[Interview] David S. Grant

David S. Grant lives and works in New York City.

His books include Corporate Porn, written in 2005, and published by Silverthought Press in 2006. His double novel Bleach/Blackout will be published through Offense Mechanisms, and imprint of Silverthought Press in 2008.

Two more books are also due to be published in 2008 through Brown Paper Publishing. These are the novel, The Last Breakfast, and short story collection Emotionless Souls.

In this interview, David Grant talks about his writing.

When did you start writing?

To some degree I’ve been writing since I was in elementary school, short stories, and essays for the most part.

I started taking fiction seriously in the late nineties when I was in my twenties. This is when I wrote my first novella Suicide Squeeze, my novel Bleach followed shortly after that.

Corporate Porn was published in 2005 by Silverthought Press. My current book, a collection of short stories titled Emotionless Souls was just published by Brown Paper Publishing.

How did you make the transition from writing to becoming a published author?

I never set out to be a published writer, instead focused on the writing, not worried whether or not my work would ever be read. Eventually it’s natural to want to have your work published.

For Corporate Porn, I queried a combination of agents and publishers; this went on for over a year. During this time I also wrote short stories and had them published at various online and literary journals. One of the short stories, "Tease Inc", (part of my new book Emotionless Souls) detailed an ex-stripper at a job interview. This story led to Silverthought Press publishing my novel Corporate Porn.

How would you describe your writing?

Satirical with lots of humor.

Also, a lot of people will associate the genre “Transgressive Fiction” to my work as I do often touch on taboo areas in my writing. In the story "Lucy’s Place" (from Emotionless Souls) a morally corrupt man overdoses on heroin and wakes up in Idaho, where he must figure out whether he is in Heaven or Hell.

Being fair and truthful to my characters is very important to me. If someone deserves to be hit or told to fuck off, then this is the story told.

Who is your target audience?

Hung over college students, bored mothers, and death row prisoners who enjoy Quentin Tarantino movies.

I’ve never wrote for a particular audience. I enjoy reading dark and funny stories so this is what I write.

Who would you say has influenced you most?

A combination of many writers. Bret Easton Ellis and Chuck Palahniuk's books are two favorites of mine and my writing style, embracing minimalism. Both BEE and CP have taken chances with their writing, not creating the same book over and over. Both genius satirical writers of our time, they are great authors to study the balance of shock and black comedy with light scenes and humorous dialogue.

How have your personal experiences influenced your writing?

Many of my characters are composites of people I know, have met, or heard stories about. Mood of my fiction is directly related to what is happening in my life. If things are good, there is definitely a lighter tone, if not, the anger comes through my pen onto the paper. Bleach/Blackout, a double novel to be published in 2008 is good example of this. The tagline for Bleach is “Life at its most jaded” and for Blackout, “This is a story about living”. Not one story is more dark or angry than the other; it’s just the way you look at a scene, or a situation. You can find yourself in either a challenging place, or complete shit storm, a lot of that is really up to you.

Do you write everyday?

I do not write every day. Sometimes I may not write for weeks, then binge, barely taking breaks, finishing initial drafts in weeks.

On a daily basis I do take notes and work on outlines for my new novels.

Taking time away from writing a novel to focus on a short story or two is a good way for me to step back when I’m stuck or am not happy with where the story is leading.

What is your latest book about?

Emotionless Souls is a collection of short stories published through Brown Paper Publishing.

Both Emotionless Souls and my novella The Last Breakfast were published through BPP in March 2008. Brown Paper Publishing had published a short story titled "The Dublin Trip" (in Emotionless Souls) in their literary journal, Predicate. From there they approached me about some of my other work and agreed to work together on these projects.

Brown Paper Publishing has been fantastic to work with.

Which aspects of the work you put into the book did you find most difficult?

Given my book is a collection of short stories, it was challenging to find the right stories to compliment each other. If one story tells the tale of a stripper murdered by a financial analyst, the next probably shouldn’t be a story about a murdered stripper, unless of course the book is a collection of dead stripper stories. Something I’ve been kicking around in my head for a while.

Which did you enjoy most?

The writing of the initial stories. Regardless of whether any of my work had ever made it to print I will always be writing. I entertain myself with my stories, which I do realize sounds selfish, but that’s not the point, writing is very therapeutic for me.

What sets the book apart from other things you've written?

I’ve published three novels, this is my first short story collection.

Given the length of the tales, there is a more definitive edge to the writing as I get right to the point. “White Christmas” is a story of a man who believes a co-worker has stolen his cocaine and the piece details his walk across the room to confront the accused. Because this was a short the story needs to keep the focus of what is happening despite the distractions that are incurred as he makes it across the room. Similar to “White Christmas”, the story “Boardroom Romance” answers the age old question of what happens when you mistake Ecstasy for Aspirin and it hits you while in a boardroom meeting.

In what way is it similar?

In a twisted way, my characters are similar in that they’re typically down, then get lower (and sometimes even lower), eventually finding redemption, in the oddest of ways, in the end. In the story “Money Shot” redemption is in the form of shock, the main character committing suicide in order to preserve his space in the adult movie industry. For “Open Mic” where a comic gets laughs in a non-conventional way by adding hallucinogen mushrooms to the food the crowd is eating. My characters from both my novels and short stories always seem to follow this arc in my stories.

What will your next book be about?

My next book is my drug and rock fueled double novel Bleach/Blackout through Offense Mechanism, an imprint of Silverthought press.

Bleach opens during the last sixty seconds of 2003 in a bathroom where Jeremy, our jaded navigator through the endless repulsiveness of the world, watches a girl lay dying. Before diving into an explanation of what the hell is going on, Jeremy doubles back eight days. The entire story builds up to the climax of Sharon Winkler’s infamous annual New Year’s Eve party, where all the men are dressed as prostitutes, all the women look like pimps, decadence and debauchery dictate the rules, and the next guy through the door is sure to have a gun.

Written in a cynical voice that rings true with today’s young business class, Bleach is a story that encompasses the sentiments of a generation while examining the meaning of life in a world driven by greed.

Blackout begins in Las Vegas, where Stoner and friends celebrate his bachelor party in a blur of strippers, crack cocaine, a little Thai, and Nic Cage. The next morning in Los Angeles brings an unwelcome surprise when Stoner’s friends Chip and Jeremy wake to find police officers and a dead body for which they are allegedly responsible. Chip is charged with murder and his trial is being fast-tracked... What would Steven Tyler do?

Beneath the stories of hangovers and death, this is a story about living for the moment and having a story to tell. Blackout is a fast-paced ride that will leave you wanting more—and maybe a cold beer.

What would you say has been your most significant achievement as a writer?

Anytime a writer completes the first draft of a manuscript I think this is a major achievement.

For me, finishing my first novel was significant for me. The ability to put down my ideas through characters and have a story completed from start to finish was very fulfilling to me.


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