On Violence

In the mind of Rob McClure Smith, a kiss and a punch may be one in the same, and either may suffice in tying the stories in his upcoming collection, The Violence, together.

The working title for the collection is The Violence. There are reasons for that, presumably.

I don’t think I have a particular style as a writer. Some of the stories are set in Europe, others in the United States; some are contemporary, others historical; some are realistic, others tinctured by magical-realism. I’m all over the shop. But there’s one thing I’ve been confident of: that my stories don’t have much at all to do with me. I’m an aficionado of Keats’ negative capability. I might be found nodding approvingly over T.S. Eliot’s musings about masks and impersonality. Yes, I’m that type of writer.

It’s safer so.

Arranging these stories into a group, I had to think about what made them cohere, and it was then someone pointed out how often my fiction is striated with violence. They didn’t say ‘Dude, you’re obsessed with violence, what’s with that? What’s the matter with you at all? Aren’t you quite the sick bastard?’

But I did detect a certain undertone.

Which makes me uneasy. I am not a violent person. Not really.

Honest.

Now, it’s pretty to think that this predilection for violence is a result of Freytag’s triangle: isn’t the climax to a rising action predisposed to be of a violent nature? The gloriously vicious Flannery O’Connor observed that violence was “strangely capable of returning my characters to reality and preparing them to accept their moment of grace.” I like that too. It suggests I am merely crafting little epiphanies of savage grace to represent another world’s blade-like intrusion into this one. See, I’m a religious writer and didn’t even notice. I was too busy bludgeoning my characters to death.

But such explanations are patently bullshit. And the truth is more uncomfortable.

(Which is the way with truth).

I was brought up in a council housing scheme in the West of Scotland where violence was as much part of the landscape as gray cement blocks of flats and Orange Walks and Buckfast wine bottles and Rangers versus Celtic. I remember being spat on by many Catholic kids on my way to school because my blazer was the wrong color for that part of town. I remember spitting on many Catholic kids for the same reason. On reflection, I’d have spat on Flannery O’Connor. That’s Glasgow for you: city of great expectorations. A river ran through it: an endless stream of whisky and lager and cheap wine. To grow up a schemie in the West of Scotland is to get your first whiff of alcohol leaving the womb. You breathe in violence from the cradle. It’s an atmosphere. It’s the atmosphere. It’s all that and more.

And to be a child living there is to be afraid so often of so many things.

So I must admit: my fiction is autobiographical, no matter where it takes place, no matter the gender of the characters, no matter how much their creator lives in a state of denial. There’s a reason narratives linger on the instant before violence erupts, on tension strung like burning cordite. There’s a reason the violence comes finally as release, as necessary relief. I remember that tension and how silence fed upon it, how it cut you to the bone while time flowed on treacle-slow and heavy.

And so, I suppose, The Violence. Well, at least for now. Who knows, maybe I’ll slash that apart later. I’ve already torn out some of my best stories because they didn’t gel. The one in Gettysburg Review I liked? Rip. Those drunken ladettes in Hawaii from Barcelona Review? Cut. The goofy one that got the Scotsman award? Slash (and burn).

I still see the scars in the corpus from the excision. Putting together a collection of stories is an act of violence too, a task Dr. Frankenstein would envy.

I do believe I even began writing fiction, seriously, as an act of violence. It began with an argument in a corridor. The kind of argument that happens in corridors, people on their way other places. Our dispute was about something academic and inconsequential and petty and trivial, and the other party said dismissively, with a weary sigh, ‘Well, you don’t understand, Rob, because you’re just not a creative person.

It was quite the kiss-off.

I wrote the draft of my first story that night to prove a point: Look, here is evidence that I am a creative person and how very wrong you were: Look on my works, you flighty, and despair, and consider in detail all the other things you are wrong about.

It was such a Scottish thing to do. Subtext: Ah’m gonnae stick it tae you, hen.

But when I began publishing the stories a few years later, that person was long gone, to a better place (Pittsburgh, not heaven), and I was left with a pile of angry stories and a smoldering heap of self-righteousness. (Sheryl, it’s true I swear, and if you ever read this know you were violent inspiration to me, a Beatrice from Louisiana).

The Violence? I’m having second thoughts now. I’m not sure about that title at all. It’s too in the face. Ideally, a title should be inviting, a welcoming peck on the cheek, and this is a Glasgow kiss, a right smacker.

But it’s not like I can keep beating myself up about it.

