Almost there with the interviews! Almost there with the issue! Here’s Zach, winner of Issue 9’s fiction contest for his story “Flood Myth” and therefore the reigning champion of Bop Dead City fiction.
How would you describe your work in 25 words or less?
I write about the ship sinking, that we’ve only got cupped hands to save us. I look for the little moment of hope in that. (that’s 25 exactly)
Is this your first contest win?
It is not! But this is definitely the coolest contest win, seeing as there wasn’t an academic institution involved.
Tell me more about your story “Flood Myth.”
It’s actually part of a novella I’ve recently finished about two people trying in a bunch of different ways to escape from language. It’s a weird little book that I hope connects with a few people who have my kind of nervous heart. “Flood Myth” itself was written on my back porch in summertime. I don’t remember where the idea came from, but, like a lot of my stories, that first sentence popped into my head, and the whole story was right there in front of me.
Who or what inspires you to write?
I write because I’m alone in here (I am pointing at my own head right now), and so is everyone else, and wouldn’t it be nice if we weren’t? Wouldn’t it be nice if there were a way to get clear of our own boundaries? Writing is as close as we get to that, at least with clothes on.
I am very much an anxiety-driven person, so that’s part of it, too, the realization that my existence is finite and that if I’m not using that time saying something that matters to me then the fear is that I don’t actually matter to me. I know that’s silly, or maybe over-thinking being alive, but there it is.
What do you consider to be your greatest influences?
I get a lot out of reading David Foster Wallace, Carole Maso, David Markson, George Saunders, Susan Steinberg, Milorad Pavic, and probably a bunch of others I’m forgetting. I have some friends who I pay close attention to. I watch a lot of trash movies and tv. Plus of course the ever-pressing thumb of the zeitgeist.
Do you have a website or a blog for your writing?
Right now, www.zachvz.com will take you to my (very poorly kept) tumblr. I pretty much only use it when I’m up late and bumming myself out, but I do post every time a story of mine is published, so at least it would be good for that.
Any advice for fellow writers?
Make writing every day feel like breathing. Turn the business side of it into a process instead of goals (for example: instead of saying, “I’m going to get X stories published this year,” say, “I’m going to submit my work X number of times a week,” and then go do that). Build yourself a throne on top of your mountain of rejection letters. Die trying.
What are you currently working on?
I just wrapped up a short story collection (it’s my PhD dissertation, too!) and started in on a new novel. I don’t know what the novel will become, but the short story collection is called Lesser American Boys and has a bunch of stories about people who don’t really see each other clearly, even though they think they do. Some of them are weird and some are more traditional.
Where can we read your work next?
I was just in the latest issue of The Boiler and in the latest issue of The Adroit Journal. I was also recently in Atlas Review and Passages North. Later this year I’ll have a story in Gettysburg Review. I’m sure I’m forgetting something. Oh well!
Anything else you’d like to add?
Just that I’m moving to Chapel Hill tomorrow and I don’t know anyone, so if you live in Chapel Hill and like beer and petting dogs and writing and reading MAYBE WE COULD BE FRIENDS.