The Write Stuff is a series of interview profiles conducted by Litseen, where authors give exclusive readings from their work.
When people ask what do you do, you tell them...?
These days I tell people I'm a writer. From there we fall through the tree branches of the usual follow-up questions until the conversation is unconscious on the ground.
What's your biggest struggle -- work or otherwise?
Maintaining faith that the sustained attention required for writing and reading has value within a society that consistently declares it does not. Sometimes I am afraid they are right.
If someone said I want to do what you do, what advice would you have for them?
I would probably assure them they do not. But if they're determined: Avoid debt at all costs. Keep your overhead low. Read widely and constantly. I did none of these things and it's made everything harder.
Do you consider yourself successful? Why?
Insofar that I am able to keep despair at bay and maintain faith, yes. Hard to know about the rest.
When you're sad/grumpy/pissed off, what YouTube video makes you feel better?
Most recently, this Kilian Martin freestyle video in an abandoned water park:
Do you have a favorite ancestor? What is his/her story?
My father's father, Robert "Bob" Raymond has always interested me, because of his indelible marks on my father. My father's attempts to write about him suggest he could be a real bastard, and yet I'm also named after him (my legal first name is Robert, though I go by Eric). He moved the family around a lot, and when my father was 16, his dad was killed by a train. The story goes that he pulled his car into a malfunctioning railway crossing, but there was always a suspicion that he may have committed suicide. I feel like a lot of Bob Raymond may be in me.
Who did you admire when you were 10 years old? What did you want to be?
I admired those kids who knew how to answer the question "What do you want to be when you grow up?" I remember lying every single time I was asked.
Would you ever perform a striptease? Describe some of your moves. Feel free to set the mood.
It is 1 a.m., and we're gorging ourselves in a fried chicken/donut joint somewhere beyond the reach of the health department. It is lit by fluorescent light. We are ruinously drunk; we have foregone napkins for sleeves. Do you honestly want me to take my clothes off?