Our Thanksgiving Anti-Tribute

We at Queen’s Ferry Press decided to break with tradition this year and offer up thanks for the spines of books we will never again have to crack. Check back daily for the bad, the boring, and the banal.

Up first is Erin McKnight:

In a former life I was a military spouse, which is how I came across my never-again book. (Trust me, we would otherwise never have crossed paths.) The Platoon Sergeant declared that every Marine would read a mandated book every month. And then talk together about that book, casually. Fearing a promotion hung in the balance—and appreciating how quickly I could get through a book, any book I then assumed—I agreed to the read and the inherent cheat notes I would pass along for discussion day. The book was slim, but heavy-going. Ironic, given the nature of its topic: how much is carried into battle and what the optimum weight of a load should be to sustain but not slow down a soldier. I’m sure you’re interested: it is no more than 40 pounds.  My husband wasn’t called on to answer any questions that day; in fact, the monthly “book club” never again took place…yet I carry the book with me to this day.

Michael Evans

During my first year of college my English professor dedicated the second half of the course to an autobiography. The book was about a woman from China who moved to Illinois with her family when she was young and struggled to acclimatize to American society. At first the book was interesting because the author talked about life in China; I loved how she set the scene, everything positive and optimistic. Once she and her family moved to the U.S., however, everything changed. She lived with her relatives, conditions difficult. Her parents seemed abusive and authoritative, seeking to restrain their children from American culture. The author actually visited and taught my class for a week, and she confirmed how crazy her parents were; she acknowledged that they had cast her out for writing the book. There were a few moments of hope in some of the chapters, but this was the most depressing book I’ve ever read.

Brian Mihok

It was maybe the worst book I’d read, though there were two very bad books I read around the same time and these rivaled each other, so, there’s that. I believe it was published in the ’70s. I remember absolutely no details about the book other than its cover, which was kind of a cool art deco style. But of the writing I remember no characters and no part of the story or setting. I think there’s a woman. And a man. And they interact. Maybe there’s a ship. Mostly I remember that it was excruciating, and this is coming from a pretty forgiving reader. Once I was done with the book, which had been assigned to me by the way, I promptly purged it from the memory banks like Cumberbatch’s Sherlock Holmes making room for something more important in his mind palace.

Kevin Wehmueller

The book I’m thankful I never have to read again isn’t the worst book I’ve ever read. It’s not even a bad book. But sometimes a book—good or bad—contains a character whom you just want to shake by the shoulders until they foam at the mouth. And then that impulse is snatched away the moment the character in question does just that to a ten year-old kid guilty of little more than being creepy as far as ten year-olds go.  I’m thankful I never again have to watch the Governess blunder from specter to specter. I’m thankful I never again have to wonder at the purposeful ambiguity of Miles’ last words. I’m thankful I never again have to guess what the effect of two children really was, because who really knows where the hell Flora is when all this goes down? Never again.

Finally, Melissa Schoeffel:

After I read it, I was so angry for so long (with the book, not with my mother) that it became a kind of running joke.  I would blurt out, at various moments—and otherwise unwarranted by the particular situation we were in—exclamations of disgust at the sheer perfidy of this book, which tells the story of a young woman recovering from a traumatic event—an attack.  What the reader thinks she is reading is the story of a long and painful psychological recovery, one that veers down unconventional (obsessive) paths that provide necessary confrontations with the past, and which allow our main character to slowly regain a sense of wholeness that had been taken away by the violence she experienced.

The punchline to this joke on me?  She’s just crazy.  You know, like women are.  This is not a story of recovery.  Just hallucination.  An entire book of hysterical hallucination, built, no less, in conversation with a classic American novel.

Reader, I was offended on every level.  Which provided my mother and me with several days of mild amusement, as I tried to come up with increasingly colorful and detailed ways to describe my sputtering rage at this horrible book.

It’s been years since, but this Thanksgiving, I’ll remember to be thankful for the mother-daughter bonding time that a bad book can provide.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Author Greg Gerke Joins Forthcoming Queen’s Ferry Press Authors

Greg Gerke partners with Queen’s Ferry Press to complete the 2015 list of forthcoming titles and authors.

Plano, TX—November 19, 2014 Queen’s Ferry Press, an independent publisher providing a venue for fine literary fiction, announced it will publish a new book by author Greg Gerke titled My Brooklyn Writer Friend. It will release September 8th, 2015.

