Smash Lits with Kelly Griffiths

We published a powerful piece of creative non-fiction at the Forge last week – The Boots by Kelly Griffiths – which I urge you all to read. Kelly kindly agreed to take part in one of my daft interviews.

1. What was the last text you sent?

“Thank you, Gabe. You saved the day.” (My 13-year-old turned off the water to our leaking refrigerator while we were on a weekend away.)

2. You are wallpaper. What is your pattern?

If Jackson Pollock made wallpaper…

3. Who would play you in the film of your piece?

That’s easy. My piece is cnf. I’m the angry one.

4. Bacon VS Tofu – who wins? Why?

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Bacon, even though I’m not generally a fan of pig. Come up with a salty, crunchy, grease saturated tofu, and I’ll change my answer.

5. Have you ever been attacked by an animal?

A poodle. I still have the scar. But in fairness, I provoked it.

6. What is the oldest piece of clothing in your wardrobe?

Everything. I’m a thrift store hunter, so it’s impossible to tell.

7. Have you ever seen a ghost?

No, but I think one steals our socks.

8. If you could make people read one book what would it be?

The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis

9. What is your favourite thing to write with?

My laptop.

10. Do you have a recurring dream?

Only the one in which I am on the New York Times Best Seller list.

11. What did you do last Saturday night?

My husband and I walked our dog, then watched a movie with our day-saving son (see #1).

12. What sandwiches would you make for a picnic with Zadie Smith?

Garlic-goat cheese, roasted red peppers, and balsamic dressing on Italian bread.

13. What word makes you cringe?

The f-word.

14. What’s your favourite swear?

The f-word.

15. What is your favourite biscuit?

Do you mean cookie? Because my favorite cookie is chocolate.

16. What is your favourite TV programme?

I don’t watch TV, but I love movies. The Impossible (2012)

17. Your writing is music, what style is it?

On my best day: symphonic metal.

18. What colour is loneliness?

White.

19. Who is your writer crush?

Stephen King.

20. What question should I have asked you?

You should have asked what I’m doing this Friday. It’s far more interesting. And macabre. Between my acceptance at The Forge and my receipt of this fabulous and quirky list of questions (which I loved!), I received word I have a growing brain tumor. By the time this is published I will have had my skull cut open. I pray for a good outcome and look forward to reading this on the other side.

I am so glad to be able to write here that Kelly is recovering well.

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Smash Lits with Melissa Goodrich

 

We published a wonderful flash at The Forge ~ Sapphires by Melissa Goodrich ~ please do read it. And she was a joy to interview for Smash Lits.

 

 

1) What is your favourite cheese?

I love the sharps. The sharper, the better.

2) You are wallpaper. What is your pattern?

Lots of diamond shapes. Deep purples and blues.

3) Who is/was your unlikely crush?

Aladdin.

4) Have you ever read someone else’s diary?

I want to say yes. I probably just wish I have.

5) Bacon VS Tofu – who wins? Why?

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Bacon every time. The snapping sounds (in the pan, in the mouth).

6) What colour is Thursday?

That promising raincloud color—high and pale.

7) Have you ever had a nickname?

Mel. Mel G. Love. Bee.

8) How much money did you spend yesterday?

*logging in to USBank* $10.32.

9) Do you believe humans can spontaneously combust?

Kind of. I definitely think cars can. I’m worried any little thing (putting diesel in by accident, low tire pressure) will “make my car explode.”

10) What sandwiches would you make for a picnic with Paul Auster?

The tallest turkey-ham-sprouts-celery-avocado-MiracleWhip(fightme)-cheddar-lettuce beauties you can imagine. I would also pack cookies.

11) Do you have a recurring dream?

I dream almost every night. In my dreams, I run for my life a lot. I dream of alligators rising from a lake of fog. I’ve dreamed up every teaching nightmare you can imagine. Just last night I dreamed of moving and unpacking in a new house and not being able to find ANYTHING I was looking for. Once my partner told me he had a dream about Disneyland—waiting in line for rides—and I was immensely envious of that simplicity. When I dream, my heart is in my throat: always.

12) What’s your favourite swear?

Goddamnit.

13) What is your default pub drink?

Whiskey sour. Or a cider.

14) Sapphires, diamonds or rubies?

SAPPHIRES ALWAYS.

