Smash Lits with Ben Slotky

I published The Sandwich Judge by Ben Slotky over at The Forge Literary Magazine this week. It is a superb story. The moment I read it in the subs queue I had a glorious “YES ACCEPT NOW” moment. Please do read it.

And then come back and read these daft questions that have nothing to do with Ben’s incredible writing.

1) What would your superhero power be?

Flying, w/o a doubt.

2) What was the last text you sent?

Pink, And I Was Slathered. The Nature of Great Things. Something Classy, Something With Endives. (These are titles for stories I will probably never write, but should.)

3) What has been your most embarrassing moment?

Back when I was in kindergarten, I called my teacher “Mom.” Nothing’s been that bad since.

4) Bacon VS Tofu—who wins? Why?

I’m kind of done with bacon. We get it, it’s delicious, let’s move on. I am a sucker for a good Mapo tofu.

5) Do you have any phobias?

Not a one.

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

Let’s see. That’s tough. It depends on where they were. I’m not good at things like this. I don’t want to swap with anybody. Next question.

7) Do you believe human beings can spontaneously combust?

It’s 96 degrees at 5 PM on September 20. I’ve seen 11 people burst into flames since noon.

8) How do you stop procrastinating and get on with writing?

I don’t. I have been writing the same novel for about 5 years. In the interim, I wrote a novella and about eleven hundred stories. I am always thinking about writing; I will think and think and think about something until it’s pretty much fully formed and then I write it down.

9) What excuse did you use to bunk off school?

Diarrhea. I’m assuming “bunk off” means skip school or get out of school or something. Even if it doesn’t, I’m sticking with diarrhea.

10) Do you have a motto for life?

My grandfather used to say “Never drink out of strange toilets.” That’s served me well. Either that or “I’m sticking with diarrhea.”

11) Have you ever seen a ghost?

Nope. I saw a UFO once. There could have been a ghost in it, I don’t know. It was way up high.

12) What is the most over-rated novel you’ve read?

I’m not one to judge novels.

13) What sandwiches would you make for a picnic with Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie?

I’m not one to judge sandwiches. I’d bring a nice salad, maybe. Something classy, something with endives.

14) What is your favourite swear?

I rarely swear. Does “fudge” count? Mother-fudge?

15) What word or words make you cringe?

I don’t like it when people start sentences with “So…”

16) Mermaid, dinosaur or unicorn?

Dinosaur. I’m a Dimetrodon guy from way back.

17) Who is your favourite TV detective?

I wrote a bunch of stories about a Crocodile Detective. He’s probably my favorite, primarily because I made him up and he’s a crocodile.

18) What’s your favourite fairy tale?

Probably Rocky 2.

19) What is the last thing you Googled?

What is “other” on my iPhone?

20) Give me a question for the next Smash List interview I do.

How great is Ben Slotky?

Smash Lits with Rose Andersen

I published Rose Andersen’s wonderful nonfiction flash – “Dating Profile” over at FLM. Do give it a read. And I interviewed her too. She has excellent taste in TV detectives and swear words.

1) What is your favourite biscuit?

A just warmed chocolate chip cookie. (I am assuming that biscuit in this case is what us silly Americans call a cookie)

2) What was the last text you sent?

“Beautiful! Love love love”

3) Who is your favourite Sesame Street character?

Oscar the Grouch. I think I liked that he was so openly, well, grouchy.

4) Bacon VS Tofu—who wins? Why?

This feels like a turtle and the hare kind of scenario and that I should say tofu but I just can’t see bacon losing out. Mainly, because I think tofu is horrid.

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

Instrumental and terribly sad.

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

A ratty NOFX shirt I was given when I was eleven.

7) What’s your worst habit?

Self-doubt or biting my nails.

8) You’re stuck in a lift with a writer of your choice—who?

Jonathan Carroll, so I could ask him about talking dogs and other magical things.

9) What is your favourite swear?

Fuck bucket.

10) Mermaid, dinosaur or unicorn?

Dinosaur. 100%. (I could literally eat mermaids and unicorns for breakfast.)

11) Who is your favourite TV detective?

This one is hard because I watch an unhealthy amount of crime TV. Veronica Mars is up there. But I’ve recently become obsessed with Eve Polastri on Killing Eve.

12) What word (or words) makes you cringe?

Flaccid. Bulbous. Mrs.

13) Do you actually like cottage cheese and fruit at breakfast? (It sounds like punishment food to me.)

I do, actually. I add a bit of brown sugar and I mainly put fresh berries in it, if that makes it sound more appetizing!

14) Who is/was your unlikely crush?

Casper the friendly ghost. Totally had the hots for him when I was about ten.

15) How do you know when you’ve reached the end?

When I can’t feel anything anymore.

16) What is your favourite smell?

My husband’s neck. Aren’t I disgusting?

17) What is the last thing you googled?

“How to sleep with sciatic pain.” Sexy, I know.

18) Have you ever had your fortune told? Has it come true?

I have several encounters with psychics that have been eerily on point. For a few years now, I have been looking into the suspicious circumstances around my sister’s death and a psychic told me a couple things that were eventually revealed to be true.

19) What’s the best flash you’ve read recently?

A MOVIE THE NEIGHBORS COULD WATCH BY ERICA PEPLIN, published on Jellyfish Review. I love how visual this piece is.

20) Give me a question for the next Smash Lits interview I do.

“What does love look like to you?”

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.

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 Ruby Cowling

We recently published an excellent story by Ruby Cowling at The Forge – please do read

We Are Part of This

Ruby also agreed to take part in an interview with me. Spoiler alert! I think she might be the only person to ever choose tofu over bacon (so far).

1) How do you organise your bookshelves?

