Friday, September 07, 2007

12 or 20 questions: with Nathaniel G. Moore
Nathaniel G. Moore (photo taken in july 2007 by mary williamson in a heat wave moth ball apartment), 33, is the author of Bowlbrawl (Conundrum Press, 2005), Let’s Pretend We Never Met (Pedlar Press, 2007) and the features editor of Danforth Review. He is also the editor of Desire, Doom & Vice: A Canadian Collection, and co-editor of the forthcoming Toronto Noir (Akashic Books, 2008) He is a columnist for Broken Pencil and contributes to Books in Canada, Vallum and Word from time to time. He has performed his work on CBC’s ZeD TV and on radio programs such as CIUT FM in Toronto while recently writing and performing the voice over for Fictional Dance Party (BravoFact, 2007, director Geoffrey Pugen). You can see a lot of his literary-related work on Youtube (keyword NATHANIEL G MOORE) and at

1. How did your first book change your life?

Technically my first book was my second book, and it changed my life a lot. I was scheduled to release a book or nearly release a book after a meeting in early 2003 in Toronto with a publisher, but being extremely green and unsure and anxious, within 9 months the deal was off, the book wasn’t working in a standard novel form, so I scrapped it for almost three years, and reworked it as a poetry book with a bit of a play going on as well, and the original story was abandoned.

2 - How long have you lived in Toronto, and how does geography, if at all, impact on your writing? Does race or gender make any impact on your work?

Toronto is perfectly aware that I exist and write, however they will be the last to admit it. I have a strange relationship with Toronto, one I’m not qualified to assess. I enjoy being quite well known for all the wrong reasons in Toronto, but I am too hard on myself. In 2005 Flare Magazine said I was a “Toronto small press fixture.” How Home Hardware of them. Conan Tobias, editor of Toronto’s Taddle Creek morbidly refers to me as Toronto’s Favourite Son. It’s a form of ribbing, which is not a condom thing but a wrestling term meaning “to bug, joke, hassle, etc.” I was born in Toronto in July of 1974 at Women’s College Hospital. After several legendary accidents to my face in the years that followed, I went to Maurice Cody, Northlea, Cosburn Middle School, Leaside High School, East York Collegiate and Glendon College in that exact order. Then in 1995 I moved to Montreal where I lived for a year going to Concordia but I had a lot of mental problems. So I found myself for some strange reason, spending the rest of the 1990’s in Waterloo, Ontario where I lived with a girl who took care of me and we ate a lot of pizza and I got very large. I also wrote a lot, mainly about Catullus and Bowling. I moved back to Toronto in 2004 after a stint in Montreal and New York.

3 - Where does a poem or piece 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?

I find that after about three pages of prose I can tell where the story is going. A poem can easily spend two or even four years on its own, only to be reduced to a much smaller version. I like to send the amputated bits into a bank for further study. I love moving things around with the cut and paste tools like Phil Spector.

4 - Are public readings part of or counter to your creative process?

They used to be; now I’m too dangerous for live events. I can see why, the writing communities in Toronto are pretty tame and square. I however am neither. I like to get into trouble. But my version of trouble is not like Axel Rose or anything. I think I have great ideas, and ways to help spread the gospel according to the LPG, but again, no one listens to me, or they steal all my ideas. Kidding. No I’m not. I think readings are dead and even series like THIS IS NOT A READING SERIES are not evolving, or at least no one is following up TINARS with another level of revolution. Trampoline Hall is also something that has been around forever. I think people just go to readings and get drunk. I would like to see better readings and more exciting things happen at them. I like Coach House’s readings, and the Harbourfront series are exciting. I also think TPL (Toronto Public Library) does an atrocious job at promoting books in this city. There are nearly 100 branches in that giant system and they promote seven books it seems a year, and it’s never the small presses. As for me personally, early on I loved readings because I stopped being afraid. I won a poetry slam in 1999, ousting a lot of talented writers including a guy who writes for Eye Weekly now, and anyway, I got some radio exposure. The piece I won with is actually “Curfew The Dead” which of course everyone knows is from my last book Let’s Pretend We Never Met.

5 - Do you find the process of working with an outside editor difficult or essential (or both)?

