Interview with Chad Simpson, author of Phantoms

We brought Chad Simpson, author of Origami Zoo Press’s very first chapbook, Phantoms, to the Origami Zoo aviary, where paper canaries and cockatiels fluttered around us, and we could hear the two-dimensional song of an origami nightingale coming from somewhere in the distance. When the last note of the nightingale died down, Chad talked with us about dubstep, reality shows, and his idea of what the next big social networking site should be like.

Origami Zoo Press: It’s been about a year and a half since Origami Zoo Press published Phantoms. How did that release go? What kind of reception did it get?

Chad Simpson: A lot of people liked the cover. The font was a bit of a hit.

Really, though: The release was pretty great, one of the best parts of the whole deal. There was a chapbook-release party at Chatham University in Pittsburgh, one of my favorite cities. About a hundred and fifty people showed to hear ten of us read from our chapbooks, and my buddy Eugene Cross came down from Erie, and he rounded up some Pittsburgh folks, and afterwards, I met some cool people and signed books and ate Thai food and had lots of drinks.

The reception was fine, I think. A few reviews popped up online, and I heard from several people via email and social networking sites that they’d found the book and read and enjoyed it.

I spend a lot of my time making stories, and while I’m grateful to have them published every now and then, I don’t really expect to get much attention for them. I make stories because that’s what I’m inclined to do, the same way other people knit or paint or gamble on college football games.

There’s so much out there for people to be doing, I’m kind of blown away when anybody cares to sit down and read stories at all.

OZP: The stories in Phantoms often feature characters who are, appropriately, haunted by various things: messy divorces, lost limbs, questions they can’t answer. What are you haunted by?

CS: I tend to exist in two discrete but yoked states: yearning & obsessing. I am haunted by everything.

OZP: What have you been working on since, both in terms of your own work and elsewhere? How has your experience working as an Assistant Editor for 12 Stories been?

I have lots of little projects going. I’ve been working on a young adult novel and on a collection of linked stories. I’ve also been writing a lot of little stories and quite a bit of nonfiction.

I really loved working as an Assistant Editor for 12 Stories. I hadn’t really done much of that kind of thing, but I enjoyed reading submissions. The best part, though, was the editing process. I was assigned to edit four stories, and it was great working with the authors, doing and undoing sentences, asking them questions, letting them know how the story’s third paragraph impacted the way I received the story’s final image.

OZP: What would a reality show featuring you be like? If you could have any person, living or dead, make a cameo appearance, who would it be and what would happen in this episode?

CS: It would probably be a little like this.

I wouldn’t mind having Marc Manceaux stop by. He could take apart a piano while I wrote, doodled, went for walks. Maybe at some point the two of us could feed my cat, go and get some lunch.

OZP: What do you think of dubstep?

CS: I don’t think that much about dubstep.

But I have been listening to some atmospheric electronic music with dope beats lately: Clams Casino, especially the tracks “Realist Alive” and “Numb” from his Instrumental Mixtape.

Have you listened to that album? So pretty it hurts.

OZP: I’ll check it out! If you could invent the next big social networking site, what would it be like? Who would join?

CS: Maybe some kind of live-action social networking? Instead of taking place online, people could, like, meet up in person and do stuff.

It would be weird at first, but I think we’d get used to it.

We would know fewer superficial things about one another, but we would probably be more polite. We would learn what one another’s voices sounds like, the noises we make when we laugh.

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You can purchase the kindle version of Chad Simpson’s Phantoms here.

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