Brandon Scott Gorrell
"i am asking the walls, "what can i do?"/i am whispering to the walls, "i can't think of anything i can do" - from Alienated Afraid of Furniture in Bedroom
What most young writers don't understand, as they sit in class or in the candle lit corner of their room and read Burroughs or Hemingway or Lowell, is that the most important part of being a writer is marketing. It is a business just like any other, and networking, promotion, and buzz, are three very important words. It all seems so romantic when read in a historical context, but with all of the talented writers surfacing each day what is going to set you apart?
Aside from the dominating nature of his hair, what will set Brandon Scott Gorrell apart is his ability to capture the raw and powerful emotions that he feels while tempering them with humor and a casual indifference. A good example of this would be his recent e-book, "Alienated Afraid of Furniture in Bedroom". He addresses fear, boredom, panic and near hallucinations, but in a way that is direct and descriptive. His forthcoming collection on Muumuu House, Durning My Nervous Breakdown I want to Have a Biographer Present, addresses similar issue but with an added element of Science Fiction.
Over the last year Brandon has been published quite a bit, but he has also shown a desire to publish and discuss others. He (with Chelsea Martin) recently published a literary journal called 'Great', and back in August he coordinated the writer/blogger crosstalk event that resulted in a day writers blogging about other writers. This is why I am happy to have him as my first interview of 2009.
Orange Alert (OA): You are among a group of young writers who seem to be building a persona through the internet. In several cases these persona's have translated well into print with a substantial number of sales. Do you feel blogs and on-line journals are valid ways to build a fan base? Do you feel that the on-line lit culture will supplant print at some point?
Brandon Scott Gorrell (BSG): If, by 'valid' you mean 'functional' then yes, I think blogs and online journals are valid ways to build a fan base. If, by 'valid' you mean 'appropriate' or something, then I don't know. That doesn't feel important to me. Maybe it does. It feels, I think, more important, in terms of building a fan base (the type of fan base I want, at least) to do 'inappropriate' things. 'Inappropriate' things probably generate more publicity.
I do not know if the online lit culture will supplant print at some point. I don't know enough about the history of print culture to really talk about that and I'm unsure about the terms you are using. Hemingway was getting published in literary magazines and reading literary magazines and noticing the names of the authors he liked that regularly appeared in those publications, probably, then sometimes meeting them, maybe, arranged by letter via post. Bukowski exchanged letters with a number of different writers who he liked and would sometimes meet them at readings and other places. Now there is email. Diane Williams, the editor of NOON, emails Tao Lin about edits she made to his submission or something. The AWP has a website. People order Blake Butler's book by reading his blog and using Paypal.
Print things have not stopped happening. I don't know if print things will stop happening. Right now everyone still just wants to have a book. Including me. I want a book. And to be in NOON. Also I want to be in the New Yorker and other places that will drastically affect the size of my audience.
OA: Speaking of print, you recently helped put together a magazine called "Great". What was it about this process that you enjoyed?
BSG: Most of it was hard and stressful. We wanted to get it completed and I felt pressure to complete it quickly because we solicited some contributors early in the process. I dislike when I get solicited for a magazine and then give them something and then it comes out 6 months later (as opposed to like a month later). So I didn't want to do that to anyone. But Chelsea and I had to send like 100 emails and Gmail chat for like 100 hours to decide on everything. That was difficult. I liked designing the pages. Designing the pages was easy, and a positive experience for me. I felt good while designing the pages. I liked talking to Chelsea on Gmail chat. A lot of the time we didn't talk about Great, we just talked about feeling bad, which I like doing. Also, I think I felt good putting the magazine together. I also liked to email the contributors, it made me feel professional or more important.
OA: You seem to work well with Chelsea Martin. Have you ever met her is person? What does she bring to your projects?
BSG: Yes, I have met Chelsea Martin in person. We like each other in person and online. Chelsea Martin is my friend. Chelsea Martin brings her viewpoint to our projects, which is different than mine. She has a good viewpoint.
OA: You have a collection of poetry coming out in June on Tao Lin's Muumuu House. What can you tell us DURING MY NERVOUS BREAKDOWN I WANT TO HAVE A BIOGRAPHER PRESENT?
BSG: My poetry book has poems I wrote from May 2007 to, I think, January 2008. It is about severe feelings of low self-confidence, alienation, and loneliness. It makes a lot of science fiction references. I think it could be a powerful seller in the 15 - 17 year-old-high-school-student-going-through-an-identity-crisis-market. It is 62 pages in a Word Document. I have designed the book jacket, and will do page design for it as well. It will be, physically, I think, the size of Matthew Rohrer's A GREEN LIGHT. It will be published in June 2009. I am unsure about the specifics of distribution. You can preorder it here.
OA: From the pictures I've seen your hair is very nice, but how will it defeat me?
BSG: We will be walking on the sidewalk on Capitol Hill in Seattle and two perfectly dressed hipsters will pass. They will compare my hair with your hair. Then one will machete your arm off. "Haha," I'll laugh.
OA: What's next for Brandon Scott Gorrell?
BSG: I have like 60% of the poems I want to use for my next poetry book in a Word document, unedited. I work on that like once every two weeks but more often write little things which I expect will go into there. I have a lot of a novel written and work on that 3 - 6 times a week. I wrote a 4,500 word story that I like a lot. I don't know what else. Probably the novel is the main thing.
OA: What type of music do you enjoy and who are a few of your favorites?
BSG: I like WHY? I hardly listen to anything else. If I am not listening to WHY? then I will most likely be listening to Odd Nosdam, cLOUDDEAD, Boards of Canada, Nick Drake (The CD called Fruit Trees), Jens Lekman's first CD, or classical music.
OA: If you could have coffee with anyone (alive or dead) who would like to sit down with?
BSG: Right now, that person would be my girlfriend.
For more information and an excerpt from Brandon's new book please visit his website.