20 Questions with Mourning Goats
INTERVIEW TWENTY FOUR
INTERVIEW TWENTY FOUR
I heard about Apathy through the
1. What comes to mind when you hear, "Mourning Goats?"
A bunch of goats dressed up like Italian grandmothers with the long black skirts and veils and rosary beads, all standing around a grave weeping. The kind of oil painting you'd hang in your kid's room if you wanted them to be a serial killer when they grow up.
2. Let's start it off strong. Where have you been? Are you still writing?
I've been living in San Francisco for the past couple of years. And yeah I'm trying to bang out another book.
3. I think every person who's ever worked in an office has had the feeling on the cover of Apathy, did you have any input on the design?
None whatsoever. One of the designers at St. Martin's came up with it. I was a big fan as soon as i saw it.
4. Max Barry, a recent Mourning Goats interviewee was/is a huge supporter of Apathy, do you think that helped the book take off?
Oh yeah definitely. He gave me a really nice blurb and then he talked it up on his website when it came out. I met him when he went to Portland on his book tour for Company. I waited in line to get my copy signed and when I got to the front I said "Hey you gave me a really nice blurb for a book I wrote. Thanks." He gave me this blank stare like I was a crazy person and there was a few seconds of crushing silence where I was completely mortified and ashamed of myself, but then he remembered and we wound up going out for drinks after. He's really funny and just seems like a genuinely nice guy.
5. I feel like most first novels are inherently biographical, how much of Apathy is straight out of your life?
It's full blown fiction but there are a few things in there that I stole from myself. I used to work at an insurance company, and I used to ride Greyhound way too much. I knew a deaf girl in New Jersey but I was never framed for her murder. I wasn't even a suspect. It was pretty much the perfect crime.
6. How's that blog coming along? It looks like it might have gone into a coma after 3 years and no posts.
Oh Jesus, yeah I remember thinking that I wasn't going to update it again until the end of the summer, when I finished the new book. That was three years ago? You're killing me, Goat.
7. The last post from June of 2008 says that you might be reading from a work in progress. What's happening with that?
I think it's almost done. I've thought that before but this time I might actually be right. If not I'm going to freak out. Stop making me nervous.
8. Where do you see literature going? Are you an e-book fan?
I have no idea. Probably all emoticons all the time, like humiliating hieroglyphics. I see people messing around with Kindles on the train and they seem like they're doing all right for themselves, but I've never used one.
9. Are you working these days? Your info section on your book is hilarious.
Yeah I've got a job but I refuse to say what I do. After I finish this book and it gets turned into a movie and I'm rich I'll look back and it will probably seem funny, but right now nobody's laughing. Except maybe my high school guidance counselor. She was always rooting against me.
10. I'm almost positive you could take your blog posts and put them together for a fantastic book (this isn't so much of a question as it is an observation).
Nice! Send me some cash and you can publish it. Done.
11. I think Craig Clevenger said something about being a writer along the lines of, "It's the only profession in which you get fan mail and collection notices at the same time." Do you agree?
Yeah that hits a little too close right there. Getting served with a subpoena in the middle of a reading is really embarrassing. Trust me. Dick move, Ma. Dick move.
12. What's been your favorite job, so far?
A long time ago I worked as a cleaner at this place called The Oriental Club in London. It was a hotel/country club for big shot British people--Margaret Thatcher was a member--and I used to polish the bar and vacuum some rooms and dust. I worked the morning shift and whenever I'd see one of the members--almost always stuffy old men--I'd say "Morning sir...good morning...'ello guv'na...morning..." in this ridiculously fake Oliver Twist accent. I think they thought I was retarded. But I got free breakfast at the start of my shift and free lunch at the end, so that was nice. I liked how racist the name was too.
13. I can only think of one book that even compares to how funny your book is, and that's Michael Kun's, The Locklear Letters, do you have any recommendations?
Hey thanks. I'll have to check it out. I'm reading Dog of the South by Charles Portis and it's funny stuff.
14. How do you write? Pen and paper? Computer? Why does that work best for you?
I go pen and paper. I write everything out by hand first and then I type it up, then I usually go back and write it out again when I realize what I have is the worst. It takes forever but that's how I do it. I think I just like sticking it to myself.
15. Do you think that your online presence is important when marketing a book? I know you had the blog, a MySpace page, and then Facebook when your fans asked for it. What do you think of google+?
I guess it is but I'm not really good at it. I've heard of Google+ but I don't really know what it's supposed to do. I'm like a 90 year old man over here.
16. Did you have an agent when you tried to sell your book? How did you go about selling it?
I did and I'm still with him. He's a good guy. He shopped it around and took care of the selling side. That's another thing I'm not good at. This is making me feel bad about myself.
17. What was it like working with St. Martin's Press?
I had a really good experience. I've heard some horror stories about publishing in general but I liked my editor and everyone I worked with over there.
18. Is there any research involved in your writing, or is most of what you write straight out of your head?
Does eavesdropping on random conversations count as research? I'll look up some stuff online sometimes but usually it's just coming out of my head. Writing a historical novel seems like it would be way too much work.
19. Do you have anything else you'd like to tell our readers, or the budding authors out there?
Nah, I'm good.
20. What's next for Paul Neilan?
I'll probably go on Facebook and hate people for a while. I have a couple of vendettas going against total strangers. I have no idea who they are--I'm not sure if they're friends of friends or where they came from--but I'll log in and be like "All right you fuck, let's see what you're up to today. Ha ha, you look terrible in that picture. Yes!" It makes no sense and it's probably unhealthy but I can't help myself. It's becoming one of my favorite sports.