“I Think More in Terms of Panels Than Reels”: An Interview With Troy James Weaver


Troy James Weaver writes taut, unsettling fiction. We ran an excerpt from his first book, Witchita Stories, last year, and Gabino Iglesias reviewed his first novel Visions in these pages as well. His latest novel Marigold is a haunting and precise novel about the troubled life of a man working in a flower shop. There, he ponders mortality and depression, engages in ostensibly redemptive acts that backfire, and seems in a perpetual state of internal conflict. It’s the latest installment in a very strong streak of memorable fiction. I talked with Weaver about the origins of this book, his preferred techniques for writing, and more.

In his introduction to Marigold, Michael Kazepis mentioned that this novel underwent some very serious revisions over the course of being written and edited. How does the final book differ from the original conception of it?

The fact is, he was fibbing a bit. We cut some things out, sure. But the original book is quite like the book is now. I just wanted to change the title, therefore the cover, etc., and in some ways ended up with a different book altogether due mostly and only to those two things. We had to make the story sound so much better than that, right?

Much like your earlier Witchita Stories, Marigold is written in very short sections. What appeals to you about this as a method of storytelling?

I don’t have a lot of time to write like I used to. I’m married, I work over full-time hours, and I have two chihuahuas and a nephew I have to feed. Lunch breaks have been my saving grace. I think having a short amount of time day to day coupled with the fact I wrote most of Witchita Stories and Marigold on order pads from work made me develop a strange episodic style of writing. It works for me. I think more in terms of panels than reels.

There are references to Breece D’J Pancake and Édouard Levé in Marigold. Do you see your novel as coming from a similar place to their work?

Yes, I would like to think so. Though I’m not going to kill myself anytime soon. I smoke a lot and drink Bud Light, I write. That’s enough for me. It’s a different kind of suicide.

You’ve had three books come out on three different presses since the beginning of 2015. Were all of them written in close proximity as well?

Visions and Witchita Stories were literally being written and revised simultaneously. Marigold began shortly after those two were finished and turned in.

How have your experiences working with King Shot, Broken River, and Future Tense differed from one another?

They’ve all been good. Not big differences, no. The one thing, is experience. Future Tense has the edge there. A little more organized, maybe? I don’t know. They’re all pretty much the same. Sometimes I have to ask one more questions, where the others have just laid it all on the table. Experience matters I think, so I’m not too critical.

In the playlist you assembled for Largehearted Boy, you mentioned that the original title for the book that became Marigold came from a Cap’n Jazz song. Do you often draw inspiration from music in this way?

Yeah, haha, I called it We Are All We’ve Done, which I now think is a terrible title for a book. Though I don’t know if Marigold is that much better. I lied to Jacob S. Knabb in a comment on Facebook, when he asked if Marigold was named after that rare Nirvana b-side, which I’m not even sure was an original song or not, because I was too embarrassed to admit I hadn’t gotten as far away from the music influences as I’d hoped. Now we know.

What’s next for you?

My wife is making me paint the house. A longer book, one with a different style, less panels and more reels.

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