Retired Chief Media Manager
As part of the Collision Blog Tour, we’re interviewing J.S. Breukelaar, whose new collection, Collision: Stories, was released by Meerkat Press on 2/19/19.
BLOG TOUR GIVEAWAY
Enter by 3/9/19 - 11:59 pm EASTERN to win a $25 Gift Card
- Tell us a little about yourself:
J.S. Breukelaar: I am the author of the novels American Monster, a Wonderland Award Finalist, and Aletheia, an Aurealis Award finalist, as well as a new collection of short stories, Collision. You can also find my work in magazines such as Lightspeed, Gamut, Black Static, Unnerving and anthologized in Welcome to Dystopia, Women Writing the Weird among others. I have a PhD in film studies and creative writing and teach at the University of Western Sydney, and am a columnist and instructor at LitReactor.com.
- Can you give our members a short pitch on your short story collection, Collision?
J.S. Breukelaar: The stories in Collision are collected from horror, weird, sf, and dark fantasy stories published over the last eight years, since 2011, plus some new works, including a novella, Like Ripples on a Blank Shore. The idea behind the collection is that of colliding—the miraculous intrusion of worlds into one another, crashing genres, leaky genders, desire at the edge of all the ways of being human, and not.
- Do you have a favorite story in the book, and if so, why?
J.S. Breukelaar: No, not really. They all mean a lot to me, or they wouldn’t be there. And they all mean something to me that might be different than what they mean to readers—I’m amazed at how reviewers each have their favorites. Some people mention the title story and Rogues Bay 3013; others say that Union Falls, or Lion Man were their favorites, others are most affected by Ava Rune, or the novella, Like Ripples on a blank shore. I think that’s what’s great about collections. There is hopefully something for everything. Like the author invited readers to a smorgasbord of foods from every culture and clashing cuisines, plus 36 flavors of ice cream, and hopes for the best.
- You have written novels and short fiction, which format do you like most, and why?
J.S. Breukelaar: Again, each is different. I found short stories very difficult at first, and really concentrated on novels, but I think that was a mistake. I should have concentrated on honing my short fiction skills, and I encourage my students to do that for a lot of reasons. I think it’s a necessary discipline for one reason, and that’s character. Short stories allow you to really focus on character – your lens is close and tight and you need to know more about your character than ever makes it onto the page. Save the long lens for novels, a much slower burn, which is satisfying in a big way. Stories need to be like lightning and I really enjoy that process. But I also love spending a year or two with my characters, in their world, which is one of the fun things about writing novels.
- What is your favorite part of the writing process?
J.S. Breukelaar: Wow. I guess I just love it all. And hate it, too. Maybe that love-hate is the drug I live for.
- What is your least part of the writing process?
J.S. Breukelaar: The part where I can’t spend the kind of time on it that it needs. And then it gives me hell. Writing takes time. I hate that feeling of it shutting me out until and unless I give it the kind love it needs. It’s like an animal just before and after they know you’re going away—I hate that part of the writing process when it blames and shames me for something I can’t necessarily control.
- When did you first feel like you were a “real writer” and why?
J.S. Breukelaar: I’ve always felt like a real writer. This is because stories were the scrim lights for the theatre of my soul. I’ve never been able to believe in anything but fiction.
- As an author with a day job, when do you find time to write?
J.S. Breukelaar: Mornings before 9 am, longer if I’m not teaching. A break around the middle of the day when I attend to admin chores, and then more writing in the afternoon if I can after the day job.
- If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?
- As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot/avatar/spirit animal?
J.S. Breukelaar: My late Staffordshire bull terrier Eric has and always will by my muse. Apart from him—whatever animal is in the story or stories I’m writing at the time are my spirit animals and guide me through it as much as any of the other characters. Vernon the Gila Monster was my mascot through Aletheia. Gloria the wolf-dog in American Monster. In Collision there are talking dogs and memory dogs and off-planet marsupial aliens among other spirits. And in the novel I’m working on now there are birds.
- Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with bad or good ones.
J.S. Breukelaar: I do read them, when I come across them, or when someone lets me know they are there. I am honored when my book connects with readers—it’s what I live for—when my stories make them cry, or laugh, or scratch their heads. I don’t find bad reviews a big problem, because I have had very few and the ones I’ve had have been respectful, of the “it’s not you, it’s me” variety. Which is cool.
- Name a book that made you think differently about fiction, and why?
J.S. Breukelaar: Wow. What a question. So many many many books have done that. Every book I’ve dug has made me think differently about everything, including fiction itself. Peter Straub’s Ghost Story, Cormac McCarthy’s Blood Meridian, John Gardner’s Grendel, Kelly Link’s Magic For Beginners, William Gibson’s Burning Chrome, Stephen Graham Jones’ Mongrels, Borges’ Labyrinths, Shirley Jackson’s everything.
- Name an author you disliked at first but grew into later, and why?
J.S. Breukelaar: Mmmm. I can’t think of an author that happened with, but I can think of a book—Stephen King’s Gunslinger series. It was the wrong time for me or something when I read them at first, and they were a gift from my cousin. I was and am a King fan so it was weird. A few years later I went back to it and binge-read the whole series like, where had it been all my life?
- What’s your favorite under-appreciated novel?
J.S. Breukelaar: J. David Osborne’s Black Gum has or had a cult following, but it is a noir masterpiece, and I’d like to see it get a wider audience—a film deal, a musical, or at least a breakfast cereal named after it. He’s working on a sequel now I hear, so maybe that will happen. I hope so.
- What are you working on next?
J.S. Breukelaar: I am completing a novel called The Bridge which is about a pair of twins spiritually conjoined to a mysterious old woman with one eye.
- Is there anything you’d like to tell members that we haven’t asked?
J.S. Breukelaar: Collision: Stories would not have been possible without my agent and legion of colleagues, friends, readers, family. But above all, it would not have been, period, without the folks from Meerkat Press, especially Tricia Reeks who is a freakish combo of book-loving lit-nerd, and savvy super-smart wonder woman on a mission to change the world one trade-paperback at a time. I cannot thank her enough.
- Where can we learn more about you and your work?
Enter by 3/9/19 - 11:59 pm EASTERN to win a $25 Gift Card
COLLISION: STORIES BY J.S. BREUKELAAR
Release Date: 2/19/19
Genre: Speculative Fiction, Horror, Weird, Fantasy, Scifi, Dystopian
A collection of twelve of J.S. Breukelaar’s darkest, finest stories with four new works, including the uncanny new novella “Ripples on a Blank Shore.” Introduction by award-winning author, Angela Slatter. Relish the gothic strangeness of “Union Falls,” the alien horror of “Rogues Bay 3013,” the heartbreaking dystopia of “Glow,” the weird mythos of “Ava Rune,” and others. This collection from the author of American Monster and the internationally acclaimed and Aurealis Award finalist, Aletheia, announces a new and powerful voice in fantastical fiction.
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