Hello and welcome to my blog, Author Interviews. My name is Fiona Mcvie.
Yo Fiona, thanks for interviewing me!
Let’s get you introduced to everyone, shall we? Tell us your name. What is your age?
My name’s Garret Schuelke, and I’m 31 years old. I’m the author of three novels—fourth one coming out this April—a short story collection, three poetry ebooks, a spoken word EP, and I’m the host of my own podcast.
Fiona: Where are you from?
I currently reside in Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA.
Fiona: A little about your self (ie, your education, family life, etc.).
I graduated with a Bachelors in Arts from Western Michigan University, located in Kalamazoo, Michigan, in 2011. I come from a family of four, with my folks still living in my hometown of Alpena, located in Northeast Michigan. I’ve been a laborer at a warehouse for six years now—the longest “day job” I’ve had so far in my life.
I’m also a devotee of music that fall under the “lofi hip hop radio- beats to sleep/chill to” category—in fact, I’m listening to a stream as I answer these questions.
Fiona: Tell us your latest news.
In writing news: I finished my latest novel, GODAN: QUEEN OF THE THIRD COAST. It’s set to be released in April. It’s also scheduled to be serialized in Schlock! Webzine beforehand. And while I’m still working some things out, it looks like I’ll be attending, and selling my work, at Publishers Row Fest, a Chicago-based literary festival, this June.
In non-writing news: The second season of my show, The Garret Schuelke Podcast, has begun!
This June, I’m visiting London for a little over a week—my first overseas trip.
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
Around the sixth grade, mostly via writing exercises in class and random attempts at keeping a diary.
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
While I considered myself a writer long beforehand, I would say in 2006, when I graduated high school, I was thinking something along the lines of “Okay, time to get serious,” starting my what I consider my writing career. That was also the year I adopted my pen name, Garret Schuelke.
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
My first book was a poetry chapbook titled BLIND GRAVE ROBBER. The poetry was mainly inspired by poets such as Raegan Butcher, Charles Bukowski, Billy Childish, and Richard Brautigan. What inspired me to self-publish it—and literally spend hours and cash making it myself by hand—was the urge to take part in DIY/Zine/Punk culture, and to get my name out there in the world. This work was later republished in ebook form as BLIND GRAVE ROBBER/AGNOSTIC EGGS.
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
The title comes from the poem “Blind Grave Robber”. Basically, I imagined a that, while the typical grave robber could rob Ernest Hemingway’s grave and know it was him instantly—since he commited suicide via a shotgun blast to the face—a blind grave robber would be unable to since, you know, he was blind.
Very quirky, very puzzling, very Brautigan influenced.
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style? Is there anything about your style or genre that you find particularly challenging?
With poetry, I don’t really have a particular style, which is good because poetry is something I want to keep as unrestrained, experimental, and fun as possible. With prose, I typically keep a direct, minimalist, gritty style, akin to Hemingway, Bukowski, and Amy Hempel. I do make a sincere attempt to create good dialogue and character interactions, which is influenced by Haruki Murakami.
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic and are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
Oh boy, I’m not even going to attempt to answer this question. I will say this though: every writer with an actual heart draws from their life to some extent, whether it’s directly, secondary (ex: based on the experences of someone they know), or is an interest in their life (ex: sailing, even if they themselves were never a sailor).
Fiona: To craft your works, do you have to travel? Before or during the process?
I’ll bring writing materials along with me—to work on existing work during break times, to write out quick haikus, and whatnot—but when I travel, I’m mainly focusing on me having a good time—most of which doesn’t involve writing, believe it or not.
Travel is essential to my life, which means it’s inherently essential to my writing.
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
Currently it’s multimedia artist Zach Elmblad, who I’ve been working with since 2016 and who pubished my 2017 short story collection, WHUP JAMBOREE: STORIES under his media group. He not only creates my covers and book jacket, but formats my books as well.
The cover and jacket of my first novel, ANAMAKEE, was created by Bizarro writer and editor Don Noble.
The covers of my three poetry ebooks, BLIND GRAVE ROBBER/AGNOSTIC EGGS, WOTAN, and THE BAKUNIN INCORPORATED READER, were all created by me using some meme generator I found via Google search. Hilariously enough, a reviewer of WOTAN pointed this out in their review of the ebook, puzzled by what it meant.
I either commission cover illustrations or purchase the rights to use photos. The photo for the cover of ANAMAKEE was taken b artist Grady Manion (who is also my cousin), and the illustrations for my all my print books since then have been done by artist Andrew VanWambeke
What you want readers to grasp?
I just want them to be entertained and, if they have aspirations to write, inspire them to create their own work, just as my heroes and peers have done for me.
While I definitely have strong political and social views—socialist/left leaning—and I have no problem expressing them in my work, I don’t go out of my way to create explicitly political work, nor is it my goal to influence readers in that way (usually). I do have themes and topics I’m interested in writing about, but I don’t get so hung on them that the focus on the story and characters is lost.
Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest? Who is your favorite writer, and what is it about their work that really strikes you?
Oh boy, this is always a fun question to answer lol.
My two all-time favorite authors, and biggest influences, are Ernest Hemingway and Haruki Murakami. Basically, for Hemingway, I like his overall writing style, and his ability convey emotions and present action sequences so simply and direct. For Murakami, I like his ability to competently write both realistic and surreal fiction—often times combining the two—as well as the way he shows characters interacting with each other, from conversations to non-verbal communication (such as hand gestures to facial expressions).
My current favorite writer is Justin Grimbol. Like Murakami, he does a good job writing fiction that’s both realistic and surreal (or should I say “Bizarre”, considering his ties to Bizarro Fiction). He’s also very humorous, and one of the few writers that I feel truly wears his heart on his sleeve, whether he’s writing fiction, poetry, Facebook posts, or whatever. His book. COME HOME, WE LOVE YOU STILL is one of my all-time favorites.
