About a week ago, Cynthia Reeser, editor of Prick of the Spindle and publisher of Aqueous Books, contacted me about continuing a blog chain called “The Next Big Thing,” in which writers answer ten “interview” questions about their recent or forthcoming work, then tag 3-5 fellow writers to continue the chain on their own blogs. I’m excited to be able to participate, which you can follow back through Cynthia’s post or forward through the writers mentioned at the end of the post. Enjoy!
What is your working title of your book (or story)?
Consonant Sounds for Fish Songs
Where did the idea come from for the book?
The title Consonant Sounds for Fish Songs is actually something I was mulling over when I was taking a course on linguistics at UC Santa Cruz. I remember thinking about what consonant sounds fish could make, the sorts of music they would be capable of producing. Eventually, I narrowed it down to four, which didn’t really even have to do with fish:
- the b sound, which appears in “Fish Songs”
- the sh sound of waves on sand
- the m sound, like the murmur of water
- the w sound, which I thought, considering the shape of fish mouths, they could probably make, maybe
The collection was supposed to be divided up into four sections, each corresponding to one of these sounds, depending on the connections and connotations of each, but the more I wrote, the more I began to realize that there was no clear delineation between the themes of the stories or the BIG QUESTIONS the characters were dealing with. So I ditched the sections and the consonants that went with them, but the title remained. Because it is weird, and I like it.
What genre does your book fall under?
magical realism, surrealism, literary, experimental
Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
Jeffrey A. Whetstone: Seth Rogen
Gabe: Joseph Gordon-Levitt
Janine: Michelle Williams
“Down (Down Down)”
Marvin, the Unnamed Narrator: Ryan Gosling
Antonia: Emily Blunt
Marianne: Viola Davis
“Over and Over and Over”
CJ: Anton Yelchin
“To Keep Me Awake and Alive”
The Voice of Clyde: Steve Buscemi
You: Rachel Weisz
“The Wishing Fish”
The Narrator: Keri Russell
Helena: Summer Glau
The Frog Prince: Lee Pace
The Beast: Michael Fassbender
Wicked Witch: Tilda Swinton
What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
Consonant Sounds for Fish Songs is a collection of seventeen short stories about fish, music, death, god, and love.
Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
Consonant Sounds for Fish Songs has been released by Aqueous Books. It is available at Amazon.com.
How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
The oldest story in the collection is “The Flying Fish and the Frying Fish” (read it here online), which I began in Winter 2007 in a writing workshop at UC Santa Cruz. At the time, it was a monologue about a man who’d had a life-altering vision of himself standing on the edge of a “motherfucking behemoth of a pot.” In later revisions, that monologue got whittled down into the 113-word section it is today.
I finished the youngest story in the collection, “Over and Over and Over,” which is a story told entirely through postcards and other scraps of detritus, in Spring 2010. All told, I’d say the collection took me about three years to complete.
What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
In no particular order: The Elephant Vanishes by Haruki Murakami, Cosmicomics by Italo Calvino, Griffin and Sabine by Nick Bantock, with a little bit of House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski and some Jorge Luis Borges thrown in for good measure.
Who or what inspired you to write this book?
I write about the things that haunt me, about the questions that I cannot answer any other way except through fiction. Sometimes when I am writing I feel like I am trying to solve these overwhelming, ever-shifting puzzles of why I am and who you are and what we are doing here, and I get so lost inside these questions that the only way to get out again is to write myself an escape route, but because the questions are so big and complicated and twisted up, that the stories end up taking all these bizarre turns just to try to make sense of things. I’ll be grappling with something like How do you cope with the loneliness of being human? And then I’ll write the story, and the answer will be, You turn into a fish. Some other notable questions from the collection and their answers:
How do you communicate with God?
You turn the music up.
What do you do when you are faced with death?
You take to the road.
Is love stronger than death?
What else about your book might pique the reader's interest?
There are pictures!
Please check out the following writers, who will be posting their answers to the Next Big Thing in the upcoming week:
Diane Glazman gets up every day at 4am to write. Her dedication to the craft is incredible. She will be answering questions about her novel-in-progress, The Altar of Dead Pets, at thewritenote.blogspot.com.
Steve Stormoen writes the best and weirdest love stories. He will be posting about his novel-in-progress, Don’t Need No Water, or an upcoming serialized comic series at flightsongsforgroundmammals.wordpress.com.
Lois Keaney Smith is a long-lost friend, a fantastic humorist, and an intern at Why There Are Words. She will be posting at loiskeaneysmith.com.
Kelly Gilbert’s work inspired the story “Down (Down Down)”. Yes, she is that good. She will writing about the Next Big Thing at kellylgilbert.blogspot.com.