10 Questions With… P. Casey Telesk
Front Row Lit wanted to see what makes writers tick. Our most recent installment of “10 Questions With…” features author P. Casey Telesk
- Tell us a little about yourself.
My name is P. Casey Telesk. I write Sci-fi. I’m from Scranton, Pennsylvania. This was the question that always made me cringe on the first day of school, and it appears it still does.
- When did you first decide that writing was in your future?
I knew I wanted to be a writer in about the 3rd or 4th grade. I wrote a story set in WWII, right before the bombing for Hiroshima. Except in my story the U.S. president is assassinated before he can drop the bomb, and Hiroshima isn’t destroyed. That’s all I really remember about the story. It was published in my elementary school’s yearly literary compilation, which blows my mind. One of the last scenes was President Truman laying in a pool of his own blood, pieces of his head all around. They really shun upon that shit today, especially from 3rd and 4th graders, which is a shame because I think it stifles the imagination. The more interesting thing though is that I never really wrote another story until I was about 16 or 17, but it was that moment where I realized writing wasn’t something that I necessarily wanted to do; it was something I needed to do.
- Describe the process of finding the right publisher for your work.
I haven’t really had much luck in publishing my stories, but only for a lack of trying I think. For a long time I had no desire to publish, I just wrote because it’s a reaction for me (and I’m super lazy). I see something I don’t like or something that doesn’t make sense and it usually comes out in a story. It’s kind of the way I explain things to myself. A couple years ago though, when I still didn’t care to publish anything, my girlfriend signed me up for duotrope.com. I’ve been getting emails from them since then and I finally logged on one day and realized it’s a really easy way to find publishers. It’s basically a website that has posting like ‘We want short stories about werewolves that only eat a vegetarian diet’, and if you write stories about vegetarian werewolves – boom- you found your publisher. It’s truly a wonderful site. I recommend checking it out.
- How would you describe your writing style?
My style is in the vein of British author J.G. Ballard. I write about violence, pornography, celebrities, and the television. I write about all the stuff people in America love, but only because I hate that they love it. My style isn’t unique by any means, I’m basically replicating authors that I love, taking little bits from Huxley, Vonnegut, Ballard, and bringing it into a context I think modern Americans will understand and see what I’m trying to say about our culture today.
- What inspires your creativity?
What inspires my creativity is the world that surrounds me. I think we are living in the greatest novel ever written. For instance I recently wrote a story entitled Elation, about this boy and his mother who move to this town built by a corporation in the 1940’s where nothing bad has ever happened. It’s a utopia cut off from all atrocity, violence, and pornography. I wrote it because I saw a newscast about Disney’s Celebration Town, a small town Disney built where you can buy a house and live. I though the idea was ludicrous for some reason and I just started getting all these ideas about what the true intentions of a corporation might be for building their own isolated town. So my creativity just comes from things I see around me.
- How often do you get writer’s block and how do you combat it?
I get writers block only sometimes, but I also don’t write every single day. My writing comes in white-hot bursts where I just write like crazy to get an idea out of my head before it drives me mad. I usually get a bit of writers block towards the end of the story. Sometimes I can’t quite come to terms with wrapping it up. So what I do is just walk away. I like to play Nintendo Nes when I do walk away from a story because it’s a simple activity that doesn’t take any more thought than ‘Left, right, a, b’. That’s what works for me but if someone asked me how to get over it I’d just say walk away for a while, as long as you need to, and come back when you are ready.
- Along with praise for your art, rejection and negative criticism is inevitable. How does that affect your focus and momentum?
I mean I’m over joyed when people say ‘I loved your story, it was so good’ or ‘Great Job’ or whatever people might say. But, I never really take any compliments too seriously because I hate everything I write. I just think people are lying to make me feel good. It’s really funny when I receive negative criticism though because those are the moments I get defensive in my head and I defend my work to the death. I think things like ‘This is a good Goddam story, they just don’t understand it’. I guess I’m always walking this fine line between love and hate for my work, so the type of criticism I receive that day decides how I feel about that story. I see this as a good thing though because I do take negative criticism into consideration so much more than positive and it also gives me a chance to love my story for just a short moment. When I get a rejection letter it opens my eyes to how much I like my story, so I dive into it to find what was wrong with it, and I try to fine tune it so others will like it too. So I’m really grateful for my fickle feelings towards my writing because it allows me to see the story from both sides of the spectrum at just the right times.
- If you weren’t writing, what career path would you choose?
I’d be a film maker. I actually plan on being a film maker someday still, just not right now.
- Please tell us a little about your next project.
My next story is going to be about the Rapture. I really only have some ideas right now but these strange sounds are being heard throughout the world that sound like the trumpet blasts from Revelation. The threads on the internet call it a hoax and the Christians are all crying Rapture, but no one really knows what it is. It turns out that thousands of years ago God locked away all of these creatures known as the ‘Old Gods’ and the sound that is being heard around the world is the sound of the wall coming down that God locked them behind. And then I don’t know what happens, but that’s my next project.
- What advice can you offer to aspiring writers?
For me writing was never something I wanted to do, it was just something I did. I truly don’t think you can become a writer, I think it’s something that you’re born with, that’s inside you, that makes you that way. You can shape and perfect your talents, but you need to have that something inside you. So my best advice, if this is something you want to do as a career, find that thing inside you that makes you a writer.
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