- What’s your least favorite thing about writing?
I think most writers I know would agree that the business side of things kind of sucks. No, we’re not in it for the cash, but the time between completing a story or a book and seeing it published is often measured in years. On the other hand, I’ve developed a mechanical routine for submissions. I get rejections so often it’s almost satisfying adding another checkmark to the ol’ tally. I just received my thousandth rejection last month. Did I drink to celebrate my dedication or to numb myself to futility? Even I may never know.
- Which author would you like to have a drink with (Dead or alive. Them, not you).
I once wrote the story of a fictional encounter with Haruki Murakami at a bar in Boston. We drank Cutty Sark and chatted about the baseball game on the TV over the bar, though we weren’t fans of either team. He left. The end.
- Who is your favorite author that you don’t know personally? Who is your favorite author that you do know personally?
At the risk of getting redundant, Murakami was the author who brought me to literary fiction, and I’d list several of his books in my top ten. Before I read A Wild Sheep Chase, my reading was mostly limited to science fiction. I read that book in one sitting, though, and the rest is fabulist history.
I’m lucky to know a bunch of my favorite writers: Aimee Bender, Amelia Gray, Manuel Gonzales, Patricia Lockwood. Manuel doesn’t know me very well, but I did fan-boy him at AWP. I’m still talking about his novel a year and a half after I read it. I’m eternally grateful to Karen Russell. Many years ago, I attended a Tin House Summer Workshop where she was the leader. In addition to being one of the best writers in the universe, Karen is incredibly kind and supportive and genuinely caring. All of you should go buy her books right now.
- What about your discipline (fiction, poetry, etc) do you wish you were better at?
All of it? I consider writing a practice, and each project is training for doing the next project better. I also think that part of the writing process is discovery, so I don’t always know in advance where I have weaknesses in my writing. Sometimes I don’t know until several drafts into a project. Is that answer dodging the question? Then plot. I should probably be a better at writing stories with traditional plot structures.
- What kind of creative rituals or patterns do you have?
I write in a coffee shop every morning. For 15 years, it was Gallery Espresso in Savannah, Georgia. Now that I live in Northern Virginia, I bounce around between a few locations. As a huge proponent of reading work out loud as part of the revision process, I’ve received many strange looks from other coffee shop patrons as I sit hunched over my table talking to myself.
Bonus question: if you could put a tunnel under any building leading to any other building (geography notwithstanding – this is a magic tunnel), what would you do?
Would this magic tunnel also allow me to access a bank vault without criminal repercussions? If not, then I’d probably connect The Original Pinkie Masters in Savannah to the Silvertone in Boston. Two of my favorite bars for socializing and people-watching. And for drinking.
Take a look at Zack’s work here, and check out the rest of our November lineup here. Even better than looking at websites – leave your warm homes and hear Zach and the rest of our readers read on Tuesday, November 14th at Charmington’s, 7pm.