Tuesday May 21

KnudsenOliver Oliver Knudsen, born and raised in glorious Salt Lake City, Utah graduated from Goddard College with a degree in creative writing. He now lives, writes, and works in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

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Oliver Knudsen interview with Meg Tuite

 

So honored to have Oliver Knudsen as our featured fiction writer for the mid-March issue of Connotation Press. We have published three of his exceptional stories, “Brass Nostril,” “Checkout,” and “What I Did For Summer Vacation Part 2.”

Here are some quotes from the three stories:
 

“The nose is not known for its short-term memory.”

"
Ganesh, God of Wisdom and Letters, adjusts his chartreuse ‘Bargain House’ smock and slides his till into the register.”

“There’s a reason certain things matter more than others. Our landscape swallows us up.”

“The docent had a surprisingly strong grip for someone wearing a pink blazer and a hair helmet.”

“We’re going to need to get him more hair-cream – that pompadour isn’t going to fix itself.”


Your work is absolutely hilarious and inimitable, Oliver! A possible mosh-pit of John Irving, Kurt Vonnegut and George Saunders might come close. Tell me about the inspiration for these stories.

I believe strongly in the absurd – in fact I think that absurdity is the quanta from which reality is built. Inspiration comes from the fact that I can’t figure out the world any better than anyone else.


I know you have a full-time job like most of us. What is your process when writing? I have worked some prompts with you and it never seems to come out as a first draft. Your mind is already humming through a few drafts and damn unforgettable prose. Do you have a set schedule for writing?

Panic, usually. I’m a deadline writer. I almost need a looming deadline ready to crash in on my head to really get moving. I think that’s why prompts work for me. I just need to come up with something right away. It takes all the roadblocks out of the way. As far as a schedule goes, no, and I wish I did.


What projects are you working on now?

Right now I’m working on editing. There is so much more that can be done with the pieces that I’ve already finished.


I’m going to give you five words to work with. Can you blast out some of your magic in a micro-flash for me? Using the following: scourge, map, bologna, succumb, ranch


It was a scourge, that map, the one my father left me before he disappeared into the abandoned mine. The Cruel Old Man was looking for the same thing and he was ten steps ahead. So I followed the map and it cost me more than you can imagine. Fifteen years it took, but I found it – it was the abandoned ranch – after all this time where else could it be? Under limbs of dead cottonwoods I dug with my hands through the caliche and grit and found the crate. I opened it - inside, a half a bologna and a Tijuana bible. I succumbed to the biting wind. The Cruel Old Man’s laughter danced across the night sky and crashed with the thunder.


That is exceptional! Thank you.

How long have you been writing and what propels you forward?

I’ve written most of my life. As far as what propels me, we do what we do, what we’re meant to do – or at least we try to.


Who are you reading now and who were your early inspirations?

Actually right now I’m reading (oddly enough) George Saunders. My earliest inspirations were mostly sci-fi authors – Delany, Zelazny, Frank Herbert, to name a very few. I also grew up on the old National Lampoon and Heavy Metal magazines, back in their golden years, so I absorbed a lot of weirdness through those channels.


How about music and film? Do they play into your writing?

I think visually, so film is a huge part of my sensory universe. If anything, though, music is a bigger influence. I listen to everything – Django Reinhardt to electronica to you-name-it. I find that music can open doors, creatively, and lead me in directions I might not have planned to go.


Can you share a link to one of your favorite songs?

Road to Nowhere by The Talking Heads comes as close to gleefully touching the absurdity and sadness of our world as anything I’ve ever heard.


I love that song. How was it growing up in Salt Lake City? How does place work into your writing?

Salt Lake is a weird, weird place. It’s beautiful, it’s repressive, it’s got the worst air pollution in the universe. It had a very strange pressure-cooker atmosphere – Mormon and non-Mormon – religion, race, money – they all had a distinct edge there. All of that has a place in my writing.


Tell us one story from Goddard College. I know you have a few great ones, at least!

First day, experience the ‘Ugly Parade’ – end up being slapped in the face with a stuffed plush lobster by a naked woman with huge dreadlocks. It wasn’t what you think.


Hahha! I want to hear more about that one!

Can you end with a quote that speaks to you and your work?

Tell the truth, even when you’re lying.


You rock it! Thank you so much, Oliver Knudsen, for sending Connotation Press some of your pure brilliance! Cheers!

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