Today, I’d like to welcome author Paul Tremblay to the blog to talk about his new book, Swallowing a Donkey’s Eye. It’s one of the funniest Q and As I’ve had on the blog, so it’s made me anxious to move this book up on my TBR stack (as well as the very, very cool cover). Plus, it’s kinda Orwellian, and I do love me some George Orwell. Anyway…
Paul is a two-time nominee of the Bram Stoker Award, has sold over fifty short stories to markets such as Razor Magazine, CHIZINE, Weird Tales, Last Pentacle of the Sun: Writings in Support of the West Memphis Three, and Horror: The Year's Best 2007. Along with his novels The Little Sleep and No Sleep Till Wonderland, he is the author of the short speculative fiction collection Compositions for the Young and Old and the novellas City Pier: Above and Below and The Harlequin and the Train. He served as fiction editor of CHIZINE and as co-editor of Fantasy Magazine, and was also the co-editor (with Sean Wallace) of the Fantasy, Bandersnatch, and Phantom anthologies. Paul lives outside of Boston, Massachusetts, has a master’s degree in mathematics and has no uvula. (Suzanne is pondering the “uvula”…and wants to know more.) For more information about Paul, visit his website at http://www.paulgtremblay.com. You can also find him on Twitter.
Read on for more info on the great giveaway from ChiZine!
ABOUT SWALLOWING A DONKEY’S EYE: Join Farm today! It's only six years of your life! Farm is the mega-conglomerate food supplier for City, populated with rabidly bureaucratic superiors, antagonistic and sexually deviant tour guides dressed in chicken and duck suits, and farm animals illegally engineered for silence. City is sprawling, technocratic, and rests hundreds of feet above the coastline on the creaking shoulders of a giant wooden pier. When the narrator's single mother, whom he left behind in City, falls out of contact, he fears the worst: his mother is homeless and subsequently to be deported under City to the Pier. On his desperate search to find his mother, he encounters ecoterrorists wearing plush animal suits, an election that hangs in the balance as the City's all-powerful Mayor is infatuated with magic refrigerators and outlaw campaigns, and a wise-cracking, over-sexed priest who may or may not have ESP, but who is most certainly his deadbeat dad. Whether rebelling against the regimented and ridiculous nature of Farm life, exploring the all-too-familiar and consumer-obsessed world of City, experiencing the all-too-real suffering of the homeless in Pier, or confronting the secrets of his own childhood, Swallowing a Donkey's Eye's narrator is a hilarious, neurotic, and rage-filled Quixote searching for his mother, his own dignity, and the meaning of humanity.
Now, let’s hear from Paul—welcome!
Give us the “elevator pitch” for your book.
Swallowing a Donkey’s Eye is a near-future SF dystopian political satire featuring a mega-conglomerate Farm with workers dressed in chicken and duck suits; a City mayor infatuated with magic refrigerators and bogus elections; a son trying to find his mother who is feared to be homeless and deported to eke out her existence within the posts and beams of the giant wooden Pier holding up City, and instead finds his deadbeat Dad, a vulgar Catholic priest who may or may not be setting him up to be some kind of patsy for City officials. It’s Orwell meets Philip K. Dick! It’s Vonnegut meets Palahniuk! It’s….
Oh, an elevator actually plays a big role in the story. Like most elevator pitches, its cable snaps and the car plummets and crashes, killing one.
Describe your favorite scene from the new book--and why is it your favorite?
One of my favorite scenes is toward the end, and without giving too much away (without saying what it has to do with the story at that moment), it involves the narrator’s father filling up books with real people’s fake stories. It’s one of my favorites because (I hope) it feels emotionally authentic.
What was the hardest scene to write?
In the small scenes where the narrator is between Farm and City, I had the hardest time getting him from one spot to the next without it feeling like a breather in the action, or worse, filler. After many rewrites I tightened it up and now it purrs like one of them fancy sports cars. Though that’s a mixed metaphor, right? I mean, sports cars don’t purr. Cats do. Maybe some other animals are said to purr as well, but I’m not sure. I have a cold right now and I think the cold medicine is messing with me. This answer has now officially become the hardest scene for me to write. Ever.
What’s on your nightstand or top of your TBR pile?
I just moved into my new house recently and I don’t currently own a nightstand. My alarm clock is on the floor next to my bed, unplugged, because I’ve been using the alarm on my phone, which didn’t wake me up this morning because I had the phone on silent mode. (more cold medicine seeping in, sorry)
Anyway, I’m reading Victor LaValle’s THE DEVIL IN SILVER right now. It’s very good so far. It’s a big, fat literary horror novel set in an insane asylum in Queens. His previous novel Big Machine is a favorite of mine.
Favorite book when you were a child.
A Wrinkle in Time.
Book you've faked reading (Moby Dick is leading the votes on this question!):
I can’t think of any book I’ve faked reading. I’m too honest. Well, that honest part probably isn’t true. I lie about mistakenly mispronouncing Ayn Rand’s first name. I always say “Anne Rand” even though I know better. It’s my litmus test to determine how many Objectivists in the room with me at one time.
House of Leaves by Mark Danielewski. The book has become a deal-breaker for me. As in if you don’t dig the book, I have to reassess your place in the universe.
Book you've bought for the cover:
I can’t say that I didn’t buy the books because I’d heard I just had to read Derek Raymond, but his issues look fantastic. And if I can be a shameless plugger for Chizine Publications, their covers are all fantastic. People should buy all their books for their covers. Or at least my books.
Book that changed your life:
A short story changed my life: Joyce Carol Oates’ “Where Are You Going? Where Are You Been?” When I read that story, I was a second semester senior, math major, taking Lit 101. That story, ultimately, made me fall in love with reading, which led to me wanting to be a writer. I wrote an essay about that story here.
Favorite line from a book:
“Everything was beautiful and nothing hurt.” Kurt Vonnegut, Slaughter House Five.
Book you most want to read again for the first time:
Let’s stick with the theme: Slaughter House Five by Kurt Vonnegut. I used to re-read this book once every June (along with Breakfast of Champions).
Most horrifying moment while reading a book:
I was pretty horrified when I left Chabon’s The Amazing Adventures of Cavalier and Clay out in the rain. It was like trying to read an accordian after. Same with Jack Womack’s amazing Random Acts of Senseless Violence. I dropped the book in a lake after getting stung by a bee. I was horrified.
The Womack book is pretty horrifying, but I still remember when I read the Lincoln Tunnel scene in King’s The Stand. And Stewart O’Nan’s A Prayer for the Dying is pretty much all horrifying moments, so much so, it left me in a whimpering heap.
Favorite book about books or writing:
Tie. John Gardner’s The Art of Fiction has been indispensible for me. Lesser known, but no less great, is Rebel Yell by Lance Olson.