1.) You have your debut novel, “Forest Life”, out for a few months now, it seems to be doing quite well from what I hear. So, is this the reaction you were expecting with the release of your first novel? And do we have more things to look forward to related to “Forest Life”?
Forest Life is a stand alone story. I’m very pleased that it’s been so well received. Honestly, I wasn’t sure what to expect when it was released. I’m viewing it as a kind of stepping stone and learning experience. There are several things I did with this project that I’ll never repeat. But I’m happy to have learned from it, and I’m happy with the story. When the time is right, I’d like to release a revised hardcover edition with a lovely variant cover. I’ll be pleased when I can do that.
2.) Speaking of “Forest Life”, what inspired you to write it? Did you wake up one day and thought to yourself, “I think I will write a novel about a guy trying to kill himself”?
I started writing it when I was staying in a cabin down on Kentucky Lake. At the time, I was living with my friends in Kansas City. I was also touring with some friends who play in a punk band. Every few weeks I’d just hit the road by myself and wander through North America, I’d often head to Paris and rent a lakeside cabin out in the woods. I didn’t know that I wanted to be a writer at the time. In fact, I was deliberating on suicide for a long while, and I’d convinced myself that I should do it at the cabin where none of my friends would find me. It took a while for me to get my head straight and my problems resolved, but I started writing seriously in KC. Things are getting better, and I’m working on a lot of fun projects. I’m very fortunate.
3.) People who know you know that you are a bit of a comic fan. If you got a chance to make a comic, would you take it? Do you have a superhero you’d like to write for or would you create an original?
I can’t say much about it, but the project I’m working on now features an antihero that I’ve created, and it’s really fun to write. It’s a much needed break from the seriousness of Forest Life. Ideally, if I could write any hero out in the comic world right now, I’d love to write Daredevil, or maybe Constantine. The Bendis and Brubaker arcs of Daredevil are what really sold me on comics, and I just love the medium so much. My favorite story in that medium is probably Y: The Last Man by Brian K. Vaughan. His new series, Saga, is my favorite series that I’m currently reading. Although, Buffy The Vampire Slayer Season 8 is really great too. Really though, I’d love to write Daredevil or Cap. I’m a Marvel guy.
4.) Going back to “Forest Life”, have you given any thought to expanding on what you’ve already started with those characters? Maybe a sequel or a spinoff?
No, it’s a standalone story. When I’m allowed to do it, I’m going to release a revised edition in hardcover, like I mentioned earlier.
5.) During the process of writing “Forest”, what kept the creative juices going for you? Did you listen to any albums, watch any movies, read any books, or anything of that nature?
Actually, I mostly tried to relax and give my head a rest by watching comedies and reading comic books. The last stint of the writing process took place in Portland, Oregon, so I would hang out with friends, throw darts and drink beer. I tried to find God in Portland, and that didn’t really work out. As far as albums go, I listened to a lot of Mountain Goats like I always do. I also enjoyed Into The Wild. People were telling me to watch it for years because it reminded them of me, but I ignored it for that reason. I’m sad I was so late to the party. I read a lot of great books when I was writing Forest Life. I enjoyed The Stranger by Albert Camus, and I loved Nausea by Jean Paul Sartre. I knocked out a few Vonnegut books too. I really got into Toni Morrison as well.
6.) Before you did your novel, you were known for your ‘zines’ and other publications. Any plans on expanding on stories started there or maybe drawing upon them for inspiration on other works?
After I finish my current project, I’d like to return to what I began with Travel Logs, and I’d like to write a novel about that period of my life. Travel Logs was an incredibly sloppy, apathetic disaster, but it has aesthetic value to me, and probably only me. I’ve been revisiting my travels, and writing out entries of the landmark moments in my life during that time. I’ll probably address what sent me on my way into that suffering and nomadic period as well. Hopefully, anyway, I’ve never been able to talk about it.
7.) Some authors like to envision their work being turned into a movie. If your novel did and they gave you creative control, who would you cast and who would you put at the helm? Any soundtrack suggestions?
This is tough to answer because it’s been played out in my head for so long. I’d consider maybe letting Stephen Chbosky give is a shot. He just adapted his own book, The Perks of Being a Wallflower. I really loved that film because of how well he used silence in crucial moments, and it did have a great soundtrack. I think Emile Hersch would make a good Emmett based on his performance in Into The Wild. Joseph Gordon Levitt would be good too. He looks young enough, and he’s a great actor. Robin Williams could make a good Jack based on his performance in Good Will Hunting. I don’t know who could play Maraye. It would have to be someone gentle. Maybe Rooney Mara or Emma Watson? I really don’t know. That’s why I’m a writer and not in Hollywood.
8.) There hasn’t been many book related appearances by you so far, are there any plans to do any, maybe a book tour?
Yes, 2013 will be the year of blast off, as far as that’s concerned. I was ill for a long while and I had a major surgery that nearly did me in, but I’m recovered and working on new projects that will require me to be back on the road. Anthony Mathenia and I will be at comic conventions and other events all year. I’m looking forward to it. I have some local readings and signings coming up this month as well.
9.) You are a man who takes pride in his literary swagger, aka “prose”, what made you so interested in perfecting that art?
I’ve been in love with reading all my life, but Kurt Vonnegut is the reason I fell in love with writing. When I began writing Forest Life, I felt as though I was healing myself. I haven’t stopped since and I don’t plan on it. It’s just my passion, and I love reading good prose, and I love reading beautiful stories. I read Hemingway and McCarthy and it feels like their sentences are seducing me. I know that’s a weird thing to say, but the first time I read Old Man and The Sea, it changed my life. It was the first time I realized the power of a meaningful story. Good books aren’t usually easy to read. It takes a lot of work, but the payoff is so much more rewarding than reading commercial lit, in my opinion.
10.) Last question, do you have any parting words of wisdom to share?
Eat good food, laugh with your friends, and do things that make your soul grow. Oh, and make time to be alone in the quiet. It’s good for you.