MFA program together. He’s working on two amazing novels, which I hope you’ll get to read soon. Shoryland.com
Chad Rohrbacher was also in the MFA program with Shory and me. His novel, KARMA BACKLASH, is out from Snubnose Press. His stories have been published in magazines like Crime Factory, Needle Magazine, Big Pulp, Beat to a Pulp, and others. He’s also contributed to anthologies such as CHIVALRY IS DEAD from May/December Publications, OFF THE RECORD from Guilty Conscience, HEROES & HERETICS from Pulp Empire, and LOST CHILDREN a charity anthology. ChadRohrbacher.com
PS: I did a talking thing on the radio. It'll be here: WMRA