Thursday, January 12, 2012

13 Questions with S.D. Foster

And we're back.  That break was much longer than I thought.  Today's guest is S.D. Foster, author of A Hollow Cube is a Lonely Space.

How did you get involved in the Bizarro movement?
My introduction to Bizarro was a few years ago via the chance discovery of The Overwhelming Urge by Andersen Prunty and The Kafka Effekt by D. Harlan Wilson. In 2010, I (unsuccessfully) submitted a longer version of A Hollow Cube is a Lonely Space to the excellent Ohio-based small press, Atlatl, which has published fiction by both Wilson and Prunty. Then, in August 2011, I sent a shorter version to Eraserhead’s New Bizarro Author Series editor, Kevin L. Donihe, which marked the beginning of my involvement in the movement. It’s all been very sudden, and it still feels odd to be in regular contact with people who, it turns out, are not just names on book spines.

Tell us about A Hollow Cube is a Lonely Space.
I would describe it as a collection of mini-bizarro-biographies, conventionally structured narratives (exposition, rising action, climax, falling action, resolution) about unconventional, often tragicomic characters: a passionate girl made of wood, a stoic teddy bear, a socially inept snowman, etc. These characters are very important to me. I’m interested in their histories, I’m sympathetic to their struggles, I’m appalled by their vices—and I hope that readers will be, too.

Is there one story you've written that you'd say is your favorite?
Not really. Several of the stories deal with my favorite theme, frustrated ambition.

Was there a book that made you realize you wanted to be a writer?
I’ve wanted to be a writer since I was a child, but don’t remember being inspired by any one book. As an adult, Raymond Carver’s short story collection, What We Talk About When We Talk About Love, was revelatory. This may seem strange, given that Carver was a dirty realist; but his style was one I believed I could aspire to. I consider myself a dirty irrealist.

What made you decide to go with a collection of short stories rather than a novella for the New Bizarro Author Series?
A Hollow Cube is a Lonely Space wasn’t written with the NBAS specifically in mind. I write short stories because that’s what I most love to read, and because the form is well-suited to my prose. I agonize over every word, have nightmares about sentence construction.

Who would you say your influences are?
The living: Russell Edson, James Tate, D. Harlan Wilson, Lemony Snicket. The dead: Daniil Kharms, Flann O’Brien, Frank L. Baum. The decayed: Hans Christian Andersen, the Brothers Grimm, Aesop. And, like most Bizarros, I have a taste for and am influenced by cult horror and exploitation movies. This list is by no means exhaustive, though.

King Kong or Godzilla?
In solidarity with my fellow primate, I vote Kong. I have a Kong-themed story appearing soon in Garrett Cook’s ezine, Nuckelavee.

What's your favorite book?
For nostalgic reasons, probably something from childhood, like Alice Through the Looking Glass or In the Night Kitchen.
Who's your favorite author?
Narrowing it down to one is impossible. My influences are my favorites.

What's your favorite short story?
Again, it’s impossible to narrow down. A few that spring immediately to mind are Daniil Kharms’ “The Old Woman,” Roald Dahl’s “Pig,” Richard Matheson’s “Blood Son,” Spencer Holst’s “The Zebra Storyteller,” and Edward Lear’s “The Story of the Four Little Children Who Went Round the World.”

What's the best book you've read in the last six months?
The best prose I’ve read is Kevin L. Donihe’s zombie parody, Night of the Assholes. It includes more uses of the word “asshole” than the subtitles to Korean war-horror movie R-Point. The best poetry is Luke Kennard’s The Migraine Hotel, which is, like all my favorite books, equally profound and ridiculous.

Any words of wisdom for aspiring writers?
Sleep deprivation, depression and Dr. Pepper are invaluable creative aids. Yes, it’s true, the first draft is awful; so is the second; the third is hardly an improvement; and so on. Find the right publisher. And once published, the work has only just begun.

What's next for S.D. Foster?
At the moment I’m so busy promoting A Hollow Cube is a Lonely Space that I can’t imagine ever writing again! But when I do, more of the same, only longer—a collection of around fifty stories, each featuring a memorable character with an alliterative name, is my aim. I wouldn’t rule out something longer, though…


  1. Everybody seems to find D. Harlan Wilson first.

    Very insightful. Welcome to the NBAS club!

  2. I knew there was some of the brothers grimm in there!