All posts in Interviews

Michael Klam in SD

VOTM: What’s the most unusual experience you’ve had at a reading?

KLAM: Years ago we put on a show called “Poems, Paintings and Piledrivers.” Between poems, wrestlers from Tijuana smacked each other down on the museum floor at SDAI. By way of miracle, nothing broke, and poets and crudos and tecnicos and transvestite ring girls won the night.  I remember Steve Kowit’s last reading with us and how Jimmy Jazz and I merrily pointed out the sandwich stains on his sweatshirt and loved him for making absolutely zero pretense in life in general. Most of all I remember the wee hours, the champions who stayed to the bitter end, stacking chairs, mopping the floor and putting the museum back in order. Finishing the beer and embracing each other and locking up after another show… friendships, loyalty, some of the best kind of bad behavior mixed in…

Michael Klam organizes and hosts the Poetry & Art Series at the San Diego Art Institute in Balboa Park. His freelance journalism has appeared in San Diego CityBeat, The San Diego Daily Transcript, Voice of San Diego, and La Prensa San Diego. As a teacher, Klam cocreated the Page to Canvas to Stage program, bringing poets, painters, and K-12 students together to create visual art and perform poetry. His publisher is Puna Press.

Come see Michael read at 3rdSpace in San Diego on Saturday, April 15 at 7pm. 

Matt E. Lewis in SD

VOTM: What’s the most unusual experience you’ve had at a reading?

LEWIS: The strangest experience at a reading for me happened when I was hosting an improv storytelling show called Long Story Short. The idea was that anyone could walk on stage and tell a 5 minute story based on a theme. A guy from the audience went up and instead of telling a story, proceeded to do the worst freestyle rap I’ve ever heard. I didn’t want to be rude and pull him off the stage, but this guy was just garbage. When his time was finally up, he wouldn’t stop. Then another guy from the audience got up and tried to take the mic away, and he was doing his own freestyle rap, and it was just as bad! So these two idiots were just yelling terrible rhymes at each other for another 5 minutes before they finally gave up and the two other people in the audience gave them a pity clap. It was this experience that made me want to pursue a career in editing.

Matt E. Lewis is an editor for Ayahuasca Publishing and The Radvocate magazine. He reviews books for Horror Talk and the Los Angeles Review of Books.

Come see Matt read at 3rdSpace in San Diego on Saturday, April 15 at 7pm. 

Bridget Quinn in LA & SD

VOTM: What’s the most unusual experience you’ve had at a reading?

QUINN: At Bread Loaf in 2009 Luis Alberto Urrea stepped away from the podium and recited, from memory and without stumble or hesitation, an entire chapter from his novel, INTO THE BEAUTIFUL NORTH.  A bravura performance with zero bravura on his end, just earnest devotion to telling a great story. The room was rapt with attention. Best nearly-an-hour “reading” ever, that’s for sure.

Bridget Quinn is the author of Broad Strokes: 15 Women Who Made Art and Made History (in That Order), which NPR’s Susan Stamberg calls “a terrific essay collection” with “spunky attitudinal, SMART writing,” marking the second time “attitudinal” has been used about her work (first: Kirkus 1996). Raised on the high plains of Montana with two sisters, six brothers, a devout mother and a WWII Marine-turned-lawyer father, in a home surrounded by cows and nuclear missile silos, today Bridget lives in San Francisco with her husband, two children, two dogs and a ridiculous number of bikes.

Come see Bridget read at Book Show in Highland Park on Friday, April 14 at 7:30pm and at 3rdSpace in San Diego on Saturday, April 15 at 7pm. 

David Agranoff in SD

VOTM: What’s the most unusual experience you’ve had at a reading?

AGRANOFF: I read a story for 2014 World Horror Convention’s annual gross-out contest. It was nerve wracking reading my story in front of 500 horror writers. I didn’t think my story was funny or gross enough, but it came in second place out of 12 entries and many thought I was robbed. I won a print of a human centipede painting. So that is pretty weird. I also caused two grand masters of horror who were judges to keel over.

David Agranoff is the Wonderland award nominated author of two short story collections and four novels. His novels published by Eraserhead press include Punk Rock Ghost Story, Boot Boys of the Wolf Reich and The Vegan Revolution with Zombies. He writes primarily horror but this summer is releasing his first Science Fiction novel Flesh Trade co-written with Edward Morris.

Come see David read at 3rdSpace in San Diego on Saturday, April 15 at 7pm. 

Tiffany Scandal in LA & SD

VOTM: What’s the most unusual experience you’ve had at a reading?

