Giancarlo DiTrapano is 6ft, 200 lbs, blond-Italian, straight-acting, 7 inches, top, cut. He is also the editor of The New York Tyrant & Tyrant Books.
What is your feeling about the mentor relationship for a writer?
A mentor relationship sounds like an excellent relationship to have. I was never fortunate enough to have one though. I might have tried to have one, but my potential mentors weren’t as wise as I thought they were, or I ended up dating them. I think if you keep working alone that you’ll eventually mentor yourself. Having a mentor sounds like cheating to me if I think about it hard enough. Ideally, we would follow in the footsteps of the Ancients, trading sexual favors for knowledge. I’m dead serious about that. Generational mentorship is probably a more noble pursuit than a personal one.
You are an editor of New York Tyrant, and you have tough decisions to make. What makes a story grab?
I have no idea. Lots of things. Personal things probably. Like if I see something in a submission that relates to me personally, it grabs me. But that doesn’t always make the story good. Whenever I write something I think to myself, “Would anyone else write this?” If I feel that the answer is yes, then I delete it. Confession and shock grabs or not. Sure, what it does is show the reader how honest you are willing to be. Not confessing shows the reader how uncomfortable with honesty you are. This can be just as endearing.
What do you do when you feel stuck or uninspired and does it work to trick the brain into working?
Oh, I always feel uninspired and I have no idea how to create inspiration. I work better being uninspired. If I actually feel inspired, then I would probably want to just sit back and feel the inspiration rather than write. I feel like I am turning away from life by writing life down, when I feel like I should maybe just stare directly into it and let it fully soak in before trying to be a decoder. I would rather fill up with code.
Suggestions for making characters live? Do you know who they are before you write or do you find out who they are in the writing?
I’ve written very few fiction pieces. The things I have written that are perceived as fiction, I feel like those are probably the least fictitious. At times I think anything poetic is fiction.
What are some good habits for a writer to develop?
What I often wonder about is writers and their obsession with their good health habits, whether mental or physical. I mean, it seems like they’re missing the point. I’ve always felt that health was the opposite of writing.
I would suggest “engaging in life” as a good habit. Like, go out and do things and take risks and throw yourself around a bit. Surround yourself with people who genuinely interest you. I would suggest living a life that is interesting and that you won’t have to lie about.
If I could live in the hours from midnight to two inside of a dark bar with good music, I would. People are at their best when they’re celebrating, and I really like people, so I want to be with them when they are at their best.
How did NYTyrant begin. How has it changed? What is next for Tyrant and Tyrant books?
The Tyrant began as some friends who wanted to have fun. Then we started taking it too seriously so it became unfun. Some left, I stayed. It became fun again. Many have come and gone from the beginning. Luke Goebel works with me now and he’s great. We argue a lot and have fights but it’s a kind of inter-familial fighting. If there isn’t a close dynamic between you and whoever you work with, then I would suggest not working with them. If someone is easy to work with then the partnership probably isn’t doing anything. I don’t know if the magazine’s changed at all, besides adding the book arm to it.
What’s next for you?
I don’t know. Sometimes I get really bored with all of it and want to just give up on literary endeavors. But then I read something that excites me and I get stuck doing what I do again. I feel that this will not last forever. The next Tyrant is on its way, I promise.
The Fictionaut Five is our ongoing series of interviews with Fictionaut authors. Every Wednesday, Meg Pokrass asks a writer five (or more) questions. Meg is the editor-at-large for BLIP Magazine, and her stories and poems have been published widely. Her first full collection of flash fiction, “Damn Sure Right” is now out from Press 53. She blogs at http://megpokrass.com.