Gabriel Hart, author of the short story collection - Fallout From Our Asphalt Hell drops by to submit to a bit of gentle questioning ....
Is the book writing full time? From your tagline on your website - Author, Journalist, Songwriter, I guess not. Definitely a writer though. Can you give us a quick biography of yourself?
During the last two years of navigating a work injury, writing has been full-time since I’ve been at home. I treat it like an eight-hour job even when I’m not getting paid for all of it, trying to build a body of work while doing literary journalism side-hustles. But whether I’m working a novel, short piece, or interviewing another author or reviewing books, I like to treat it with the same vitality. I was previously most known for being a musician, but I feel that shifting dramatically since the energy you exude writing tends to give larger returns, even if it remains on a personal level. But I still make music — my band Jail Weddings is just dusting off its near future.
*I’m about to start your short story collection, Fallout from Our Asphalt Hell. Can you pitch it to a potential reader in 50 words or less? (*Read now!)
FfOAH is a twenty-piece collection of what I’m calling “world-burning fiction” as opposed to world-building, considering the stories deal mainly in terms of societal and personal decay. It’s literary pulp; or pulp for readers who might think pulp is passe. Genre-fiction for readers who might be sick of genre fiction.
How long from conception to completion did the stories in the collection take to write? Were they written expressly with a collated collection in mind or organically over a period of time and the thoughts on a collection came afterwards?
No, these were all collected from 2015-2021, though most of them were written during 2020 while the world was on fire, so those have a particular cynicism as a result. But to keep my own darkness at bay, I was submitting work like crazy these last two years, to keep some kind of momentum, so the collection just happened on it’s own — 80% of the pieces have been previously published online or in print, and suddenly there was an opportunity for it after Close to the Bone released my poetry book, so after seeing how many pieces I could legally reclaim for this, I added some unpublished pieces near and dear to only myself, to get them as far away from me as possible, finally.
How did you hook up with Close to the Bone?
Through Stephen J Golds, as he had just taken on as editor of their poetry imprint, First Cut, when I signed on for it last winter. He put the word out that Craig Douglas was taking subs for larger projects, and I quickly realized I had enough pieces to compile a collection. Craig and everyone there have been great to work with, zero bullshit professionalism.
When you have an idea then sit down to construct your stories – do you know what the end result is roughly going to look like? Are you a plotter, or do you make it up as you go along?
It all really depends on my mood. I’m pretty conceptual, so I rarely write blind, but I don’t find myself doing strict outlines, even for larger works. Actually, I will even suppress an idea for days, as if to say to the story “you haven’t earned my time yet,” until the overall volume of the piece increases in my head. When it screams loud enough, I sit down and let it rip, mostly out of spite.
Are there any subjects off limits?
No. But there should be a big distinction — a believe a writer should actually be leaning into taboos rather than away from them, as it’s a writer’s job to dissect unholy subjects wholly to reach a better understanding. Some writers don’t do enough with their taboos when they choose to merely scratch their surface — that’s the only time I believe taboos are crude, when their inclusion is arbitrary rather than being fully explored. Taboos aren’t there to be merely rhetorical.
Do you have a typical writing schedule?
I try to write every day. I’m usually am able to because I mentally flog myself if I don’t, and those days are painful as a result. So, writing days are the good days — I wake up at 5am, read for an hour or two, take the dog for a walk, have breakfast, start writing. Break for lunch, resume. Most days I have to go to post office around 3, then I come back home, write for another two hours, then have dinner then try to be in bed by 9am so I can do it all again. It’s all very, very exciting as you can tell.
Are there any unpublished gems in your bottom drawer?
I have two novels being shopped right now. Typically, if a manuscript doesn’t go out, it’s in my bottom drawer because I decided it’s not a gem.
What’s the current project in progress?
I’m working on a novel called Carnivorous Gardens. A post-apocalyptic ecological disaster novel where, very unfortunately, musicians are the last people alive in Los Angeles. I’m exploring what they might do at their insular worst, the boy’s club Lord of Flies behavior that might ensue, especially when the few women left have decided they’re terrified of them for good reason, drawing a line in the sand.
What's the current band/group/project called?
While we are dusting off Jail Weddings, I’m doing solo work from my album Ego Jingles that was released last summer. Much more quiet, avant-torch country stuff, my life long love for Jody Reynolds is possibly coming out.
How different is creating fiction to songwriting? Isn't it all storytelling? Do you compose as well?
Here is the difference — I think a musician is going to be first one to assume their own words are profound, the first one to pat themselves on the back, because of the whole “fan” aspect and the live audience adoration thing. And if you’re in band, you’re more likely to have a group of enablers that aren’t going to let you know if your shit stinks, largely because of that yes men gang mentality. A musician is more fueled by praise, basically. Music relies far more on the cloying audience, where a writer is just going to be plugging away no matter who is paying attention. Writing is a lot harder to not just do well, but more elusive for a writer to tell if their shit is any good, largely because of its solitary element; where in the act of gaining perspective, you often lose it — until you start editing with extreme prejudice. Musicians rarely edit themselves.