SCANDAL: Once watched a man recite poetry about blackbirds into a microphone that was hanging out from the fly of another man’s pants.

Tiffany Scandal is the author of three books. The first, THERE’S NO HAPPY ENDING, is part of the New Bizarro Author Series from Eraserhead Press. Her second book, JIGSAW YOUTH, has made numerous “Best Of” lists and is available as an audiobook which the author narrated herself. She returns to Eraserhead Press for the release of her third and newest book, titled SHIT LUCK, which is already making waves and considered to be a great introduction to the Bizarro Fiction genre. She also models and does photography, but that stuff isn’t as important. She lives in Portland, Oregon. With cats.

Come see Tiffany read at Book Show in Highland Park on Friday, April 14 at 7:30pm and at 3rdSpace in San Diego on Saturday, April 15 at 7pm. 

Look Who’s Coming to Vermin SD: Margaret Wappler

VOTM: What’s the most unusual experience you’ve had at a reading?

WAPPLER: My own first reading is forever imprinted on my mind. I was 18 or 19, and I went to an open mic at a place called the Hot House in Chicago with a teacher-friend and my boyfriend. I got to the stage and read my poem, and was amazed at how quiet the room got. For some reason, I expected people to keep talking, or to maybe even heckle me, but everyone politely listened. Afterwards, a few people — proper adults! — came up and said nice things to me. I was incredibly thrilled and flattered. To calm my nerves before the reading, I’d gotten my hands on some illicit booze. I had slugged back a lot of it, and suddenly it all hit me at once. I ended up rushing out of the club and throwing up in a newspaper box on the corner (I still feel sorry for the Chicago Tribune person who had to deal with that the next morning). Despite my inglorious exit, I remember feeling so excited and proud the next day. I’d made it through my first reading! I haven’t thrown up at a reading since.

Margaret Wappler has written about the arts and pop culture for the Los Angeles Times, Rolling Stone, Elle, Cosmo, New York Times, and several other publications. Her debut novel, Neon Green, published by Unnamed Press in July 2016, has been praised as “witty and entertaining” by the Los Angeles Times and a depiction of “life in the nineties as it was actually lived ” by Electric Literature. She lives in Los Angeles and can be heard weekly on the pop culture podcast, Pop Rocket.

Come see Margaret read at 3rdSpace in San Diego on Saturday, January 21 at 7pm. 

Look Who’s Coming to Vermin LA & SD: Joshua Mohr

VOTM: What’s the most unusual experience you’ve had at a reading?

MOHR So many unusual readings over the years! The one that comes to mind right now is the the gig I had opening up for a fucking didgeridoo. To make matters worse, the event was in a shoe store.

To recap: me warming up a didgeridoo in the proverbial foot locker.

And he wasn’t even good at the thing. Not that I’m some expert but it was clear he was still cutting his teeth on the thing. My hope is that he’s vastly improved and if our paths cross again, to share our art in some other shoe store, I’ll stand back in didgeri-awe.

Joshua Mohr is the author of five novels, including “Damascus,” which The New York Times called “Beat-poet cool.”  He’s also written “Fight Song” and “Some Things that Meant the World to Me,” one of O Magazine’s Top 10 reads of 2009 and a San Francisco Chronicle best-seller, as well as “Termite Parade,” an Editors’ Choice in The New York Times.  His novel “All This Life” won the Northern California Book Award. His memoir, “Sirens,” came out last week.

Come see Joshua read at Book Show in Highland Park on Friday, January 20 at 7:30pm and at 3rdSpace in San Diego on Saturday, January 21 at 7pm. 

Look Who’s Coming to Vermin LA & SD: Jade Chang

VOTM: What’s the most unusual experience you’ve had at a reading?

CHANG: The first time I ever went to any sort of literary event was in high school, when our English teacher (RIP Liba Feuerstein) took us to hear the magnificent Galway Kinnell read at the Chateau Marmont. Everything ever after has been far less glamorous…

Jade Chang‘s debut novel, The Wangs vs. the World, was published by HMH. It has been named a NYT Editors’ Choice, is one of Buzzfeed’s 24 Best Books of 2016, and was longlisted for the PEN/Robert W. Bingham prize. The Wangs will be published in 11 countries and NPR said this: “Her book is unrelentingly fun, but it is also raw and profane—a story of fierce pride, fierce anger, and even fiercer love.”

Come see Jade read at Book Show in Highland Park on Friday, January 20 at 7:30pm and at 3rdSpace in San Diego on Saturday, January 21 at 7pm. 

