Babak Lakghomi is the author of Floating Notes (Tyrant Books, 2018). His fiction has appeared in NOON, Egress, New York Tyrant, and Green Mountains Review among other places. He lives and writes in Hamilton, Ontario.
1 - How did your first book change your life? How does your most recent work compare to your previous? How does it feel different?
Having a book out didn’t really change my life. I still hope to be able to write more than I do.
2 - How did you come to short stories first, as opposed to, say, poetry or non-fiction?
Fiction felt like the most natural medium, probably since it gave me more freedom to invent and play. It provided a sense of liberation to make things up to resist the boredom and entrapment of daily life.
3 - How long does it take to start any particular writing project? Does your writing initially come quickly, or is it a slow process? Do first drafts appear looking close to their final shape, or does your work come out of copious notes?
The writing usually starts and moves quickly if I am ready for the project. Of course, I go back and edit after and there are more drafts. But usually if it is not moving organically, the writing would feel stiff and harder to save.
4 - Where does a work of fiction usually begin for you? Are you an author of short pieces that end up combining into a larger project, or are you working on a "book" from the very beginning?
A piece of fiction usually starts with an image or a first sentence for me. I am usually trying to explore something about that beginning by moving from one sentence to the next. Even with a short piece, I rarely know where it will take me. It is like walking in the darkness, as your eyes get used to the darkness, you start to see the shapes of things.
5 - Are public readings part of or counter to your creative process? Are you the sort of writer who enjoys doing readings?
I like interacting with the audience in a reading, though I don’t find it neither part of nor counter to my creative process.
6 - Do you have any theoretical concerns behind your writing? What kinds of questions are you trying to answer with your work? What do you even think the current questions are?
I don't have any direct theoretical concerns behind my work. For me, writing is a way of being in the world, trying to make sense of what it means to be alive, and asking new questions. That being said, I think theory might impact my way of looking at things, and some of that might resurface into my writing.
7 – What do you see the current role of the writer being in larger culture? Does s/he even have one? What do you think the role of the writer should be?
Our culture is saturated with commercial entertainment. Within this framework and given the current cultural climate, it is hard to expect much from independent writing that tries to challenge the status quo. However, I think the act of creating art and writing can still lead to gradual change by impacting the way we interact and see. At least, that is what I am hoping for.
8 - Do you find the process of working with an outside editor difficult or essential (or both)?
I find working with an editor essential. However, I think it is important to find an editor that shares similar aesthetic and reads the work on its own terms.
9 - What is the best piece of advice you've heard (not necessarily given to you directly)?
Kill your darlings
10 - What kind of writing routine do you tend to keep, or do you even have one? How does a typical day (for you) begin?
I usually try to write for an hour in the morning before I leave for work. I also spend most of the Sunday writing.
11 - When your writing gets stalled, where do you turn or return for (for lack of a better word) inspiration?
Reading and revisiting works that are important to me always helps. I also turn to using writing prompts when I hit a wall.
12 - What fragrance reminds you of home?
Pine trees, oil heater
13 - David W. McFadden once said that books come from books, but are there any other forms that influence your work, whether nature, music, science or visual art?
I am influenced by film and painting, including their form and their imagery.
14 - What other writers or writings are important for your work, or simply your life outside of your work?
There are so many to name, but here are some writers that I often return to:
Beckett, Kafka, David Markson, Denis Johnson, Gary Lutz, Peter Markus, Ben Marcus, Ken Sparling, Dawn Raffel, Yannick Murphy, Eugene Marten, Fleur Jaeggy, Jesse Ball
15 - What would you like to do that you haven't yet done?
Recording my dreams
16 - If you could pick any other occupation to attempt, what would it be? Or, alternately, what do you think you would have ended up doing had you not been a writer?
Mathematician or forensic scientist
17 - What made you write, as opposed to doing something else?
18 - What was the last great book you read? What was the last great film?
19 - What are you currently working on?
A collection of short stories