An Interview With The Former Atheist, Former Christian, and Former Queen Of The DamnedInterview by Joshua Chaplinsky
Anne O'brien Rice has a bit of a history here at The Cult. Since lost in the great Drupal transfer of the aughts, the incident in question exists solely as hearsay and conjecture, bandied about the hallowed halls of the forum like some sort of literary urban legend. As the story goes, Ms. Rice didn't take too kindly to comments made about her work by some keyboard critic and decided to open up a can of whup ass. Since there is no record of the event, it begs the question- if a bestselling author raises a stink and nothing exists to prove it, did it ever actually happen? Only longtime Culties know for sure, and even their recollection has grown fuzzy over time.
Shedding some light on this bit of Cult folklore was one the main reasons I pursued this interview, and it was not an endeavor I undertook lightly. I went into it with a fair amount of trepidation, as Rice's reputation for not backing down from a fight preceded her. In fact, the outspoken author has been courting controversy like it was a debutante for over forty years. So color me surprised, because the Anne Rice I spoke to turned out to be so god-damned nice that I actually felt guilty about my irreverent review of her memoir and the religious flame war it incited.
And speaking of religion, did I mention Rice recently renounced Christianity and her affiliation with the Catholic Church? The outspoken Catholic turned atheist turned Catholic turned religious detractor has come full circle and then some in her ongoing quest for theological truth. She also has a new book coming out. Of Love And Evil, the second novel in the Songs of the Seraphim series, descends from heaven via Knopf on Tuesday, November 30th. We discussed all this and more as I tried to get a handle on the enigmatic personality that is Anne Rice. read more »
CLUB VOGUE / SOCIALITE ROGUEInterview by Pete Goutis
Brandon Tietz lives in downtown Kansas City, MO – the heart of the social scene. He’s been writing for eight years, always knowing that he can make his dream into a reality.
Last year, he joined the writer’s workshop at The Cult to help him with his goals. He has three stories up for the running to make it into Chuck Palahniuk’s anthology project. Through his hard work he got noticed. When they needed a moderator to help, he was the first choice.
He knows he’s still got a ways to go:
“How’s the interview coming?”
“Fine. It’s pretty much done. I’ll be emailing it in tonight most likely.” read more »
So I'm Drinking Wine with Paul Auster...Interview by Kasey Carpenter
I’m drinking wine with Paul Auster. I’m drinking wine with Paul Auster. The I’ve-been-translated-into-thirty-languages Paul Auster. Inducted into the American Academy of Art and Letters. VP of PEN. Finalist for PEN/Faulkner. Independent Spirit Award for Best First Screenplay. A Prince of Asturias award winner, an award that this year’s Nobel winner for Literature, Mario Vargas Llosa, has also received. Paul Auster, the man who has been struck by lightning and lived to tell the tale, seriously. In short: deep, deep water.
Yet despite it all, here we are, both enjoying anonymous by-the-glass wine (he’s Sauvignon Blanc, I get Nero d’Avola – he might have me beat in baseball geekiness, but he’ll never win in wine) in a cozy Brooklyn cafe populated entirely of mothers and their toddling toddlers, all of whom seem bent on wrecking my attempt to preserve the moment in audio.
SUNSET PARK, Auster’s eighteenth work of fiction, never mind his translations, essays, books of prose, screenplays, films, memoirs, autobiographies, and lyrics – is a reader’s delight. The reading experience (and I’ll leave the book reviews to the professionals) can be likened to when you see something that you take for granted, something that appears common, yet upon further inspection you see that this example (be it a shoe, suit, car, watch, fountain pen) is the product of serious craftsmanship. Read it for yourself when the book is released on November 9th. So without further ado, let’s plumb the mind and see what we find… read more »
Shadow Play: Shining a Light on the Emerging World of ePublishingInterview by Joshua Jabcuga
Cemetery Dance Publications is the world’s leading specialty press publisher of horror and dark suspense, with names on its roster ranging from Stephen King to Justin Cronin. Recently, with The Painted Darkness, the company tried its hand at ePublishing, and the results offer more evidence that old school publishing methods are, well, quickly becoming a thing of the past. Usher in the future as Joshua Jabcuga interviews Cemetery Dance publisher and executive editor Richard Chizmar and Brian James Freeman, Cemetery Dance’s managing editor and author of The Painted Darkness.
Super Sad True InterviewInterview by Kasey Carpenter
Gary Shteyngart, author of the New York Times Bestselling novel Super Sad True Love Story recently sat down with me over a hummus and whole grain sandwich (I opted for ham and brie on croissant – not the healthy choice by any means) and smiled as I peppered him with questions regarding said book, his thoughts on MFA programs (he teaches one at Columbia), and his tenuous relationship with technology.
SSTLS is in fact, a love story, but it is one fraught with one-way blind manifestations of love, painfully abbreviated text messages and journal entries, offers of hope to even the most mismatched of pairs, and a less than glamorous take on what might become the way in which we find our "soul mates" somewhere in the near future, say next Tuesday. All the while Lenny, the protagonist, is hoping to find a way to cash in on his company's services, specifically the promise of living forever even as his world, the United States that his Russian parents so happily embraced, comes crashing down around him. read more »
Breaking The Curse: Paying Penance with James EllroyInterview by Joshua Chaplinsky
Hot on the blood-slicked heels of last year's Blood's A Rover, James Ellroy returns with The Hilliker Curse, a memoir of his quest for atonement through women. Curse is a soul laid bare, an open chest wound at risk of infection, where anyone can stick their grubby little mitts in and poke around. Lesser authors might balk at displaying such honesty, but Ellroy remains committed to the cause. He is doing important work, telling important stories. This one just so happens to be his own.
