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Thursday, September 15, 2011

#23 Max Barry

20 Questions with Mourning Goats

Max is another author that I've had the privilege to read because of Chuck Palahniuk. The first paragraph of Syrup is one of my favorite openings to a book of all time, I won't write it here, but I hope that makes you go out and buy it, it's worth it! His new book, Machine Man, just came out, and it is epic, check out his interview, below!

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

A literary novel about a woman's existential quest for meaning, including a heart-rending section set on a farm where her childhood pets are sent to slaughter.

2. Your new book, Machine Man, just came out, what was your process writing this one? I know it was very different than your other books.

I wrote it live, posting one page per day to my website, where people could post comments. It took nine months and I nearly lost my mind.

3.  I loved your first three books, is Machine Man going in a different direction, or should your readers expect the same, Max Barry?

Machine Man is different. I kind of underestimated how different. It's only seeing reviews saying WHAT IS THIS IT'S NOT LIGHT-HEARTED CORPORATE SATIRE AT ALL that I've started thinking, yeah, I guess that is pretty different.

4. Syrup is being turned into a movie, how insane was it finding out that it was really going to happen? When is it expected to hit theaters?

That's two questions. This thing, it looks like twenty questions, but it's really thirty. I don't believe for a second anyone cares about me enough to read my answers to thirty questions. I'm going to start brutally summarizing. It was so insane I didn't believe it until they started filming, and mid-2012.

5. You’re not doing the normal book tour, can you tell us a little bit about your skype tour? How is it going?

People have been surprisingly normal. I kind of assumed it would draw out the crazies. But everyone's been really nice. It's been fun.

6. How did you go about selling Machine Man? Especially, with the way you wrote it.

I got about two months in and thought, "If I'm going to spend nine months writing this thing, I should earn something from it." So I threw up a PayPal thing.

7. Your book trailer was brilliant, have you heard a lot of responses to it? Are you going to continue doing them?

They're kind of required, now. I don't think they can be avoided. But I aim to make them as little about the book as possible.

8. I read in another interview that you have two books in progress, do you have any updates about them?

Sorry, no. I don't talk about books until someone agrees to publish them, after a humiliating experience in 2000.

9. Where do you see literature going? Is it all going to e-readers, online, etc.?

It's definitely going to e-readers. I think the novel is safe. But paper is in big trouble.

10. You wrote a novel in college and multiple others after that were never published, what ever happened to them? Any chances of resurrection?

Wow, I'm not that cruel. You don't want to read my college novel. The other books... well, some are more salvageable than others.

11. You have two little girls now, are they taking a lot of your time away from writing or just inspiring you to write more?

Both. They do take enormous amounts of time, which is as it should be. But they are completely inspiring.

12. Are you in any writer’s workshops, currently? I remember you used to be a part of an online workshop, yes?

I used to, yes, but now I just harass writer friends. Workshops are great, but I can't use them now or my agent freaks out about leaked manuscripts.

13. What can you tell us about Eight Weeks in Aquitaine? Is it still a viable option? Maybe under a pseudonym?

Yes! I still love that book. It suffers from a marketing problem, in that it's basically goofy, and I am supposed to be known for smart satire. I think if I lower my reputation enough, I get to publish it.

14. I was just turned on to www.corporateoppression.com doing research for this interview, it’s awesome, have you seen a lot of hits on it?

Wow, I forgot that site exists. I made it in 2005 or 06. I should probably update that.

15. You have Max’s Bookshelf on your page, which is awesome, are you reading anything now that you can’t put down?

The last book I read that I flat-out adored was "The Remains of the Day." I've just picked up "Reamde" by Neal Stephenson, which I'm excited and anxious about as he's my favorite author. If it's not brilliant, I
will be heart-broken.

16. Starting to blog so your readers don’t get bored is really nice of you; do you feel like authors today have a choice?

Well, you can be ridiculously talented. I think if you're ridiculously talented, you get to just stay home and write. If you're a guy like me, it helps to promote yourself a little.

17. The reviews of Machine Man, so far, are extremely positive; do you think you’ll do another project like this?

It depends on the idea. I really enjoyed writing the serial, but it doesn't suit every kind of story idea. It needs a simple, clear concept with a linear storyline.

18. With all of the specific company names you used in your first three published books, how have you not been sued?

I'm not really sure. I just know I keep using real company names and they keep not suing.

19.  I have to say, when someone comes over to my place and wants to talk about books, I show every one of them the first paragraph of Syrup, it’s just brilliant, how do you think the movie will transfer over to film?

It's hard to know until I see it on screen, but I'm very excited by what I saw during filming. It won't be just like the book. I think an adaptation needs to find a cinematic way to express the book's heart, which I think these guys did.

20. Do you have any advice for aspiring writers, or just anything you’d like to send out into cyberspace, through a goat?

