Thursday, October 9, 2008

NOÖ Loves Everyone #3: Antonios Maltezos

Read more about the NOÖ Loves Everyone project
Antonios's daughter in a museum

Antonios Maltezos's fiction has appeared in elimae, Hobart, Night Train, Pindeldyboz, SmokeLong Quarterly, Ghoti, Pequin, Per Contra and many more. Find out more by visiting his blog.

1) Can you talk about your history with story writing? How did you get started?

I started really late. My first publication was Slingshot Magazine, in 2003, I think. Before that, I was writing in a vacuum, pure gibberish even my mother couldn't understand, a couple stories a year, submitting to magazines like Fiddlehead and Prism, and then waiting months for my envelopes to find their way back to me. But I think our writing lives work like dog years once we get that first pub. Slingshot feels like ages ago though it was only in 2003. But if I keep working backwards, I probably started the process of seriously trying to become a writer in 1993, when I switched from Psychology to English. Was that the beginning of the rest of my life? Did I see the light? Bah, bullshit. I'd given up on Psychology and switched to English because I didn't think I could succeed in any other program. But there was more prestige and honor among my relatives as a Psych student. I had a devil of a time explaining to people why I'd switched. What was I going to do for money with an English Literature degree - was on everyone's mind, mine included. So those first years were kinda hard. I felt aimless, alone, misunderstood, except maybe by my dear mother who'd written poetry in Greek as a young woman. To her, there was much dignity and honor in my choice to pursue my writing. She did keep me going. But Like I said, I was writing gibberish. I've never been too smart at organizing, collecting, rearranging. Most of what I write, even today, is fueled by simple emotions, which makes the writing both easy and difficult. I'm sure there are others like me. I get biggish ideas, but they come to me in that huge, oversized print like for blind people. So I got tunnel visionitus, which is probably why I write so much flash. I also envy people who say they've always written, from as far back as they can remember, people whose parents were educated, well-read. My father was a cab driver and I had to explain words from the newspaper to him. Loved both my parents, but seriously, I don't think I can say writing came easy for me. I only put away my Stephen King books in 93, when I went into the English Literature program. You can imagine what that was like. But still, I managed to graduate with honors, my favorite teacher, Professor Mendelssohn, elling me I'd made him nervous in class because I was always so focused on what he was saying. I didn't want to miss a thing. I was playing catch up. Still am, still feel I got no business doing this.

2) Your story "Garbage" in NOÖ Journal [five] made me feel uncomfortable and kind of electric. A lot of this deals with the undercurrent of violence, I think, between the brothers, between the family and the gulls, between everything. What do you see as the role of violence in literary fiction?

Between everything. That's good. There's a new show on the Discovery channel called Verminators. It's about an extermination company and their travails. If I'm snacking when they're showing a close up, I'll squint my eyes, allowing just enough light to hit my retinas so I know the scene has changed. But I love the show and I'll keep watching, wolfing down my snacks during the commercial breaks. Violence has the same kind of effect on people as a close-up of a cockroach has on me when I'm eating. I want to see what's behind your fridge, but not while I'm eating. People drool at violence in their blockbuster movies, but they fear it in their lives. For me, it's a scab I can't leave alone.

3) Recommend for us some recent faves: stories, books, literary magazines,
authors, etc.

Iron Man!

4) Give us some news on current projects or publications.

I have a couple publications I'm proud of: My Dead Partner in Per Contra. Beautiful in Smokelong. My Wandering Angel in Pequin. I'm also a first reader for Vestal Review -- a gig I'm enjoying.

5) Where do you see your writing in five years?

Better than it is now? If the next five come and go like those dog years since 2003, then I'm not worried. I'll try and enjoy them, try and keep the fire burning, the hope alive.

6) I taught twelve year olds last summer. We read a few flash fiction pieces. How would you explain flash to someone half that age, a six year old?

Oh, crap. You don't need to explain flash fiction to kids. They get it already. It's how they live their lives, in increments of one startling moment to another. In between, it's just scribbling on the walls.

7) What are your interests beyond writing?

I run a brasserie kitchen, so I guess I'm into that hustle and bustle.

8) Word association game with words from your story. Say whatever comes to

Found = Herpes
Father = Jowls
Hungry = Budapest
Fresh = tomatoes
Hair = grey and thinning
White = sheets

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