Wednesday, December 16, 2009

An Interview With J.A. Tyler

J.A. Tylers "When Jimmy Fishes For What Was His Mother" appears in STORYGLOSSIA 37. Here, J.A. discusses connecting objects in prose, haunting images, his editing work with Mud Luscious / ml press, and his forthcoming novel(la)s and works, including the just-released Inconceivable Wilson.

Anne Valente: This piece includes a series of haunting images in brief scene - hats, locusts, jars of preserves, rocks. How did these images come to you, and come together as a connected whole?

J.A. Tyler: I think, as with most images I use in my work, they are amalgamations of objects I have seen before I sit to write, while I am writing, and from the history in of my mind, the place where all the leftovers are stored. And while their occurrence / initiation is typically from the most random background, the connection of these into the piece at hand is where I focus my energy, letting the tone and environments of each text take over the images, roll them into the story and imbed rather than just leave them as brief whispered encounters.

AV: The images are not only haunting, but beautifully rendered in stunning language. How do your words find their shape? Did this story require much revision?

JAT: I am a fast writer and a minimal editor. When I write, I blare music to the point of being overwhelmed, I close my eyes, and I let go. That is my structure, my routine. Then as a segment or piece finishes (usually 1 2K a day) I revisit it top to bottom just once or twice to make sure it all hooks up in the way I intended and, hopefully, in the most effective way for the reader.

Also, thank you I am enormously pleased that these images are seen as both haunting and beautiful - that was the most prevalent goal for me during the writing of these Jimmy texts.

AV: You are the founding editor of Mud Luscious / ml press. Does your editing work influence or affect your own writing?

JAT: My work with mud luscious / ml press affects my own writing on a daily basis. I am stirred by those pieces of lit that arrive in the inbox and nail something new, something unique, those texts that make me want to write then and there. And on the flipside, the terrible fodder that also shows up in the submission stream, it constantly reminds me of the elements to avoid, the traps we can fall into, the ways we can destroy our writing.

AV: You have four novellas forthcoming - Inconceivable Wilson (Scrambler Books, 2009), Someone, Somewhere (Ghost Road Press, 2009), In Love With A Ghost (Willows Wept Press, 2010) and A Man of Glass & All the Ways We Have Failed (Fugue State Press, 2011). Can you tell us a little about these projects?

JAT: The first is Inconceivable Wilson, which is available now from Scrambler Books. It is a novel(la) about a man being consumed as he consumes others. The writing is fragmentary and staccato, mimicking his own gaping in and out of consciousness as he is both metaphorically and literally devoured. This is my debut book and I think sets the right tone for readers who want to check out my extended work it captures the rant / roll that I enjoy writing in and the environmental poetics I attempt to create. They can also read an excerpt that appeared previously with Storyglossia, in Issue 33.

Someone, Somewhere was actually written before all the others and contracted prior to them as well, but is now being slated for a very cool AWP release in Denver 2010. It is less aggressive than my other books but also has a genealogical bent that I really loved writing and that I think will give readers a bit of a breather after the constant push of the Scrambler release.

As for In Love With a Ghost, it is actually only in draft form now, but Molly Gaudry of Willows Wept Press liked the initial 12K words enough to contract it for publication in late 2010. In rough, it is piece that snaps whiplash style between a man drowning his wife and his experience in a warring nation, stacking rocks on top of burning fires in both locations, attempting to bury himself and his issues under mountains.

A Man of Glass & All the Ways We Have Failed is a book I just finished editing in the last month or two and happened to hit the estimable James Chapman of Fugue State Press in just the right way. Chapman has read (and rejected) all of my previous manuscripts and so knowing that I have finally found one that fits, that works among his tremendous catalog, is a great triumph for me, something I am enormously proud of. As for the piece, the content and the story, I want it to speak for itself: there is a reading of some excerpts at Apostrophe Cast and a short excerpt at the new Spilt Milk.

AV: What are you currently working on? Any stories forthcoming that we can point readers to?

JAT: If readers are interested in a little more Jimmy, a lengthy piece is forthcoming in the next issue of Caketrain and another smaller excerpt will be included in the second print issue from Corduroy Mtn.

Beyond that, I am working on pushing language harder in a piece tentatively titled ZZZZZZZZZZZZZ. It is a book-length project told in five parts, each one a repetition, an echo, a riff, a chant based on the previous; basically the same core story told five times, with five variations and a fantastic amount of stretching, adjusting, repeating, and restructuring between each. Excerpts from that are slated to appear soon with Diagram and A Capella Zoo.

J.A. Tylers is the author of the novel(la)s Inconceivable Wilson (Scrambler Books, 2009), Someone, Somewhere (Ghost Road Press, 2009) and In Love With a Ghost (Willows Wept Press, 2010) and has had recent work in Sleepingfish, Caketrain, Hotel St. George, elimae and Action, Yes. He is also founding editor of Mud Luscious / ml press. For more details, visit

Labels: ,