15) Can you write a haiku about your flash?

Sapphires

What if all I am

is sharpening points, dark blue

like a not-body.

16) Do you have a favourite quote?

For advice: “You have always written before and you will write now. All you have to do is write one true sentence. Write the truest sentence you know.” (Hemingway) For love: “I would like to be the air/ that inhabits you for a moment/only. I would like to be that unnoticed/& that necessary.” (Atwood)

17) How much money did you spend yesterday? What on?

$10.32. A cheeseburger and a chocolate shake (because I love those things). (Especially chocolate shakes.)

18) Do you have any writing rituals?

I always start with first sentences. I mean, I like my first sentences to have a spring-forward mechanism—I basically open the door with a first sentence and then let that dog run wild through the woods. The next sentences chase it. I also like to read aloud what I’ve written—sometimes as I’m writing, always when I’m reading it over. Hearing it helps.

19) Who is your favourite Neighbours character?

I’ve never seen it…but if you had asked me who my favorite “Good Place” character is, the answer is Chidi. And Janet. ❤

20) What question should I have asked you?

What natural disasters have you been in? (Mine: fire, flood, monsoon, tornado.) What natural disasters have you always wanted to be in? (Mine: Lava flood?) Also: favorite/least favorite figurative language? Also: if you were a type of figurative language, what would you be? Also: weird pet peeves? Also: four words you think are gorgeous.

21) I seem to have asked you the how much money did you spend yesterday question twice though, which means you still have one to go, so “favorite/least favorite figurative language?” Also—your haiku ROCKS!

Thank you! Favorite: hyperbolic simile, Least favorite: idioms.

I’ll be adding your question suggestions to my list. Thanks 🙂

Smash Lits with Jane Flett

I published a superb short story – Shadow Puppetry over at The Forge Literary Magazine.  Please do read it; it’s one of our nominations for the Pushcart Prize and is something special. Thank you Jane Flett for taking part in one of my Smash Lits interviews.

 

 

1) How do you organise your bookshelves?

Alphabetically and also divided into novels/short stories/poetry. Also I have a special section for books of witchcraft and cults, and one for Stephen King and other books to read in the bath.

2) What is your favourite cheese?

A really sharp cheddar.

3) Bacon VS Tofu—who wins? Why?  

Tofu—specifically Mapo Tofu with a holy fuck-ton of Sichuan chilli bean paste. Bacon is pretty tasty but tofu is a sponge you can turn into whatever you like, and that is a quality I find appealing in food. Possibly also in humans.

4) What colour is Wednesday?

Black and white like piano keys.

5) You have to swap places with one other writer for a week. Who and why?

Alissa Nutting, to see how it feels in the glorious and filthy innards of her brain.

6) Have you ever had your fortune told?

Of course! I’m a witch, I do tarot all the time. Also I have a soft spot for those old arcade machines you place your palm on and they give you a printed out page of your destiny.

7) What lighting do you have in your living room?

Lamps and candles, and sometimes a red rope light.

8) What’s your most vivid childhood memory?     

Splitting my chin open at playschool because I dared a boy he couldn’t stand on a wobbly block for 5 seconds. He couldn’t. Me, I could do it for 4 seconds and a half…

9) Who is your favourite Neighbours character?

I don’t know anything about Neighbours, except that when I was younger I had a cassette tape of Kylie & Jason and now I have Especially for You stuck in my head. So them.

10) Did you have an invisible friend when you were younger?

No. I did have a hand puppet of a hedgehog called Hedgey though, and also my brother and I made friends with a napkin ring that had an alter-ego of a fat lady opera singer called AwMiLaw. She would fly around the kitchen and sing opera songs in a beautiful and not-at-all annoying voice.

11) What sandwiches would you make for a picnic with Zadie Smith?

I like the number of food-related questions in this interview. I would take a fondue kit in my wicker basket and she would find that charming.

12) You are wallpaper. What is your pattern?

The wallpaper that’s in my kitchen and author photograph: big 70s red and orange poppies on a white background.

13) What was the last text you sent?

“Ahh we are so hungry!”

14) Do you think Antiques Roadshow is boring?

I don’t know it, can we talk about Gladiators instead? I have a lot more feelings about Gladiators. We had gerbils called Jet and Lightning as kids and I spent a lot of time pretending to do the Eliminator in the school playground.

