Brian Evenson calls Shya Scanlon “a new and vital voice in fabulist fiction.” His novel Forecast, which is currently being is serialized on 42 blogs and literary sites across the web, is “part SF, part noir, part road narrative and part love story […] tipping its hat to authors like Stacey Levine, China Miéville and Jonathan Lethem.”
Jacket Copy and the Huffington Post have more to say about Shya’s innovative Forecast 42 project. Shya Scanlon’s collection In This Alone Impulse will be published by Noemi Press in 2009. Shya received his MFA from Brown University in 2008.
If you weren’t a writer, how would you spend your time?
The funny thing about this question is that the first half of it feels very much in the direction of vocation, while the second half veers off into avocation. In other words: If I weren’t a writer (by trade), how would I spend my (free) time? I like it, because it asks me to think like a writer. Not just what Character X does, but what, by extension, Character X might be interested in. So what I’ll do, then, is give you an alternate-life hobby I might have, had I a non-writing primary occupation, without saying what said primary occupation would be: in all likelihood, I’d spend my time writing.
Which book do you wish you’d written?
Based on its longevity and influence: The Bible. But I’d doubtless make some changes.
What are the websites you couldn’t live without?
I truly, desperately hope I could live without any. However, in the spirit of the interview, I’ll envision a world in which Internet connectivity were as necessary for life as air, water and food.
My first impulse is to list the sites I spend the most time on (the first, without question, would be www.nytimes.com), but the fact is, I could quite easily migrate elsewhere for the information I get from news and pop culture sites. So the qualifications would need to blend importance and singularity. A web site that gives me a vital perspective or a voice, perhaps, I couldn’t replace. I’m having a hard time preventing my answer from spiraling into sarcasm, here, and I think it’s because I don’t really look at the Internet as something that provides me sustenance. More often then not, it’s really just a distraction. Most often, I use it to communicate, via email, for instance, and more recently Facebook and Twitter. But I’m in the midst of something like a crisis of interests, right now, wherein I simply don’t know what to be passionate about. Or how one arrives at such passion. Is it organic? Should I wait for it to strike like a bolt of lightning? Or is it something I should actively develop, as some describe the act of faith? Or have I missed my window? Am I destined to spend the remainder of my days in a purgatory of mild amusement?
What are you working on now?
Mostly I’ve been revising my novel Forecast, which I’ve been serializing online. Happily, it’s been picked up by the innovative small press FlatManCrooked, who will be releasing it in print sometime next year. My next novel-for which I’m only just taking notes-involves mass delusion in the face of a distant but inevitable apocalyptical event. In other words, it’s non-fiction.
Do you listen to music while you write? What?
It really depends on what stage of the process I’m in. If I’m in the midst of a longer project I tend to be able to quickly get into the “flow,” in which case music can act as a buffer between myself and the world, defend the process from distraction. If I’m just getting started, however, or trying to compose a difficult passage, I need silence.
I tend to listen to music without lyrics when writing-probably not unusual-and my tastes run the gamut from Miles David to Debussy to Roni Size. Sometimes I do choose lyrical music, however, and in these cases opt for something deeply familiar, something I grew up listening to. Bob Dylan, for instance, or Neil Young, or Joni Mitchell. Yes, my parents were hippies.