Friday, April 18, 2014

INTERVIEW: TONY BATTAGLIA


 Tony Battaglia

Age?
 25.

Location?
 Kent, Ohio.

How long have you been writing?
 Hard to say. I can remember being on the school bus in fifth or sixth grade and losing a bunch of pages of something long and dreadful I was working on through the window. I would say I've been writing "seriously," that is, with something coherent in mind, since I was maybe 16 or 17.

Do you have a specific writing style?
 Probably, but I couldn't tell you what it is. I guess I tend to lean a little toward magical realism sometimes, my "guys" are Marquez (RIP) and Calvino and Pynchon and DeLillo and so on. The last two aren't really magical realists but they have that kind of feverish feeling to them, and I guess that's what I sort of look for in my own writing. But I'm a terrible judge of my own writing.

Do you write as a career?
 Not yet.

Do you write full-time?
 No, I have a completely unrelated full-time job. But there's a lot of downtime in that job and that's when and where I do most of my writing. In some sense, I'm really writing all the time. I'll often write whole pages in my head on my commute and then it's just a matter of writing them down when I get home.

What do you consider to be your greatest accomplishment as a writer?
This is a horribly pretentious answer, but it's every time I get past the blank page. I have a terrific ability to procrastinate and in some ways I think I actually really hate the act of sitting down and writing. So any time I can get myself to sit down and work is kind of a triumph, even if what I put on the page at that particular time is shit.

What is your ultimate goal as a writer?
 I guess it's really to finally decide at what point you get to call yourself a "writer," the answer to which changes as you go along. For a long time, for me, the answer was "once you get something published." And then it was "when you get paid for writing something"-- but I've moved away from that answer a bit now. At the moment my ultimate goal is to finish the novel I'm working on, which has existed in some form in my mind for a few years now. So it's just a matter of doing my best translation-work in getting it faithfully down on the page.

What is your greatest challenge as a writer?
 Again, just convincing myself to sit down and do the work. And then keeping the pages long enough once they're written to let them settle in a little and lose that stink that's on them at first-- not to throw them out as wasted time right away.

What projects of yours have been recently published?
 Lately I've been so busy putting together my magazine that I haven't submitted much. The last few publications are all flash-fiction pieces, a couple poems here and there.

What are you currently working on and what inspired this work?
 Right now I'm working on a novel. The working title is "Motherland, Fatherland", and it's a kind of alternate-history detective story that takes place in a universe where the Cold War is still going strong in 2013, in a town of Soviet refugees in Northeast Ohio. It was inspired by an Air Force project commissioned in 1957 called Project A-119, which, to make a long story short, was a plan to nuke the moon in order to scare the shit out of the Russians. Look it up, it's really scary shit.

Where can we find your work?
 You can find my story "Alla Marinara" in this issue of  Composite Arts Magazine: ( http://bit.ly/1ld7KMv ), two stories, "Star Dust" and "HiveDrive" at Red Fez: ( http://bit.ly/1jd08nF ) , and another, "Throwing Knife", at Linguistic Erosion: ( http://bit.ly/1thL7I7 ). Also two poems, "The best in the game" and "Two questions" at Eunoia Review: ( http://bit.ly/1i1OYPX ). Another poem, "Battalion", was published by Circa Review, but unfortunately that publication has since ceased to exist.

       How often do you write?
 I write something every day, even if it's just a few notes. With the novel, I'm in the middle of doing a lot of research right now, so it's a lot of reading and note-taking, plus writing parts of the novel that don't rely so heavily on the research.

       How do you react to rejections?
 I've developed a pretty thick skin. Obviously every rejection is a little disappointing, but especially now that I'm editing a magazine and see what the other side of it looks like, I understand that sometimes a piece, even if it's a good piece, just doesn't fit. And sometimes, of course, it's just a bad piece.

       How do you react when one of your submissions is accepted for publication?
 Well, it's satisfying, of course. I'm often surprised, because I rarely like my finished work.

       What is your best piece of advice on how to stay sane as a writer?
 Don't. What do you want to be sane for?

      What is your favorite book?
 Impossible to answer. Still, probably, "Catch-22".

       Who is your favorite author?
 That's a difficult question, because I use books like prescription medication. I would have to say that the most consistently inspiring to me, not just in his writing itself but also in his commitment to craft and in his seriousness about all of it, is Don DeLillo.

        If you could have dinner with one fictional character, who would it be and why?
 Nikola Tesla. Not the real Nikola Tesla-- the crazy superhuman wizard Tesla. Because I can't even say for sure that they're not the same thing.

        What is the greatest occupational hazard for a writer?
 Netflix.

        What is your favorite word?
 "Detritus."

        What makes you laugh?
 The publishing industry.

      What makes you cry?
 The publishing industry.

What is your preferred drink while you write?
 Gin and tonic.

Beach or Mountains?
 Mountains.

Cats or Dogs?
 I like both, but cats all the way.

The Beatles or The Rolling Stones?
 Historically, The Beatles. More recently, The Stones.

Jimi Hendrix or Frank Sinatra?
 Hendrix.

Shakespeare or Bukowski?
Isn't there a theory that they're the same dude? If there isn't, there will be soon.

     Please provide as much or as little of the following information as you’d like.

Personal website/blog: No personal site at the moment, but I am co-editor and co-founder of flyovercountryreview.com, an online monthly of Midwestern art and literature.

Facebook profile or page: Personal: https://www.facebook.com/tony.battaglia.56

Twitter profile:
 @FlyoverReview

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