|Q: So where'd you grow up? What was it like?
A: I grew up in New Jersey outside of Philly. It was suburbs. It was awful. I've lived in New York City for years now and I couldn't ever imagine going back there. It's soulless. Strip malls and shopping malls and cars, cars, cars. But, it's great being a little kid out there. the woods and stuff. just, when you get to be around 12 years old, you realize how bad it sucks. how bored you are. how bored everyone that lives there is. So, I spent a lot of time in the city. In Philly. That helped. That is where I "grew up" so to speak.
Q: Where did PURE SUNSHINE come from?
A: Pure Sunshine is the accumulation of many events that took place in my life, all thrown together into a two day odyssey. Mostly every scene in the book really happened in some shape or form. Some occurred as is in the book. Some with different people saying things that other people really said. doing things that one of the other characters did in real life. different days. might have happened here but happens there in the book. Those kind of alterations are there. Mix it all together. Shake lightly, and there it is. It's the condensed story of me and people I've known. Mostly, it's pretty real. Except for some it, but those parts are a secret. I won't tell.
Q: Drugs. High school. Thoughts?
A: I wouldn't trust anyone that tells you "Don't Do Drugs" but if someone tells you "Drugs are the best", well hell, I'd trust them even less.
High School, that is a subject I'm not as fond of. The brutal truth: It's four years of imprisonment where you are shuffled back and forth, back and forth and no one there really gives a damn. There exists such a class system, a social hierarchy created by people that no one likes in the first place.
The one aspect of high school that I thought was cool had nothing really to do with school at all. It was the independence you get from you parents at that time. the getting older and being able to make choices. It's probably not as bad as I just described, it's just that I've spent my entire post-high school life trying forget a place like that even exists. I'm sure many people find High School to be great. not me, though. I can tell you, life only gets better once you get out.
Q: What's it like to be a part of PUSH?
A: When I was in High School, there was never any books that spoke to me. to what me and my friends were in to. what we were doing day-to-day. Most the books that were written for people our age were written by people that have no idea what the hell really goes on. That's what I see with PUSH. addressing that problem. getting books about real problems, or not even problems, just books about real kids and real shit that happens. You always hear that teenagers don't read. Well, give them something they want to read and they will. no one wants to read garbage. It's great to be a part of that, to start something new. something that is long overdue.
Q: What are your literary influences?
A: There are books that I love and there are authors that I love, but that is not necessarily the question. A literary influence is separate for a specific book or specific author's works. I mean certainly William Faulkner is great, but he's not an influence. I love reading his books, but they don't inspire me to write anything.
The first literary inspiration of mine is rather an odd one. I didn't read much growing up. didn't read really until late High School. but I listened to tons of music. I was about 15 when I discovered Syd Barrett, the original singer for Pink Floyd before he apparently lost his mind. His lyrics were a strange stream-of-conscious fantasy. In a few words, he could create a whole new world. It was amazing. Blew my mind. I think I wrote about fifty, three-page stories and poems around that time all trying to capture the feeling those lyrics brought to my mind. Most were shit. some I still enjoy reading.
The influence would be William S. Burroughs. the king. Literary Outlaw. He can suspend time. rewind it and play it back at a different speed. The first book of his I read, I understood nothing. I loved it. The more I read, the more I learned his language. I never knew words could do that before I read Burroughs. There are no limits in his work. He broke all the rules of literature. It changed my whole perception of what books could be.
Currently, I really respect Alain Robbe-Grillet. The plots to his novels have this spiraling, overlapping quality that is incredibly detailed and complicated. There's so much attention paid to the small details which in the end make all the difference in the story. Things happen and then happen again, only differently. He's an amazing writer.
Q: What are your musical influences?
A: Again, there are millions. I don't think I can exist for more than ten hours without listening to something. I spent most of my life spending any money I had on CDs. For consistency, I think I can break it down to three important ones from different periods in life. These are not necessarily my favorite bands, though I love them all, but these are albums that changed me in some way. that I live with everyday.
When I was 11 years old I heard Appetite For Destruction for the first time. At that time, music was filled with garbage. really bad hair bands and really, really bad pop. I had never heard anything like Guns 'N Roses before. these guys were real. At the time I didn't know what they were talking about for half the album, but it didn't matter. you knew they were telling you the truth. It was my first introduction into the underground. into a world I knew even at that age that eventually I wanted to be a part of. that I belonged there, not where I was. not in the suburbs.
Nirvana is of course the second, how it could not be? I'm of the right age at the right time and all that. Before they became the biggest band in the world, they were my favorite band. My fascination with the band (as it is with most music I listen to) is the lyrics. I can't stand songs with bad lyrics. what's point? I've never heard lyrics as good as Kurt's anywhere. not before, not since, not ever and I've heard a lot. They're great because they echo what I am thinking. what I felt at the time they were being played and recorded. I don't know if in 20 years Nirvana songs will mean anything to anybody that wasn't there for it. but that band unlike any other except maybe the Beatles, captured their time and place to perfection.
Last, but not least, the Rolling Stones circa 1967-1973. Simply put, the best rock music ever recorded. I won't say more.
Q: Person stops you on the street and asks you to tell him something cool. What do you say?
A: If they ask me that, I say "not you."
Q: If you had to pick a quote to fit your life right now, what would it be?
A: "So far so good, but eventually everything will come back to haunt you."
Q: Writing. How do you go about it?
A: There are several things I do. First, I come up with an idea or a bit of a story that I think can be a novel. I ask myself, "yeah okay, that's a good bit, but what are you trying to say?" If I can't answer that, the idea goes in a folder where I have many, many ideas and can come back to at some point in my life. If I can answer that question, I get to going. Usually I jot down a few scenes that are floating around in my head, sometimes a phrase here or there or one line of dialogue. I wait until I have the first line of whatever it is I want to write. I will never sit down to write until I have that first line. Once I get that, I go on for hours from there just banging away. Then I'll make an outline of what is to come. Usually have a one scene that takes place and the next one I have written down won't take place for a while. The trick is getting from one of these scenes to the next. what happens in between? This is where the story evolves. Each little thing that happens in between I keep in a notebook to come back to later. This makes sure these elements aren't forgotten and become real elements of the story. The original outline I may have made at the outset never resembles the actual finished story. You have to be flexible. You have to let the characters lead the story. You have to let what they want to do happen, not what you want to do, but always keeping that one question in your head "what am I trying to say?" because a good story that doesn't make you think is just a good story. nothing more.
Q: What's going on?
A: I'm not getting a lot of sleep. not as much as I would like. I'm in one of my I Love NY phases. it varies. sometimes I hate the city and don't why I still live here. other times I love it. For the last eight months or so, I'm loving it. I'm sure as hell not exercising. I don't eat right. But, I'm happy. that's the important part.