Top shelf of best bookcase: Best Books Ever, featuring George Saunders and George Eliot. Next shelf down: great books that almost made it to the Top. And so on down. Then short story collections, then poetry and plays. The other bookcases are chaos, though I try to keep non-fiction quarantined from the rest.

2) Have you ever been on a retreat?

Many.

3) Bacon VS Tofu – who wins? Why?

My heart says bacon but all my other organs say tofu.

4) What is your favourite smell?

Ugh–I’m a bit phobic about the word “smell.” (And I’ll go out of my way to avoid saying “smelly.”) Probably the *aroma* of woodsmoke on clothes.

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

George Saunders, obviously—because I’d come back a better person.

6) Who is your favourite Neighbours character?

It’s been decades since I watched it, so I actually had to go to Google images for this one. Des Clarke!

7) What would you cook if Salman Rushdie came for dinner?

Something chewy.

8) What is your favourite biscuit?

Something dark-chocolate-and-gingery.

9) Do you have a poster/picture on your wall? Describe it.

I have a watercolour nude done by the chap who owns the framing shop down the road.

10) What is your motto for life?

“Chill the f*** out.” Only as a reminder, because I’m doing the opposite all the time.

11) What’s your most played song right now?

The deeply satisfying “Funtimes in Babylon” by Father John Misty.

12) Unicorns, mermaids or dinosaurs? 

Dinosaurs, because actual existence is a pretty strong trump card.

13) Have you ever seen a ghost?

Not a *ghost*, exactly…

14) What did you do last Saturday night?

Watched the football and then had a ridiculously early night.

15) Do you have any writing rituals?

Rituals, no, but I’ve started using the Pomodoro technique and can hugely recommend it for Getting Stuff Done.

16) Tell me a secret.

No way! My current WIP is all about the importance of not sharing.

17) What would you do if you were invisible for the day?

Probably just loads of eavesdropping. (Just to contradict the entire message of my current WIP.)

18) Can you write a haiku about your story?

A bunch of women
Spending a week in the woods
But who can they trust?

19) What’s your favourite swear?

Heavens to Betsy!

20) What question should I have asked you?

Where do you get your ideas from? *KIDDING.*

Many thanks for taking part (superb haiku!)

Smash Lits with Tigele Nlebesi

We published a really good piece of non-fiction at The Forge Literary Magazine this week: Black Girls in Upscale Boutiques by Tigele Nlebesi. I think you’ll agree that last line is a killer.

Thanks Tigele for agreeing to do a Smash Lits interview with me.

1)  You are wallpaper. What is your pattern?

A friend of mine got Somali henna done all over her torso, and the first thing I thought when I saw it was “I’d love to have that all over my walls.”

2) What was your favourite book as a child?

Unfair! There are too many to list. Roald Dahl’s The BFG is the first book that made me want to keep reading. Jacqueline Wilson was my favourite author as a child so everything she wrote was an instant hit, but Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye is the first book that made me imagine myself as a writer one day. It was harrowing and enchanting.

3) What was the last text you sent?

Sent my boyfriend a link to a hilarious webcomic called “The Worst Best Firefighter” on www.buttersafe.com

4) Bacon VS Tofu – who wins? Why?

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Bacon. It tastes better, and I can’t wrap my jalapeno poppers in tofu, duh.

5) Have you ever had a nickname?

I’ve probably racked up more nicknames than I have years on this planet. People have a hard time pronouncing my name so they give me new ones all the time.

6) What do you write with?

My right hand and an unhealthy amount of trepidation; unless you mean what I actually write with, in which case it’s a pentel energel pen (in purple or green) and a notebook. I’ve recently discovered writing is easier for me when I do it by hand.

7) What is your motto for life?

“You are more than what you’ve done.”

8) Who is your favourite superhero?

Garnet from Steven Universe. What a babe.

9) Do you believe human beings can spontaneously combust?

I watched a show on a European Channel called Zone Reality years ago that said they could and since then I’ve believed they can. I don’t care to check whether it’s true or not.

10) What’s your favourite thing from childhood that you’ve still got?

A Lion King book my aunt got for me from Disneyland in which a character was created in my name. It’s pretty neat.

11) Who is your favourite Neighbours character?

The Australian soap opera or the American film? I don’t watch the former, but if you’re referring to the latter I can finally tell the world that I have a huge crush on Seth Rogen. So Seth Rogen’s character is my favourite.

12) Your piece is nonfiction—will Alexa read it do you think? Are you still in touch?

A year after I moved, I went back to Cape Town (and the boutique). She still worked there, and we exchanged emails, but she hasn’t responded to any I’ve sent, so that’s a no and another no.

13) What’s your favourite swear?

I’m obsessed with common British swear words. Right now it’s bellend.

14) What colour is contentment?

Rose gold, like the saucepans and cutlery set I really want but cannot afford.

15) Have you ever seen a ghost?

After he died I saw my grandfather’s head surrounded by a funeral wreath hovering above the curtains in my room. I may have just been jarred from seeing his body at the funeral.

16) What did you do last Saturday night?

Went out for a couple of drinks with my friends.

17) You hold a dinner party and can only invite writers. Who do you invite?

Leslie Jamison, Zadie Smith, Rachel Kaadzi Ghansah and Toni Morrison. Girls Only, but I’d make an exception for David Foster Wallace were he still alive.

18) Do you have any recurring dreams?

I’m always falling off a cliff or getting bitten by one or multiple snakes.

19) What question should I have asked you?

Whether I find Ryan Gosling irresistible because I don’t, and I feel like I deserve special recognition for it.

20) What would you do if you were invisible for the day?

That isn’t enough time to make my way to wherever Seth Rogen is, so I’d probably waste it spooking the hell out of people.