In a followup to the publication of "Lucha Libre" which appears in Heavy Feather Review 3.2 (There's a nice piece about that issue in American Microviews and Interviews.) the editors asked me some questions about my work. Here's a bit on what constitutes good writing for me:
While I don’t often hear writers arguing about highbrow versus lowbrow the way Gore Vidal and Norman Mailer may have on some smoke-filled talk show set forty years ago, there are still palpable ripples in that critical pond. Nicholas Sparks, Suzanne Collins, Gorge R.R. Martin. Those names will conjure notions of “low brow” prose for some. Say what you will about the technical ability of those authors, they know how to keep their readers turning the page. Ultimately, isn’t that at the core of what we do?
On the other hand, an unspoken highbrow ideal occasionally pops up in creative writing programs around the country. This is where I encounter writers with little regard for their audience or acknowledge no audience at all. These are the narcissistic, naval-gazing, ennui-wracked authors forever concerned with the solipsistic “I” (whether or not working in first person). Beyond a lack of consideration for audience, this class of writers walls their fiction off from readers by steeping it in the murky world of metanarrative or drenching it in sneering irony. When called out in a workshop or review, these writers often hide behind the term experimental as if that excuses a lack of story or character development. I’ll own up to dabbling in this when I was a younger writer. I’d pull off tricks on the page simply because I could, not necessarily for the benefit of the story. Today, with my dying breath, I’ll argue that boundary-pushing fiction can and must tell a good story.
At this point in my career I don’t believe it’s my place as an artist to write stories that draw attention to themselves as works of art. The artifice in my fiction, if there is any, is the complete and absolute dissolution of artifice. I work diligently to make sure there’s no hint of the puppeteer’s stings. The task I set for myself as an artist is to produce an immersive world—both familiar and fantastic—while always remembering to give a damn about my characters and to write characters who give a damn about something.
You can read more about my writing influences and interests at Heavy Feather Review.