By Bonnie ZoBell
I‘m on a secret island in Mexico reading proofs for The Whack-Job Girls, my fiction chapbook due out from Monkey Puzzle Press in spring 2013. Nope, don’t even try to divine where in Mexico. I’m not about to have every relative and “friend” from the last three decades chase me down, though the IRS has already found me. Here’s what’s what: After The New Yorker bribed my editor to read The Whack-Job Girls pre-pub, the magazine sent two of their best women to birddog me, demanding to see more of my work. Ultimately, they bought twenty-seven of my short stories, I quit my day job right in the middle of finals, and got myself on the next plane. The IRS says they want their cut, but I say they can’t have a peso, at least not while I’m on this side of the border.
After years of hard work, I’m drifting in tranquility in the pool, dozing to Adele, drinking Funky Monkeys. After a bit of sun, I rotate back to my poolside cabana and gaze out at the ocean. But these pesky tax men hover. It’s not exactly a free country down here, but they can’t stop me from my siesta. They perch on poolside lounges, but the dark suits, the sunglasses, and the white socks don’t exactly help them blend in. They want more info about my writing life, think they’ll turn up taxable income from years past. Boy, will they be disappointed.
Anyhow, forgive, but here are their questions:
Ten Interview Questions for the Next Big Thing
(These tax guys think I’m the next big thing in their lives. They envision big old bonuses, taking their wives to The Palm once they uncover all my secret money. Would I be living in this tiny Spanish cottage and driving a twelve-year old car if there were secret money? Where do they recruit these guys?)
What is your working title of your book (or story)?
I actually have two books forthcoming—The Whack-Job Girls, a fiction chapbook, is coming out in March 2013 with Monkey Puzzle Press. What Happened Here, a linked short story collection, is coming out in spring 2014 with Press 53. I’ll focus on my chapbook since it’s coming out first.
Where did the idea come from for the book?
I noticed that a lot of the women I was writing about were alienated, ostracized in some way—and, well, whacky. I decided they might like to be in a collection together.
What genre does your book fall under?
Flash fiction. (No, you don’t get paid extra for flash!)
Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
Nonnie – Tina Fey
Robin – Natalie Portman
Woman who just moved to NYC from Spokane – Ziyi Zhang
Sharla - Jennifer Hudson
Kitty – Kathy Bates
Jill – Rooney Mara
Pia – Viola Davis
Woman watching serial killer TV show – Snooki
Writer at an artists’ colony – Salma Hayek
Hotel maid - Kirsten Dunst
What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
The Whack-Job Girls & other stories is a collection of very short tales about women of all ages who are not acceptable to society because they are either a little odd or considerably odd.
Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
Neither. Agents aren’t interested in chapbooks. A small press, Monkey Puzzle Press, will publish it. (Go ahead and ask Nate—he has no receipt for a million dollars because it didn’t cost him quite that much.)
How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
These are stories I wrote when I was inspired and when I was also writing longer works over the last four years.
What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
Four writers whose work inspired me to start writing flash would be Kathy Fish (Wild Life), Kyle Hemmings (Void & Sky: A Collection of Prose & Poems), Kim Chinquee (Oh Baby), and Randall Brown (Mad to Live).
Who or what inspired you to write this book?
I love the form of flash fiction, the poetry of the language. It was a relief to write it after many years of writing longer fiction.
What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
The IRS took one look at it, opened the centerfold, and stole the whole first print run and smuggled them back into the U.S. because they know how easy it’ll be to sell them.
And now I will pass la antorcha on to some truly gifted writers who will be posting about their works in the upcoming weeks. Here they are in reverse alphabetical order—as all people with “Z” last names like to see.
“The dazzling Susan Tepper will guest blog on JULES JUST WRITE, Jules Archer’s site, on December 21 about From the Umberplatzen, a quirky love story told in flash and set in Germany. Read more about Susan here.
The brilliant Cynthia Reeser will illuminate on Tales from the Hillbilly Underground: Stories from a Coal Miner’s, the working title of her short story collection. Her post will go live after the holidays on January 4 on her blog to http://cynthiareeser.blogspot.com/.
Michelle Reale, writer splendente, will enlighten us about her new book This is Not a Situation in Which You Should Remain Calm, coming out very soon with Cervena Barva Press on December 18 on her blog Sempre Sicilia.
The artistically endowed Meg Pokrass will dissertate on her blog http://www.flash-fiction.com on December 21st about Happy Upside Down, a new collection of flash due out in fall 2013 with Press 53.
Rae Bryant, artiste effulgent, will be cultivating a variety of resplendent writers at Eckleburg on December 17th. To read more about Ms. Bryant, see her blog here. She is working on a new novel, ms. MARROW, and you can read her recent story “Leopard. Lion. She-Wolf.” published in Issue 13, Winter 2012, in Wag’s Revue here.