Here it is kids, the long awaited interview with Eckhard Gerdes, author of Hugh Moore and many other fine works of literature.
1. Why do you write?
The answer I give to every riddle asked by my kids is always, “to get to the other side.” When I was young, a philosophy major and son of a theologian, I took to heart an idea by Nicholas von Cusa: the innerworld and outerworld meet at a point in infinity. At the time, I was clueless about the nature of the world and about my own nature as well. As a introvert, I decided to investigate my own mechanisms first and then, hopefully, I would come out with a deeper understanding of the world at large.
2. Have you always written?
I wrote poems and stories in elementary school. I remember a Sherlock Holmes story I wrote in 7th grade. In 6th grade a friend of mine and I co-wrote about half a novel. In high school I wrote some 2000 terrible poems until my senior year English honors teacher asked me if I didn’t in fact, prefer writing fiction because so many of my poems were narrative. I began writing my impulses in prose form, connecting them, and voila! Fiction!
3. What inspires you as a writer?
I am increasingly impressed by the mystery in the mundane. I always like to point out that so many first novels by writers are of the “things to get off my chest, part one” variety and seem to make the same point: “Daddy was mean, Mommy was mean, and I’m a genius despite them.” It can be couched in a story about zombies and vampires, but essentially it’s a first-person roman a clef. Real writing doesn’t begin until one runs out of ideas. Writing fiction in support of ideas is like fishing for quail. But when one has written all of the agenda out of one’s system, then one is free to notice just how beautiful the world still is, or what the ugliness really is. Preconceptions will no longer either forego or forgo my conclusions.
4. How do you go about writing?
Yes, how dare I? I don’t usually go about doing it, though. I mostly write at home. But if I am out and about, then anywhere I can sit is okay. Park benches are nice. Coffee shops. Bars. Restaurants. Sitting in the car. In an empty classroom. In an office.
5. Where does Hugh Moore come from?
I was delightfully reading Patchen during the writing of it, so the name, I think came from Kenneth Patchen’s brother, Hugh, and from wanting to write something with “humor.” Miriam wrote a wonderful little foreword for me because I met her back in the day when I was writing this and asked her to at the time. She was a great lady, let me say, and I respect her immensely for being Kenneth’s muse for all those years but really for understanding how important his work was and what she could do to help him produce such wonderful work. Also, my immediately preceding novel was not very humorous, which I missed in the work, so I really wanted to go for it here. I got the idea for the names and characters and all of that all one day, and then just had to work it out. My wife Persis, before we were married even, stepped in and helped with one part called “Mary’s Meditation.” Hugh Moore’s annoying neighbor Jackson Berlin also appears as a main character in “Przewalski’s Horse,” so those two books are really inextricably linked.
6. Where is it headed?
It’s all about finding the perfect sentence, right? The one that sends readers off into transcendental voyages and ecstatic states. It’s the one that the reader thinks is the perfect sentence right there, right then, even if it doesn’t seem to connect.
7. The vast majority of modern writing is valueless, throwaway rubbish – will this be remedied, and is there a strong alternative scene to counter the malaise of big publishing?
It’s all about originality of voice. That which seems throwaway is often so only because it is weak carbon copy of a copy of a copy. If what one is writing is the same thing that anyone else of a dozen or so capable writers could have written, then the writer isn’t challenging himself or herself sufficiently. What I should be writing is what only I could write. More and more quality writers who get it are being left out of the big publishers’ lists because these publishers are used to selling widgets, not books, and need to be able to safely predict how many widgets they need. Books don’t really work that way. This, of course, means that the entire field of literary fiction has been left to the small press. The big presses seldom go anywhere near literary fiction anymore. Small presses are starting to get big by feeding in this huge vacant lot left by the great literary publishers of old. Look at how big and how fast presses like BlazeVox, Eraserhead, and Raw Dog Screaming Press have grown. The newer generation of publishers, Enigmatic Ink and Civil Coping Mechanisms, seemed poised to take literary fiction down an even more exciting avenue.