Meg Tuite interview with Jonathan Cardew
What a gift it was to spend time with you and hear some of your latest work you pumped out at the workshop up at Mabel Dodge Luhan House in Taos, NM under the transformative hands of Kathy Fish and Robert Vaughan, not to mention the magpies and wildass clouds. I saw you writing outside on your phone. Is that your usual process or how does it move best for you?
Meg Tuite, where have you been all my life? It was such a unique privilege to connect with you at this workshop. Crapping hell, you’re a good writer and person! Can I call you the High Priestess of Adjectives?
As to your question: I need to catch myself unawares, so the phone is nifty. Some of my best pieces have been ones that I’ve started on the fly. Sitting down to an attractive-looking writing journal, or opening a doc on the computer, and saying ‘I am going to write an interesting and curious piece of fiction,’ is usually my downfall. If I can grab hold of something fleeting, something strange, I go to town. If I start wondering about the narrative arc and my clever use of metaphors, I reach for the pills.
I love it! When did you first start writing?
I can pinpoint the moment the light bulb went on. I was about 9 or 10, and I wrote this comic book for school, which the teacher (Mr. T.) praised. I liked praise. But I liked the richness of the story world even more.
You’re from the UK, but you live in Milwaukee. How did that come to be? And how do you feel about the beer out here?
Everybody ends up in Milwaukee at some point or other. Just a matter of time. For me, it was love. That, and the unnerving ability to move from place to place like a chameleon, always blending in. I’ve lived in the UK, France, Spain, and South Korea. MKE was the illogical next step. The micro brew culture here in the States is nothing short of inebriating.
Who are you most influential writers?
I thought you’d never ask! Aldous Huxley, Haruki Murakami, A.L. Kennedy, Margaret Atwood, J.G. Ballard, D.H. Lawrence…
You are teaching, so I’m guessing you went the MFA route? How was that experience for you?
Great. A bit annoying.
Can you give me one weird tale in your life that haunts you that you haven’t written about?
I’ve always wanted to write about this kid at a French campsite who would run around with a Frisbee and pretend he was driving a car. His attention to detail was breathtaking: the movement of his hand on the pretend gearbox; the little adjustments he’d make when approaching turns.
I will definitely be waiting to read that one! What is the strangest kitchen utensil in your possession?
The strangest kitchen utensil in my possession is a salad tosser. A salad tosser.
So thankful that you have added a story of the salad tosser (in US we call salad spinner, but like tosser much better!)
Who are you reading right now?
Lined Up Like Scars by Meg Tuite. Have you read it?
Was that an Elizabethan tragedy that Elizabeth never heard about? It sounds familiar.
Does music have an influence on your work? And if yes, who are your favorites? And if no, who are your favorites?
Big influence. I write with music playing. I put tracks on loops and hypnotize myself. I used to DJ electronic music and, for me, writing is very much like selecting and mixing records: sometimes you want the blend from one track (or thought) to be seamless; sometimes you want it to punch, to break. We’re not talking glow sticks in the air time; we’re talking some heavy, bottom-of-the-belly, bass-ridden Detroit house music interspersed with a sparkle of early disco, funk, RnB. My absolute favorite music artist is Theo Parrish. His DJ sets are gorgeously eclectic, moving from disco to house to soul to industrial. I need a beat.
Theo Parrish: “Love of the music should be the driving force of any producer, performer or DJ. Everything else stems from that core, that love. With that love, sampling can become a tribute; An expansion on ideas long forgotten, reconstruction, collage. Using the same understanding openly and respectfully can turn DJing into a spiritual participation. It can turn a few hours of selection into essential history; Necessary listening through movement.”
You and Levi Noe were rocking the sustainable haikus at the workshop. Can you share one that you wrote with us?
Here you go:
Timid terror is
Yours alone weakling human
Feel the scales bee-ATCH!
Yours alone weakling human
Feel the scales bee-ATCH!
Once again, this is inspired from other dimensions!
Do you remember your dreams? If so, do you have recurring dreams, nightmares?
I have swirly, ungraspable dreams that skid along my consciousness in a go-kart.
What would you say to a writer who was just starting to send work out for publication?
Just write and send, write and send. It’s easy to write badly. Even easier to write well.
What projects are you working on at this time?
I’m pulling together a collection of flash at the moment and I’m working with a director on turning a flash piece of mine called “Greek Myths” into a film. I’ve finished the script and we’re working on the pre-production. As for my collection, I’m flashing a bit of thigh to potential suitors.
So exciting! Cannot wait for the film!!
I got a ‘day of the dead’ mood ring in Taos. There are 12 colors that radiate some emotion. ‘Normal’ is one of them. Holy bloody shite, what the hell does that mean to you? I’m glad it hasn’t hit that color for me yet.
I hear you, Meg. Normal is what they tell you when they feel bad.
What scares you the most?
Cabbages with little faces.
What’s the best fortune cookie fortune you remember getting? I got ‘a journey of a thousand miles begins with one small step.’ I see many journeys for you with the brilliance of your words and the symphonic ripples of your being. What do you anticipate or hope for ahead?
How about a fortune cookie micro fiction collection? To be honest, I hope for and anticipate the unexpected. That’s what I love about good fiction—surprise. I just went to MyFortuneCookie.co.uk: ‘Life is to you a dashing and bold adventure.’ It really is. Even when it’s a bit crap. There’s no such thing as blank fortune.
Exquisite! Thank you so much, Jonathan, for changing the world with your writing and your being. I just found a Chinese fortune in my drawer. I believe it’s for you. It reads ‘A pleasant surprise is in store for you.’ I get that there will be many of those for you!
The LOVE is HUGE!
In order to preserve the artistic arrangement of the writing, this piece has been created with Print2Flash Flashpaper.