Interview with ‘Not Quite So Stories’ David S. Atkinson
About the Author
David S. Atkinson is the author of “Not Quite so Stories” (“Literary Wanderlust” 2016), “The Garden of Good and Evil Pancakes” (2015 National Indie Excellence Awards finalist in humor), and “Bones Buried in the Dirt” (2014 Next Generation Indie Book Awards finalist, First Novel <80K). His writing appears in “Bartleby Snopes,” “Grey Sparrow Journal,” “Atticus Review,” and others. His writing website is http://davidsatkinsonwriting.com/ and he spends his non-literary time working as a patent attorney in Denver.
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About the Book:
Title: NOT QUITE SO STORIES
Author: David S. Atkinson
Publisher: Literary Wanderlus LLC
Genre: Absurdist Literary Fiction
The center of Not Quite So Stories is the idea that life is inherently absurd and all people can do is figure out how they will live in the face of that fact. The traditional explanation for the function of myth (including such works as the relatively modern Rudyard Kiping’s Just So Stories) is as an attempt by humans to explain and demystify the world. However, that’s hollow. We may be able to come to terms with small pieces, but existence as a whole is beyond our grasp. Life simply is absurd, ultimately beyond our comprehension, and the best we can do is to just proceed on with our lives. The stories in this collection proceed from this conception, each focusing on a character encountering an absurdity and focusing on how they manage to live with it.
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Q: Thank you so much for this interview, David! Can you tell us where you are from?
Thanks for interviewing me! I’m from Omaha originally, but I’ve been out in Denver for a while now. Some of the stories in Not Quite so Stories are set in Omaha, some in Denver, and some various places. That’s usually less important though than the things that are happening in the stories.
Q: How did you come up with your title?
Not Quite so Stories is a play on Rudyard Kipling’s book of fables, Not Quite so Stories. I thought about how a traditional view of myth, particularly children’s fables like that, is to explain the world, make it less incomprehensible. I never liked that. It tries to drain the wonder out of the world, and ignores how much life really doesn’t make sense. We do have to simply go on in the face of how bizarre it is, but life is really absurd. My stories were refuting that traditional view a bit, in a playful way.
Q: They say you can judge a book by its cover. Can you tell us a little about your cover and who designed it?
I’d wanted the cover to reflect the basic essence of each of the stories, the realistic story mixed with something ‘a bit off.’ The cover designer, Ruth M’Gonigle, took that and ran with it. She came up with an elegantly minimalistic design, black and white text on a teal-ish background. The significant part was how the “SO” was cut in half, the top sliding away from the bottom. I thought that was such a beautifully simple way of instantly conveying what I was hoping for. I loved it and didn’t even think of suggesting any changes.
Q: Can you tell us something about your book that would make me run out and buy it?
– Getting the book is the only way to find out whether the husband or wife end up coming out on top in “A Brief Account of the Great Toilet Paper War of 2012.” Surely people have to find out how a toilet paper debate is settled.
Q: Are there any messages in this book that you want the reader to know about?
– Try to have some fun and remember, no matter how much daily life tries to pound it out of us, life is a magical thing to be able to experience. Don’t fall prey to the sort of thing that happens in “Cents of Wonder Rhymes With Orange.” It’s such a waste to live that way.
Q: What was your most favorite story to write and why?
– I have a terrible time picking favorites at anything. Favorite colors, favorite foods, I can never make up my mind and my mood changes my decisions. I loved many of them for many different reasons. “Domestic Ties” was fun because I got to warp a concept I remembered from a 70s era Saturday Night Live skit. “G-Men” was fun because I got to harmlessly vent my frustration over the hassle of getting through airports. “Context Driven” was fun because my wife loves any story I write based on something that happened to the two of us. That’s about the closest I can come to picking a favorite.
Q: Why did you feel you had to write this book?
– I have a lot of ideas and I can’t possibly explore them all. There simply isn’t time. Some of them just hit me with an energy I can’t ignore; I’m ramped about them and can’t leave them alone. That’s the ones I end up writing, like the stories in Not Quite so Stories. Besides, it’s fun to write stories where a bear jumps on a guys car only to later show up in a casino and force him to gamble, like in my story “The Unknowable Agenda of Ursines.” It’s hard to ignore an urge to write a story like that.
Q: Now, some fun questions – What deep dark secret would you like to share with us?
– The original idea for “60% Rayon and 40% Evil,” a murderous teddy bear, was actually a pretend nightmare I lied about waking up from having to hide the fact I’d only been pretending to sleep one time.
Q: If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would it be and why?
– I’d like to travel to so many places. I’ve done a bit of traveling in the very northern and southern parts of France (where I got ideas I ended up using in “Changes for the Château”), Egypt, Jamaica, Canada, and I recently finally got to visit Mexico. My wife and I are hoping to visit Vietnam in the next year. If I had to pick one place though, I’d probably go for Antarctica…simply because I’m so unlikely to be able to visit otherwise.
Q: Are you a morning person or a night person?
– I think it depends on the day. Some mornings I drag and only get going in the evening. Other days, it’s the reverse. Of course, for the most part I’m a night person during the workweek (I work days for the most part) and a morning and night person on the weekends.
Q: Are there any members in your family who also like to write?
– Definitely. Most of my family are at least big into reading, and quite a few have done at least a little writing here or there. My dad used to write quite a bit of poetry and worked on a few projects involving trying to interview the Hells Angels. He kind of had to put a lot of that away to focus on living with his disabilities from his military days though, which was sad.
Q: As a child, were you a dreamer?
– I hope I still am now, but I definitely was as a child. Stories with oranges that roll uphill (“Cents of Wonder Rhymes with Orange”), houses that get divorced from their owners (“Home Improvement”), and deceased relatives renting apartments (“Turndown Service”) seem like they’d only come from a dreamer. Like the character Nan in “The Onion She Carried,” I always want today to be an onion day.
Q: Last but not least, the magic genie has granted you one wish. What would that be?
– More wishes. If the genie said that wasn’t allowed, I’d try for more genies next (got the idea from a Cyanide & Happiness cartoon). I’m terrible at picking only one thing so I’d have to give this a shot.
Q: Thank you so much for this interview! Do you have any final words?
– Thanks again for interviewing me! My final words will probably always be “The money is hidden in the—” just to give people an extra reason to try to save me. Don’t tell them I’m just making the money up.