“I’m very excited to be publishing the collection of stories with Queen’s Ferry Press,” said Gerke. “They represent some of the best fiction writers at work today.”

About the Author:

Greg Gerke
Greg Gerke

Greg Gerke’s fiction and non-fiction has appeared in Tin HouseThe Kenyon Review OnlineDenver QuarterlyQuarterly WestMississippi ReviewLITFilm Quarterly, and others. He lives in Brooklyn. His website is www.greggerke.com.

Founded in 2011 as an independent publisher, Queen’s Ferry Press specializes in literary fiction. The press currently releases 6–12 titles a year, many from debut authors, and is the publisher of Shadows of Men, the 2013 recipient of the TIL Steven Turner Award for Best Work of First Fiction. For book updates please contact Kevin Wehmueller, Marketing & Publicity of Queen’s Ferry Press, or visit www.queensferrypress.com.

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Media Contact: Kevin Wehmueller, Marketing & Publicity

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The Best Small Fictions of 2015, Edited by Tara L. Masih and Guest Edited by Robert Olen Butler

Queen’s Ferry Press set to release a new anthology of the best short hybrid fiction in October, 2015.

Plano, TX, November 17, 2014—Queen’s Ferry Press is pleased to announce the debut of the first contemporary anthology to compile the best short hybrid fiction in a calendar year. To date, there is no annual print recognition of the best examples of this exciting new work appearing in literary journals and story collections from throughout the world. With this new annual, we seek to promote the seasoned writer as well as the new writer in a compilation that will reveal the depth of literary fiction and highlight historical trends as they occur due to world events and human considerations. The Best Small Fictions is a brief, affordable, yet powerful reader that will supplement instructors’ current classroom anthologies and texts and will offer writers and readers examples of what their contemporaries are achieving worldwide.

Notifications will be made in late spring, ahead of an October 2015 release date.

The press is proud to announce award-winning editor Tara L. Masih as Series Editor and Pulitzer Prize–winning author Robert Olen Butler as this year’s Guest Editor.

Interested editors should download the full nomination guidelines.

About the Editors:

Tara L. Masih
Tara L. Masih, Photo Credit: Michael Gilligan

Tara L. Masih has won multiple book awards as editor of The Rose Metal Press Field Guide to Writing Flash Fiction and The Chalk Circle: Intercultural Prizewinning Essays. Where the Dog Star Never Glows: Stories was a National Best Books Award finalist. Her flash has been anthologized in Word of Mouth, Brevity & Echo, BITE, and Flash Fiction Funny; was featured in Fiction Writer’s Review for National Short Story Month; and was a finalist for the Reynolds Price Prize in Fiction. Awards for her work include first place in The Ledge Magazine’s fiction contest and Pushcart Prize, Best New American Voices, and Best of the Web nominations. www.taramasih.com

Robert Olen Butler
Robert Olen Butler, Photo Credit: Kelly Lee Butler

Robert Olen Butler has published sixteen novels and six volumes of short stories, one of which, A Good Scent from a Strange Mountain, won the 1993 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, and three of which—Severence,Intercourse, and Weegee Stories—are comprised entirely of small fictions (225 in all). He has also published a volume of his lectures on the creative process, From Where You Dream. He was the 2013 recipient of the F. Scott Fitzgerald Award for Outstanding Achievement in American Literature. He teaches creative writing at Florida State University in Tallahassee, Florida.

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Media Contact: Kevin Wehmueller, Marketing & Publicity

kwehmueller@queensferrypress.com

Queen’s Ferry Press Nominates 2014 Titles For Pushcart Prize

Pushcart_nominees

Plano, TX–November 12, 2014 Queen’s Ferry Press has announced its nominees for the prestigious Pushcart Prize. The nominations include short stories and excerpts from six works published in 2014: “Church Van,” by Aaron Burch, originally appearing in his collection, Backswing; “Part One: Dreaming,” by Jennifer Pieroni, from her novella Danceland; “Torture Tree,” by Bayard Godsave, the title story of his most recent collection; “Blood, Hunger, Child,” by Heather Fowler, from her collection Elegantly Naked In My Sexy Mental Illness; “The Keeper of Lamps,” by Ajay Vishwanathan, from his collection From a Tilted Pail, published by firthFORTH Books, an imprint of Queen’s Ferry Press; and “Columbus Discovers Asia,” by Phong Nguyen, from his collection Pages from the Textbook of Alternate History.