15) How much money did you spend yesterday?

I am in Madrid, so a lot more than usual! About €50 on Colombian baked goods, calamari sandwiches, and many many beers in the gay bar.

16) What is your most played song at the moment?

9–5 by Dolly Parton (this is almost always true).

17) What question should I have asked you?`

“Can I get you a drink while you answer these questions?”

18) What’s your favourite swear?

Cunt. I like that it upsets people who think vaginas are horrifying.

(I agree wholeheartedly. What’s up with that? Cunts.)

19) Do you like spiders?

Sure. I haven’t met all of them though.

20) Mermaids, dinosaurs or unicorns?
One glorious hybrid to rule them all.

(A merocorn?)

Smash Lits with Robert Williams

1)What is your favourite tree?

The one on Corkland Road in Chorlton, outside our old flat. I have no idea what type it was but it was very big.

2) Do you know anyone called Tarquin?

I’ve met one Tarquin. Years ago my band came down to London to do a showcase for record companies. Hardly anyone showed up but a man called Tarquin from Universal, or somewhere like that, came in the room and sat down. We played three songs and then he left. He never said a word. He was wearing pink socks. I still find myself wondering what Tarquin might be up to these days.

3) You are wallpaper. What is your pattern?

Horizontal stripes. Red, yellow and blue. Classy.

4) What is your default pub drink?

Beer

5) What was the last text you sent?

‘Just seen that Mark bloke from the Essex programme at the station.’

6) What colour is Wednesday?

Purple.

7) What is your favourite swear word?

Fuck.

8) Do you believe human beings can spontaneously combust?

Absolutely they can.

9) Bacon VS Tofu – who wins? Why?

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I’m very disappointed with myself that I’m not vegetarian. Bacon wins but morally tofu wins.

10) What is your funeral song?

I don’t want any songs, I don’t want anything to drown out the hysterical mourning. But if forced, to really bring people to their knees, I want three – Atmosphere, Joy Division into Bridge over Trouble Water, Simon and Garfunkel, into Do You Realize?? The Flaming Lips. That should do it.

11) Did you have an invisible friend?

I think I tried but then Phil would knock at the door and we’d go and play football instead.

12) What’s the best book you’ve ever read?

Lord of the Dance by Michael Flatley. Look at the cover!  On slow afternoons we used to read passages to each other in the bookshop.

 I’m unfamiliar with that, but it looks like maybe there’s an updated version due

13) What’s your favourite sweet?

I don’t like sweets. I don’t understand why anyone with taste buds would. Have they not heard of curry?

14) Who is your favourite Neighbours character?

I’ve given this question a lot of thought. Old Neighbours – Daphne. Current Neighbours – I don’t know her name in Neighbours but she used to be Sophie in Home and Away. My girlfriend is obsessed with Australian soaps – I only ever glance you understand, too busy writing.

Ah, you mean the lovely Rebekah Elmaloglou. And Daphne? Daphne?

15) How do you organise your bookshelves?

We’ve only just got shelves fitted after years of books in boxes. I just fling them on there. I used to work in a bookshop, so it feels good to break the rules. Also, you don’t want people thinking you’re fussy.

16) Can you make up a poem about trees

Yes – Look at that tree standing there. What a big, tall bastard.

Marvelous. 

17) What sandwiches would you make for a picnic in the forest with Margaret Atwood?

This feels like a trick question. I wouldn’t make any sandwiches. I feel like whatever I did I would disappoint Margaret Atwood.

18) Do you have any writing rituals?

I don’t.

19) Who is your writer crush?

Wells Tower, Kent Haruf, Claire Keegan, Ali Smith, David Almond, Kazuo Ishiguro, Marilynne Robinson, Anne Tyler, Roddy Doyle.

20) What question should I have asked you?

This one. (sorry)

 

You can read my review of Robert’s terrific new novel here and were you to need any further persuasion may I draw your attention to:

‘Now and then I encounter a novel that carries me so completely inside its own world that I wake the next day expecting to find myself there. INTO THE TREES, by Robert Williams, is exactly that sort of novel—lyrical, sharply observed, with the punch of myth and plenty of drive.’
Daniel Woodrell

Smash Lits with Dan Powell

So, the first person to face my Smash Lits questions is Dan Powell.