(Also, his Facebook posts about swimming naked in a nearby creek have made me more comfortable with my own interest in nudism.)
For other authors that grasp my interest, here are the ones off the top of my head: John Bruni, Danger Slater, Jeff O’Brien, Gabino Iglesias, Jeff Burk, Christoph Paul, Leza Cantoral, Brian Keene, Autumn Christian, Tao Lin, Megan Boyle, John Withee, August Smith, KJ Stevens, Terry Wooten, Sam Pink, Ben Tanzer, Brian Barr, Ben Arzate, Brian Alan Ellis, Garrett Cook, Dan Denton, Benjamin Whitmer, Robert Dean, Shane Jesse Christmass, Jon Konrath, Chuck Tingle, Mandy de Sandra, Kitty Glitter (aka Pussy Tantrum), Carlton Mellick III, Andrew James Stone, Gareth Spark, and Jim Zoetewey.
Fiona: Outside of family members, name one entity that supported your commitment to become a published author.
That would be my editor, friend, and psychedelic guru Zach Elmblad. Like I said, we’ve been working together since 2016, he published my short story collection in 2017, and has edited and formatted my work since then. He’s also been kind enough to allow me to record the majority of my podcasts in his studio. He’s been a great source of help, inspiration, conversation, and overall a great guy to hang out with.
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
Absolutely—I’ve considered it my career since 2006. Granted, I’ve had to work “day jobs” since then, but my overall goal in life is to solely live off of my work.
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
Nothing that I can think of at the moment. Usually, it takes awhile for me to wish something could be changed in a work, but I’ve trained myself to not linger on them, or else I would never be satisfied with anything I’ve done. I’d rather take the lessons learned from previous work and try to incorporate them into future work.
Fiona: Did you learn anything during the writing of your recent book?
Not really. It’s the third book in my Godan series, which I have planned out pretty well. I’m more proud that, so far, I’ve been able to keep up with my self-imposed “two Godan books a year” goal.
Fiona: If your book was made into a film, who would you like to play the lead?
Honestly I don’t know, but I do hope it’s someone who’s not uber famous (like Tom Cruise), in order to not distract from the character or story, and the actor also has an understanding and appreciation of punk rock subcultures.
Fiona: Any advice for other writers?
Don’t be afraid to go Indie and self-publish! While there’s a lot of good in publishing industry, big and small, there’s also a lot of stupid shit that’ll bring you down and make you not want to write anymore. Sometimes the best way to get your work out there is to publish it yourself. Also, learn to work within your limits, not just try to break them. Try to be comfortable in you writing routine(s) and overall life.
To quote famous folk singer Woody Guthrie: “Take it easy, but take it.”
Fiona: Anything specific you want to tell your readers?
Hope you enjoy my work! And please get into contact with me through my website, email, Facebook, or whatever—I always love hearing from fans.
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
I’m taking another crack at NEUROMANCER by William Gibson. I’ve actually been getting more into cyberpunk these past two weeks after I saw Alita: Battle Angel.
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
No clue—I do remember getting into the Goosebumps series really early on though.
Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?
Too many to list.
Fiona: Is there one person, past or present, you would love to meet? Why?
Woody Guthrie—not just a folk singer, but an all-around American renaissance man (writing, painting, etc.). He’s also probably the most inspirational person on my list of personal heroes.
Fiona: Do you have any hobbies?
Besides writing, I’m into traveling, reading, Netflix, podcasting, bar hopping, night clubbing, swimming, and thrifting.
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
Anything superhero (Arrow and Gotham are my two favorites), Law and Order: SVU, Criminal Minds, various anime. Anything that catches my interest on Netflix (Kim’s Convience being the latest).
Fiona: Favorite foods, colors, music?
My favorite foods are Italian, Asian, and BBQ. My favorite colors are black, gray, and darker version of colors (blue, green). My favorite types of music include punk, folk, hip hop, blues, old time and alternative country, jazz, classical, instrumental rock, alternative rock, stoner metal.
Fiona: Imagine a future where you no longer write. What would you do?
Good Future: More traveling, would probably be involved in my local music scene outside of being a fan (I do plan on looking into become a DJ sometime in the next decade for a local Grand Rapids station that I’m a big fan of).
Bad Future: Reclusive Alcoholic.
Fiona: You only have 24 hours to live how would you spend that time?
Probably having sex, though the whole “24 hours to live” thing would have to actually happen for me to be sure lol.
Fiona: What do you want written on your head stone?
My full birth/legal name, birth and death dates, “Writer”, and this as my inscription:
“Nobody living can ever stop me,
As I go walking that freedom highway;
Nobody living can ever make me turn back
This land was made for you and me.”
Fiona: Do you have a blog or website readers can visit for updates, events and special offers?
All right, let’s do this:
Official Website: http://garretschuelke.tumblr.com/
Amazon Author Page: USA https://www.amazon.com/Garret-Schuelke/e/B0716TS6R3
Facebook fan page: www.facebook.com/garretschuelke
Youtube Channel: www.youtube.com/user/neobeatglory
Internet Archive (download episodes of The Garret Schuelke Podcast, ebooks, and more): archive.org/details/@garret_schuelke
The Garret Schuelke Podcast Facebook page: www.facebook.com/garretschuelkepodcas
Gumroad Store (free poetry ebooks): https://gumroad.com/garretschuelke
Thanks much, Fiona. Later!
Armen Pogharian said:
We’re definitely coming from different places. I’ve never heard of the genre of music you listed as your favorite. On the other hand, I’m somewhat familiar with Woody Guthrie – more so with his son, but still. I guess there’s always some common ground between people, even authors from different worlds. Best of luck to you.