Name TR: Tony Rauch
Age TR: old
Where are you from
TR: Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA
A little about your self: ie your education Family life etc
TR: I’m an Architect, I’m too busy lately, un-fun type busy. I wish I had more free-time.
Sometimes I feel like I have no life, sometimes I feel like this is all there should be.
Fiona: Tell us your latest news?
TR: I have another story collection out, this one is mostly Romantic Misadventures and Entanglements entitled: “What if I got down on my knees?”
It is my fourth published book, all of them real barn burners.
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
TR: I began writing seriously after I returned home from graduate school. I did not have time to pursue some of the ideas that I had while I was away at school, though I always dabbled in writing and had an interest in it.
Creative writing became a good way to take brief adventures because writing does not cost anything. I’m not a big TV fan, so that became my TV. It was an activity that kept my left brain alive, and took me away from life for a while. It was just a hobby.
I like doing little art projects, fiddling with drawing, painting, collage, models, and puzzles. Writing just became another creative, experimenting activity for me.
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
TR: probably after my 3rd book was published and I got better and more efficient at marketing. As soon as people from far away, people who did not even know anything about me began responding, then I thought of myself as a real writer or artist.
But I didn’t get really good at writing until I had a lot of practice and had some life experience under my belt. Practice gave me efficiency and smoothness. Life experience grounded the stories in the everyday and gave the stories a deeper purpose with meaning. Flash for flash sake is fine, but adding some meaning makes the recipe that much deeper and more relatable.
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
TR: boredom and an interest in creative writing and short stories. It was just something to do on a Wednesday night when it was 5 below outside and there was nothing else to do and I was too tired from work to go out.
Also, I’m into art, so I like exploring and experimenting, just to see where something will take me. So I applied that to creative fiction, playing around and combining fragments, ideas, images, characters, scenes, genres.
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style?
TR: At first I liked writing experimental fiction like Donald Barthelme and Mark Leyner, but then I got into mixing genres, just to see what would happen. I would say my style is more free-form and open, not confined to genre.
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
TR: I can’t remember, but now it seems like such an obvious title given the contents of the collection. It might have been a line in a story (more likely one that did not end up in the collection, because that would figure, wouldn’t it?).
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
TR: I think the collection over-all is about empathy, about seeing the lives of others and realizing everyone faces challenges in life. Just because someone’s challenge isn’t your challenge does not make that difficulty and struggle any less valid or any less haunting or devastating.
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic and are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
TR: the sentiments behind most of the stories are accurate, meaning they are realistic, or could happen. The underlying pain, confusion, regret, meanings, arcs, and metaphors are real. Some of the pieces are more or less true. Some of the scenes are extrapolations of what has happened to myself or others. I hope that makes the stories “universal” and relatable.
Fiona: What books have most influenced your life most? a mentor?
TR: I can’t think of any mentor, other than the short stories that I’ve read that have sparked something in myself for some reason.
The books that really inspired me are mostly imaginative story collections because they were exciting and new and you never knew what was going to happen next in them. Also, they were brief, which made them memorable and easily digestible. These books include:
Revenge of the lawn by Richard Brautigan
Nine stories by J.D. Salinger
A man jumps out of an airplane by Barry Yourgrau
A gun for dinosaur by L. Sprague de Camp
The alligator report by W.P. Kinsella
Ray Bradbury stories
Donald Barthelme stories
Kurt Vonnegut stories
Cheap anthologies of science fiction from the 40s, 50s, and 60s.
Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest and who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
TR: Nothing really new comes to mind. After you read a lot over the years, certain styles and paradigms seem to coalesce into patterns, tropes, typologies. So after a while you recognize that nothing is really new, just recombined.
My favorite authors include: see the list above and on my website.
Why? I would say because their characters or scenes are relatable and recognizable, or totally unique to the point of standing out. Also because the stories or writing style was so different, new and innovative and did not follow arbitrary guidelines or formulas. I like that chance discovery, that element of surprise in a story.
I like that F. Scott Fitzgerald story “Winter dreams” because in it the character change, or his feelings for someone changes. I like that arc, that sense of change in a story.
Fiona: Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.
TR: some small presses and small literary journals have been very supportive and encouraging. Primarily: Whistling Shade, Spout, and Eraserhead press.
It seems that most innovation is happening via small presses and journals. They have the luxury of time on their hands. They don’t rely on money, so with money out of the equation, that leaves room for innovation.
There have been a number of readers and reviewers locally and nationally who have been very supportive. I wish I could do more for them, and I regret that I can not. I only have so much available to myself to offer, and that isn’t very much.
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
TR: No. I can not make a living off of short stories, and it’s hard to get a teaching position. I will probably stay an architect. I like writing what I want to read, so that makes my work less commercially appealing, but also makes it true art in that it doesn’t follow set formulas or arbitrary rules, and does not rely on income, only imagination, passion, vision. I am an artist, not a careerist.
