Jules Archer interview with Meg Tuite
I love your stories, Jules! The father/daughter relationship in A Father Orders and Pays for his Daughter’s Playboy is unique and truly from the heart. He finds a way to connect without words that often times get in the way of what needs to be conveyed. Tell me about your inspiration for this story.
Aw, thanks so much, Meg! Coming from you, it’s truly an honor. Re-reading this story, I can’t believe I wrote it. It’s so…not dark. Anyway, I grew up reading Playboy. Obviously, it was my dad’s subscription, but when we were young my sister, cousin and I would all read it whenever we got the chance. We acted like it was so taboo and we couldn’t get caught by our families, even though I’m sure they were wise to our antics.
To this day I still love Playboy [insert your “for-the-articles, right?” joke here]. I asked for a subscription five Christmases ago and my dad faithfully renews it every year. It’s in my name. Not my husband’s.
One day I was just musing over how cool it was that he got it for me without blinking, and I thought, now that’s love. He doesn’t think it’s weird. He’s probably proud.
Then the story just came. Sure, it’s just a magazine. But there’s always something random out there that can change someone’s world. In this case, Lucy’s.
I love your Dad. That’s a great story. Your blog is one of my favorite happenings on Facebook. I so look forward to each one. I know you travel a lot and find the weirdest, most exceptional photos and tales of humans at their best. Of course, that’s when we are making asses of ourselves, which is most of the time. (Please excuse all precious donkeys from any connection to humans; they are always dignified and exquisite.) What was your most memorable experience you have documented to date out on your expeditions?
Thanks! I always try to make an experience out of everything. That’s the way I look at life. Anything, especially travel, is writing fodder. I love taking photos of odd signs. Scribbling eavesdropped quotes.
Oh man…most memorable experience. That’s a tough one, but…I think my absolute favorite memory is my thirtieth birthday trip to San Francisco. I was on Haight-Ashbury with my cousin and sister (can you sense a recurring trend here?). The entire day I had been sick but it’s Haight-Ashbury, so hell yes, of course we’re still going. As we’re walking, my mouth starts watering. I know I’m going to be sick. And with nowhere to run I puked. I puked right there in the gutter on Haight-Ashbury next to a bum digging around in a trash can, right in front of a Mexican restaurant window with jaw-dropping customers trying to eat their bean burritos.
And you know, I didn’t even mind. I laughed. I loved it. How many people can say they puked in a gutter on Haight-Ashbury the day before their thirtieth birthday while a bum watches?
I hope he was proud. I really do.
Hahaha! That’s hilarious and yes, I have no doubt that he was proud!
Can you post one of your favorite blog links here?
I love the New Orleans one. I learned how goddamn beautiful it is to travel alone. I learned I can do it. I learned a lot of things. Except voodoo. Unfortunately.
How do you approach writing? Do you have a regular schedule or does the image/character start to haunt you until you get it on the page?
Every Sunday is the day I write. I don’t make plans. I hole myself up. Typically, I’ll write for about 12 hours that day. Throughout the week if I get bursts of inspiration or good quotes I’ll jot them down on anything that’s handy. I find I always get the best ideas in the shower or while driving. So that usually involves me streaking across the bedroom for a pen and paper or trying to avoid vehicular accidents of some sort.
On Sundays I revisit the ideas I’ve had during the week. It’s a nice break to let them mellow and add meat to them. Sundays are pretty productive. I’ve trained myself to just fucking write.
12 hours! WOW! Okay, that’s incredible and yet, does not surprise me when I think of the amazing Jules! I know about your reading habits. In one blog you went through all the books you’d read over the last year and amazingly, I scared you most with the one book I haven’t been able to finish. And damn, girl, you did it! Don’t tell me the end. It still sits and leers at me from the shelf. What writers have inspired you most?
Oh my god, I still blame you for that book! I was scarred.
The writer who has inspired me the most is probably Hunter S. Thompson. He could take an everyday scenario or topic and change it to make it different or interesting; his twisted version of life. He could call out what you’ve never seen (or always see), make it cool, while maintaining a fine blend of fact and fiction. He definitely inspires me when I travel and meet people. I’m always thinking about how I can use the mundane, how to change the periphery of things.
Mary Roach is another non-fiction author I really admire. She’s similar to HST in that anything she writes, I’ll read. She wrote a book on the alimentary canal and I devoured that thing in a week.
