Karl Koweski interview

You seem to have exploded onto the small press scene. A couple years ago,
nobody would have known who you were, but now all the editors of "the small
mags" talk about your work. Were you hiding out in a basement honing your
craft and planning your world domination?

I've never had a game plan. I've always enjoyed writing and for the last
ten or so years I've harbored the delusion that one day I'll actually make a
living doing it. I was relatively sure the talent was present; however
until I got married almost five years ago, I lacked the discipline. I just
could not write if there were a bar open. I sent out mostly poetry even
though I wrote mostly short stories. Only within the last year have I begun
sending stories out regularly. Fortunately, in the small press, short story
writers are much rarer than poets; there's less competition, easier to make
a name for yourself.


The characters in your stories are so hilarious. Are these based on your
friends, or strangers you just see down there in Alabama?

Actually, most of the people I've met in Alabama are normal to a fault.
Growing up just southeast of Chicago, though, everyone had some sort of
psychosis threatening to bubble over. Sometimes that person was me.
Sometimes it was the girl I was dating. The story "Dope" happened verbatim.
I once dated an unfortunate woman with terribly lopsided tits. But
mostly, I just make shit up as I go along.


What kind of stuff do you read to your daughter (how old is she), and what
age will she have to be before she can read your stories?

Gloria is four. And she will never read my stories. Ever. Unless I can
stop writing about my penis. That said I'll never take a book from her
hand, though I don't look forward to the first time she grabs a Henry Miller
book off my shelf. In the meantime it's Powerpuff Girls, Scooby Doo,
anything with pictures. She likes to make up her own stories to correlate
with the pictures. She shows more imagination than I ever have.


Is your wife a writer? What does she think of your stories?

No, Marie doesn't show much interest in writing. She'll read my stuff every
once in a while. She asks too many questions. She won't ask things like
"Was Keith really a chronic masturbator?". She'll ask, "When did you date
this girl with the lopsided tits?" or "Did you really do that to her?"
Sometimes the line between history and fantasy is so blurred I don't know
the difference. Try explaining that to your spouse.


I don't want this to sound like a high school questionaire, but where do you
see yourself in ten years?

Ideally, I'd like to see myself with a happily married, healthy, my daughter
still making me proud. I'd like to publish my novel... after writing it, of
course. I'd be damn content just getting my ass outta the factory.


Who are your favorite writers?

Nelson Algren, Andrew Vachss, Jim Thompson, Hubert Selby Jr., Hunter S.
Thompson, James Ellroy, Stephen King, Irvine Welsh, Clive Barker, Neil


Is Playthings a "guy's book"?

I don't think so. I think it's accessible to anyone on the dope. Any guy
who's ever sat around a room with three or four friends wondering where the
hell are all the women can relate to these stories. Women will dig the
stories regardless of how misogynistic some of the characters might be
because the sorry bastards always get what's coming. Most of the time.


Which actor would play you in a movie about your life?

My wife, Marie, says Nicolas Cage. I lean toward Gary Oldman, with Mickey
Rourke playing my role during the obligatory sex scene. Then there was that
time a old girlfriend and I went up to that remote cabin in the woods... I'm
thinking Bruce Campbell...