Wednesday, October 10, 2012

The Next Big Thing

The Next Big Thing Chain Gang!


What is the working title of your book?

Conversations with S. Teri O'Type (a Satire)

Where did the idea come from for the book?

One day the characters of S. Teri O'Type and his hapless protégé, Curt Child, were simply there in my head having conversations about how to be gay . . . better. 

What genre does your book fall under?

Satire. Humor. LGBT Humor. And Humor. I said Humor, right?

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

A question I've pondered muchly. Conversations with S. Teri O'Type would best be adapted as an animated film, but if I had to choose real actors . . .

If Jack Black weren't available to play poor clueless Curt, Jim Parsons could play both roles on the stage.

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

Curt Child is a man in his mid-forties who just can't seem to get gay enough for anyone to notice, not to mention the man of his dreams, so he's enlisted the help of his oldest and gayest friend S. Teri O'Type to drag him a few inches down the Road to Greater Gayness.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

The book has been self-published through CreateSpace. It is available on Amazon and also on Kindle. It also has its own blog now. You can find it at Oh Mighty Gayru!

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

Two Years. 

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

I don't know of any book like Conversations with S. Teri O'Type

Who or what inspired you to write this book?

The inspiration for the book probably came from the "That's so Gay" campaign a few years ago, but the book took on a life of its own very quickly in my head. As I said above, the characters were  just there talking to each other. They became their own inspiration. 

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

Conversations with S. Teri O'Type is a series of lessons in Greater Gayness. The dialogue has been called "volcanic," "explosive" and even "the Himalayas during an avalanche." The book could be called a flash novel or a "plovel" (a cross between a novel and a play). It's number 1 on the Goodreads LGBT Humor list. 

I must be off,

Follow The Next Big Thing Challenge with writer Gill Hoffs. 

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Lots and Lots and Lots of Stuff!

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It seems like the last few weeks have been stuffed with stuff coming out, so I thought I'd take a few minutes and update you on, well, stuff.

Yesterday, my story "The Shop Between the Prophets and the Sea" came out in the stunning magazine Lost in Thought alongside some great fellow writers and many talented artists. The magazine is pretty and slick and arty from the first page to the last. Worth every penny. Thank you to editor and designer Kyle Schruder and fiction editor Robert Vaughan.

Jo Ann Tomaselli from the blue collection 2: music
My story "Furniture" was included in Blue Five Notebook's the blue collection 2: music issue rubbing narrative shoulders with some very cool writers and artists. Thank you to Michelle Elvy for including this story.

The last Aotearoa Affair Blog Carnival--"A View From Here"--is live. I've contributed my interview with Scottish author Gill Hoffs, whose book Wild is out now.

You may have read my interview with German author Jürgen Fauth in the Expat Author Interview Series here at I Must Be Off! I've also reviewed his book Kino for Books at Fictionaut. Have a look.

And of course I'm deep into shamelessly promoting my book Conversations with S. Teri O'Type. I'm considering having some books sent to my parents' house in Tennessee so that I can sign a few for people in the US. If you're interested in a signed copy--sweet, sweet people--let me know. It will influence the number of books I order.

I've also started a new blog devoted to the life and times of this book. Check it out HERE.

And there's more to come in the next few weeks. For now, though . . .

I must be off,

Friday, October 5, 2012

My Favorite Places on Earth -- Alsace

We all have our favorite places on Earth, and I suppose some of us have our favorite places on Mars--but I haven't been there. Yet.

I go to Alsace at least once a year. For wine. But also for the quaint fairy-tale atmosphere in the dozens of tiny villages still very much as they were hundreds of years ago. World War II left few scars on these towns, so the old-fashioned beauty of the Fachwerk houses has been preserved remarkably well. I suppose it's my love for the fairy tale that keeps me coming back. And the wine of course.

Alsatian wines are so misunderstood. When you think of wine from this region, you might think of Riesling. You might think only of Riesling, and this would be sad. What about Pinot Gris? And Sylvaner? And Muscat? And my favorite varietal from Alsace Gewurztraminer? Alsatian wines are part of a culture that appreciates great traditional food and the atmosphere of quaint restaurants.

On our last trip to Alsace we finally went cycling through the vineyards. I'd wanted to do this for years. We were staying just outside Colmar in an Ibis hotel. With Ibis, you know what you're getting. It's completely characterless--sort of like the McDonald's of European hotels--but at least there are few bad surprises. I think as long as a hotel has an acceptable bed, I'm set. I'm not going to spend all day in this place.

