Dave Housley is a writer and web geek in Washington, D.C. His work has appeared in or is forthcoming in Gargoyle, Dicey Brown, and Hobart. He is a fiction editor and co-founder of Barrelhouse Magazine.
with Dave Housley
How long did it take you to write all the stories in your collection?
They were probably written over the course of 4 or 5 years. Some are
older than others. The Frog
Prince II: An Open Letter to the Princess, was the first
story I ever published. On the other hand, a few were brand new, and
kept getting longer over the course of editing the manuscript -- Ryan Seacrest is Famous
is about twice as big as the original version, and The Celebrity Orders Room Service
kept getting longer every time I sat down to read it. So some are maybe
five years old, and others are brand new.
TSR: Did you
have a collection in mind when you were writing them?
DH: I definitely
didn't. It's funny reading them all together, in fact, because at the
time I was just really worrying about finishing one story at a time,
and then about trying to get the better ones published. The first
person to suggest that I look at them as a collection was my friend Joe
Killiany, who just casually mentioned over beers that I should be
thinking about it that way.
TSR: How did
you choose which stories to include and in what order?
publisher, Impetus Press, focuses on literary fiction with a pop edge,
so I had purposefully pulled out my most pop-centric stories in my
initial contact with them. I have a lot of pop-related stories, so
there was almost enough for a full collection. They asked for a few
more, and that's when I sent along Fall
Apart, which is a 9-11 story in which Highway to Hell
plays a minor role, and then I finished up The Celebrity Orders Room Service.
Jennifer Banash, one of the Impetus publishers, really wanted me to
write a Sanjaya Malakar story -- he's the kind of fluffy little fellow
who was on American Idol last year, who couldn't sing but had fabulous
70s era hair -- and I got about halfway into one before I decided I had
better focus elsewhere. Jennifer also strongly encouraged me to make
the story Bare
the first story, so the first four words of my collection are "I shaved
my balls..." I told her I was worried about that, that it might really
turn some people off, and she said, and this is verbatim, "Dave,
anybody who doesn't like that sentence is NEVER going to buy your
book." Overall, Impetus was fantastic to work with, by the way. They
are great, cool, helpful and smart people.
TSR: What does the word "story"
mean to you?
That's a good question! For me, it's mainly a journey, although journey
is really a hifalutin word for what I'm thinking of, which is more like
movement. The movement of a character from one place to another, how he
or she got there, and what it means when they wind up in the new place.
TSR: Do you
have a "reader" in mind when you write stories?
really. I wanted to make them as good as possible, and a lot of the
stories were workshopped in various places, but I never really have a
"reader" in mind, other than, I guess, myself. I've actually had some
editors reject these stories, and say, "To be honest, if you hadn't
written this, I would have told them to send it to you." (I'm one of
the editors of Barrelhouse
magazine). So I'm probably the only person in the world writing for the
one market that can't publish my work. Smart.
TSR: Is there
anything you'd like to ask someone who has read your
anything at all?
Mainly I'd like to say thank you. No matter what you thought, thanks
for taking the time to read my work. As a writer, that's all I can ask.
I'd also like to say that I'm not as obsessed with testicles and
Dockers as I may seem. And then I'd insert one of those smiley face
emoticons, if I was an insert a smiley face emoticon kind of guy.
TSR: How does it feel knowing that people are buying your book?
It feels great that it's out there, that it exists. I hope people are
buying it. I hope they're liking it. But mainly I'm very thankful that
it's out there. Writing is hard work and as most of the readers of this
site know, it's 95% rejection and late nights and not really being sure
that what you're doing isn't completely stupid. I feel really lucky
that Impetus took a chance on a bunch of weird, poppy stories, and
grateful that anybody is reading the book at all.
TSR: What are
you working on now?
More stories! A lot of people told me that I should write a novel next,
and I tried for a while, but then I kept sneaking back to work on four
or five stories that I had already started, and that's where the energy
seemed like it was, so that's where I'm staying for now.
TSR: What are
the three most recent short story collections you've read?
DH: God is Dead, by Ron
Currie, Jr. -- This is flat out the best collection I've read in the
past, I don't know, maybe four or five years. He's brilliant. It's a
brilliant, funny, daring book.
Over, by Roy Kesey -- I had read a lot of these
stories before, in various literary magazines, but I'm always surprised
at Roy Kesey's originality and voice, how he's able to structure
stories in so many different ways, in different voices, and have them
all work so incredibly well. He's like one of those musicians who can
play every instrument better than everybody else. Every time he picks
something up, you think, man, he just played that better than anybody
I've heard in some time.
Inheritance of Exile: Stories from South Philly, by Susan
Muaddi-Darraj -- Lovely stories told by a very talented writer. These
stories take place in Philly, and follows the lives of four second
generation Palestinian-American women. It's a really honest,
surprising, and well written book.