Thursday, October 23, 2014

Author Interview: Jeff Poole

"To Hell with Dante" is a collection of cynical afterlife stories, ranging from comedic genius to dark surrealism.  To help kick off this fine anthology, I'll be conducting interviews with many of the contributors.  Today I'm interviewing Jeff Poole, the talented author who contributed the story "Paradise for Purgatory."  Thank you for being here, Jeff.

MTI:  Starting off, could you tell our readers a little bit about yourself?

JP:  I’m a traveler, and an intermittent writer. I do many genres. I actually don’t consider myself a writer per se, not just because I don’t write a lot, but because I think I’m more of a storyteller. I’ve written a few stories I think qualify as “writing.”

MTI:  Now, getting down to business; what first compelled you to weave fiction, and what's your favorite type of story to write?

JP:  It’s fun, fun is compelling! And I don’t have a favorite type of genre to write, my favorite type of story depends on my mood. I guess “humor” is something I inject in even my darkest tales. It just finds a way in there.

MTI:  Tell me, if you had to pick just one author who has influenced or inspired you, who would it be?

JP:  It would have to be Vonnegut. And of course, Twain.

MTI:  Your story, Paradise for Purgatory, appears in To Hell with Dante.  Tell us a little bit about that.  What's the general idea behind it?

JP:  Friendship maybe, and the things our friends will confide. And I wanted to write a story that was comprised mainly of dialogue. This the most dialogue driven tale I’ve ever written. I actually wanted to violate some rules of stories that will get published.

MTI:  Does your story hold any special significance, perhaps seeking to provoke some thoughts about the afterlife, or was it just a lot of fun fiction?

JP:  I was just imagining a conversation one day out of the blue and just went with it.

MTI:  Okay, on a totally unrelated note, if you could meet and talk with any one deceased person, who would it be?

JP:  Mark Twain. Oh yeah. If not him, then maybe Edgar Allan Poe. I’ll bet we could really tie one on together.

MTI:  Mr. Clemens seems to be a popular choice.  Now, shifting back to your writing, can you tell us a little about what you're working on right now?

JP:  Acting. I’m trying to become an actor. I recently became SAG eligible from a role in an upcoming TV series I’m not allowed to discuss until the first episode airs. I need to write something though. Maybe turn one of my shorts into a script. I did do that with a story I had published in “Musings.” Subtly funny tale that I got paid more for as a reprint than for it’s original publishing. Odd that. But I don’t know what I’ll do with it.

MTI:  Fascinating.  Other than your piece appearing in To Hell with Dante, do you have any other stories being published in the near future?

JP:  Plan B Magazine published my story “Afterwards,” and is doing a podcast of my story and the others from issue IV. That should be out soon.

MTI:  On a lighter note, have you watched any good tv lately?

JP:  True Detective, Walking Dead. The Strain is interesting. I miss Breaking Bad.

MTI:  How about music?

JP:  A lot of John Mayer, and Steve Earle lately. Old Clapton, James McMurtry, and even some ACDC when Bon Scott was their vocalist. Classical as well. I always throw on Nirvana once in a while to remind myself of how grateful I am to them for booting those awful hair bands off the radio by making them pass√©’

MTI:  What are some of your favorite movies?  You know, the ones that never get old.

JP:  Well I like “Noir” and “SciFi.” favorite movies change, but “Blade Runner” is always there. An awesome mix of Noir and SciFi. And “Alien.” A great monster movie disguised as Science Fiction. I think I’ll always love “Dazed and Confused,” because it really covers my so called “era of growing up.” But the film “”Rendition” and “Waking the Dead.” That last for the scene in it where Billy Crudup’s character loses it in the most convincing scene of it’s kind I’ve ever seen anyone do.

MTI:  Of course, writers are some of the most voracious readers these days.  Tell me, have you run across any great pieces of literature lately?

JP:  I’m not reading enough good books or short stories lately. Thanks for reminding me. And I’ve been memorizing a lot of scripts and doing auditions, so my reading has generally been light fun, fare so to speak.

MTI:  You have the attention of potential readers.  Do you have any words of wisdom to share with them, or possibly a sales pitch to encourage them to read more of your writing?

JP:  Oh christ, if you like it please read some more, but every story will be different. Maybe even written in a different way. I like to play with styles.

MTI:  Of course, readers love free samples, so let's give them a taste.  Here are the first few paragraphs of your story, as featured in To Hell with Dante:

            “How would you get someone to trade paradise for purgatory?” Mark asked.
             Mark Hammond and Bill Sheffield were lounging in the outdoor patio at the Cowgirl Bar and grill in downtown Santa Fe. They’d been sitting in a self imposed silence. Bill was taken off guard by the question. His thoughts had been centered on the redheaded waitress walking away from their table after taking their order.
            “If you met the Devil, you’d have to assume there’s some kind of life after death, right? Why take a crappy eternity for a short time in bliss? It’s like your girlfriend says it’s okay for you to hang out with your friends all afternoon, drinking beer and watching football. It sounds good, but you know you’ll have to spend the next weekend at her aunt Zelda’s, doing yard work.”
            Bill picked up his beer, and stared over his glass at Mark for a moment. “You can’t come up with a better analogy than that? I mean, we’re talking about the hereafter.”
            “Sorry, it’s all I got.”
            “Where you going with this?”
            “Maybe the devil’s like this cosmic pusher. He gives you a little taste, just enough to tempt you into making the deal.”
            Bill took a sip of his IPA. “What deal are we talking about here, Mark?”
            Mark leaned back into his chair before replying, “You won’t believe me.”

Thank you, Jeff, for this most interesting interview.  For those who want to read more of his story, along with 20 other cynical afterlife tales, To Hell with Dante awaits!

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