What are the last five books you’ve read?
I’m often reading 2-3 books at once, so right now it’s WAIF by Samantha Kolesnik, The Sex Shops of Sherman Oaks by SJXSJC, Undone Valley by William R. Soldan, Oblivion by David Foster Wallace, Adrenaline by James Robert Baker, and Spider Kiss/Stalking the Nightmare by Harlan Ellison.
Favourite activity when not working or writing?
Every morning I hike three miles in my small town’s nature preserve. Hiking, or immersing myself in nature is really important to me — that silence and disconnect from online noise allows me to start the day sorting my shit out without invasive influence. It’s sort of thrilling in the sense that I have no idea what I’m going to think about every morning, and it usually dictates what direction the rest of my day will go.
What’s the last film you watched that rocked you?
Without a doubt, there was a film called Nuevo Orden (New Order) released last spring that completely destroyed me. It’s Spanish/French directed by Michel Franco, a near future dystopian take on class uprising where nothing is what it seems. It’s sort of in the vein of recent Korean class-issue cinema like Parasite, only this is far more brutal and nihilistic than anything in that ilk that’s come before it. One of those “We are all pawns” anti-morality films. It really doesn’t get any more bleak, though I believe it’s a really important film.
What are the last three pieces of music you’ve listened to?
The Gun Club “Pastoral Hide and Seek” LP, These Immortal Souls “I’m Never Gonna Die Again” CD, then just yesterday coming home from camping, my buddy Dave Fields turned me onto The Satyrs — this gorgeous piano instrumental called “Tribute to the great Joseph Carey Merrick.” Like a poor man’s “Moonlight Sonata.”
RANDOM TRIVIA FUN QUESTIONS
When did you last have a fist fight?
my fighting days were never fair enough to either party to qualify as a
fistfight: It was either me kicking the shit out of someone because they
deserved it, or someone kicking the shit out of me because I had it coming.
Luckily, it’s been years, maybe even a decade — I know the six years I’ve lived
in the desert have been relatively peaceful.
Have you ever been thrown out of a bar or a club?
more times than I can count. The most memorable time was a festival at this
club in Los Angeles, where my band Jail Weddings played earlier in the day. By
the time night fell, I had lost track of my members whereabouts, so I just kept
drinking until security kicked out for general belligerence. As I was sulking
outside, one by one, I see my other band members getting ejected roughly, all
for difference reasons independent of each other, until nearly all of us were
outside laughing maniacally. We took a lot of warped pride in that.
What’s the worst meal you have ever eaten?
I’m pretty easy to please with food — recalling moments of destitute from my past where I wasn’t sure where my next meal was coming from, or doing long drives on tour where there was no time to eat, I’m typically just glad it’s there. I think our modern foodie/connoisseur culture has really spoiled us, made us forget to be grateful for food to just keep us alive. I’m trying to find the courage to eat my first bug — many are saying with food shortages, we’ll have to get used to that as an option for protein.
Do you have any irrational fears?
If I do, they’re very personal. There seems to be a trend lately of people really advertising their phobias as a way to define themselves, or appear “quirky” or something, but the less I do that, I find the easier they are to conquer. My inner circle of friend know my irrational fears, so occasionally venting to them helps lift the burden.
What’s your favourite holiday destination?
Portugal. I’ve only been once, but I think about it every single day. If I ever came into money, I would reserve the option to live there for a year or so, just to let it really seep into me.
When did you last tell a lie? There is a story in my new collection called “The Distant Prince,” and I wrote it back in 2016 as a sort of fable to show the inherent black magic of lying. To my knowledge, I don’t think I’ve harbored even a little delusion since — I need to answer to that story now. It’s kept me honest.
Many thanks to Gabriel for his time.
Many thanks to Gabriel for his time.
Visit him at his website -
Visit him at his website -www.gabrielhart.net
Catch up with him on Twitter - @GabrielHart77
And checkout the short story collection .....
And checkout the short story collection .....
Fallout From Our Asphalt HellAuthor/poet/journalist Gabriel Hart compresses twenty pieces of his most turbulent 'world burning' fiction spanning 2015-2020, including the previously unpublished American nightmare Artificial Midnight and Skattertown.
"Gabriel Hart is hands down one of the most energetic writers out there. In fact, I’m hard-pressed to name one besides Hunter S. Thompson off the top of my head that could crank out line after line of insightful, muscular, serpentine prose and make it look so easy. And Hart’s energy isn’t only apparent because he’s a musician, a journalist, a fiction writer, and a poet whose seemingly tireless productivity is tough to keep up, but because the words he lays down—no matter the form or genre—are highly charged and consistently propulsive. Always. Without fail. I have yet to read a paragraph or stanza or sentence of his that I haven’t reread multiple times simply out of reverence for the skill on display."
— William R. Soldan, author of In Just the Right Light