Not Quite So Stories: Interview with Absurdist Literary Fiction Author David S. Atkinson

David S. Atkinson is the author of "Not Quite so Stories" ("Literary Wanderlust" 2016), "The Garden of Good and Evil Pancakes" (2015 National Indie Excellence Awards finalist in humor), and "Bones Buried in the Dirt" (2014 Next Generation Indie Book Awards finalist, First Novel <80k a="" and="" appears="" artleby="" his="" href="" in="" is="" journal="" others.="" review="" rey="" snopes="" sparrow="" tticus="" website="" writing="">
and he spends his non-literary time working as a patent attorney in Denver.

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About the Book:

The center of Not Quite So Stories is the idea that life is inherently absurd and all people can do is Rudyard Kiping's Just So Stories) is as an attempt by humans to explain and demystify the world. However, that's hollow. We may be able to come to terms with small pieces, but existence as a whole is beyond our grasp. Life simply is absurd, ultimately beyond our comprehension, and the best we can do is to just proceed on with our lives. The stories in this collection proceed from this conception, each focusing on a character encountering an absurdity and focusing on how they manage to live with it.
figure out how they will live in the face of that fact. The traditional explanation for the function of myth (including such works as the relatively modern

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Q: Welcome to The Writer's Life!  Now that your book has been published, we’d love to find out more about the process.  Can we begin by having you take us at the beginning?  Where did you come up with the idea to write your book?

I can't really take credit. The initial ideas for the first few stories popped into my head without any volition on my part, like the idea for my story Context Driven jumping me while my wife was laughing at me for mistakenly trying to open someone else's car with my key (it wasn't even the right model Toyota). The ideas were so fun, I just wrote them even though I didn't know what I was going to do with them. Then I ran into authors like Etgar Keret, Amelia Gray, George Saunders, Aimee Bender, and Haruki Murakami, and I saw that these things could actually work. I started comparing the view of the world I was developing against Rudyard Kipling's Just so Stories and I was off and running.

Q: How hard was it to write a book like this and do you have any tips that you could pass on which would make the journey easier for other writers?

Some stories came easily, as if handed to me from somewhere else, but some I had to work over and over. I must have rewritten G-Men from the ground up at least three different times before it worked. For stories such as these, I think the best tip to give is to make sure to get the stories out of your head for a little before taking them back in and working more. Read them aloud and try to listen to how they'll sound to another person, have others read them and try to get how they're actually reacting, all that. The way that these kind of stories come across isn't straightforward and you can't really get anywhere with just your reaction. You already know how you're supposed to react, so you will whether the text actually causes that or not. You have to try them outside your head early and often to make sure they're really doing what you think they are.

Q: Who is your publisher and how did you find them or did you self-publish?

I'm privileged enough to be working with Literary Wanderlust out of Denver. I'd been simply having a good time going out to hear an author I was a fan of. She started recognizing me and got curious enough to check out my stories. She really liked them and decided to introduce me to her publisher at an event, giving me a recommendation and telling us both we needed to have them check out my work. They hadn't been considering short story collections at the time, particularly stories like The Onion She Carried, but that recommendation was strong enough for them to take a look. They loved them enough that they both decided to publish them and start regularly considering short story collections.

Q: Is there anything that surprised you about getting your first book published?

Not Quite so Stories is my third book. My first, Bones Buried in the Dirt, was actually accepted for publication without me really making the first move. I'd had a story from it accepted by a journal (it's a novel in story form) and happened to mention during the process that it was part of a larger work. They were interested enough to ask about seeing the whole manuscript. Then, to my delight, they decided to publish it. I was extremely surprised that I hadn't had to beat down their door to get that to happen.

Q: What other books (if any) are you working on and when will they be published?

I'm working on a collection of extremely absurd flash fiction (way more absurd than a bear jumping on a guy's car and then forcing him to gamble like in The Unknowable Agenda of Ursines), but that's definitely still midstream. I may have a novel coming that explores humanity's obsession with the end of times through a character sick of the fact that the apocalypse happens once a week, but I'm going to keep that mostly secret for now…and whether or not it might be coming out next year.

Q: What’s your favorite place to hang out online?

I have a great deal of fun bouncing around between writing circles on Facebook. I love how I can jump between conversations with Enclave/Entropy people one minute, bizarre writers the next, and something completely different a moment later. There are so many different kinds of writers working out there right now. It's invaluable that I can wander back and forth without having to pigeonhole myself. There is so much more to the writing community than just one group of people and I really need that kind of crosspollination to operate. Stories like Up, Up, and No Way wouldn’t' be possible for me otherwise.

Q: What’s your nightly ritual before retiring for the night?

I do all my usual processes: brushing my teeth, checking my alarm, scanning for new emails or social media notifications, making sure clothing is set out for the morning, all that. However, the one constant and unavoidable routing is the treating of the cats. We once received a treat ball that could record a voice message for our cat as a gift and it came with a bag of treats. We didn't know if our cat would go for them, but she became an addict. Now there's no going to bed without dispensing treats…and now we have four cats. It's gotten a bit complicated, me having to provide treats to a number of cats on various levels of a particular cat tree while my wife hands out individual treat to that original cat a distance away (cat riots ensue otherwise). There's no use trying to change it, so my wife and I just do as we're told. It makes the cats so happy, happy enough that they allow us to then sleep.

Q: Finally, what message (if any) are you trying to get across with your book?

Before any message, I want people to have fun and enjoy reading. Messages are significant, but they don't get across if the reader doesn't have a good time. Still, I'd like people to regain more of their sense of wonder, to remember just how inexplicably bizarre and fascinating life is (Cents of Wonder Rhymes with Orange goes after this theme perhaps more specifically than the other stories in the book). Keeping our heads above water tends to leave little time for that, but recognizing the wonder that is the world is what really makes us able to cope with what it takes to live.
Q: Thank you again for this interview!  Do you have any final words?

Thanks for talking to me! As for final words, I hope I haven't gotten to that point yet. I've still got a lot of writing to do. If I had to pick some though, I'd probably go with closing, conclusion, ultimate, end, finish, last, crowning, and/or terminal. Again, that's only if I had to.

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