We spent three days cycling from one town to the next--on the worst bicycles (velos in French) I've ever rented. Truly. Awful. Bad. One of us had a flat and had to walk back to Colmar (the flat repair kit was useless: wrong pump, dried up glue). Fortunately, we were all having such a wonderful time we were able to take little mishaps in our stride.

Gewurztraminer grapes
The best part about our bike ride through the vineyards--shhhhhh, come here--was that I finally tasted the Gewurztraminer grape right from the vine. Yes, this is technically stealing, but I don't think anyone will miss the four grapes I ate. And this post is like an homage to the grape, right? I'd like to think it is. Although Gewurztraminer is a white wine, the grape is actually red. And surprise, surprise: it tastes like Gewurztraminer. Yum. The end of August is definitely the best time to visit Alsace.

Alsace is sort of hard to get to if you're coming from the US, and that's why when you walk through the towns of Riquewihr, Ribeauvillé and Kaysersberg you'll hear very few American accents. It's worth the slog, though, if you can combine a visit to the region with a trip to Germany or a trip to other destinations in France or Belgium. Alsace is just across the German/French border or the French/Swiss border, so flying into Frankfurt of Basel would be the quickest way to get there. You could also fly into Strassbourg, but this looks more expensive and more complicated than Frankfurt or Basel.

Here are a few of my favorite pictures of Alsace. I have thousands.

Vineyards near Colmar, Alsace (France)

The village of Eguisheim, about 15 minutes from Colmar. Eguisheim is a circular Roman village famous for being the birthplace of Pope Leon IX. Eguisheim.

Alsace is known for its flowers in the spring and summer.

Ribeauvillé at Christmas

Kaysersberg at Christmas

What are your favorite places on earth? The place you'd always return to? The place that makes you feel at home?

Contest! Contest! Contest! Read through I Must Be Off! from A to Z and win a copy of Dorothee Lang and Smitha Murthy's book Worlds Apart! Be one of the first three to read and comment on 26 posts, and you'll get this book. To continue with the I Must Be Off! A-Z, go to B is for Bali.

I must be off,


Christopher Allen is the author of Conversations with S. Teri O'Type (a Satire), an episodic adult cartoon about a man struggling with expectations. Allen's award-winning fiction and non-fiction have appeared or are forthcoming in SmokeLong Quarterly's Best of the First Ten Years anthology, Prime Number Magazine, The Best of Every Day Ficton, Pure Slush, Bootsnall Travel and Chicken Soup for the Soul. A finalist at Glimmer Train in 2011, Allen has been nominated for Best of the Net and the Pushcart Prize twice. He is the managing editor of the daily litzine Metazen. Recently, Allen--along with editors Michelle Elvy and Linda Simoni-Wastila--hosted Flash Mob 2013 in celebration of International Flash Fiction Day. 

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Expat Author Interview with Jürgen Fauth

Author Jürgen Fauth
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Jürgen Fauth spent decades in the American South--my old stomping grounds--and has taken some great stories back to Germany. He's also published a great story recently--the action thriller Kino

IMBO: Welcome to I Must Be Off! Jürgen. I see you studied in the US. What was it like? In the South? Did you study at all in Germany before coming to the States?

Fauth: I was majoring in American Studies at Mainz University before I came to the US. In fact, they sent me. They had a one year exchange program, and that's how I ended up at a small Baptist college outside of Jackson, Mississippi. It was a peculiar place -- I was the only European on campus -- and I had a fantastic time. I discovered a great many things there, among them creative writing classes. There was no such thing in Germany at the time, and even now, there are only two programs here. I took an undergrad writing class, loved it, and won their prize for fiction that year. So, after my year was up, I applied to the graduate program at USM and moved to Hattiesburg. It was a much bigger school, and I didn't get any special points for being from abroad there. My teachers were amazing though, and Hattiesburg is close to New Orleans. It has that going for it.

IMBO: I went to a Baptist college in Nashville, Tennessee where I also discovered a great many things. Those were the days. Did you have to go to chapel? Was it culture shock being thrust into the Bible belt? 

Fauth: I didn't have to go to chapel, but the place blew my mind on a daily basis anyway. Mississippi Burning had only come out a few years before. I shot guns, went to a rodeo, broke curfews. I was over 21 so I made a lot of friends fast because I could buy booze. We'd go to the drive-through daiquiri place in Vicksburg or sneak off to New Orleans. Everybody's father seemed to be a car salesman, a minister, or a former car salesman who'd been called upon by the Lord to become a minister. At the end of my year there, the president of the college, who'd just celebrated his 25th year in office, was apprehended in San Francisco by the FBI, trying to bite down on a cyanide capsule. He'd been on the run for "white slavery." You can't make that stuff up. 

