Six Ridiculous Questions: Nicole McCarthy

Nicole McCarthy

The guiding principle of Six Ridiculous Questions is that life is filled with ridiculousness. And questions. That only by giving in to these truths may we hope to slip the surly bonds of reality and attain the higher consciousness we all crave. (Eh, not really, but it sounded good there for a minute.) It’s just. Who knows? The ridiculousness and question bits, I guess. Why six? Assonance, baby, assonance.

Tell me about your favorite book, film, painting, and/or album that doesn’t exist. You don’t have to be the (future, potential) creator though you could be. 

I want a horror novel that leaps from the page to experience it. I want some sections that are meant to be read, some that are through a tablet or phone, and some that can only be accessed on the television. I’m not talking a choose-your-own-adventure type experience either. I want the audience to be a more integral part of the book, while commenting on the audience’s presence and how it relates to the horror of the story. So, obviously, this would be easy to execute…

Those of us on the left (and, frankly also in the middle) are quite hacked off about the US Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision and what it implies for individual rights in America. What’s one right you’d like to take away from the sort of people who think Dobbs was a good idea, said people being everyone from Samuel Alito, Clarence Thomas, and Amy Coney Barrett to the average right-wing yokel dragging their knuckles through America’s ill-kept streets?

Their right to make decisions because they clearly don’t speak for what the majority of Americans want. Their right and privilege to float in these elite spaces without consequence, consuming the world just because they can. 

Say you’re a walrus, and you’re invited to an important dinner at your boss’ house, what would you wear? And what would you be telling yourself in the pre-dinner pep talk you would doubtless be giving yourself on your ice floe while waiting for your Lyft to show? Would there be specific rules you’d suggest be followed by yourself? (Yes, there would be rules…3 at least. Please be specific. In addition to the literal scores(!) of writers who intermittently peruse Six Ridiculous Questions, there are indeed many a walrii engaged in same.)

I simply wouldn’t go. I try to avoid having to appear at things outside working hours. Besides, if we’re dealing in the animal kingdom, I would rather be an octopus. Can I attend a fabulous party as an octopus instead? It would be a party that rained glitter down to the ocean floor and we would eat plentiful and smile as currency and I’d finally get to wear a fully tailored three-piece suit. 

You live in a grimdark version of our very reality. What would a day in your life look like? What percentage of your/our current reality would have to change to make this so?

We’re already here, aren’t we? The only difference is instead of eternal darkness we have constant sun setting us on fire. For as long as I can remember, I’ve been terrified knowing we can’t escape this planet no matter what happens, including an asteroid hitting and wiping us out. I’m in the Pacific Northwest and we’re currently dealing with an extended wildfire season. There are times I can’t leave my house because the smoke is unhealthy to breathe. I imagine though that the grimdark version of this is having to wear special pollution/smoke masks everywhere, not just seasonally, and building houses from stone. Art will be a luxury, not just in materials but time to dedicate to it, as most will be tied up in work they have to do to stay alive. It’ll be harder to farm, so people will try to establish their own farms at home but will be mercilessly taxed by the government or stopped by big business (which is already happening – some companies in the U.S. only sell one-time seeds so planters have to keep buying from the same company instead of having sustainable perennial seeds; some states have banned collecting rain water on your own property). It’s bleak, but we’re not far off. 

Obsidian toast: Please discuss.

I personally prefer meteorite toast, but to each their own. 

Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens

Bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens

Brown paper packages tied up with strings

These are a few of my favorite things…

Used books sections. Amtrak trains. Tiramisu. A forest of cedar and douglas fir. Haunted corn mazes. Haleakala. 


Nicole McCarthy is an experimental writer and artist based outside of Tacoma. Her work has appeared in PANK, The Offing, Redivider, Glass: a Journal of Poetry, A Best American Experimental Writing Anthology, and others. A Summoning is her first nonfiction collection, published by Heavy Feather Review. Find her at:

Kurt Baumeister has written for Salon, Electric Literature, Guernica, and others. His debut novel, a satirical thriller entitled Pax Americana, was published by Stalking Horse Press. He is currently at work on a novel, Twilight of the Gods. Find him on Facebook, Twitter, or at:

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