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His debut collection of short fiction – “Looking Out Of Broken Windows” – has just been published by Salt. I got to read it before it was published. (Yeah, I’m showing off.) Dan was entering it into the Scott Prize and I told him “It’s a winner for sure” and “I fully expect you to win this competition”. I have NEVER said that to anyone else. I mean, what a thing to say! But, that’s how certain I was. That’s how good his stories are. All of them! He’s consistently excellent. Fanfare please, Salt loved it so much they published it and I think you should probably buy it. Or you can enter a competition to win a copy by commenting here or on any of the other LOoBW blog tour posts appearing across the internet this March, or you can “like” the Looking Out of Broken Windows Facebook page. All the names will be put in a hat for the draw which takes place on April 6th. Anyway, enough blurby stuff, on with the questions.

1) How do you organise your bookshelves?

I keep all my short fiction collections together on a series of shelves, but beyond that it is all chaos. I buy too many books (just ask my wife) and now there are stacks on top of stacks. I may have to start double layering each shelf but I am currently resisting that. It feels wrong.

2) What is your favourite biscuit?

Custard Cream. A design classic. The Helvetica of biscuits. They’re everywhere.

3) You are wallpaper. What is your pattern?

All of my electronic devices have the same digital wallpaper. Clouds against a blue sky. Very calming. So that. Walls and ceiling, please.

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4) What was your favourite book as a child?

Treasure Island. It’s still in my top ten. Perfect boys’ own adventure. Funny and thrilling and at times very, very dark.

5) Your writing is music, what style is it?

Instrumental mood music. Somewhere between Lowercase Noises and Explosions in the Sky.

6) Are you in it for the money, fame and glory? Or?

I’m in it for the words. Just the words.

7) You have to swap places with one other writer for a week. Who and why?

I’d swap places with Jonathan Franzen and use his computer to set him up an official verified Twitter account. I’d tweet a few for him, then sit back to watch the literary back room of the internet explode.

8) What makes the wind blow?

Those little sighs that toddler’s give when they are sleeping. That’s the starting point. It’s a butterfly flapping its wings thing.

9) Do you have a favourite pen?

Yes. My fancy-dan Fisher Space Explorer Pen. It writes upside down and in space. Just in case I’m ever upside down or in space or upside down in space. Can you be upside down in space?
(I am so jealous. I really want one of those. I asked for one for Christmas but nobody knew what I meant apparently.)

10) Do you believe human beings can spontaneously combust?

Probably not. But some probably should.

11) Have you ever written an angry letter/email to a magazine or newspaper?

No, but my first ever published writing was a letter in the UK Transformers comic. I seem to remember winning twenty pounds as the writer of that week’s star letter. That’s better than you get for most short stories these days.

12) Who is your favourite Neighbours character?

Not seen this since the early nineties. My sister watched this and Home and Away avidly. I caught glimpses up until I left for Uni. I’ll say Mike as he grew up to be Guy Pearce which was kind of unexpected.

13) Would you rather be a bee or a wasp?

Bee. No one likes a wasp.

14) If your life story was made into a book, what would the title be?

Looking Out of Broken Glasses or No More Books.

15) What did you do last Saturday night?

Read some Karl Ove Knausgaard and watched Wes Anderson’s first movie, Bottle Rocket, with my wife. Not at the same time.

16) Do you have a writer crush?

I have a bit of a thing for Amy Hempel. She’s broken my heart many times and keeps doing so. I keep coming back for more.

17) Bacon VS Tofu – who wins and why?

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Bacon. Streaks ahead of Tofu.
(Streaks. Haha.)

18) Have you ever seen a ghost?

No. I am planning on being one though.

19) Are you Looking Out of Broken Windows? What can you see from your window?

I’m on a train as write this so I’m looking out of a wide, dirty window. I can see the suburbs of Nottingham. Uniform houses all in rows. Boxes with triangles on top. Punctuated every now and again by an industrial estate.

20) Can you make up a poem about broken windows?

The window broke
All by itself
It popped and snapped
It had no help
I tried to put it back in place
Tried but could only fail.

Is that a poem?

Oh yes, I think so. Very profound.

Thanks for answering my questions, and I wish you many sales and much success. I’d also like to say thank you for all the work you put into supporting other writers.