First things first: Are you really trying to grow a beard? It’s looked like a five o’clock shadow for, like, two weeks now.
I have faith it will beard up in due time. And I thought it a cool thing to do: to tell myself that I am settling down for a few. I give big props to poets who spend nine months on the road, just hustling and doing college shows and whatnot. I’m still pretty underground. Three months doing features at all the big slams across the country is a hell of a fun way to hone your skills on the road. Before the tour, I had fallen in love with writing again. On the tour, I fell in love with performing.
That’s a little pretentious, dude. Do you think you’re an indie rock singer-songwriter or something?
Well, you know, no, I don’t, first of all. But what I will say is why not go for that level of recognition as poets? Watch the documentary The Comedians of Comedy, and you’ll see Patton Oswalt and Brian Posehn and Maria Bamford and Zach Galifinakis tear up rock clubs with words. I’ve been to some pretty rock and roll slams, man. Boston Cantab is pure rock ‘n’ roll. The Green Mill was rock and roll.
People are constantly, like at the supermarket and everything, asking you what it’s like to be a Write Bloody author. Give us some insight.
Okay, first of all, and if this leaks, you heard it from tmz.com and not me, Write Bloody authors are given a special key when we are chosen. I can’t tell you what it’s for. We also have to give Derrick Brown a vial of our blood. It was never specified why. Then, after what Derrick calls “a ritual sacrifice dance party,” we drink wine and listen to Cold War Kids until everyone’s uncomfortable.
Um, I dunno. It’s a great group of people to be associated with. I mean, it’s like a record label and I’m labelmates with you know, Andrea Gibson. Buddy Wakefield. Robbie Q. Telfer. I’m honored. There’s a lot of firepower in these pens. It’s the dysfunctional family I never had.
How’d you put together your book, Miles of Hallelujah? And what’s up with that creepy bleeding hand on the cover?
Miles of Hallelujah the manuscript was about one-fourth of what ended up in the book. I think I went into it wanting to have a magical fantastic arc, full of jetpacks and dinosaurs, but then real life became a lot more interesting to write about. And I had four editors help pound me into shape, which can be a brutal thing to take. Ultimately, I’m incredibly proud of what ended up in the book. I worked hard on those suckers. The hand? I dunno. It’s the work of the amazing Paul Smith, who is one of the Write Bloody artist hook-ups. Derrick sent it to me as a possible cover and I dug it. It seemed to fit the title somewhat, too, more so than the rejected titles …
Rejected titles? What didn’t make the cut?
When I sent in my manuscript, I called it “Be Wishful About What You Care For.” Super emo, right? I believe Derrick was hip on “Punch Dagger” or “Get Pretty Soon.” Ultimately, we both liked Miles of Hallelujah and it stuck. And the crazy thing is, when I came through Oklahoma City, I met a singer-songwriter, Tahra Dergee, who wrote a song based on just reading my book title. She sang it at a show we did at the Scissortail Social Space. It was a great feeling.
Last question: What do you want to be remembered for, you pretentious windbag?
I hope I’m remembered for being a good and honest writer. And that words can be fun. They can be as loud or soft as you want. I hope that occasionally I can surprise you on the page. Or make you laugh (and not at my crazy hat). And that it’s okay to write about stuff like wrestling and not feel like a goofball. Night of the Living Nerd. Y’all ain’t ready.