Friday, May 9, 2014

INTERVIEW: PETE GRAPENTIEN


Pete Grapentien

Age?
I’m 26, but I’ll be turning 27 in a month. Entering my late twenties is really freaking me out, actually.

Location?
Kent, Ohio

How long have you been writing?
Since I was a kid. We didn’t have a TV growing up and, although that might sound admirable to some people, I assure you it wasn’t fun. Instead of watching TV, I wrote stories on this old typewriter someone gave my mom. I actually really dislike typewriters because of the problems I used to have with that thing.

Do you have a specific writing style?
I use a mix between cursive and regular print.

Do you write as a career?
I haven’t been paid to write fiction, but I’ve had jobs where I’ve had to copywrite and edit. And right now, I’m writing grant proposals (as well as teaching). Honestly, I wouldn’t say that I write as a career though. I definitely don’t write creatively as a career. So, to answer your question, I don’t know.

Do you write full-time?
Nope. All my work is part-time. It’s hard out there for the humanities.

What do you consider to be your greatest accomplishment as a writer?
Once someone told me that a friend had showed him Ode to the Catcalling Garbage Man on YouTube. He told me he didn’t really get into poetry, but he really liked that poem. That was pretty cool. It was really rewarding.

What is your ultimate goal as a writer?
Like many writers, my primary goal is to blow up, make millions and then act like I don’t know anyone when I visit my hometown.  Short of that, I’d like to give readers a really immersive experience that allows them to forget about any troubles they might have at the time and, at the same time, doesn’t sugar-coat reality.

What is your greatest challenge as a writer?
Prioritizing writing over other more urgent stuff. And realizing the difference between ‘urgent’ and ‘important.’

What projects of yours have been recently published?
I haven’t sent work out in a while. I’ve been focusing on teaching and editing Flyover Country Review. I think the last “creative” piece that got published was published was Ode to the Catcalling Garbage Man. Since then, I’ve had some other nonfiction stuff published, but it’s all political or blog-related stuff and not very interesting.

What are you currently working on and what inspired this work?

I always work on a million things at a time and only finish a handful of them. Right now, I’m working on this character piece about the effects of being raised without a father (sounds dreary, but it’s supposed to be a comedy). I’m also working on a sci-fi parody with the working title Dinosaur President: A Space Opera. One day, a few friends and I were talking about that movie Sharknado that the Syfy channel churned out a while ago. We were discussing how silly it was and the purpose of absurdist humor. That conversation got me thinking. I’ve always really loved campy science fiction books, so I thought “Why not try writing one?”

Where can we find your work?
I don’t want to inundate you with links but…
You can find a poem here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P3yuLBlccBo
            And a fiction piece of mine here: http://www.littlefiction.com/beta/Pete_Grapentien_Soul_Gazing.html
            If you google my name, you should be able to find other stuff, too.

       How often do you write?
Not often enough. I try and write a little every day, but I usually only manage a few days a week.

       How do you react to rejections?
I think I handle them well. Rejections really never bothered me and have bothered me even less since I began Flyover Country. Sending out a rejection letter probably bugs me more than getting rejected.

       How do you react when one of your submissions is accepted for publication?
Standard protocol is to freak out and tell everyone. Then feel super self-conscious about what was published.

       What is your best piece of advice on how to stay sane as a writer?
            Think more about creating something perfect than pleasing someone. In my mind, it’s more important to create a great piece of art than for someone to like it. Oh! And don’t fall into the trap that comedy is somehow a lower form of art and can’t be meaningful. This leads to really depressing/boring writing. Good comedy is always meaningful.

       What is your favorite book?
Portnoy’s Complaint by Philip Roth.

       Who is your favorite author?
            Vladimir Nabokov.

        If you could have dinner with one fictional character, who would it be and why?
            I’d pick Isaac, son of Abraham. I’ve always wanted to get his side of the story. Either  Isaac or Victor from Choke by Palahniuk.

        What is the greatest occupational hazard for a writer?
Alcohol poisoning. Or giving in to the fear that no one’s listening which is where the whole alcohol poisoning thing comes in.

        What is your favorite word?
Yield. Or maybe rural. Something that’s more work to pronounce than it’s worth.

        What makes you laugh?
            For some reason, Alec Baldwin really cracks me up. I think it’s his head shape. Oh! And Amy Shumer. She’s hilarious.

What makes you cry?
I’m not really sure. The strangest time I’ve ever cried was during a group confession at a nondenominational church. This guy was confessing about masturbating in prison and, for some reason, I just broke down. I was thirteen; maybe that had something to do with it.

What is your preferred drink while you write?
Coffee with a little half and half.

Beach or Mountains?
Mountains.

Cats or Dogs?
Dogs by a mile.

The Beatles or The Rolling Stones?
The Rolling Stones by a hair.

Jimi Hendrix or Frank Sinatra?
I’d have to pick Sinatra. But for some moods, only Hendrix will do.

Shakespeare or Bukowski?
Shakespeare. I’m not a big fan of Bukowski.

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

Personal website/blog:

Facebook profile or page:

Twitter profile:

Other page(s) or profile(s):
            www.flyovercountryreview.com
     

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