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Dave Housley

Website: DaveHousley.com

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.

Short story collections

Ryan Seacrest is Famous (Impetus Press, Jan 208) 

Reviewed by Sara Crowley

Interview with Dave Housley

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

Dave Housley: 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?

DH: The 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?

DH:  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?

DH: Not 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
collection, anything at all?

DH: 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?

DH: 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?

DH: 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. All 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. The 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.