Archive for Interviews

Crowdfunding So Far, According to Biggs

mytro stretch

Slushpile founder John Biggs surpassed the initial goal for crowdfunding his debut young adult novel, Mytro. Now, Biggs and his fanbase are working on making their stretch goals over at Indiegogo. Here is a quick Q&A on what he’s seen with crowdfunding so far.

Slushpile: What surprised you about the crowdfunding process so far?

Biggs: That it took so long to ramp up. I have a fairly big platform but even with that it was a strange, scary feeling. I’m glad it worked, but it was frightening. I’m also happy that my friends and family really supported me.

Slushpile: You surpassed your initial goal. As a result, how did you increase or change the scope of the project?

Biggs: I offered improved goals. It’s a book so there’s very little I can change but still it was something to offer signed books.

Slushpile: What is one thing you learned, or wished you had done differently?

Biggs: Nothing yet. I wish I had budgeted a bit more but it’s hard to do before figuring out how many books you need to print.

Slushpile: What is the next step in bringing Mytro to readers?

Biggs: A thorough cleaning by a hired copy editor, layout, and printing. After this it should only take a few weeks to really get rolling.

Then I have to write two more books…

Interview: Jeremie Ruby-Strauss, Editor

Power Chord Book Frehley Pearcy

To the outsider, the world of books and publishing is sometimes perceived as a stuffy, stodgy, genteel world of college professors, pipes, and tweed jackets with elbow patches. Now imagine that quiet book reading, with a string quartet playing the corner, being crashed by a bunch of unwashed, drugged out rockers. That clash of cultures is probably what a weekend is like for Jeremie Ruby-Strauss, heavy metal book editor extraordinaire at Gallery Books.

Earlier in his career, Ruby-Strauss cranked up the volume on the bestseller list by working on Marilyn Manson’s book The Long Hard Road Out of Hell and Motley Crue’s The Dirt: Confessions of the World’s Most Notorious Rock Band. More recently, Ruby-Strauss blasted off into orbit to work with the Spaceman himself, Ace Frehley.

Now, obviously, I’ve covered hard rock literature pretty extensively here at And my own recently published book, Power Chord: One Man’s Ear-Splitting Quest to Find His Guitar Heroes deals with hard rock and heavy metal. And I must confess… I’ve grown slightly skeptical of the metal book genre because some of the recent releases seemed to be little more than quick and easy product, as opposed to something of substance. So I wanted to get Ruby-Strauss’ opinion on the trend.

The respected editor spoke about the deluge of hard rock books, about when Ace Frehley met Keith Richards, about Stephen Pearcy’s new book, and about his own personal musical tastes.

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Dzanc to Publish Stephen Graham Jones

Earlier this week, news broke that one of Slushpile’s favorite indie publishers Dzanc Books signed on to release two new books by one of our favorite writers, Stephen Graham Jones.

You might recall Jones from one of our two interviews with him.

After the news broke, I asked Jones for a little more detail about his new partnership with Dzanc.

“Very cool to be hitched with Dzanc for Flushboy and Not for Nothing,” Jones says. “I mean, they push quality writing, they produce slick books, and they believe in fiction. And, aside from all that, are excellent people, have a great catalogue. Couldn’t be happier to be doing these two with them.”

In regards to the two new books, Jones points out that “Flushboy is maybe going to be the first drive-through urinal novel, yeah? Probably I should patent that process, all the bank tubes, the hygiene measures, the inevitable accumulation of shame you’d have to get — or, that this kid working that drive-through in Flushboy accumulates, anyway. But it’s more than that, I hope. A love story, because my wife told me I hadn’t done one of those yet. Not good enough, anyway. Flushboy‘s all about love, about being sixteen, seventeen. All happens over the course of one shift, too; hopefully Stewart O’Nan doesn’t feel robbed or anything. Which — not to say I didn’t write this a while back.”

The other novel leaves the bathroom behind and lands in a town with a hard luck detective. “Talking robbed, when Robert Coover’s Noir hit, I thought it very possible my heart might just break, come crumbling down my sleeve. Because that second-person approach to the detective, that way of rendering his voice, it’s what Not for Nothing is. This exiled homicide cop Nicholas Bruiseman, returning to his home town of Stanton, Texas, the last place he ever wanted to go again, the only place he has left. But already, not even looking for work, not even licensed to work, he’s tangled up in a love triangle that’s spitting bodies out, and he’s finding that, to solve this case, to figure out who’s who, he’s going to have to crack into a past he thought gone forever. But, in places like Stanton — I grew up there — the past, it’s all around you, everywhere you go. It’s terrible and wonderful, liberating and cloying, maybe the best place to finally figure out who you are. All of which is to say, yeah, 2013, 2014. If Emmerich was wrong and we somehow make it through 2012, then save some space on your shelf, maybe in your heart, if I can be that cheesy this far in advance.”

