Well, it took a little longer than expected - these things often do - but now the big day has come! So please, allow me to share with you:
13 Questions for Christopher Allen!
That I mean them no harm. I want them to laugh until their bellies jiggle. I want their tear ducts to be cleansed through uproarious giggling fits.
2) Is there a genre you'd like to write in, but haven't tried? If so, why not?
I’ve written in just about every genre out there except western. Is that still what they call it? I remember reading several western mysteries as a teenager, and I liked them very much. I wouldn’t want to write a western, though. Although I have dabbled in science fiction, I’ve never finished a story. Definitely science fiction. Something like Stargate. Big fan.
3) Your previous stories have often had a contemplative or bittersweet quality to them. The new book seems to be a departure from that. Was there a reason for this?
I think contemplative and crazy are just two parts of me that come out at different times. Conversations with S. Teri O’Type has been a wild book to write, and I hope it will be just as wild to read. It’s humor and parody and most of all satire. Nothing here is serious except everything.
4) How much of your real life informs your writing?
My inner life—my worries and my dreams—informs my writing a great deal, but if you mean my day-to-day life of teaching and mowing the lawn and making dinner, etc. I try to keep that separate. There are times that certain situations will spark an idea for a story. The oak in the backyard keeps giving me stories. Then the hedge gave me one. I should spend more time out there.
5) Where have you been published previously?
Most of my work has been published at literary ezines, most recently at SmokeLong Quarterly. Others include A-Minor Magazine, Blue Five Notebook Series, Gone Lawn, Referential Magazine, Every Day Fiction, The Legendary, Pure Slush and Metazen (where I’m an editor). I’ve had non-fiction published at Connotation Press and BootsnAll Travel, and several of my creative non-fiction pieces have appeared in Chicken Soup for the Soul (print, mass market). I’ve also been very fortunate to have landed in cool short story/flash collections like Flash Fiction Fridays and STRIPPED, a collection of anonymous flash fiction.
6) You live in Europe but you're from the US. Does being an expat affect your writing style?
It certainly does, I’m just not sure how. I wish I could go back and forth between parallel universes and see Christopher Allen in Nashville vs. Christopher Allen in Munich. I’m sure I’ve become a different person, so of course my writing style has developed differently. Maybe this is the science fiction novel I’ll end up writing. Or not. I am certainly more secluded her than I would have been if I’d stayed in Nashville. Seclusion is good for writing.
7) What is your typical writing workday like?
I wake up at around 6a.m. I used to get up at 5a.m. but I’ve trained my body to lie there and suck it up for another hour. I turn on my computer and let the old bag boot while I make coffee. I check my e-mails, I check facebook, I check my blog, I sip my coffee, I check Twitter. I chat with people in the US who’ve not gone to bed yet. I sip my coffee. I notice the piles of reminders on my desk. Here are the ones I’m looking at today. March AWP! Indie Author News! Check SmokeLong! Message classes about tomorrow!! Gay Book Club NYC!!! Edit “Furniture”! My notes tend to scream at me. I start checking off the things on the list, which is much longer than this. I haven’t listed the names of people I’m working with on interviews and such. I take a nap because my shoulder is hurting. You get the picture. I should be writing, but I’ve just come back from vacuuming the kitchen.
8) Which writers have influenced/inspired you?
I love writers like Chuck Palahnuik and Daniel Handler and Lucy Ellmann and Julie Innis. One of my favorite writers is Jincy Willett. I love all these people for their sharp wit and exciting prose. I want to be all of them when I get taller. I’ve never lost hope.
9) Do you have a "target audience"?
All people on planet Earth would be nice. Doing the math, I think that would make me the richest man on planet Earth. But let’s say that doesn’t happen. I would hope that people—not just gay men—who love humor and stories that break away from the mold just a bit would love, or at least read, or at least buy, Conversations with S. Teri O’Type. The cover is very pretty, so it would look great on coffeetables and bathroom shelves. It is a story about a man in his mid-forties who has never learned how to be gay, so . . . um . . . I see this is the next question. Moving right along . . .
10) What is this book about?
So Curt, a dysfagtional man in his mid-forties, enlists the help of a self-proclaimed “gayru” to help him get gay. It’s a farcical jaunt down the Road to Greater Gayness, an absurd tale, a train wreck of sorts between a guy who thinks he knows nothing and a monster who thinks he knows everything.
11) When did you first get the idea for this particular book?
I wrote the first Conversation on an online workshop in 2008 I believe. Fifteen of the 30 Conversations were born in the online workshop, but the story actually took shape much later. It has been a long process. Deciding what Curt, the narrator, really wants came much later than 2008.
12) Was this book inspired by anyone in your life?
It’s funny you ask that. My partner, who read half of the book on a plane last week, thinks he’s Curt. And maybe there are aspects of Curt in him. I remember once when we were living in London in 1998, he hung all the pictures in the living room very very close to the ceiling. I was shocked, and we had a “little” argument about it. Everyone knows pictures are supposed to be hung at eye-level, don’t they? This may have been the first time I thought, Hmmm not all gay men can hang a picture. And this might have been the germ for the book. Other than that one moment, Teri and Curt represent an elephant-in-the-room dialogic among gay men: To Be or Not to Beyoncè—which became one of the later Conversations.
13) You really are adorable, aren't you? (readers of Christopher's I Must Be Off blog will get that one...)
Yes! I really really am adorable. It’s true. Some people don’t believe it, but when they meet me in person, they often pinch my fat little cheeks. Just don’t shove past me in a bar.