Sequestered in his publicist's office, my first taste of the larger than life author is the sound of barking as he greets the denizens of Knopf. With nothing but my ears to go on, I think maybe he is accompanied by pets. "Call me dog," he tells me later, as we adjourn to the empty conference room where I am allotted thirty minutes to pick his brain. He is an intimidating presence, despite the bright pink polo shirt and congenial smile, but the man's also a pro. He orates as if from a script, like he was given the questions ahead of time, even when I think I've hit him with something new and different.
True to the spirit of his memoirs, no subject is off limits. Not the death of his mother, his messy romantic life, or his recent mental breakdown. But lest you think it is all doom and gloom, Ellroy is a man of astounding optimism, and our conversation reflects this. He also throws in a few choice tidbits about upcoming projects, unprovoked, including a tabloid style TV show on The Discovery Channel and his next quartet of books. read more »
The Brash BoY, the MisunderstOod Girl and the Sonogram – the Books of Mark Z. DanielewskiInterview by Kasey Carpenter
Some write to free themselves.
Others write to entrap.
Sometimes an author accomplishes both.
HoUse of Leaves  encompasses both, though I would not have disCovered the freeing aspect hAd I not pursued a face to face coNversation with Mark Z. Danielewski, the author of House of Leaves, a book that has thoroughly trapped so many readers.
A book this complex, this challenging, must surely have a tale of equal merit regarding the cirCumstances under wHich it came tO be. The stOry of how Mark Z. Danielewski came to write HouSe of Leaves doEs not disappoint.
The book itself, if you can call it simplY a bOok, has turned ten years old, bUt it began life ten yeaRs prior to publication, so by all accounts HoL is old enough to go to war, close enough to drinking age to be allowed, and would definitely be considered an "old soul". Over the course oF two hours Mark and I discussed a great many things, but the genesis of House of Leaves is by faR the most interesting. Let's have some fun... read more »
Dirty VegasInterview by Brandon Tietz
To say that the debut novel of Joe McGinniss Jr. delivers would be cliché and about as clever as an episode of Wife Swap. His book, aptly titled, The Delivery Man, does more than that.
Fresh off reading Imperial Bedrooms, a novel that Ellis hints at being his last, I was left with a few misgivings—most notably, the fact that I had devoured the thing in no time. Amongst my gripes about how I’ve possibly seen the last of one of my favorite authors, along comes our book club guy talking about McGinniss Jr.
“He reads a little bit like Bret,” he said.
A few Amazon clicks and days later, The Delivery Man is in my living room and I’ve done a little research in the interim. His father, Joe McGinniss Sr., was a New York Times bestselling author. Subsequently, he would go on to teach a young Bret Easton Ellis right around the time he came out with a little novel called, Less Than Zero. Regarding McGinniss Jr. and his tale of twenty-somethings behaving badly in gritty Las Vegas, I didn’t expect much. The bar felt too high. I was too busy looking up at the impossible standards set by his predecessors to see the kick in nuts coming. The Delivery Man is that good.
Joe recently took some time out to talk with me, the topics ranging from ignorant Amazon reviewers to why we hate vampires, and of course, that city of sin known as Las Vegas. read more »
A Four Part Video Interview With The Author of 'Columbine'Interview by Kasey Carpenter
One of the best non-fiction books I have read in a long time, is Dave Cullen's Columbine. Released last year, the book went on to become a New York Times bestseller. But what it also did was clear up a lot of the gray smoke still shrouding the 1999 school shooting at Columbine High. For years, the media had gotten the story drastically wrong and has depicted Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold's motives incorrectly. Dave Cullen was one of the first reporters on the scene that day, but what set him apart was that he was not associated with any media 'pack' (CNN, Fox, etc). Instead, he was freelancing at the time for Salon.com. This important detail, and the fact that he spent close to ten years researching and then writing the book, make Columbine the most definitive exploration into the Columbine tragedy that exists.
For our interview, Kasey Carpenter, longtime Workshop member turned journalist, flew out to Denver, CO to visit with Dave at his writing studio. Dave, being a burgeoning enthusiast for video, set up his handy HD flip and over the course of four 10-14 min segments talked about everything from the media, to the killers, to even the publishers that released the book.
Below are the four segments of the entire interview. We had to set up a brand new Vimeo account to house all these, as YouTube won't let you go past 10 mins clips unless you're the Whitehouse. Enjoy!
Bret Easton Ellis: 1985-2010Interview by Joshua Chaplinsky
After six novels and one book of short stories, the career of Bret Easton Ellis, author, has come to an end. It is survived by a continued involvement in screenwriting and the film industry.
At least that was the rumor. I wasn't sure how trustworthy my source was, and I certainly hoped it wasn't true, but there were signs. The full circle nature of Imperial Bedrooms, for one, not to mention those pesky little dates at the end. It got me thinking- if this information was legit, I had quite the scoop on my hands. I had to know for sure, but didn't want to wait out the years in hopes of getting an answer. This desire was the motivating factor behind my interview. read more »