My advice for writers is to nurture what makes you different. Being unique is the only reason anyone will want to read your words.

But don't be INSANE. There's a line.

Thank you!


And finally, don't forget to "like" Mourning Goats on Facebook and pick up Chewing the Page: The Mourning Goats Interviews on Amazon! 

Thursday, September 1, 2011

#22 Hugh MacLeod

  20 Questions with Mourning Goats
Hugh MacLeod
I was introduced to Hugh, through a friend and was immediately hooked. Not only does he have two hilarious and inspiring books out, but he sends out an email every day that I really look forward to. Please enjoy this interview, and check out his webpage at www.gapingvoid.com!

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

Goats- and sheep- have always struck me as rather dumb, sad, pathetic, unhappy creatures. That certainly seemed the case of my grandfather's farm. I suppose "Mourning" reminds me of that.

2. A friend of mine turned me on to your cartoons last year, and I've been a subscriber ever since, do you feel a lot of your support is word of mouth?

My support is ALL word of mouth. The occasional ping by big media has never really made much direct impact on my career.

3. Can you tell our readers what cube grenades are? 

"Cube Grenades"  is art I make, designed to go into office cubicles and cause little cultural explosions. See my recent blog post, "My work doesn't belong in art galleries, it belongs in cubicles."

4. I feel like your cartoons are almost self-help books, disguised in cartoon form, what are your thoughts?

I try to make art that motivates people to be the people they want to be. Art has no power in itself, it can only remind people of the power and the mystery they already have within them... which I suppose isn't too different from the best self-help literature out there.

5. You started doodling on the back of business cards in 1997, did you ever think it would get you to this point? 

Never. I thought it would keep me amused. The fact that it kept other people amused as well is an added bonus.

6. Did the bar scene in New York City start everything for you? It sounds like a lot of your inspiration at the beginning came out of them. 

The bar scene in New York was just an extension of what started years before that, in the bar scene of Edinburgh. Social drinking is a big deal to the Scots... it came quite a shock to me, a couple of years later, to discover it wasn't as big a deal everywhere else.

7. Was it a harder decision for you to go or leave New York? 

Both were easy decisions. Both just seemed like the right thing to do at the time. I loved New York, but I felt I had "done it" by the time I left.

8. Social networking has exploded the past couple of years, what are your thoughts on google+, is it needed? I see that you are a member, where do you see social media going?

Google+ is just one more thing to add to the slushpile, as far as I'm concerned. I would advise anybody to spend less time doing the social network thing, and more time actually MAKING stuff.

9. What was the journey like from drawing on the back of business cards to having thousands of subscribers reading your cartoons every day? 

It was slow and steady. Something I did every day, like practicing piano scales. Eventually it looked like a big deal from the outside, but it never was. It still isn't.

10. A cartoonist, a writer, CEO of a Stormhoek USA (a South African Wine), how do you find the time to do all of this? 

I don't. Most of my time is spent trying to catch up, and mostly failing.

11. Wait, CEO of a what? What does that entail? 

Exactly. I don't really do the wine thing any more, I need to change that on my website.

12. Ignore Everybody and Evil Plans were awesome, what made you decide to start putting out books? 

I always loved books, so one day I decided to make some of my own. It just seemed like the right thing to do at the time.

13. You've lived all over the country and world, do you think your location is important from a marketing standpoint, or are we past location?

Of course location is important. I couldn't do what I do from, say, Europe, let alone somewhere brutal and impoverished like Somalia. Too many hidden costs...

14. What were your aspirations when you first went to University of Texas, for English? 

Get a degree and find a good job afterwards. Nothing too ambitious.

15. You mentioned in a youtube video about being obsessive, do you think that's a positive trait in writing/art?

It's pretty much the ONLY trait in writing/art.

16. How long did it take you to get out of the copy-editing world and live on your art? 

Five to ten years, depending on who you ask. That's about how long it takes to do anything TRULY lasting and worthwhile, I have found.

17. Was tripling Anderson & Sheppard's Tailor business one of your favorite marketing stories? I loved watching it, here.

It certainly is. It's what broke me out of the usual nine-to-five meathook reality that most people have to put up with. I was very glad to leave that accursed world behind, believe me...

18. Do you think that your writing, art, and marketing all coincide? It feels like they're all interconnected. 

Yep. They all collide, pretty much every day. I don't worry about it any more.

19. I love that you said, "an artist is quite a fucked-up thing to be, and to be honest I'm not sure if I would recommend it to anybody" do you really believe that? What advice do you have for someone that wants to be?

The hardest part of being an artist, I have found, is not the work itself, or the business side of things, but the ACCEPTANCE of it. Accepting that hey, yeah, this is what I do, is really hard for anybody, artist or not.

20. What's next for Hugh MacLeod?

There is no "Next". There is only making more drawings and writings, and trying to stay healthy and happy. "Ambition" is for amateurs.
Thank you!