Monday, February 7, 2022

TBR: Hollows by Tommy Dean


TBR [to be read] is a semi-regular, invitation-only interview series with authors of newly released/forthcoming, interesting books who will tell us about their new work as well as offer tips on writing, stories about the publishing biz, and from time to time, a recipe.


Give us your elevator pitch: what’s your book about in 2-3 sentences?


In these 45 flash fictions, you’ll find the last two people on Earth, wondering if love or ramen will keep them both alive; two brothers racing the clock of the millennium, as they consider their fear for the future; a son trying to convince his father to abandon a decrepit house while the father demands to die among his things. These stories thrum with the electricity of wonder, challenged by the open wounds of love for parents, of desire to strike out in a world without reason or guidepost, threatening to harden players into their desperate natures. Clear and urgent prose unites reader and character as they travel down dark and shaky paths toward the fading light.


Which story did you most enjoy writing? Why? And, which story gave you the most trouble, and why?


“You’ve Stopped” is one of those miraculous stories that I was able to write in thirty minutes and only changed the last line through the advice of Kim Magowan, who published it first in Pithead Chapel. The voice of that first line just invited me directly into this hot spot moment for these characters. Not sure this has happened so perfectly again.


“Three Boys in the Woods” was one of the hardest stories to write because I feel like I was trying to write a novel in flash, and that this story isn’t quite done yet in that there’s so more I’d love to explore about these characters and the events that lead up to the hot spot of this story!


Tell us a bit about the highs and lows of your book’s road to publication.


One of the hardest things about trying to publish a story collection, especially a collection of flash is that you never know when it's done. There’s this desire and a normality of publishing a chapbook or multiple chapbooks for flash. But I wanted something that felt more like a full collection. Ten years of indecision, constantly putting stories in and taking stories out, all to create the best cohesive collection. Then the process of publishing a collection or chapbook with a small press usually involves submitting to contests, which not only usually have fees to keep the publisher going, but also long waits. Publishing is often a game of numbers and attrition even when the writing is really good.


What’s your favorite piece of writing advice?


"When you reach a place where you feel blocked, lower your standards and keep on going. There is no possible way to do permanent damage to a piece of writing. You cannot ruin it. You can only make it a little better a little at a time.” ― Richard Bausch


My favorite writing advice is “write until something surprises you.” What surprised you in the writing of this book?


I was surprised by the connections in the stories, how they feel like they belong together even though I wrote them over a ten-year period. How the themes repeated much conscious thought or planning on my part. I rarely thought about specific themes or characters, but my subconscious brought me back to these obsessions.


Who is your ideal reader?


My ideal reader is someone who loves to be immersed in small moments in characters lives, who likes to make inferences and judgments about the characters based on the character’s actions. I love reader’s who want to feel as if they are in the world with the character, that they can feel themselves being empathetic toward the character.








READ A STORY FROM THIS BOOK, “Candy: A Teenage Gospel”:





DC-area author Leslie Pietrzyk explores the creative process and all things literary.