Look Who’s Coming to Vermin LA: Dana Johnson

VOTM: What’s the most unusual experience you’ve had at a reading?

JOHNSON: Once I was reading to a packed house from my short story, “Melvin in the Sixth Grade,” which is a story about many things, but focuses on an awkward black girl’s crush on a bellbottom wearing hillbilly from Oklahoma. It’s a sweet story–I think–but I accidentally turned it into soft porn when I misread my own line from a moment where they were just walking home from school one hot day.  The line should have been, “Melvin took off his jacket.” Instead, I read “Melvin took off his pants.”

Dana Johnson is the author of the short story collection In the Not Quite Dark. She is also the author of the novel ElsewhereCalifornia and Break Any Woman Down, winner of the Flannery O’Connor Award for Short Fiction. Her work has appeared in The Paris ReviewCallaloo, The Iowa Review and Huizache, among others. Born and raised in and around Los Angeles, she is a professor of English at the University of Southern California.

Come see Dana read at Book Show in Highland Park on Friday, January 20 at 7:30pm

Look Who’s Coming to Vermin SD: Heather Fowler

VOTM: What’s the most unusual experience you’ve had at a reading?

FOWLER: Filming for the short film adaptation/trailer shoot for Beautiful Ape Girl Baby had paused due to torrential downpour and the cast and crew came together in a single room. As the book author, I was invited to watch the entire process. While we waited, the actors practiced their lines in the round. It was great to be seated there, watching my characters come to life and listening to director Lauren Rachel Berman advise on the scene. The best moment for me, because it was so privately amusing, was when the actors made slight adjustments to a line here or there and Lauren said, “Try that again. In the book and adapted script, it reads…” 

I’m a constant reviser–to the extent that sometimes, if reading unpublished work, I’ll even revise right as I read, so it was really fun to have the script kept so sacrosanct even when I myself was amenable to more fluid adjustments. Being an author often open to other people’s creative adjustments but having my exact terms kept precise–definitely memorable. I had to remind myself that the novel had yet to drop (but the edits were done), so Lauren was right. Now I’m writing plays and screenplays, so such things may not happen again in this way any time soon–a play/movie in development can be changed at every turn. 

I welcome the organized chaos to come. Here’s the trailer. These actors are great!

Heather Fowler is a novelist, a poet, a fiction writer, a librettist, and a playwright. She is the author of the novel Beautiful Ape Girl Baby (2016) and the story collections Suspended Heart (2010), People with Holes (2012), This Time, While We’re Awake (2013), and Elegantly Naked In My Sexy Mental Illness (2014). She is also co-author of a collaborative book of poems called Bare Bulbs Swinging with Meg Tuite and Michelle Reale. Her work has appeared in such venues as PANK, Night Train, storyglossia, Necessary Fiction, Feminist Studies, and more.

Come see Heather read at 3rdSpace in San Diego on Saturday, January 21 at 7pm. 

Look Who’s Coming to Vermin SD: David Eric Tomlinson

VOTM: What’s the most unusual experience you’ve had at a reading?

TOMLINSON: This is a reading in Dallas, early September, so it’s hot. The locals, myself included, are all in shorts, t-shirts, open-toed sandals. One of the performers is from Ohio and he comes in wearing cowboy get-up – boots, Wranglers, long-sleeve denim shirt, a black Stetson. His book is very good, as is his delivery. But it’s just too damn hot for all that gear.

David Eric Tomlinson was born and raised in Oklahoma. He studied writing at the University of California, San Diego, and has worked as a copywriter, art director, karate instructor, and stay-at-home dad. David lives in Dallas, Texas with his wife and two daughters. His first novel The Midnight Man, about five Oklahomans who overcome deep-seated racial, political, and social differences in the year preceding the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing, was published this month by Tyrus Books.

Come see David read at 3rdSpace in San Diego on Saturday, January 21 at 7pm. 

Look Who’s Coming to Vermin LA & SD: Vi Khi Nao

VOTM: What’s the most unusual experience you’ve had at a reading?

NAO: The reading was at a hair salon in New York. It had been raining intermittently and it had been terribly noisy and stuffy. It was hard to hear the readers. I was in the arms of my lover and I had fallen asleep. When it was my turn to read, I jolted awake, wheeled myself to one of the tall, swirly chairs made for cutting hair and read. I wish I had requested that my hair got either permed or washed during my reading. I see now how limited my imagination was.

Vi Khi Nao is the author of novel, Fish in Exile, and poetry collection, The Old Philosopher. Vi’s work includes poetry, fiction, film and cross-genre collaboration. She was the winner of 2014 Nightboat Poetry Prize and the 2016 Ronald Sukenick Innovative Fiction Contest.