I loved working with Andy Brown with Bowlbrawl, it was done really fast, he had just been turned into a father through the miracle of nature, so his little son was there watching us for three days straight cut down the monster, so to speak. As for other editors, Beth went away when my book was being created, so Emily Schultz, who I’ve worked with before was appointed my editor. And she was fantastic. We worked on it back and forth in person and over electronic means for about four months. Beth was very excited about Catullus, and my book. Sometimes it’s just the vibe, the energy.

6 - After having published a couple of titles over the past few years, do you find the process of book-making harder or easier?

This time around I was hands-off. I didn’t want any say in the design, beyond the use of salmon or pink, I just said “Make it pretty.” Bowlbrawl was very involved, and I had trailer makers, website makers, live actors, a whole cavalcade of enslavement and appropriation.

7 - When was the last time you ate a pear?

About two months ago, and I choked. One time on Dallas one of J.R.’s mistresses, I think Mandy was her name had pear juice dripping down her chin. I remember her saying “pear juice” as it dripped down her chin. When you’re 10 you don’t forget that.

8 - What is the best piece of advice you've heard (not necessarily given to you directly)?

1. There’s more to life than books you know, but not much more.
2. Duck.
3. Harder.
4. Let’s Pretend We Never Met.

9 - How easy has it been for you to move between genres (poetry to fiction)? What do you see as the appeal?

I have strange cycles because I’m pretty sure I’m bi-polar. Years of study has lead many to believe this, so within these differentials I am very manic and sleepless and work on two things at once. For example, this summer I have been quite manic, since about June 2007, and have started a new poetry collection and two prose projects. The poetry project was very specific, (it’s a book about phobias) so it involves research and odd sounding word structures, wordplay, it’s without characters or removed of being dialogic. At least up to this point. Whereas my prose are a rambling attempt at humbling the narcissistic creator into a more palpable and endearing narrator. These books have strange storylines but engaging characters and fun settings. So there is much more room to run around in. I also did a voice over this summer for Geoffrey Pugen’s Fictional Dance Party which transcends the writing, performance experience into something clinical. Dozens of takes, edits, and auditory manipulation. Finally, a 1.5 minute thing that will be airing on Bravo as a BravoFact anytime soon. And it paid $300.00.

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?

Well I used to have a day job. Then I had a nervous breakdown at Indigo. I was getting really sad because I was one of the best sales people at Indigo, like 7th in the province (Ontario) for I-Reward Cards at some point in 2006. And they were handing out manager jobs that were like 30,000 a year jobs to my 11,000 a year death sentence to all these 19-year old acne-faced waifs. So I kinda lost it. Now I am living within compromised means and rarely go to readings because people in Toronto always have these terrible FAQ that are non-emotional and impersonal. Then I go to Montreal where I am a huge babyface, second only to, well, you know who, no point in mentioning his name. Asthmaboy! Right now, as in autumn 2007, with no intention of doing anything but write and edit things and be this writer person for about 20 hours a week. The rest of the time I go to the gym where I have a personal trainer. Her name is Sasha and she is a mixed-martial artist and a cage fighter and makes me feel like I’m 70. I also ride my bike and try not to live in my head too much. I also hate going to readings because then I drink and get depressed. I don’t think writers should drink, they should go to the gym. I’m editing an anthology now, co-editing actually, and it’s fun to see how different we all write, but there is always this connection. It’s a big honour really. Then I go online and answer Danforth Review pitches, assign articles and copy-edit articles. We are coming up on our 10 year anniversary, and that is pretty cool for a Canada Council funded online literary resource and fiction publishing place. This I do daily for about 2 hours. Usually if I’m working on my own stuff, I write for about 2-4 hours, sometimes printing it off later that same day and then editing at night. Because of the insomnia I could stay up for days and work on things but I also got very bored. Again I try to just be Nathaniel, citizen of earth for most of the time.

11 - When your writing gets stalled, where do you turn or return for (for lack of a better word) inspiration?

