Virtual Book Tour Guest: Interview with Mathieu Cailler, author of 'Loss Angeles'

Mathieu Cailler is a writer of prose and poetry. His work has been widely published in national and
international literary journals. Before becoming a full-time writer, Cailler was an elementary school teacher in inner-city Los Angeles. “I came to writing in a rather circuitous way. I always penned jokes for stand-up comedy appearances but later realized it wasn’t just comedy that applealed to me, but all writing.” A graduate of Vermont College of Fine Arts, Cailler was awarded the Short Story America Prize for Short Fiction and a Shakespeare Award for Poetry. His chapbook, Clotheslines, was recently published by Red Bird Press. LOSS ANGELES is Cailler’s first full-length book.

For More Information
  • Visit Mathieu Cailler’s website.
  • Connect with Mathieu on Facebook and Twitter.
  • Find out more about Mathieu at Goodreads.
About the Book:

Title: Loss Angeles
Author: Mathieu Cailler
Publisher: Short Story America Press
Pages: 217
Genre: Short Stories
Format: Hardcover
Set in the glamorous city of Los Angeles, California, LOSS ANGELES skips the shine and celebrity the city is known for and instead dives deeply into the lives of ordinary Angelenos. In each of the fifteen stories in this collection, author Mathieu Cailler examines the private lives of a diverse mix of characters. This collection of stories showcases the rawness of real life, the complexity of navigating personal challenges and internal conflicts, and the ever present possibility of encountering unexpected compassion and empathy.
The stories in LOSS ANGELES uncover the reality that the interiors of people’s lives often have huge holes in them. In the collection, a quiet divorced man, who is still deeply in love with his ex-wife, finally speaks up when his son’s soon-to-be stepfather becomes enraged over a broken birthday gift. A young man visiting his parents for the first time in nine years delays his presence at his family’s Thanksgiving dinner to see an old friend who was influential in his early life. Cailler also goes beyond loss and grief to reveal hidden human kindness in the stories of a widower, who steps out of his melancholy to save the life of a stranger, and an aging bachelor, who becomes a father figure for a wayward young woman.
In “Over the Bridge,” Ella is a teenager learning to manage her grief over the death of her mother and the new life she and her seven-year-old brother have with their father, with whom the children have not lived with since their parents’ divorce. While Ella is receiving weekly counseling at school, she continues to struggle with the changes in her life. When the counselor instructs Ella to write a letter to her father explaining the uncertainty and distance she feels in regard to her relationship with him, Ella complies and writes with the type of honesty that one allows when there is no plan to share what is written. But when Ella finds herself in a frightening situation with a boy at a party after consuming drugs and alcohol, the letter becomes the catalyst for a change in perspective for her father.
“Hit and Stay” is the story of a young married man making the long drive home from an out-of-town business trip. Penn is troubled as he drives his SUV through back roads to avoid the highway traffic. The quiet drive in the warm cocoon of the truck affords Penn the opportunity to reflect on the one-night stand he had with a new employee. As he contemplates how or if he will confess his mistake to his wife, Kimberly, Penn reviews his life with the woman he was once passionately in love with who has grown distant since the death of her mother. During the drive, Penn has an unfortunate accident that breaks the delicate hold he has on his volatile emotional state.
The conflict between familial violence and love is the foundation of “Dark Timber.” Clevie and his older brother, Roy, reluctantly accompany their father on a hunting expedition. Their father, an alcoholic recently released from prison after serving time for beating the boys’ mother, is determined to teach his sons how to hunt for their own food.
The relationship between father and sons is strained. Roy has personal experience with his father’s violent temper, but young Clevie remains hopeful that life with their father will improve. Neither boy is interested in hunting. Clevie is the most reluctant to fire on innocent animals. However, when their father comes face-to-face with a menacing predator, both boys instinctively respond to his pleas for help.
LOSS ANGELES is a throwback to eclectic short story collections of past years and is only bound by the theme of loss in a very general sense,” Cailler says. “The stories are by turns fragile, tender, and always memorable. The characters in this book are as diverse as the city itself… they all have a story to share, and it was my job to do just that. I don’t believe in being predestined while writing; therefore, some of the stories end with a bit of hope while others reach their coda in a disconcerting fashion.”
Exposing emotions was Cailler’s focus when writing the collection. “I want the reader to relate to the feelings and sentiments expressed in the book. I think loss is the greatest bond we possess as humans, and there isn’t a single person around who hasn’t experienced it. We’ve all lost something dear to us, something profound,” the author says. “I think if a reader comes away from LOSS ANGELES feeling more connected to others and/or him or herself, I’ll have done my job. Whenever I write, I think of Plato’s words: ‘Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a harder battle.’ That’s something that I hope will resonate with the reader.”

For More Information

Q: Welcome to The Writer's Life, Mathieu.  Can you tell us how long you’ve been writing and how your journey led to writing your latest book, Loss Angeles.

Thank you for taking the time to interview me. I’ve been writing—in a serious way—for about six years. I remember taking a creative-writing class in college and working for hours on assignments, all the while telling myself… This doesn’t feel like work. I wanted to write a short-story collection about L.A. and the people of this city. I was never interested in the touristy, glitzy tornado of Los Angeles, but rather on the day-to-day pain of L.A.’s citizens. After writing the book, I realized that the main theme was loss—in all senses of the word—and that the stories were all connected to the City of Angels. Loss Angeles seemed like an appropriate title.

Q: I love your title…can you tell us why you chose it?

I thought it was evocative and touched on the theme and locale of the book. It was interesting to me that adding one letter changed everything so drastically, yet the pronunciation remained the same. Now—funny enough—when I see Los Angeles written in its normal form, I think it’s a typo.

Q: Why did you believe your book should be published?

Many stories were published individually—and some even went on to win awards—so I knew that people had enjoyed them as isolated pieces. I work hard to create interesting plots, and I try to always be compassionate to my characters.

Q: We all know that publishers can’t do all of the publicity and that some lies on the author.  What has your publisher done so far to publicize the book and what have you done?

Short Story America has really helped spread the word, shouting it from digital rooftops, so to speak. They have also scheduled events in South Carolina for me next month. On my end, I’ve done local readings and even attended the recent AWP conference.

Q: What book on the market can it compare to?  How is it different?  What makes your book special?

I think my book is pretty unique. I certainly was inspired by quiet pain. Characters who loved too much, too hard. People who were forced to live with their poor choices. In a recent review, the stories were compared to Guy de Maupassant’s—so that was thrilling. And scary.

Q: Open to a random page in your book.  Can you tell us what is happening?

I’ve opened to page 115, where a lifelong bachelor named Tiago Sandoval thinks about changing his ways after meeting a young woman that is housesitting for his neighbor.

Q: Do you plan subsequent books?

Yes, I keep busy. I have another collection of short stories in the works, as well as a poetry collection. A children’s book is sitting restlessly on the desktop, too.

Q: Thank you for your interview, Mathieu.  Do you have any final words?

Thank you for taking the time to interview me. I’m grateful. The best place to purchase a book is, where one can request a signed copy in the special-instructions box upon checkout. Thanks again.

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