Come see Vi read at Book Show in Highland Park on Friday, January 20 at 7:30pm and at 3rdSpace in San Diego on Saturday, January 21 at 7pm. 

Look Who’s Coming to Vermin LA & SD: Lou Rowan

VOTM: What’s the most unusual experience you’ve had at a reading?

ROWAN: In May 2008 I was booked into a radical London bookstore, to read as part of an artistic celebration of the protests of May 1968.  I began the reading to a small group with a story in which “my brother’s” problems are ascribed, probably not seriously, to his worship of “Bob Dylan.” The first mention of “Bob Dylan” provoked the MC to cut in and reminisce about Dylan’s contributions to his personal growth, and the reading was blown away by heated discussion of the “revolutionary” folk singer.

Lou Rowan’s books include A Mystery’s No Problem, novel, 2016; Love’s, poetry, 2016; The Alphabet of Love Serial, stories, 2015; My Last Days, Superman’s autobiography, 2007;  Sweet Potatoes, stories, 2008.  A native of Southern California, he received most of his formal education in the Atlantic states.  Living in and around New York City, he earned his living as a teacher, and as an institutional investor. The early onslaught of the derivatives “revolution” drove him to Washington State, to a then-stable pension investment firm, and in 2003 he forwent finance to write full-time. The same year marked the advent of Golden Handcuffs Review, which he continues to edit. His informal education began in the Lower East Side of New York City, when the artistic experiments in and around St. Mark’s Church in the Bowery flourished. He is eternally grateful to the English Department at Harvard University for making the formal study of accepted literature repugnant to him.

Come see Lou read at Book Show in Highland Park on Friday, January 20 at 7:30pm and at 3rdSpace in San Diego on Saturday, January 21 at 7pm. 

Look Who’s Coming to Vermin LA: Melissa Yancy

VOTM: What’s the most unusual experience you’ve had at a reading?

YANCY: One of the more interesting things was when an audience member called out Junot Díaz during a Q&A. She all but called him a sucio, implying they had personal history. Actually, a lot of atypical things happen at Junot engagements. The last time I saw him, there were 500 people waiting ahead of me in line–in Los Angeles–and when he told a personal story about the 1980s, the college girls around me realized he was almost 50. They seemed to think he was 25. He continues to have quite an effect on the ladies.

Melissa Yancy‘s short fiction has appeared in One Story, Glimmer Train, Zyzzyva, and many other publications. she is the recipient of a 2016 Literature Fellowship, and her story collection Dog Years won the 2016 Drue Heinz Literature Prize and was released in October 2016. She lives in Los Angeles where she works as a fundraiser for healthcare causes.

Come see Melissa read at Book Show in Highland Park on Friday, January 20 at 7:30pm

Look Who’s Coming to Vermin: Susan Straight

VOTM: What’s the most unusual experience you’ve had at a reading?

STRAIGHT: Strangest thing that ever happened to me at a reading was when my first novel came out, my husband and I decided to do a camping book tour with a one year old and three year old, and we arrived in SF with me wearing dirty jeans and a dirtier jean jacket, so the audience at Black Oak in Berkeley thought my elegant, purple-turbaned escort was the novelist and cheered for her. I wanted to pay her to read for me.

Susan Straight has published eight novels and two books for children. Her novel Between Heaven and Here (McSweeneys, 2013) is the final book in the Rio Seco trilogy. Take One Candle Light a Room (Anchor Books) was named one of the best books of 2010 by The Washington Post and The Los Angeles Times, and A Million Nightingales (Anchor Books) was a Finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize in 2006. Highwire Moon was a Finalist for the 2001 National Book Award. “The Golden Gopher,” published in Los Angeles Noir, won the 2008 Edgar Award for Best Mystery Story. Her stories and essays have appeared in The O Henry Prize Stories, Best American Short Stories, Best American Essays, The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, Harpers, McSweeneys, The Believer, Salon, Zoetrope, Black Clock, and elsewhere. She has been awarded The Kirsch Award for Lifetime Achievement from the Los Angeles Times, The Lannan Prize for Fiction, a Guggenheim Fellowship, and the Gold Medal for Fiction from the Commonwealth Club of California. She is Distinguished Professor of Creative Writing at UCRiverside. She was born in Riverside, California, where she lives with her family, whose history is featured on susanstraight.com.

Come see Susan read at Book Show in Highland Park on Friday, November 11 at 7:30pm