I find talking to my audience, my fan-base, those who invite me to their houses to entertain them in New York, Montreal or Scarborough, they inspire me because they want to hear the party line, and then I switch it, become really real and start talking about different things, instead of stupid jokes. I also have stopped doing banter in public and at readings. I think I’m trying to kill off my “literary entertainer” character. Hanging out with The Kliq (whose membership changes bi-annually) is how I get inspired. Because we are psychic to a degree, usually all water signs and it’s how you say…mercurial.

12 - How does your most recent book compare to your previous work? How does it feel different?

Well you said they were very similar in your review, and I’d have to agree, I approach subjects in a strange way, it’s a form of fan-fiction, I think Derek McCormack said that, in an interview, that he writes fan-fiction. I think I do too. Bowlbrawl is very much a tribute to a certain wrestler and his struggle with a certain promoter. And Let’s Pretend We Never Met is my real life struggle with Catullus, which is very legendary. I think the Catullus book is more depressing and sexual. Bowling is not so sexual, I mean on the internet it probably is, but not so much in my book.

13 - David W. McFadden once said that books come from books, but are thereany other forms that influence your work, whether nature, music, science or visual art?

I saw David read last night and he was amazing. He seems to have influences from all over. I think people’s personal stories influence me. The biggest influence in terms of how I write came from my internship at Quill & Quire and Scott Anderson and Derek Weiler. They showed me, or attempted to anyway, how to do journalism with whatever skills I had. And that really influenced how most of Bowlbrawl was written. The music industry and terrible lyrics and bad music that exists now has influenced my latest book I’m working on, and I don’t even have to mention how the art of pro wrestling has influenced my work.

14 - What would you like to do that you haven't yet done?

I want to be on Saturday Night Live. Work with Taylor Rain. Work with George Michael. I want to work with Quentin Tarantino. I want to fight some Canadian writers in either a boxing match or a wrestling match for charity or personal gain. I want to run Book Television. I want to make Heather pick all of us and stop promoting fluff and candles and shut down half her stores. I want to headlining the International Festival of Authors, or at least working coat check, do another book with Conundrum, edit a book for Conundrum, edit a book for Anansi, ECW, Coach House, win some prizes, become an editor for a New York publisher, spend Christmas skiing with the Griffin family (I am friends with Kyra, Chloe and Andrea Griffin who are all daughters or cousins of Scott Griffin) and (with Andy Brown) sell the rights to Bowlbrawl which we are attempting to do as we speak.

15 - 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?

Probably a lawyer or a teacher. Or work in the sewer. I think I’d have enjoyed being a farmer. Who knows. Your early life shapes you, I mean George Michael wasn’t allowed to talk and had to keep quiet, then he became one of the biggest voices in pop music with one of the strongest voices in pop music of all time. So it’s impossible to say for me at least, what occupation. I don’t even think of writing as my occupation because I can’t say it’s what I do for a living. It’s something I do, most of the time. I think I could have been or could be an ad executive. But I’ve been watching a lot of Mad Men so that could just be the brainwashing talking. I believe in Capitalism. I also believe in landfill. I don’t think either are healthy, but they are there. So, an occupation is a con like any other. I could be a professional liar.

16 - What made you write, as opposed to doing something else?

I have written and wrote to escape the oppressive nature of my upbringing. I made short VHS films, long VHS films, and wrote slash fiction and fan fiction on my Commodore 64. I also wrote soft porn stories on my Commodore 64 in Grade 10. The reality being provided for me was not sufficient to fill the days, nor provide me with any confidence that I would survive. So from a very early age, I began to detach, and believe in another world, one with more depth, and one where I had more creative control.

17 - What was the last great book you read? What was the last great film?

18 - What are you currently working on?

A novel version of my 2003 short fiction single Randy Savage’s Moustache. It’s a coming of rage novel about Ricky Galore and his joy-lean teen years. His father’s name is Randy Galore, and Ricky has this recurring dream where he cuts his father’s moustache off. He feels that it is the root of all the evil going on in the family. He escapes by watching pro wrestling, and has a love interest named Elizabeth, who is his older sister’s best friend. They have a fling for over 10 years. And I’m also working on another novel called Monster Ballads about a poet who kills himself and then becomes head of lyrical output for a horrible teen record label. I also have a poetry book in the works that might end up being called Liticaphobia. Whatever that means.

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