The Barn Interview: Zac Smith and Lindsay Lerman on Books and Blurbs and Backgrounds

Two book covers

Hello my name is Zac and I have a book up for pre-order from CLASH Books. About a month ago, like all authors trying to promote a new book via live readings, I started looking into 1) what cool cities I’ll be in/near in the coming months and 2) which cool friends or potential friends live in those cities. And I discovered that 1) I was planning on going to Richmond, VA for Thanksgiving this year and 2) Lindsay Lerman, whose debut novel I’m From Nowhere was just released by CLASH, lives in Richmond. Obviously what followed was a riveting tale of burgeoning friendship and authorial cross-promotion: we read each other’s books, we started planning a reading, Lindsay wrote a strikingly kind blurb for my book, I agreed to write a blurb for her book’s second run, and, of greatest benefit to you, the reader, we found ourselves in a conversation that could, given some more structure and copyediting, culminate in a nice, formal, literary interview. And well looky here, we got ourselves a nice, formal, literary interview. We got ourselves two authors in conversation, talking about things like books and philosophy and ecological disaster and MySpace.com. All the hits. Everything you could ask for.

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Joshua Chaplinsky on the Dizzying and Surreal Fiction In “Whispers in the Ear of a Dreaming Ape”

Joshua Chaplinsky

Joshua Chaplinsky‘s new collection, Whispers in the Ear of a Dreaming Ape, boasts one of the best titles I’ve seen in ages and a cover that suggests some lost cosmic horror classic. The stories contained within range in tone from surreal to horrific to satirical; it’s a terrific statement of purpose, and one that never lets the reader rest. I talked with Chaplinsky about the genesis of the book, the ways in which it came together, and what’s next for him.

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Six Ridiculous Questions: Sequoia Nagamatsu

Sequoia Nagamatsu

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.

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Philosophy, Horror, and Denial: Brian Evenson on Uncanny Fiction

Brian Evenson

Brian Evenson isn’t an author that fans of Cormac McCarthy, Stephen King, or Chuck Palahniuk typically know, but he certainly should be, as his work is every bit as apocalyptic, surprising, and haunting. For years, Evenson’s readers have been slipping copies of his books into the hands of friends, students, and family members. When travelling, I often keep a copy of Contagion (which Evenson graciously allowed my small press, Astrophil Press, to reprint) and drop it into neighborhood lending libraries, and I must admit that I find a little thrill in knowing that I’ve done my small part in introducing people to this pitch perfect collection of stories. I am not alone in this; many of Evenson’s readers border on evangelicals, spreading the dark word of Evenson. This enthusiasm for Evenson’s work is understandable considering his ability to publish tightly wrought, layered stories that often stick with us long after having read them. There are very few authors I can think of who have a catalog as strong as Evenson; his stories feel entirely new and each of his sentences feel entirely necessary. 

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Editing a New Wave of Uncanny Horror: An Interview with Daphne Durham of MCD Books

Horror novel covers

Recently, MCD Books has begun to establish itself as a home for some of today’s most memorable horror fiction. That’s bolstered by the recent publication of Rachel Eve Moulton’s Tinfoil Butterfly and the forthcoming publication of Andy Davidson’s The Boatman’s Daughter. To learn more about the press’s foray into horror, their aesthetic, and their future plans, I spoke with MCD Books Executive Editor Daphne Durham. Our conversation touched on everything from what constitutes literary horror to the legacies of bygone horror imprints, and includes some details of what you can expect from horror at MCD Books in the future.

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Hillary Leftwich on the Unruly Ghosts Haunting Her Work

Hillary Leftwich

Hillary Leftwich has a knack for titles. Her new collection has arguably the best one I’ve encountered this year: Ghosts Are Just Strangers Who Know How to Knock. In it, she combines surreal fiction, sharply-composed poetry, and taut nonfiction into an unpredictable and compelling whole. In addition to her book, she’s also the person behind the reading series At the Inkwell Denver; in other words, Leftwich is someone who can approach literature from many sides. I talked with her via email about the range of work in her collection, literary kindred spirits, and her handling of class.

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D. Harlan Wilson on the Literary Afterlife of Daniel Paul Schreber

D. Harlan Wilson

The Psychotic Dr. Schreber, the latest book from D. Harlan Wilson, is a nearly indescribable blend of unsettling fiction, historical rumination, and cultural criticism. It’s also an utterly gripping literary work, one that takes bold risks and makes incredible use of an unconventional structure. In revisiting the life of a man best-known for Sigmund Freud’s writing on his case, Wilson details the ways in which Schreber remains relevant today — and traces the way he’s left his mark on everything from medical history to popular culture. I talked with Wilson about the genesis of the book and its unexpected scope via email.

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The Unexpected Fun and Disquieting Worlds of Oliver Zarandi

Oliver Zarandi

Full disclosure: I blurbed Oliver Zarandi’s new collection Soft Fruit in the Sun, so I’m not exactly an impartial observer when it comes to his writing. But that’s not a bad thing: Zarandi is a writer worth championing, someone whose writing takes readers to wholly unexpected places and revels in bizarre yet familiar imagery. And so we talked about the making of his collection, the writers he admirers most, and what his take is on the current Premier League season.

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