Each year since 1976, editors of The Pushcart Prize have welcomed up to six nominations from little magazine and small book press editors from around the world. The nominations may be any combination of poetry, short stories, essays, memoirs, or stand-alone excerpts from novels. Nominations are accepted between October and December for the following year’s Pushcart edition. Visit www.pushcartprize.com for more information.

Founded in 2011 as an independent publisher, Queen’s Ferry Press specializes in literary fiction. The press currently releases 6–12 titles a year, many from debut authors, and is the publisher of Shadows of Men, the 2013 recipient of the TIL Steven Turner Award for Best Work of First Fiction. For Pushcart Prize updates please contact Kevin Wehmueller, Marketing & Publicity of Queen’s Ferry Press, or visit www.queensferrypress.com.

‘Monstirs’ and Flash: Helen McClory writes this week’s QFP blog

‘What is a monster?’ asks Helen McClory. Her forthcoming collection, On The Edges Of Vision, may help you answer that question for yourself.

On the Edges of Vision began life as Monstirs, a tidal wave of a collection started in the beginning of April and finished, for the most part, by the beginning of June. Two stories were older: “Boy Cyclops” and “Pretty Dead Girl Takes a Break.” These I wrote years apart, when I was still at work on a short novel. It took me a while to realise that I’d found in them a theme I could explore further. I’ve always been drawn to narratives of the supernatural, the intersection of humanity and monstrousness. ‘All monsters are human’ says Sister Jude in American Horror Story: Asylum, repeating a truism that’s nevertheless a repellent little koan of a thought we generally jam to the back of our minds like a wad of gum.

I had just finished watching a TV show, Hannibal, all gloriously gruesome, psychologically rich and full of vignettes in the form of moments of instability, and of course the fantastical death tableaux. Hannibal poses the question, what is a monster? and answers it with transformations, film history, churned-up Catholicism. I realised with “Boy Cyclops”(published in Smokelong Quarterly), a story about a friendship with a fantastical creature who may be nothing more than an ordinary man, that I was asking the same thing. What is a monster? In what ways are others read as monstrous? Given that we cannot know who a stranger is, or even who we are, all we have is external or legend. How we tell ourselves into what we see. Or the ways we don’t, which is where “Pretty Dead Girl Takes a Break” steps in. The corpse of a beautiful woman proliferates to the point where we expect one in every crime drama. A horribly normalised visual trope, a monstrous assumption forged by misogyny.

All monsters represent some fear, some disgust, bafflement: we are worried by our bodies, by the possibilities of other bodies. We worry about the fluidity of our identities and our flesh. We’re all sliding around trying to find our balance, and at the same time watching what the other dancers on the floor are doing.  That’s why I chose the title Monstirs, at first. My way of pronouncing the word monsters, to put the word as-I-say-it in your head. To leap across that membrane. But On the Edges of Vision, suggested by the publisher and a portion of a line from ‘Boy Cyclops’ and performs the same trick—sidling up to you, turning your head, asking you to look at the periphery, where two eyes become cycloptic, where they split apart. It’s asking you to see both the fuzzy and shadowed, and the sharp and sunlight—to see that the quotidian and the monstrous are at once in the same place.

Once I had the desire to write a collection set in this uncanny Venn, the momentum pushed me ahead. In about a month and a half, I wrote about forty-three pieces, one after the other, each hovering around the thousand word or under mark, with a few stragglers going long. I took out four or five fairly quickly, and the rest I ran by my husband, D, who suggested I throw another two. Unlike most of my other projects, I wasn’t thrown into agonies of choice. Cutting down seemed like the natural thing to be doing, given each word in each story has to be carefully weighed and each at any moment is susceptible to ditching. The arrangement of the whole was based on trying to compliment the themes and styles. If a story was in third person, I wanted it to be next to one in first, or second. If it was about a dead person in some way brought back into animation, I wanted it to be near a story that was full of life. The pared-down collection I sent out to a small number of likely looking places, and it was this version that Queen’s Ferry Press kindly took up. When submitting the full manuscript to them I added an extra two flash, written a few weeks before, and inspired by a trip in June to the holy isle of Iona and the strange black cave-dominated island of Staffa. Thin places both.

