Authors are some of the most interesting artists out there and often pack enough wit to rival Oscar Wilde. Sadly, a lot of times authors are interviewed by writers/fans/bloggers/journalists who are afraid to ask outré questions. I wanted to get to the weird, the ugly, the funny, the sublime. Instead of questions like Why did you become a writer? Blah blah something about self publishing? or Where do you see your career in five years?, I decided to ask writers about things I really wanted to know. What are some of those things? Insecurity, paranoia, punching people in the face, addiction, embarrassment, money and the lack of it, food, aliens, etc. Welcome to The Weird Interview.
The inaugural edition of The Weird Interview brings us Scott McClanahan, co-founder of Holler Presents, a West Virginia-based production and small press company, and author of six books, Stories, Stories II, Stories V!, The Collected Works of Scott McClanahan Vol. 1, Crapalachia, and Hill William. He doesn’t like vegetables and soccer moms don’t like him.
Oh, and you’ll also meet Juliet Escoria, author of Black Clouds, in this interview.
GI: Are you rich yet, Scott? Everyone knows you get James Patterson money as soon as your books get a few great reviews and you show up all over Facebook. How many millions did you make so far in 2014? Are you spending it all on cocaine and gambling?
SM: I’m an overachieving depressed zombie. I’m seriously the most boring man in the world right now, but I guess that’s not so boring if you’re the most boring man in the world.
I’m thinking it should be our goal to make this the most boring interview in the world. I think we’re doing a pretty good job so far.
GI: Why are you so mellow? Crapalachia and Hill William were absolutely fantastic, so why not be a dick or a diva about it? Why stay approachable?
SM: I guess it’s my meds that are keeping me so mellow now. I started in on medicine in December and it’s made me a different person almost. Or at least I nap a whole lot more. For instance I slept from 3 to 4:30 today. For some reason they make me sleepy and then at other times they don’t.
GI: Mellowness aside, who would you like to punch in the face today?
SM: Me. I did it for the first time in a year or two yesterday in Baltimore. Juliet and I got in a fight and I just let it rip. But then she got mad and threw her cell phone. I got jealous because I think her tantrum actually beat my tantrum.
GI: I think we’re living the Golden Age of indie lit. You know a thing or two about the scene. Am I right or am I right?
SM: Gold is worthless on a practical level. If you’re in the middle of a blizzard and you’re freezing to death then what is the use of gold? Now a dead cow to crawl up inside would be like hitting the lottery.
“I think it’s the dead cow age of indie literature.” Juliet told me to put that and I did.
GI: What the hell is art and can you tell us where to find some in West Virginia?
SM: Pickled Sausages. I’m a fan of the Tijuana Momma. 300 percent hotter. You can find them at a gas station called Go Mart.
GI: You told Oxford American that writing’s not therapy for you. In fact, you described writing this way: “It’s some weird graphomania I can’t stop.” Can you stop now? If you could, would you? Why?
SM: I haven’t written in three days. I’m feeling sort of desperate now that I haven’t written. I decided to do these questions instead. I’ve decided to put every story I have left in the Sarah Book and not follow the formula I’ve followed in all of the other books. For instance, usually I take ten pages of wide ruled paper. In the first three pages I set up what I’m going to tell you. Then in pages 4 through 6 something happens. On page 7 there is a twist of some sort, and then on pages 8-10 I sort of wind down the story.
But I’m not doing that with the Sarah Book. I’ve just throwing together all of the stories I have left and saying they make some sense being thrown together. I don’t know if they make sense or not, but that’s a book for you. It’s just something someone has thrown together and says has some connection.
GI: This is the first Weird Interview, but I don’t think it’s really weird so far. Can you write something weird here so we have a pull quote? Thanks.
SM: I don’t like vegetables. The only orange things I eat are Doritos or Cheetos.
GI: What does it take to be Scott McClanahan?
SM: Be about 5’11 and 194 pounds and talk about how fat you are all of the time. I seriously think I have a problem. Like I can’t stop talking about how fat I am. I think I might insert a picture of me and have you decide whether or not you think I’m fat.
I drive people crazy talking about how fat I am, but I do absolutely nothing about it. I just keep eating potato chips.
Also you need to have soccer moms write stupid shit like this on their personal blogs:
“If you’ve been following this year’s Tournament of Books, you may have noticed a mild controversy flare up there. Not only did underdog Hill William beat out Booker Prize winner The Luminaries, but its author, Scott McClanahan, apparently tried to pull out of the Tournament via Facebook post with a derogatory comment aimed at soccer moms. I’m not sure of the reasoning there, but McClanahan becomes yet another in a long line of writers who would have been better off keeping his mouth shut.”
These people are horrible people.
GI: I heard Holler Presents is about to go into the organic food business. What’s up with that? What else are you guys up to?
SM: We’re getting ready to record some music next week with our friend Clay and Josh. We’re doing some dates in the spring. Here is a link to one of our movies about my mom.
This fall we’re making the Greenbrier Ghost. Here is the trailer for that.
Also, we were wanting our Moms to write children’s books. I think Chris’ Mom is working on hers. I’m not sure about mine.
GI: Movies and books take time. How do you find time to do both?
SM: Actually they don’t. You just have to do them. That’s one of the horrible things about modernism. It made people believe that books were meant to be worked on for 14 years. I think we need to return to age of Dostoevsky and Balzac and see what we can do if we crank them out in a month.
I really liked the doc Shepard and Dark. It’s about the friendship between Sam Shepard and Johnny Dark. I just watched the Double Life of Veronique for the umpteenth time as well.
GI: You showed the world your antipsychotic meds. What happens if a meth head breaks into your humble abode and runs off with them?
SM: They actually warn you about that in this state. When my ex wife Sarah worked in the ICU as a nurse she actually got patients about every other week who were little old women who had their houses broken into and they were beaten up in the process by people who were wanting to steal meds.
GI: Do you believe in the existence of Bigfoot?
SM: Cheese singles.
GI: What was the last book you read? What was the last movie you enjoyed?
SM: I’m reading a biography about Captain Beefheart right now. He believed he could control traffic. He also mistook a potato for an alien one night. I really enjoyed. I also read Timmy Reed’s Tell God I Don’t Exist tonight and I think it’s amazing.
GI: Did you really make love to Earth?
SM: When I was in the 10th grade. I’d just watched Midnight Cowboy. I thumbed a hole in the earth and went to it. It was up in the woods on the side of this mountain.
GI: Humans shed about 1.5 pounds of skin each year. If we collected it, would it be more powerful than magic dirt?
SM: No, but it sure would be tasty.