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Thursday, September 12, 2013

Up and Coming Author - Christoph Paul

Up and Coming Author - Christoph Paul

A friend recommended that I checked out this Christoph character for an up and coming author interview, and after reading his poetry book, ripping apart most of the celebrities that we all hold near and dear, I'm glad I got the recommendation. I'm interested to see where this young man goes!

1. What comes to mind when you hear, "Mourning Goats?"

I think of girl goats getting milked and feeling sad wishing the milk would be for their babies not to make cheese. I do love goat cheese but that does have to suck for the goats.

2. For those who aren't familiar with your work, tell us a little bit about your first two books.

They are both humor books of high art getting extremely low like Lil’ Jon and Flo Rida low. The first book is a non-fiction and satire ‘The Passion of The Christoph’ I talk about managing a porn store while getting an MA (one of my favorite pieces is having a discussion with the porn patrons about Anna Karenina and of course Infinite Jest of Picking Porn Titles which is me going all David Foster Wallace on how to select the new releases and having a bibliography to back up the choices). There is also satire pieces that are writing related like ‘Ghostwriting Snooki’s Second Novel’ and ‘Old Dirty Bastard’s Self Help Book Proposal’. It is a combo of porn store stories and pop culture humor.

The other book “Psychoanalytic Celebrity Poems” was a collection of poetry that started with me showing my editor this collection of poetry that I referred with great pretentiousness as my’ 808 and Heartbreak’ (a Kanye West album where he whines about a girl) and my editor/publisher said it is hard to sell poetry books and I solemnly agreed with her and then joked I’d probably have to write a poetry book on celeberties for it sell. Then more as a dare and that morphed into a ‘marketable’ and creative idea I took my love pop culture and began to write the ‘celb poems’ book. I just ran with it was lucky to have Loren Kleinman a much more serious poet and talented poet to help edit it and now its getting a lot of love from poetry and non-poetry lovers.

3. On the cover of your first book, Passion of the Christoph, it shows your MA prominently, do you think an MA or MFA is important for a writer?

Absolutely not! The MA on the cover was the publisher’s idea as we’re making fun of the whole MA and MFA thing. It is satirical. I learned more at the porn store just reading the classics, writing when it was slow, and talking to the pervs then I did in workshops. I am a friend and fan of Anis Shivani and agree with a lot of his sentiments on MFA programs. Where I differ with Anis is I do think it’s good thing just because it gives writers a rewarding job that doesn’t involve selling gangbang flicks or working for the Department of Labor (which is actually more amoral than managing a porn store) but no I don’t think a writer has to get an MA and especially an MFA to be a writer. On a personal note, I have to say writing an MFA thesis paper was torture and a waste of time especially when I want to write an actual book and get a band going. I left with just the M.A.

4. As a musician, do you find that writing prose and writing music has a lot in common, or are they completely separate to you?

That is a good question. I’ve gotten similar questions but the way you worded it has my wheels turning. They are the same in that they both have limitations. In songs I have 4 to 8 chords, two verses, a chorus that repeats twice and maybe a bridge. In prose, I have an idea/story and a certain amount of word count with a beginning, middle, and end. The difference is writing prose feels more active to me—it just flows. While song writing I can only describe as fishing—your just fucking around with guitar chords until you catch something that clicks and then you do the same thing with a melody. I don’t outline a song, but prose I do; I’m more ‘hands on’ with prose. I joke that Norman Mailer got it wrong ‘Song Writing’ is ‘The Spooky Art’ prose is just being prepared and hitting the beats.

5. You've released two very different books, what do you consider your writing style?

Literary Low Art? I don’t know, I did one reading and a playwright I really respect called me a genre of my own. Someone else said it was like Nabokov meets Tucker Max, which is unique but I don’t if that’s good though but I never really read Tucker. I am all over the place but I think I am fine with the style and label of ‘humor writer’ for better or worst the people who read my stuff laugh. I feel confident and at my best when I’m writing humor.

6. Do you like giving readings? How do you go about getting opportunities to read, especially in NYC?

I love live performance in general. I would read and play music every night if I could. To get a reading, it is usually knowing somebody who hosts one but I will state the one thing NYC has above other cities is a great open mic scene. You will see professionals at these open mics’ testing their material out. Major shout and love to ‘Penny’s Open Mic’ where I’ve read and seen a lot of top-notch playwrights, comedians, musicians, and poets show their stuff and/or workshop it. The place is always packed.