I approached QFP initially because I knew they’d published Aaron Burch, the editor of one of my favourite literary journals, Hobart, and another of my favourite presses, Short Flight, Long Drive. His Backswing looked great, though I wondered if my style, miles away from Hobart’s house style of impossible American coolness, would appeal to QFP. Then I saw that QFP was inspired by a bit of the world that was less than a handful of miles from where I was living. The Firth of Forth—the estuary of the River Forth—has been a place of crossings and re-crossings for over a thousand years. I myself had crossed the firth countless times travelling between university in Fife and the city of Edinburgh, over the iron-red bridge that links the twin settlements of North Queensferry and South.

The fact that QFP took its name from this iconic point of connection eased my fears of the work being misunderstood. Place is important to my writing, and though I’ve lived in and write stories set in America and in Australia, I’m a writer with a Scottish accent. There are Scotland-based stories throughout this collection and a smattering of Scottish words and turns of phrase. The collection was rejected by only one other publisher, also America-based, who shall go unnamed. In their critique they cited poor spelling and general ‘sloppiness’ of the manuscript. When I went back to check, there were perhaps three misspelled words, so I can only conclude either they were very rigorous, or that pinch of Scots dialect had really thrown them. But language is a bridge, and I think readers enjoy walking out to catch the view. So far, QFP has proved to be everything I could hope for from a publisher—understanding, open, and direct. Living up to their name.

Why write flash fiction, low-count short story, veering into prose poetry? Well, because I love reading flash, love the sharpness, the unsettling power of the fragment. The excellence of Anne Carson, Casey Hannan, Kathy Fish, Tania Hershman—and there are more writers I’m finding. A boon of them, writing in a form that’s perfectly suited to the constraints and eye strain of the internet. That attempts to charge the language up and then folds it small, handing it to the reader where it will discharge like an opened missive of tiny lightening.

To date, stories from the collection have appeared in nine literary journals, with one of the very shortest pieces, “Lope,” shortlisted for the Bristol Flash Fiction Prize this year. I took part in FlashFlood, the UK’s National Flash Fiction Day deluge of flash with an appropriately waterlogged story, “The Drowned Sailors,” about longing and its twin, loss. I hope that for the reader of On the Edges of Vision, the flash form calls to mind island territories, the pockets of night that lurk in old houses and the bottom of the sea, the changing look in the eye of a stranger, the charged stage sets of the motel, the diner, the car, the family home. I hope that they read this collection, then take to the book shops looking for more, and that we meet there among the stacks, there to exchange To-Be-Read Lists as long as our shadows dancing behind us.

by Helen McClory

From Sarah Van Arsdale—Author of Grand Isle, Blue, and Toward Amnesia—Comes a New Book

Sarah Van Arsdale partners with Queen’s Ferry Press for the follow-up to her 2012 novel, Grand Isle. Van Arsdale’s next title, releasing in 2016, will contain two novellas and a short story.

Plano, TX—November 3, 2014 Queen’s Ferry Press, an independent publisher of fine literary fiction, announces it will publish a new book by award-winning New York novelist, Sarah Van Arsdale. The book, currently untitled, will contain a pair of novellas and a short story. It will release April 19, 2016.

“I am thrilled to publish the work of Sarah Van Arsdale,” says Founding Editor & Publisher of Queen’s Ferry Press, Erin McKnight, “not only due to her reputation as a writer of fine literary fiction, but because this particular title epitomizes the Queen’s Ferry aim of producing books that deviate in shape or form; two novellas and a short story isn’t conventional, and I trust that the reader response will be equally exceptional.”

(11/7/2014 EDIT) Sarah Van Arsdale had the following to say about her book and joining Queen’s Ferry Press:

“I’m very happy to have found Queen’s Ferry, and that Erin has such enthusiasm for my work, and for novellas in general. The novella is such a precise, contained form, in which the writer can stretch out further from the constraints of a short story but still feels the need to clip the story back to its essentials. Increasingly, it’s in small presses like Queen’s Ferry that I find hope for the future of literary fiction.”

She went on to describe the pieces of her book as all involving characters who are traveling. The characters, while their lives may be quite different from her own, have the same, universal conflicts: envy, greed, the complications of family, and longing for that which is unobtainable.

About the Author:

Sarah Van Arsdale’s third novel, Grand Isle, was published by SUNY Press in 2012. Her second, Blue, winner of the 2002 Peter Taylor Prize for the Novel, was published by the University of Tennessee Press in 2003, and her first, Toward Amnesia, was published in 1996 by Riverhead Books. Her poetry, book reviews, interviews and essays have appeared in national publications, including Guernica, Passages North, Fiction Writers Review, Bookslut, Episodic, and Oxford Magazine. She holds an MFA in Poetry from Vermont College, and teaches in the Whidbey The Whidbey Writers Workshop Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing Program and at NYU; she serves on the board of the Ferro-Grumley Award in Fiction and curates BLOOM: The Reading Series at Hudson View Gardens in New York City.

