What are some of your favorite chapbooks?
One of my favorite shorter works of the past few years has been How The Days Of Love & Diphtheria by Robert Kloss. It was part of the now defunct press Mud Luscious Press’s nephew series. They were great collectible short works, and Kloss’s writing style reminded me of Cormac McCarthy.
What’s your chapbook about?
A lot of regret and loss, some hope. I think that when people are at the end of their string, when everything seems lost, that is when we as human beings shine most.
What’s the oldest piece in your chapbook? What do you remember about writing it?
The oldest piece is a story I wrote about working as a mason tender with Mexican migrant workers, a job I had for a couple summers through college. It was picked up years ago by Hobart online. Probably the most climactic story of the collection is “How We Are Alone.”
How did you decide on arrangement and title of your chapbook?
Well, the title came last. Literally, once we had gone into editing and production. The arrangement is meant to be a conversation. A conversation between myself and the reader. I believe all good literature should reflect this, through mood, emotion, characters. But the one thing I’d like people to get from my writing is that we as human beings are flawed, we are meant to be. And there is beauty in that.
What have you done to promote and publicize your chapbook?
Well, even before the book was accepted, I had begun planning an author tour on the east coast as a road trip. I hit Philadelphia, Baltimore, Washington, D.C., Boston, and N.Y.C. Former authors I’d published in their own chapbooks, including a supportive and great friend, Jane Rosenberg LaForge, met me at most venues.
Is there a question you wish you would have been asked about your chapbook? How would you answer it?
I think on the surface many people dismiss my stories as simply sad. I did a Goodreads giveaway promotion for the book, and one of the winners wrote a review, in short, saying that. Sometimes, I wish folks would ask me the small questions: what makes me just a person, my favorite meal, my own personal regrets, even how friends or family inspire me.
What are you working on now?
I have a book-length collection I’ve been shopping around and submitting. It’s honestly a good summation of my work as a writer up to this point and contains a novella.
What advice would you offer to an aspiring chapbook author?
Brevity. Brevity and cohesion.
What question would you like to ask the next chapbook author featured at Speaking of Marvels?
How much creative control did you have in the production of your book? Would you rather have less or more?
How do you use computers/digital technologies in all stages of your writing process?
Obviously, I use the internet for stages of research, but most to all of my work in the last few years has come from using Open Office word processor. It’s honestly the most versatile software out there because it is open source and free. I can convert documents, open and edit most to all file types, and can even do spreadsheets and databases.
Who do you most hope will read your chapbook? (either an individual or a particular group of people)?
I would hope that it would honestly be people who are desperate. I’m not sure if that says much about the quality of my writing . By “desperate,” I mean emotionally drained, empty. I would hope they would see an empathy and hope in reading my work that yes, there are other people out there. Literally, just people.
Did you set out with the intention of writing a chapbook? Does your chapbook follow a clear arc?
I did not. The themes fell together for Sunnyoutside’s submission guidelines. But yes, there is a clear arc: a climax, anti-climax, resolve. The stories come as a whole story unto themselves.
Does your family read your chapbook? Or are they waiting for you to write a novel?
My family has, yes. They really would just hope for me to just be happy in life. And they are always telling me, after I’ve told them about a reading, story acceptance or otherwise, to never give up my writing.
Christopher Bowen is a mid-western writer and chef. The themes of his work extend from his own experiences growing up to farmland and post-industrial America in Ohio. He travels often.
“We were out by the dock out on the boat and it tipped, is all. That’s why I’m so wet,’ said as one enters the house, too late to notice the sun setting behind dripping ears. And the person in the living room or dining room nods in approval, knowing the question need not be answered and that it was only half asked to begin with, and offering the last slice of pie.
“What happened to the rest of the world?”
They are failing at something and running from us. It is well affixed in them to repeatedly escape this way, to take the fastest car, the fastest plane to do this, never to be seen the same way again and always lost in one or two or more ways. They leave behind the black, vital dirt of here and Shangri-La behind shaking heads, not shaking water, but disbelief at what is left behind in the past in the country in Ohio. They are on toward the city and clean futures like good barbershop haircuts to return the day like to some lagoon where a father or uncle or grandfather spits into the wind at mosquitoes and mumbles at the lack of predators in the area, natural predators to hunt and kill. This is God’s country.