INTERVIEW WITH AUTHOR OF "THE GREAT PERHAPS," JOE MENO
Hello Joe, thank you so much for agreeing to do this interview. It is a pleasure to have the chance to get to know more about you and your writing. First tell us about your newest novel and why you decided to write it.
It’s Office Girl. It’s about two young people, Jack and Odile, who decide to start their own art movement that lasts about three weeks. It’s also a slightly odd love story. I decided to write it because I was sick of reading novels and seeing movies that were only focused on grandiose epic drama and I wanted to write something small, quiet, and occasionally vulgar. I wanted to pursue this idea I had—that a book, a novel is the perfect medium for exploring the brief, momentary events of modern life.
Tell us about some of your hobbies, things you like to do in your spare time.
I have two small children so I don’t have a lot of free time. When I do get an hour or two, my wife and I like to talk in low voices about our kids, watch documentaries, and look at art.
What is the one most rewarding thing in your life right now?
This interview feels pretty good right now.
When reading for pleasure do you tend to stick to the same genre you write or do you like to read other genres as well?
I read everything I can—literary novels, crime novels, experimental writing—because I know all of it informs what I do. More than anything, I want to be surprised by the possibilities of imagination and language. I don’t care what the genre it is. It has to be inventive. I can’t read any more harmless writing. Anything that refuses to venture anything new. I think as an artist being beige, being harmless is the worst thing you can be.
When was it that you realized writing was what you wanted to do with your life?
In high school, I was in some bad metal bands. I’d write the bad metal lyrics. It was the first time I wrote anything I actually cared about. Since then, the same sense of satisfaction of invention, of building things out of words affects everything I write, even twenty years later.
When can we expect your next book out and can you give us a sneak peek?
Office Girl, July 2012. Here’s a scene to enjoy:
AND THE NIGHT AFTER THAT.
On Tuesday night, around five p.m., the two of them—Odile and Jack—are in the break room just before their shift starts. And they are staring at each other suspiciously, Odile peering from behind a diet soda pop can, eating a peanut butter sandwich with the crusts cut off. And Jack begins to talk first, asking, “So, are you working tonight?”
“Duh,” she says, smiling, with a mouth full of bread.
“I guess so,” he says.
“We all know what’s going on here. You don’t have to be weird about it.”
“What’s going on here?” he asks, smiling.
“I am not going to even dignify that with a response,” she says, smiling again.
“Wait. What do you think’s going on here?” he asks again.
But she doesn’t say a word, only keeps eating her sandwich, smiling.
He is encouraged by her nonanswer for some reason. Maybe she’s interested in me. Perhaps, well, no, but, maybe. And so Jack says: “Are you going to order something to eat tonight? On your break?”
“Well, let me know. I’ll order something too.”
“Fine,” she says, still glancing over the top of her soda pop can. “But I’m paying for my own. We’re not going steady or anything.”
“Okay,” he replies, a little disappointed at what she has said, but not disappointed enough to stop being interested. Because, immediately, he catches himself staring at her again. He catches himself trying to memorize the shape of her eyes and wide face. He watches her get up and leave the break room and then he asks the cloud of air where she has just been sitting why it’s so freaking lovely.
Back in your high school career, who was the one teacher you would say made a profound difference in your life, if any?
I had an amazing English teacher my sophomore year of high school, Mr. Neville, who single-handedly got me interested in writing. He was the first and only high school teacher who let us write short stories and poems in his class. I would have never became a writer without him.
What dreams do you have for future generations that you'd like to share with others?
I’m kind of frequently disappointed no one’s living on the moon, no one has jetpacks, and there are no flying cars. Also, no national healthcare. I’d love to see any of those things happen. And uniforms. I thought in the future everybody would be better dressed.
One off the board question I like to ask, is what are your views as far as 2012, and do you believe in the Mayan Calendar?
Um, if you’re asking do I think the world is going to end this year, my answer would be no. I think human beings love to fantasize about the end of the world because then they don’t have to worry about all the shit going on that they can actually help change.
Finally, do you have any advice you'd like to give to other aspiring authors, also please leave us your links where we can find out more about you.
The best advice I can give is to write regularly, consistently every day, and to read everything you can. I’m at joemeno.com.