Daniel Woodrell Interviewed


The Southeast Review has a fantastic interview with Daniell Woodrell. Damn, now I’m going to have to dash home and devour Give Us a Kiss again.

[via Confessions of an Idiosyncratic Mind]

Interview: Mickey Rapkin, Author

rapkinWho knew collegiate a cappella was such a big deal?

Mickey Rapkin, senior editor at GQ a veteran of the a cappella circuit at Cornell, knew. Besides his own life experiences, Rapkin noticed several a cappella references sprinkled throughout recent popular culture. Popular television shows such as The Office and 30 Rock joked about the phenomenon.

Celebrities such as actors James Van Der Beek, Mira Sorvino, Anne Hathaway sang in collegiate a cappella outfits while Debra Messing and Jessica Biel were rejected in their tryouts. Masi Oka, star of NBC’s Heroes performed in Bear Necessities, a group at Brown University and arranged a killer version of the song “Flashdance” which he belted out while wearing a purple leotard and tutu.

Rapkin noticed all these pop culture connections –including an infamous bit of trivia including the most wanted man in the world and a cappella– and decided to investigate the strange subculture of singing without instruments.

His 2008 book, Pitch Perfect: The Quest for Collegiate A Cappella Glory, chronicles three university groups as they compete during the 2006-2007 school year. He tagged along with the Beelzebubs from Tufts, Divisi from the University of Oregon, and the University of Hullabahoos and discovered that the world of competitive collegiate a cappella is shockingly cuthroat, ambitious, engaging, and hilarious. And believe it or not, these dudes get laid a lot. At some universities, members of the a cappella groups are the equivalent of local rock stars.

In preparation for the April 7, 2009 release of the paperback version of Pitch Perfect, Rapkin spoke with me about selling the book, furiously taking notes, tense shifts, and his favorite solo.

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Interview: Steven Rinella, Author

rinella In American Buffalo: In Search of a Lost Icon,, outdoorsman and writer Steven Rinella chronicles his own hunt for a wild buffalo in the Alaskan wilderness. Mixed in with his own adventure is a recounting of the buffalo’s history and its unique place in American culture.

The book received acclaim from a number of critics. Most notably, the legendary Jim Harrison blurbed that, “American Buffalo is a boldly original and ultimately refreshing book. It is also fearsome and occasionally frightening, and one wonders if the author is quite mad. There are insights into nature and American history here that will be totally unfamiliar to the reader.”

Rinella is a correspondent for Outside magazine and his work has also appeared in the New Yorker, Men’s Journal, the New York Times, and other publications. He splits time between his home in New York City and Alaska.

In this interview, Rinella talked about hunting buffalo, strange buffalo facts, pitching story ideas to magazines, and his favorite game recipes.

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Interview: Mark Barrowcliffe, Author

mark-barrowcliff-claire-lachlan_resizedIn The Elfish Gene: Dungeons, Dragons, and Growing Up Strange, Mark Barrowcliffe describes a life most of us can understand. In this funny and endearing memoir, Barrowcliffe details his life-consuming obsession with the role playing game Dungeons and Dragons.

As a child, the writer was a socially awkward, self-described “nerd.” Attending an all-boys school, growing up surrounded by male siblings, and possessing only dudes as pals, Barrowcliffe felt completely ignorant of anything involving girls and distanced from the lives the cool kids lived. He scurried around the streets in Coventry, England, hoping to avoid the tough kids who picked on him. Barrowcliffe provides, in hilarious and humiliating detail, just how uncool he was as a child.

But some of the charm of The Elfish Gene lies in the fact that, to a certain degree, everyone feels awkward and nerdy as an adolescent. Presumably there are a few rare egomaniacal individuals who never felt weird from time to time during junior high and high school.