The big publishers with the big marketing machines and name recognition do not print a lot of art. They print some art, but not a lot.
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
TR: No. It’s so new that I do not yet have the perspective of time. Maybe in 5 or 10 years I will look at it with a fresh eye and see something in it that rings false to me, but right now I like what it is.
Fiona: Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
TR: I liked art, and that was just one art form that did not require a lot of time, space, money, or other resources. It is also an art form where you can reach a lot of people. Few people can see a painting. Many people can read a story.
Also, just out of frustration with the ordinary, being cooped up in the winter and staring at the same four walls all the time, so just in being imaginative and wanting to go on adventures. Mostly my story writing started when I was young, from drawing pictures as a kid with my friends. Those pictures became stories. So that’s where it all started.
Fiona: Can you share a little of your current work with us?
TR: Mostly I am busy with my architecture career and with marketing my latest story collection. After that, I have to find a publisher for some of my other unpublished collections. I have at least three collections ready and waiting to go. You can read samples on my website. So that takes up a lot of time – just marketing. Unfortunately, much of the time I don’t feel like a writer, I’ve become more of a marketer, more of an emailer.
Fiona: Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
TR: Trying to tell interesting stories. Trying to be different and tell stories in new ways. Trying to write smooth sentences that flow well. Trying to get published in larger journals and presses.
Fiona: Do you have to travel much concerning your book(s)?
TR: No. I wouldn’t have time to travel as I am swamped at work. Plus, I write short stories, and the market for them is not a large one, it’s a niche market, so not a lot of reward for the time and money invested in traveling. I have other obligations and responsibilities at work and home. I have a good imagination, and that takes me where I need to go. That and the library down the block.
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
TR: I do and the publishers help out. But I have the main theme or idea.
Fiona: What was the hardest part of writing your book?
TR: Getting the various partners to do what they say they are going to do, and to do it in a timely manner. Keeping people from changing what I wrote. Their visions can be expressed on their own time.
Fiona: Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
TR: Mostly that it’s best to be on a mid-list press because they have more resources, name recognition, and perceived credibility. Two of the small presses that I’ve been on don’t have a lot of name recognition or resources, so that’s limited the amount of exposure the books receive.
But it’s very difficult to get on a mid-list press. So that’s the hardest part, getting on a good publisher that’s going to push your work and not bury it. Just putting out books does not make you a publisher. Just doing the absolute minimum does not impress me.
Fiona: If any of your books was made into a film who would you like to play the lead
TR: Ray Liota. Tyler Hilton. Emma Stone. Jane Levy. I like some of the actors in Degrassi. There are lots and lots. Too many to name.
Fiona: Do you have any advice for other writers?
TR: Keep writing. Practice, practice, practice. Don’t stop. Send your stuff out. Be original, be yourself. Don’t get discouraged. Experiment. Have fun. Write what you want to read.
Fiona: Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
TR: Thank you, I hope you find something of value in my writing. Tell your friends about me. Please mail me some money, food, and clothing and/or bake me a cake.
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
TR: The Last Gunfight (about the shootout at the OK corral)
Walt Disney (an old biography of Walt Disney)
Invisible Daughter by John Colburn (short prose poems)
I like reading about history, about how people went from here to there.
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
TR: No, probably not the first, though favorite books of mine from kindergarten and first grade would be the Richard Scarry books, Berenstain Bears books (though their later books got preachy), Dr. Seuss, and Clocks and More Clocks (about a dude with a hell of a lot of clocks).
Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?
TR: Crying is easy. It’s thinking about the past nostalgically and wishing that some people from the past where still in my life in an active way. It’s thinking about missed opportunities or when someone has intentionally gone out of their way to hurt me.
Laugh: I don’t know.
Fiona: Is there one person past or present you would like to meet and why?
TR: Richard Brautigan and Donald Barthelme. I would like to thank them for the art they’ve given us. I’d like to pick their brains about their process of writing, about how they did what they did.
Fiona: What do you want written on your head stone and why?
TR: “He was a rock and roll machine”
For obvious reasons.
Fiona: Other than writing do you have any hobbies?
TR: I like reading, basketball cards, and model trains.
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
TR: I like American Masters, The American Experience, Mad Men, The Twilight Zone. I’ve got a list of things I dig on my website.
Fiona: Favorite foods / Colors/ Music
TR: I don’t like food. I miss Sammy’s Pizza, a great pizza place up in St. Cloud that has closed.
I like all kinds of music, from punk to metal.
Fiona: If you were not a writer what else would you like to have done?
TR: played in the National Basketball Association or in a punk band. Or both.
Fiona: Do you have a blog/website? If so what is it?
You can find book information and story samples on that bad boy.
Amazon Authors page http://www.amazon.com/Tony-Rauch/e/B004G5BYK0/ref=dp_byline_cont_pop_book_1
If you know of any good publishers looking for story collections, please let them know about me.
Thank you for your time.