I love writers who can say so much without being overly wordy; knowing when to pull back is an admirable trait. Cormac McCarthy kills me with his writing. Man, no one does it better. Justin Lawrence Daugherty and Ryan W. Bradley are some fabulous flashers.
Writers who can do humor well – not snarky or ironic but gut-busting humor – are big favorites of mine. Mary Karr and David Wong are a few I enjoy.
I’m inspired by S.E. Hinton for opening my eyes in seventh grade as to what it means to create great characters. She’s my litmus.
How about music? Can you give me a link to one of your go-to-when-I-need-to-dance bands? I need some new music in my life. Give me a few to check out, please!
Dance? I don’t think you want me to dance, Meg.
Let’s see…I’m really into bluegrass these days. Love me some Old Crow Medicine Show, Parker Milsap, The Avett Brothers, Doc Watson.
If I need to get the blood pumping, I’m not the typical pop music girl (they still call it that right?). I’d rather listen to rock and roll or something random. Hanni El Khatib or Sublime or Cold War Kids or Amanda Palmer are what I usually sing around and dance to in front of my bathroom mirror.
You should check out Rachid Taha. He’s amazing and excellent dance-in-front-of-the-mirror music. I love bluegrass also. I’ll check out your favorites.
What projects are you working on now?
I am dry to the bone on flash. My submittable is empty. You got my last stories, Meg. I hope you’re happy.
I just finished a very rough first draft of a novella/novel/whatever. It’s something that I started randomly as a flash and then it expanded and then I just powered through and finished in about four months. I didn’t even think. I don’t even know the word count. I’m really proud because it actually has a plot. I knew the ending before I ended it. I kinda love this new story though. And that’s a very scary thing.
I don’t really like talking about it…whenever I blab about my work-in-progress I always find I quit. I wonder what Freud would say.
All I can say is it’s about a girl and a foot.
I would read a anything about a girl and a foot. I’m very happy to have the last of the Jules stash for this week. Can’t thank you enough, but I know, come Sunday, you’ll be working it for 12 hours and have a new tree growing in your computer.
I’m going to give you five words to work into a Jules special micro-flash.
Neon, pronged, tooth, cream, pigtails
Lunch room fight. Pigtails pulled. Pronged fork tines poking fat flesh. She creamed them. Broke a tooth. They saw stars. She only saw her name in neon. Lit up in lights.
I believe I was in that lunch room brawl. Thank you for that!
I know you live in Arizona now. Where were you brought up? Does your past loom somewhere in your stories?
Billings, Montana is my hometown. 90% of my family is still there. But I moved around a lot…North Dakota, Arizona, New York and Kentucky before coming back to Arizona. Every place I’ve been somehow goes into my words, but Montana totally plays a bigger part in my stories (as evidenced in the Playboy story). My childhood was twisted and amazing and hey, I gotta share.
Can you give us one great Jules moment as a kid? Did you harass your siblings? Your parents?
I remember being in kindergarten and my mom picking me up from school and asking if anything cool had happened that day. And I replied, “We had a prostitute teach us, mommy!”
She blinks and then tentatively ventures, “You mean a substitute?”
Yup. That was it.
I have one sister and though we did fight a decent amount (she stabbed me in the leg with a pen once, shout out, sis!) we got along so well. Still do. She’s like one of the top five things in my life.
I tortured my mom a little but overall nothing crazy. I’m worse now than I was back then.
Hahaha! I love your Mom also! Give me a quote that speaks to you.
This will probably incriminate me somehow but this quote gets me every damn time.
“I'm the kind of person – who if he can’t have too much of something—doesn't want any of it.” Harry Crews
When I read it I was like, holy shit, who’s living my life? But then I realized a lot of people are. I’ll own it.
I have to do everything to excess – whether it’s writing for 12 hours, having three glasses of wine, OD’ing on a new CD for three months, or going all out on a vacation – I can’t half ass anything. I am either very, very productive or extremely lazy. There’s no middle ground. I’d be a terrible poker player.
That’s great, I love that! Let me know when you want to play some poker.
I cannot thank you enough for sending Connotation Press some of your pure brilliance, Jules! So happy to have you as our featured writer for November! Cheers!
Thank you so much, Meg! It’s an honor and I appreciate it!
In order to preserve the artistic arrangement of the writing, this piece has been created with Print2Flash Flashpaper.