For most people, however, there’s a clumsiness as we progress through adolescence. And we often seek comfort in some form of obsession during this challenging time. For Barrowcliffe, it was Dungeons and Dragons. I certainly did my time in a D&D cell, but my obsession ultimately transferred over to guitars and books. Hell, I recently read an interview with guitar virtuoso Steve Vai where he said he was so neurotic as a teenager that he practiced scales while sitting on the toilet. We all had something to retreat to.

Which makes it easy to relate to Barrowcliffe’s tale in The Elfish Gene. A few short-sighted readers have criticised his depiction of gamers, but they’re claiming a level of confidence and maturity they almost certainly did not possess as a young teenager. Ultimately, the book reveals a hilarious life and the challenges in growing up and interacting with people. Dungeons and Dragons was just the escape Barrowcliffe chose. But the pressures and humiliations were common for most of us.

In the following interview, Barrowcliffe spoke to me about the characteristics of a writer, about hurting people’s feelings, and about writing as an impediment to your life.

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Interview: Matt Bondurant, Author

In 2005, Matt Bondurant published The Third Translation, a book that blended the study of Egypt, professional wrestling thugs, cults, London musuems, extensive research, and hieroglyphic puzzles. The debut novel received critical acclaim and was published in a number of countries around the world.

Now, Bondurant is back with a dramatically different tale. Based on the author’s grandfather, The Wettest County in the World introduces a world of moonshine, mountain stills, violence, and family ties in rural Virginia. The movie rights have already been sold and the positive reviews are rolling in with praise for Bondurant’s engaging method of interweaving a side-story about Sherwood Anderson into the harsh and brutal world of bootleggers.

Bondurant was kind enough to talk to me about basing fiction on family tales, the difference in book deal experiences, and brass knuckles.

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Interview: Benjamin Wallace, Author

header.pngIn The Billionaire’s Vinegar: The Mystery of the World’s Most Expensive Bottle of Wine, Benjamin Wallace combines the knowledge of a sommelier with an investigative reporter’s tenacity mixed in with a heavy dose of a Hollywood thriller writer. 

Wallace’s work has appeared in GQ, Food & Wine, and he was the executive editor for Philadelphia Magazine. But it was during his tenure as wine writer for the magazine that he discovered the controversial tale about a 1787 bottle of Chateau Lafite Bordeaux owned by Thomas Jefferson that fetched $156,000 at auction. Intrigued by the rumors and mysteries surrounding the bottle, Wallace investigated not just that one specific transaction, but the entire ostentatious world of wine collecting in the mid-eighties.

What he uncovered and wrote about was a cast of eccentric characters who regularly consumed wine worth tens of thousands of dollars. And, some of them may have been tempted to cheat a bit in order to secure their place in the wine world. The Billionaire’s Vinegar instructs the novice drinker without boring the experts and has the compelling story of the best page-turners.

People often ask me for recommendations on what to read and, quite frankly, it can be difficult to answer them. I have so many books going on at any one time that everything can start to blur together. But The Billionaire’s Vinegar really stood out and I’ve wholeheartedly told friends about it several times. And they haven’t been disappointed.

Wallace spoke to me about getting into magazine work, pitching editors and agents, keeping track of research, and maintaining a high shooting ratio when doing research.

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Interview: Mike Edison, Author

header.pngWith a resume that would make many blush, Mike Edison has seen it all. He has performed in bands such as Sharky’s Machine, the Raunch Hands, and the Edison Rocket Train. He opened for the Ramones and played CBGB, He recorded and performed with the notorious GG Allin. He even commissioned luthier Joe Naylor of Reverend Guitars to build the ChroniCaster, an instrument that doubled as a bong. But his career hasn’t just been in music.

Edison reached the lofty position atop the masthead at Wrestling’s Main Event by dispatching his boss with a punishing Heart punch in the ring. He later went on to write for index, Hustler and Penthouse, among others. He penned dozens of porn novels, often churning out one a week, and served as the publisher of High Times and the editor-in-chief of Screw.

Edison’s memoir, I Have Fun Everywhere I Go: Savage Tales of Pot, Porn, Punk Rock, Pro Wrestling, Talking Apes, Evil Bosses, Dirty Blues, American Heroes, and the Most Notorious Magazines in the World was recently published by Faber and Faber, Inc. He spoke with us about architectural hairstyles, writing that mimics music, and breaking into the magazine biz.

Oh yeah, this ain’t for the faint of heart or for those with sensitive corporate filters on your web browsers.

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