SeanLovelace.com

Sean Lovelace lives in Indiana and teaches creative writing at Ball State University. He is a contributor to HTMLGiant and his first book of flash fiction was titled How Some People Like Their Eggs


Short Story Collections

Fog Gorgeous Stage
(Publishing Genius, 2011)

reviewed by Pauline Masurel


Book Title
(Rose Metal Press, 2009)

reviewed by Tania Hershman

Interview with Sean Lovelace (2011)

The Short Review: How long did it take you to write all the stories in your collection?

Sean Lovelace: One summer of 2010. For some odd reason, I started getting night sweats and enjoyed the experience. It opened my mind, with the additional benefit of rapid weight loss. So then I started dressing in layers of clothing and blankets and going to bed in a wool cap, and this was mid-summer, so I would really sweat, just saturate the sheets and blankets. My mind would go subterranean, these flailing cave dreams of God’s fist trying to punch me into an underwater cavern. To drown me I think. Then I would wake dehydrated and blinking alive (as in fundamentally unified) and would drink maybe 8 or 9 cups of strong coffee. It was a productive time for my writing.

TSR: Did you have a collection in mind when you were writing them?

SL: I did. I was much disciplined. Usually, I am never focused, am very scattered in my artful attention to the world, but at the time I was trying to start a small tree-topping business and wean myself off several powerful drugs, but all that fell apart. I injured my spleen and mind. To put it plainly: I woke up one day in the trunk of a car. And it wasn’t my car! Life is odd. So I simplified. I just said, "Write this one book, and all will be OK." So I did.

TSR: How did you choose which stories to include and in what order?

SL: Well, I wrote a ton of them. And some were horrible. Total dross. No resistance, no dissonance, no deliquescent play. A waste of paper and pixels and this very, very short life. Even to read over the drafts would give me feelings I know to be precursor to seizure, visual disruptions and staggering nausea, etc. Some things are not worth revision. I included maybe 30% of the micro-fictions I wrote that summer. Why those? The answer would be exhausting. A young friend of mine has no hands, so has this clever shuffling machine for when we play cards. I borrowed the machine to order this collection, a random number generator basically. I suppose this works as well as anything.

TSR: What does the word "story" mean to you?

SL: Oh, most anything worthwhile. As long as you're not reading the thing and thinking, "God, I should go drink until I pass out or play bocce ball or something."

TSR: Do you have a reader in mind when you write stories?

SL: I really don’t. I imagine most readers will hate the thing.

TSR: Is there anything you'd like to ask someone who has read your collection, anything at all?

SL: Yes, how much is a thing worth? For example, a decaying laugh or a dappled odor of cheese or a growling sky or a beer bottle rolling on granite or a wet footprint or an old, old, crippled rainfall or a Velveeta sunrise or a river, just a river rolling by, the way it suffers and rejoices, the extreme ellipticisms of water, stitched together in light and ripples and thoughts and potato pebbles and kisses and cackles at our antiseptic lives. Rolling by. What is it all worth?

TSR: How does it feel knowing that people are buying your book?

SL: Oh, I doubt I need answer this one.

TSR: What are you working on now?

SL: I have devoted the remainder of 2011 to writing about Velveeta. So I am writing poems and stories and recipes and essays and screenplays and little vignettes and remembrances and so on. For example: http://www.juked.com/2011/03/fivepainfulmemories.asp

TSR: What are the three most recent short story collections you've read?

SL: The Human Mind by Angela Woodward. Martina Hingis (Women Who Win) by Christin Ditchfield. Everyday Drinking by Kingsley Amis.



Interview with Sean Lovelace (2009)


The Short Review: How long did it take you to write all the stories in your collection?


Sean Lovelace: It really varies. I mean one story I wrote years ago and one I wrote/ rewrote/ rewrote probably two weeks before sending in the manuscript.


TSR: Did you have a collection in mind when you were writing them?


SL: No. Basically, I have tons of flash fictions in all types of folders and all over like falling leaves and whatnot and then I try to grab a bunch with similar color hues, crackle, and sensibilities. A collection needs to feel like one thing, although it is many. I think this is best accomplished with voice and tone, though subject matter might also work. This can be tough for flash fiction writers who experiment with everything: theme, language, structure. So then it's difficult to gather these tentacles into a sensible octopus. Poets have the same problem, especially if they are experimenting with different techniques and so on. Poets usually figure out a collection by, again, tone. Fiction writers do the same.


TSR: How did you choose which stories to include and in what order?


SL: See above. I chose them if they "fit" the voice. The voice here was aloof, a bit sad, with a hint of magical realism as everyday life: Things don't seem right. I think that's the theme of the collection. I tried to make these stories float a few inches off the ground. I think a lot of people are going around wondering why life doesn't fit what they were told, things don't work as promised, sand is in the gears of the mechanical days unfolding, etc. I wanted humor but the type of humor that makes you kick a hammock in the forehead. Did I succeed? Who knows? The order I don't know. I did have a character from the opening story reappear in the final story, so that was purposeful, for symmetry. We all love symmetry.

TSR: What does the word "story" mean to you?


SL:  I am intellectually curious. It needs to stimulate. Because I teach fiction and 99% of students writers go for realism, I would really prefer the story not be in the mode of realism. Anything else. But that's not really answering your question, is it? Story is a term for interesting, to me. Interesting in its language, its ideas, maybe its scaffolding and design. Story can be so many things, as many of the up-and-coming writers are proving. This is why I prefer online fiction right now. Some of these writer/blogger types are really bending the idea of story. I am thankful for the presses and lit mags and everyone so open to this right now. Story is exploding.

TSR: Do you have a "reader" in mind when you write stories?


SL:  I do not. I got over this in grad school. I felt like I was writing to impress someone or to seem like this or that, and I realized that is a very distracting and shallow way to create art. I try to stay in the moment while writing. To focus on the page and the experience, not some reader somewhere diving for whale sharks off the coast of Australia. The act of writing itself is a difficult happiness, and that is enough for me.


TSR: Is there anything you'd like to ask someone who has read your collection, anything at all?


SL: Will you buy me a dark beer?


TSR: How does it feel knowing that people are buying your book?


SL: Pretty great. It implies they will read the stories. Maybe 10 stories of life wobbling off-center will make someone feel better when they wake up and life is, uh, wobbling off-center.


TSR: What are you working on now?


SL: A group of stories about people getting drunk and buying things on Ebay. A group of stories about every drug. In fact, one I just finished (cocaine) will appear in Barrelhouse online soon. I am also writing essays about writing prompts, fortune tellers, Jenna Jameson, and a chemical company in Memphis, Tennessee.

TSR: What are the three most recent short story collections you've read?

SLHow the Broken Lead the Blind, by Matt Bell. One hundred and Forty Five Stories in a Small Box by Dave Eggers, Deb Olin Unferth, and Sarah Manguso. Macho Nachos by Kate Heyhoe

 
                     
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Find out what other authors, from Aimee Bender to Sana Krasikov, said about their collections, what the word "story" means to them, and how it feels to know that people are buying your books! More interviews >>>