Thursday, April 21, 2011

The Eggman - 13 Questions with Caris O'Malley

My series of interviews of the New Bizarro Authors continues with Caris O'Malley, author of The Egg Said Nothing

How did your becoming one of the New Bizarro Authors come about?

In November of 2009, I wrote a novel. It was kind of weird. I had just written it for fun and never expected to do anything with it. I wrote a book, and that was enough for me. One day, while surfing the Internet at work, I was perusing my Amazon recommendations. Those crazy bastards suggested, based on my history, that I might enjoy such titles as The Haunted Vagina, HELP! A Bear is Eating Me! , and The Baby Jesus Butt Plug.

As you might expect, I let out an audible “what the fuck?!” and investigated these odd titles. It turned out that they were all published by the same company: Eraserhead Press. I went to their website and looked around a bit. I was mightily impressed by their catalog, which featured many books that sounded interesting, funny, or just plain wrong. I decided to contact them and see if they were in the market for a book about an egg, time travel, and shovel murders. As it turns out, they were.

An Egg? Time Travel? Shovel Murders? Tell us how The Egg Said Nothing came to be.
It was National Novel Writing Month ( I had never participated before, but I was excited about it. I wanted to adhere to the rules and write a book from beginning to end, one that I had never started.

But there were complications. About two weeks before the start of the month, I became a father. It was a huge adjustment for me and resulted in a lot of lost sleep. To make matters worse, my daughter had colic and spent the majority of her time howling like something that oft howls. That first day came around and I drew a blank. I had no idea what to write about. I had my computer on, the document open, and a crying babe on my knee.

So my mind started racing. I started to panic a bit. I had entertained the thought of writing a really great novel. I’m into literary fiction, and that was what I thought I’d be writing. But I couldn’t think of dramatic dialogue and subtle characterizations. Blame it on the newness of my fatherhood, but I started thinking about eggs. Specifically, what would I do if I laid one.

This, I thought, was a decent idea. I’d write about this goofy idea for the sheer fun of it. It was the only way I was going to make it through that particular NaNoWriMo. But then I got into it. I really got into it. And the egg began to haunt my thoughts. Somewhere in the beginning, I was stricken with writer’s block and I perused the NaNoWriMo support forums for help. That was when I learned about a Novel Writing Month tradition: the traveling shovel of death. All that time travel bullshit kind of happened on its own. Or perhaps a future version of myself penned it after the fact. Nobody really knows.

Was there a book that made you realize you wanted to be a writer?
There have been many books that made me want to be a writer. It is the first dream I can remember harboring. To that end, I think it’s safe to say that R.L. Stine’s Goosebumps series is the primary culprit.

Who are some of your influences?
I’d say that Charles Bukowski has inspired me more than anyone else. I like his simplicity and readability. He is able to do so much in such an understated manner. On the opposite end of the spectrum, I am greatly inspired by Nicole Krauss. Her stuff is horribly convoluted, but make-you-stop-breathing beautiful. Anyone who reads The Egg will also notice that I’ve been greatly influenced by Christopher Moore and Chuck Palahniuk.

What's your favorite book?
My favorite book of all time is Maggie Cassidy by Jack Kerouac.

Who's your favorite author?
Jack Kerouac

What's the best book you've read in the last six months?
I’ve had really good luck the past six months. I read The Hunger Games for the first time (which completely blew me away). Ooh. And there was Guy N. Smith’s Night of the Crabs, which simply must be experienced. The book that most impressed me, though, was fellow NBASer Steve Lowe’s Muscle Memory. Fantastic book.

In addition to being a writer, you're a prominent reviewer on Goodreads. Has your interaction with the community changed much since The Egg Said Nothing was published?
I love GoodReads. I love, love, love it. I’ve spent a couple of years religiously reviewing every book I read. I wrote the book about a year after I became really active on the site. The GR community has been so supportive of my writing and I love them for it.

I try to keep my established identity on GR to the greatest extent possible. You may have noticed that I’m not a “GoodReads Author.” This is intentional. I want to hold on to all the aspects of GR that I love. If people want to talk to me about my book, that’s great. But I want to be their friend, too. I refuse to let GR just turn into another promotional tool. It’s too important to me.

If you were a performer in an adult movie, what would your stage name be?
Snowbear Second Avenue

Which of these George Lucas produced movies would you say is your favorite: Willow, More American Graffiti, or Howard the Duck?
I can’t believe you’re making me choose between Willow and Howard the Duck. I can’t even tell you how much I love both of those movies. Uh…..Willow, by a narrow margin.

Which of the Golden Girls would you say is the most attractive?
Sophia. Hands down.

Any words of wisdom for aspiring writers?
First and foremost, find someone, preferably another writer, to read your stuff. Make it someone who you can trust to be honest. They’ll tell you when you’re on the right track and when you need to change lanes.
Keep writing. You’ll only get better. Don’t be deterred by naysayers.
If you can, find a magic pen. Or a genie that can give you great writing abilities. Those things would probably help, too.

What's next for Caris O'Malley?
That’s the question weighing on everyone’s mind. Fuck global warming. What’s Caris gonna do now?
I wrote a book last year called Clownhunter. I might do something with that. It’s still in the editing stages. At the moment, I’m working on an as yet untitled piece of young adult fiction that is decidedly not weird in any way. I’m hoping that Eraserhead will offer me a contract as result of The Egg. You can help me with this. Buy my book. I’ll love you forever. I swear it.

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