Today Mik Everett, author of the astonishingly uncategorizable Turtle, has stopped by to answer just a few of the burning questions I was left with when I finished the book.
JK: I'll start with the obvious. You seem pretty young to write with such verve. What are your literary influences?
ME: It seems fallacious to say that the biggest influence on my writing is life, because that really doesn't account for all the little discrepancies between different people's experiences in life. Two people in the same place at the same time have two different memories of an occurrence, no matter how similar their experience may be to an outside observer-- and that observer has a completely different perspective as well. I guess that perspective is the greatest influence on my writing. I like accounting for different points of view, telling stories from unusual perspectives, or even using writing to gain a sense of perspective. I find stories too unrealistic and bland when every character remembers and describes an unusual astrological event or even a simple argument with the same perspective.
JK: Writing from your own perspective about any family, but especially this one, is a truly bold decision. Does your family support your writing?
ME: Regarding Turtle, very little of my family knows that I wrote it. For reasons obvious if you've read even a synopsis of the book, I used a pseudonym and kept it secret from my family that I'd published it. I'd published a few short stories and I have a freelance writing job, but because my family doesn't know about Turtle, they're basically under the impression that I'm a no-account jobless dreamer dabbling in university courses and unsteady writing jobs. I'm okay with that. It sort of leaves me free to do what I want to do.
JK: I can understand how that freedom is necessary for you.
ME: My dad is the exception. He found a link to the Amazon page for Turtle in my byline on an article I'd written about, I don't know, bread or something. He bought the book. He called me after he read it. He kept repeating that it seemed to him I did a pretty good job of being accurate, but that someone reading it might wonder, "Where is this girl's father?" I didn't have a good response for him. I typed up our conversation-- my perspective of it-- right after I got off the phone, and I've thought about adding it as an epilogue to the book. It would add some information that I didn't know at the time of the publication of the book.
JK: Now that he mentions it, there was a distinct lack of a father figure in the book, so that epilogue could be interesting. What about the people in your daily life?
ME: I have, of course, marvelous support from what I truly consider my family-- my better half, John, and our two children. His son is just six months older than my daughter Sophie, and apart from the terror of raising two toddlers close enough to be twins, I have everything I could ever ask for in a family. Although, because John is a writer as well, we're not the sanest of families. I'm okay with that.
JK: How did you get started writing?
ME: I don't remember how I started writing. As a child-- I'm talking maybe three years old-- my mother would get tired of me asking her to spell words, so she'd tell me to go outside to play. Then I would just cover the driveway in chalk. I never stopped writing. I wrote backwards, I wrote in code. I covered the backs of envelopes and voided checks. Eventually I realized that wasn't going anywhere and I started putting stuff together to make stories. I have a freelance job writing humorous essays of the 'scathing' variety and cultural reviews for an online publication. I'm somewhat working on another novel. Sort of Through the Looking Glass, but with the plot of This Side of Paradise and with logical proofs instead of a chess game. I worked as a logic instructor at my university for a year, and I was overwhelmed by the desire to turn the algebra-like language of logic into a narrative. Don't expect it to be out for a few years, though.
JK: What can readers think about while they wait?
ME: My family is taking a tour of all the swirly highways that go around and up and down the mountains. We're camping at night, driving all day, and stopping at every retail space with a 'FOR RENT' sign. So far we've been charged by an elk, had all our food eaten by bears, made friends with a bike gang, etc. Once we complete our circuit, we're going to decide on a location and get the heck back to Kansas to bottle some beer that's currently fermenting in our basement. It's this black-as-black stout called Ink; the label is a squid reading a book. Let me back up. Our company is called Brainfood, and we're currently a brewery with a bottle that's combination literary magazine/ art exhibit. We're accepting submissions of flash fiction and artwork, which we use on our labels and on the cardboard six-packs. Once we find a suitable retail space, we're going to expand our wares to include books and art. Our goal is to provide retail space for independent authors and artists, and hopefully venue space for musicians as well.
JK: Thanks so much for these updates. Readers will have to wait with bated breath for such brilliant projects to take off. In the meantime, you can support both Mik's writing and her exciting bookstore, etc. project by picking up Turtle or by following @BrainfoodVenue on Twitter and submitting your flash fiction and poetry for the beer bottle labels.