IMBO: Well, I come from Tennessee, so you can't shock me. Goodness, how long does it take to bite down on a cyanide capsule? I'd say his heart wasn't in it. Too bad. Moving on from pervy white slavery college president . . . do you write in German as well? Kino is a novel that I imagine would be applauded by the German reading public.

Fauth: I've never seriously written fiction in German, no. But I agree that Kino ought to appeal to a German audience, so I've begun translating it, and I'm discovering that it's a lot of fun to translate yourself because you always know if it's right. You never have to worry if you're paraphrasing too much and you're always exactly sure what the author meant.... So you get the pure pleasure of translation, which is the feeling of having written without having to come up with something to say -- you're just making sentences. I like it very much, and I'm hoping to find a publisher for Kino in Germany soon.

IMBO: I have a good feeling about that. My very limited experience with German publishers makes me think they're more open than publishers in the US. Kino is a mystery thriller with lots of twists. I particularly liked the theme of truth, bending the truth, and not knowing who's telling the truth--themes I touch on in my review of the book for Books at Fictionaut. Jürgen, tell me a little about Kino. Is it based on a real person? A filmmaker from the time when the Weimar Republic was being devoured by the Nazis?

Fauth: It's not based on any particular person, no. It's more of a composite, with my own spin on it. The idea was to tell a kind of artist's biography, the familiar biopic arc of rise and fall, but then carry it further and see what happens when his work gets rediscovered a generation or two later. So it was a matter of fitting Kino's story into the known history and relating it to well-known historical figures. On the one hand you have trajectories like Ernst Lubitsch, Billy Wilder, Marlene Dietrich, and Fritz Lang, people who left the country at some point, went to Hollywood, and became successful there, to varying degrees. Then you have the people who stayed and allowed themselves to become tools of the Nazis, such as Leni Riefenstahl and Veidt Harlan. As an expat, I was very much interested in the point when you realize that you have to leave your country, and I wanted Kino's decision to be ambiguous. Does he stay out of loyalty to his family or out of fear and opportunism? When he finally leaves -- much later than most emigrants -- America is not kind to him, and he struggles to restart his career. The question "What would I have done?" is something all Germans ask themselves, and Kino's story was a way for me to explore that moment from an artist's point of view.

IMBO: Yes, I felt that perspective often from the main character, Mina. And these aspects of family loyalty and responsibility seemed central to the novel, something I point out in my review on Fictionaut. I'm also struck by the various layers you've built into Kino: historical novel, action-packed mystery, family drama, multiple-voiced narrative, a bit of science fiction. Or would you call the mind-control storyline science fiction? 

Fauth: Perhaps I'd call it "speculative fiction," but then again, all fiction is, isn't it? I'm very interested in that border between art and reality, and how they influence each other. The book takes this to an extreme, makes it almost supernatural, but I do suspect that the line that separates the two is more permeable than we generally assume. And that's just one of the things at play -- you're right, I was trying for something dense, a multi-layered story with a fast-moving surface that also covers a lot of ground conceptually. That was the idea, anyway.

IMBO: Before we finish here, Jürgen, I always ask the interviewee what "Home" means and whether being an expat for so long has affected your sense of home. Do you still live in the US? Which parts of you feel American, and which German? 

Fauth: After nearly 20 years in the US, I recently returned to Germany for a time. It's odd being back. I'm now a citizen of both countries, which should help making me feel at home in both, but it also means that in a way, I'm a foreigner everywhere. At home, we speak English, we consume mostly U.S. media. The weirdest part about it may be that I'm six hours ahead of my Twitter friends now -- after I catch up in the morning, I have to wait till noonish before the East Coast slowly starts waking up. I'm sure you know all about that.

IMBO: I do. By the time my friends are home from work, I'm horizontal and snoring too loud to hear the phone. Thank you, Jürgen! Great to talk to you. 

Fauth: Same here. Thanks for having me, Chris.

I must be off,


Jürgen Fauth is the author of the novel Kino  (Atticus Books). You can read the opening chapter "Celluloid" on Fictionaut, a literary community co-founded by Fauth together with Carson Baker in 2008. Fictionaut has been covered by MashablePoets & Writers, and the L.A. Times. Fauth has written about the site at the Huffington Post. Fauth now lives in Wiesbaden, Germany with his wife, novelist Marcy Dermansky. 

Christopher Allen is the author of the absurdist satire Conversations with S. Teri O'Type