Founded in 2011 as an independent publisher, Queen’s Ferry Press specializes in literary fiction. The press currently releases 6-12 titles a year, many from debut authors, and is the publisher of Shadows of Men, the 2013 recipient of the TIL Steven Turner Award for Best Work of First Fiction. For book updates please contact Kevin Wehmueller, Marketing & Publicity of Queen’s Ferry Press, or visit www.queensferrypress.com

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Media Contact: Kevin Wehmueller, Marketing & Publicity

kwehmueller@queensferrypress.com

Since the Sea Blob

In this week’s blog post, Theodore Carter tests the efficacy of street art in book marketing.

In 2012, Queen’s Ferry Press published my quirky collections of stories, The Life Story of a Chilean Sea Blob and Other Matters of Importance. Afterward, I waited for my Amazon sales rank to skyrocket and for New York literary agents to beg for my next manuscript. That didn’t happen.

Friends, family, and fellow writers offered much-appreciated support and congratulations. Beyond that, I found it hard to get others to take notice. It was almost as if the mass public had stopped caring about debut fiction collections from small presses!

I needed to get the word out. Unfortunately, I’m not particularly good at schmoozing (which is partly why I write stories in my basement in the first place). Also, I didn’t have much of an advertising budget.

After some thinking, I realized street artists are brilliant at generating attention without paying for advertising space. I made sea blobs and placed them around the city. With a small investment in plaster, I got press coverage from several local outlets and blogs. People posted pictures on Facebook and Twitter.

seablob1 seablob2

The greatest thing about the blobs was the public’s reaction to them. Static pictures don’t do them justice. If you watch a stream of important, well-dressed DC pedestrians stroll by a row of plaster sea blobs, only one or two will notice the menacing artwork. Of course, these are the astute and enlightened people. I heard from some of them over social media. They were art students, roller derby enthusiasts, thespians, and other creative people. I was finding my audience. They were misfits and weirdos, and I loved them without ever meeting them.

I wanted to make more street art, and I wanted to get the public’s reaction on video. I created a life-sized tape sculpture of a woman reading my book and put it in Dupont Circle, the heart of downtown Washington, DC.

My Amazon ranking still didn’t skyrocket, but the reaction to my work was immediate, obvious, and rewarding.

The street art projects changed the way I looked at the space around Washington, DC. I couldn’t help but imagine new projects. Without the guise of book promotion, and with a deep hatred of ugly traffic boxes, I did this with my son. We made the local news.

robot1

A year later, that traffic box still stood there. I enlisted my kids again. We made the traffic box into the Empire State Building, then called the same TV reporter.

DC News FOX 5 DC WTTG

As the video, and all my street art has shown, my city is divided between those who are amused by what I’m doing and those who either don’t notice or don’t care (There may be other dividing issues as well.)

Though my city may be a bit stuffy, there are plenty of weirdos walking among the high-powered K Street lawyers. I started interviewing them for my blog. I interviewed a self-taught local artist who is now exhibiting all over the world. I wrote about a burlesque troupe that puts on a nude literary reading series.

My interests took me outside DC too, and I sought out the students that had co-written a novel with Ken Kesey in 1990. I interviewed them about writing with an American master. That project took nearly a year, but I learned a lot and got back everything I put into it.

Of course, all along, I’ve been writing fiction. I’m churning out stuff that is stylistically different than my first book, but similar in that it will have appeal to the oddest segment of the population, the kind of people who stop to look at ceramic sea blobs by the side of the road.

I’ve got a novel ready. It’s a fictional account of the 2004 theft of Edvard Munch’s The Scream. It’s pretty good and says something about art and our reaction to it. My novel won’t be for everyone, but it may be for you if you are a burlesque dancer, artist, badass roller derby skater, musician, or a dabbler of most any sort. Also, you can bet when I publish it, you’ll see The Scream image all over the streets of Washington, DC.

I like to fantasize about a future book release party with all of these odd and exciting people in attendance. You’re there too. You have a new piercing, a streak of purple in your hair, and paint stains on your jeans. You came late because you were jamming with your ukulele on your front porch. We’re going to get along swell.

If you’re strange enough to want a sea blob drawing in your mailbox, go here.