7. What's your writing schedule like? Every day? When the mood hits?

I write at least 6 days a week, the mood always hits. I try to write as much as I can. I’m very proud of the work ethic and stamina I have built up in the last 4 to 5 years. My philosophy with ‘jobs’ even has revolved on my writing: find one that can pay me enough that I can sneak writing in the day and do music at night. So far so good. The Porn Store and The Department of Labor were both perfect.

8. Have you noticed location playing a part in your writing? You're from Florida and currently living in New York, do you think that changes how you write?

Not really. It’s funny I didn’t hit my stride until I moved to New York City but I think that is just a coincidence. In many ways it is harder to write here cause there is always something going on. I’ll be revising and hear drunk chicks hanging out near my window talking about wanting to get laid. I’m just grateful I quit smoking or I’d be screwed—writing wise. So, I put the music or TV louder for background noise and keep writing.

9. I was told about you and your books through a mutual friend, do you think that kind of word of mouth and/or social media connection is important for upcoming writers?

What I am going to state is sad but true especially coming from a musician who has seen and felt what the digital age has done. But yes, absolutely, it is as equal if not more important than your actual writing skills. The artist in me finds it appalling but the realists in me sees that if you are good at marketing and having a social media presence you are going to do better than the ‘better writer’ just because there is so much choice and good marketing can equal a lot of book purchases. I have gotten decent at the social media game especially twitter and that is why I’m doing okay with my books and gaining an audience. I have no marketing budget so I have to be really creative to reach people. The writing is the easy part getting people to know who you are and pay attention that is tough part of writing today.

When I’m knowledgeable enough and cracked the code, I want to write a book “ Social Media Advice for Anti-Socials and Artists” because nothing aggravates me more than a quality poet, musician, or fiction writer not getting the audience that is merited because they can’t market it right, they hate social media, and their publisher is lazy and/or doesn’t have the funds. I want to teach those people how to do the bullshit because right now you are going to get mediocre writers who play the game better that will sell more books. I’m on the side of quality, risky, and/or unique art and I want to help quality artists achieve success in the digital age.

10. Have you read anything recently that's knocked you on your ass?

‘Horns’ by Joe Hill, really impressed me. The first act was just amazing: such a great premise and tight writing. This is next one is really random and I’m not a zombie guy but I read a book ‘Zombies and Shit’ by Carlton Mellick III and I just loved it. It was just Zombies meets Battle Royale with Mr. T being in it. It was so tight and entertaining; just a pleasant awesome surprise, the writing, story, and characters were so good I can’t even say it was guilty pleasure.

Other than that I’ve been reading a ton of YA books cause I’m working on one. None of them have knocked me on my ass but I’m really feeling ‘Aristotle and Dante Discover The Secrets of The Universe’ it is really really good. I also got to be a beta reader for a poetry collection by Loren Kleinman “The Dark Cave Between My Ribs” that floored me but I have bias there. It still knocked me on my ass I think that will be a special poetry book of 2014.

11.What's next for Christoph Paul?

Like I said, I’m doing the YA book, feeling good about that. It will be comedic but more accessible than my others. It won’t be NC-17. That poetry book I refer to as my ‘808s and Heartbreak’ might come out now this year with Swift Ink Books just to show I’m not a shock writer and have serious and soft side.

I am still keeping with my punk rock roots, playing shows and I’m working on an erotica satire under a pen name Moses De Sade that is like ‘The Imperfectionists’ on Viagra and Crack. The plot is a group of extreme liberal activists poison the Fox News water supply with a new designer drug that makes you become a sexual deviant. Right now I have a scene with Lou Dobbs and a Mexican Janitor that is just so fucked up and beautiful. It goes from chapter to chapter with different workers of Fox News like ‘The Imperfectionists’ did with the newspaper workers just they have sex instead of talk about how much working for their newspaper sucks. I’m also working on a short for a Bizarro anthology called ‘The Masturbating Vampire’ about a 400 year old chronic masturbating vampire who stops masturbating because he found love. So I have a nice balance of mainstream and not so mainstream projects, which is great place to be creatively.

Thanks for having me Goat.

Thank you!


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