Our latest interview is with the writer Tom Weller, who contributed the story “Lightning Woman” to our last issue. To read it and lots of other great, important works that will keep you up with the zeitgeist, buy a copy of Issue 7.
Describe your work in 25 words or less.
Whimsy, meet despair, Despair, meet whimsy. Now dance.
Tell me about your story “Lightning Woman.”
Years ago I read interviews with novelist Harry Crews in which he described how while growing up poor in the South the Sears catalogue was one of his greatest sources of entertainment. He would flip through the catalogue creating characters out the models, complete with dark secrets hiding under their shiny veneers, and create stories by imagining these characters interacting. I now do this with strangers’ Facebook pages.
“Lightning Woman” started when I found pictures of a dog’s birthday cake on Facebook. The story pretty much took off from there, fueled by a desire to experiment with fabulist and fairy tale elements.
What or who inspires you to write?
Lots of things. Old pictures and advertisements from circuses and sideshows. Dear Abby letters. Peanuts comic strips. Fragments of conversations I hear while eavesdropping. Pro wrestling shows, especially from the late 80s. Extended and surprising metaphors and similes in hip hop lyrics. I also spend a lot of longish runs thinking about and refining drafts of stories.
What authors have influenced you as a writer?
Many of the superstars: Flannery O’Connor, Raymod Carver, Tobias Wolfe, Sherman Alexie, Stuart Dybeck, Gabriel Garcia Márquez. Lewis Nordan’s Welcome to the Arrow-Catcher Fair was the first short story collection I ever loved. I reread Junot Diaz’s Drown every couple of years. Aimee Bender short stories always surprise me in good ways.
Do you have a blog/website?
I don’t have a website or blog, but anybody who is really curious can find me on Facebook and we can become weird internet friends. That’s a good way to get updates on my publications and writing projects, and to know every time I’ve gone for a run, and see pictures of my dog.
Where can we read you next?
My short story “Mrs. Cinnamon” recently went up at Paper Darts. My short story “Ponko Returns” is forthcoming in Phantom Drift.
What are you working on right now?
A series of stories inspired by entries in old editions of The Guinness Book of World Records.