Interview with G S Oldman

Is it true you've released a new version of your novel?
Not totally *NEW* but it did go through a serious revision and lost about 7-8000 words. It took putting something out before I had a distanced perspective on what the hell I'd been dealing with. There were doubts about what I had ended up with and, making that publishing commitment, I finally had a feel for where it needed some work. Time, man... time. The story didn't change, but the internal elements got pounded into a leaner, more rhythmic form that'll serve the audiobook version better.
So it's an audiobook now?
Not yet. But it's been in production the past few months. My secondary editor—a full-on audio guy—convinced me that the text was based on so many different levels of speech patterns that they'd get lost within the confines of a "static" page. He understood how the original ideas came out of very musical, rhythmic, and poetic movements. It's all based on things that really happened in the mid-1990s, and I was knocking myself out on satisfying literary "ideals" of genre, plot arcs, formulas... whatever. There really are no rules, and it finally made more sense to not worry about wrongness rather than be obsessed with doing everything "right." Kinda like cooking. Occasionally, you need more grease, not less.
Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
That's a tough one. There were all the Dick and Jane and Spot primers with their "Run, run!" plots, but the first actual book I tried reading might have been the Bobbsy Twins. I remember reading a description of a basement scene while I was sitting in my grandmother's garage. That stuck with me. Then there was the Mr. Wizard book of science experiments. Damn, I wish I still had that!
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
I want to say yes, but I really can't. I can only remember the first play I wrote in (maybe) fifth grade and the first short story I wrote in high school. The play was better. I didn't try to make anyone die in it.
What do you read for pleasure?
I go through phases but I mostly enjoy fiction. I like a mix of "classics" and contemporary stuff. Even though it's hit or miss, I love taking chances on new, obscure authors at the library. There's nothing like finding a good sense of rhythm or unique perspective.
How do you discover the ebooks you read?
Frankly, I've never been a big ebook aficionado. Don't get me wrong... I don't hate them; not at all. They're wonderful things if you have a good e-reader. But as a reading medium they're imperfect and nothing is as friendly as a real, hard copy book. The fact is, they work, and anything that keeps people reading is OK in my book. Yeah... I said that, didn't I. If I can't find what I want in a book store or library I won't think twice about getting the ebook version. And I will confess... when I got my first Kindle I downloaded tons of freebies and 99-penny dreadfuls that were kinda crappy. There's a lot to learn about writing from the bad stuff. For some reason lots of the crap can be more memorable than... Jonathan Franzen?
What is your e-reading device of choice?
All I've ever used is a Kindle Fire.
How do you approach cover design?
At a distance. I'll always have an idea of what I want and I might even sketch up a ruff but I've learned to pass it off to a good, working artist who can take vague impressions and irrational ideas and come up with something fresh. Otherwise, it'll end up as a rehash of something I've done before.
What's the deal with wrecking motorcycles and skateboards?
I think it all started with bicycles. I mean, any self-respecting kid is gonna do that, y'know. It's not intentional, it just happens. And if it isn't bikes, it's something else. Name it—toys, model airplanes, dolls, stuffed animals, stupid little things your parents shouldn't expect to survive your friends' coming over to play. Skateboards are sacrificial lumber in the Midwest. If it's summer, they're gonna die. But the first motorcycle was my friend's Honda 350. I hate to admit that cuz those are great, classic bikes. I rammed his into his sister's car. Nothing totaled, but it took me 2 years to pay off the damages. Idiot. I won't talk about the other bikes I killed other than the crappy AMF Harley Sportster we Evel-Knieveled into a fishing boat. It was great! The whole mess caught fire! We managed to get the boat out to deeper water before it sank. OK, nuff said.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
I wasn't having much luck with the traditional methods. Agents had responded to queries but once I sent them manuscripts there wasn't the tiniest bit of feedback. Not a word, not even a hint of disinterest or disapproval. I really don't think it's that hard to email a simple "sorry" or "no" after you've gone that far to walk out on their plank. You fall off moving wheels you bet you're gonna feel something. Here I was feeling nothing. There was a time when independent artists and musicians were doing really stupid, sloppy, exhilarating things and surviving. It wasn't all good but a circus doesn't have to be as long as there's the smell of popcorn and a few death-defying dunks for apples. I guess that's why I'm doing this.
Agents were rejecting your work?
No, they weren't saying anything. I'd give them time—like, a few months—and then send a friendly email to, first of all, make sure they got the manuscript and to let them know I was ready for any feedback they had. I was absolutely not pushy about it. That's the worst thing you can do. But, nothing. Not a peep. Not even a form response. I never got one word back from any of them. I knew it was pointless to send any more reminders. Honestly, I had no more motivation or desire to send out more queries. I mean, the only time I ever got genuine feedback from a submission was a literary mag that was trying to fund-raise. They made five bucks off me but they went under anyway.
What do you mean by artists doing "stupid, sloppy things?"
Well, there was that whole "Indie" scene that came out of the early-80s punk rock thing. Record labels, fanzines, self-promoted and -booked bands and visual artists and film and video. All kinds of things that "the industry" said you couldn't do or shouldn't do, or it wasn't worth doing or why should anyone pay attention to what you're doing? It's really nothing new. Hippies and beatniks did it too. But in the 80s and 90s the ethic really got some traction and toppled the old approaches and totally changed the cultural paradigms. Hip-hop and film and how it all gets defined thru electronic, social media has had huge impact on art, literature and its management. The downside is that there might be more rules imposed on art than ever before, but all of the really vital stuff—that most people are usually not aware of in the beginning—started with "fuck it, let's just have fun; let's dance and make faces."
Describe your desk
I do a lot of writing in bed these days or at coffeehouses. No matter what I do, desks always turn into a jumble of unorganized catch-alls.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
When you get on a roll with an idea and there's no one around to bother you and then, suddenly, you smell waffles cooking.
How has Smashwords contributed to your success?
I'll let you know as soon as I know.
Published 2017-02-21.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

Decline and Fall of Alternative Civilization
Price: Free! Words: 89,860. Language: English. Published: March 30, 2016. Categories: Fiction » Literature » Literary
Lofty, improbable thoughts. This should never have been a novel. But it is. Sorry. "Decline and Fall of Alternative Civilization" is literary fiction that may appeal to misguided men, unsettled women, disgruntled music enthusiasts and anyone fond of examining the strings from which physicists' yoyos spin.