…with Charlie Geoghegan-Clements

Ariana:

What do you feel are the most important elements of prose writing, tools every great prose writer must utilize?

Charlie:

I think probably sympathy is the most important element of prose, if not life in general. No matter what any given writer is writing it’s important for her or him to sympathize with the subject and care for it. Even if writing the most evil bastard, the character isn’t going to be particularly interesting or believable if the writer can’t force herself or himself to sympathize and at least try to get emotional. Analytic writers are boring and sociopathic and unambiguous characters are pointless. So sympathy. That and I guess typing.

Ariana:

What is your submission process? How do you target markets for your stories?

Charlie:

I think I submit writing the same way a stalker would, or a lion. I kind of follow my favorite writers around and a little while after they’ve published something, I pounce on that journal or magazine and try to publish something there as well. That and look for guest editors. If an author I really look up to is guest editing something I’ll submit to that thing because I trust their taste. I mean, I also just submit to places I enjoy, but I think stalking writers is primary. “Who do I admire, great, there, now I’ll start copying her or him.”

Ariana:

There are very memorable characters in Superhero Questions. If you could go back to any one of them to nip and tuck, so to speak, who would you choose and why?

Charlie:

Probably the narrator of “First Lessons.” There’s something really sad about that story for me. There’s this misfiring of desire for the father which is so strong it moves through violence to become almost sexual in that kid. I tried to make the story uncomfortable and ambiguous, but something about it unsettles me a lot to this day. I wish I could go back and give him a hobby or something, or, like, the ability to express himself so he doesn’t can chill out with the paternal violence fetish a bit.

Ariana:

Tube socks or crew socks? Why?

Charlie:

Oh God, crew socks. I hate socks and shoes in general, so whatever the smallest amount of sock there is.

Ariana:

Have you ever experienced road rage? If so, how did you handle it?

Charlie:

I’ve never driven a car, so no. Or, I guess I handle road rage by not driving. That said though, I get really angry while walking sometimes when people are ludicrously slow, or take up the whole sidewalk, or are walking on the wrong side of the sidewalk. Really trivial things which betray such a giant lack of simple consideration for one another really bother me.

Ariana:

What action movie best describes your writing? Why?

Charlie:

Jeez. I have no idea … Forest Gump? My writing has like no action in it. This is a really huge stretch in a lot of ways but maybe The Assassination of Jessie James by the Coward Robert Ford because the whole long movie is people being fucked up and unable to express their emotions properly resulting in one dumb unhelpful action.

Ariana:

As a child what did you aspire to be when you grew up?

Charlie:

A Jedi master, which turned into a teacher. I can remember being super young and getting the “guide to college” books out of the library so I could look at where I wanted to work. I think I was looking to be Yoda mixed with Indiana Jones and “college professor” was the only thing I could come up with.

Ariana:

How does Superhero Questions relate to your personal philosophy?

Charlie:

I guess a large part of what I could call a personal philosophy is just how awkward, ambiguous, and strange, and fun, and hurt, and hilarious pretty much all people are and, on top of all that, how fragile we are, and how similarly deserving of care and respect. In Superhero Questions I wrote a lot about strange and traumatized people doing funny painful things and, often, it backfires or there’s no change at all; they’re making the wrong change. The title is sort of sarcastic or ironic because so few of these narrators could be seen making decisions or asking themselves the right questions, or doing really anything to help themselves. My narrators tend to be the opposite of superheros because they take themselves to be powerless and trapped. So, long way around, I suppose superhero questions represents my personal philosophy that we’re all fucked up weirdos and that superheros and gods aren’t gonna do anything about it so all we can do is care for one another and keep trying.

Ariana:

Do you feel you write more by logic or intuition? Is it possible to summarize your writing process?

Charlie:

I think I write 90% by intuition, just sort of exploring, and then once I feel like there’s something to hold I try and apply some logic to it and start to question structure and meaning. Often that latter step is very masturbatory though, and I worry my writing still comes off as slapdash and meaningless, so I’ve got to work on that a bit.

Ariana:

Give us one line from Superhero Questions that sums the entire collection up.

Charlie:

“No. I will stay here, not be blown away! After a moment he looks down at where his ink stained fist is rubbing against his penis and where there has been no transformation. “ from “Dressing Up”

 

 

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