Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Writer Victor Gischler Interviewed!

I have been offering interviews to a ton of creative talents, and Victor Gischler was the first to say yes and not demand that I pimp his Kickstarter or Patreon.  I like that.

If you are not aware of Victor Gischler, you should be.  His work has been found at major comic companies and published in novel form as well.  He has works in science fiction, fantasy, and crime.  He is able, respected, and intelligent.

Please welcome Victor Gischler to Poplitiko.
What is your preferred format of work you do, Book, Comic book or other?

Sometimes working on a novel is easier for practical reasons. For example, right now I'm trying to chase down a colorist for a comic book project.  So not having to wait for anybody or depend on anyone else is often an advantage.  But as for what I "prefer" it's really more about the project than the format.  Whatever I'm most excited about is what I prefer to work on.

What part does your locale, Baton Rouge, inform or become part of your work?  How about your Ph.D in English, how much does that affect your writing?

Sometimes I'll set a story locally.  Yeah, it's pretty common for a writer's environment to seep into his work.  It's not the most important factor, but it's in the mix.  As for my PhD, well I read a lot in grad school and anything that makes a writer read a variety of things can't be so bad.

You've written successful novels as well as well received comics, do you have plans to try other forms of written expression, like screenplays, or non fiction?

I can't imagine a nonfiction project that would interest me, but never say never, I guess.  I'm currently working on a few screenplays and even have a gen-u-ine screenplay agent in Hollywood.  We'll see if this amounts to anything.

Are writers born or are they made?  When did you know you wanted to be a writer?

Oh, I don't know if there is such thing as writer DNA or not.  I wrote my first story in first grade.  We had a project where we made our own books, but the pages were blank, so the teacher told us to fill them in.  It was a story about a private detective who tracked down some dwarfs for stealing doughnuts.  It ended in a huge bloodbath. This was back when you could do such a thing without being branded as a troubled youth.

What is the best advice about writing you've been given or have heard?

Sit down and get started.  And finish what you start.

You've created a number of works in the genre of Crime fiction.  What  kind of research did you do when preparing the work, or is the delicious verisimilitude that you've created straight from your guts and brain?

I'll often Google the specifics on guns or cars or something, but most of it is from the gut.  

What writers have you read the most of, and do they form the basis of your "influences"?

Anything I read becomes an influence to some degree ... even if not on a conscious level. Vonnegut and Philp K. Dick and Chandler and Hammett go into the mix.  Also, Tolkien and Mike Resnick and Shakespeare and on and on.  Connie Willis has written some excellent time travel books.  Always wanted to take a stab at a time travel story.

Are you a writer or an author?  What would the difference be?

Guess I never thought about it.  Both.

What have you wanted to write but have yet to address?

Well, a time travel book as I said above.  A big, sprawling crazy space opera would be fun.  I've written fantasy novels and wouldn't mind trying a fantasy comic.

Do you daily journal, or do you write every day?

I don't journal.  Never could get the hang of it.  I try to write everyday, but sometimes life gets in the way.  But writing is how I earn a living, so I do my best to write as much as possible.

I've been told that as a poet I can never earn a living, and yet many of the ancient societies treated poets as the rock stars of their day. Is writing a career choice that is likely to lead to money making, or are you the exception to the rule of writing bring no financial reward?

The ancients didn't have a lot of choices when it came to rock stars.  They didn't have Hollywood, or American Idol or the NFL.  

People think authors are either rich and glamorous like JK Rowling or we are starving artists suffering for creativity.  Those types exist, sure.  I'm very fortunate to earn a living ... but that what I'm doing. Earning a living.  I'm not picking out beach houses and sports cars.  I feel pretty lucky to be abler to pay my bills doing something I love ... at the same time I'm grateful my wife has a good job too.

If you were to move to making films of your work, what would you like to see done?

All kinds of things.  I'm lucky to have a number of things optioned, but I'm very distant from those projects.  I'm in the process now of trying to get some things going in which I can be more involved.  I know a couple guys excited to try something on a shoestring.  I've also been adapting my creator owned comics into screenplays.  There are a number of lines in the water, a crazy variety of things that could be financed for 10 thousand to ten million.

How has the advent of internet changed the writing world?

It's changed discourse.  I think 140 characters at a time is fine for some things, but I'd hate to try to communicate something complex and important that way. But as for writing fiction ... I have no idea.  I think I'd still write the same way if Facebook or Twitter never existed.  Just me maybe.

Do you work with any aspiring writers and if so, is writing something easy to fix and help with?

I used to teach.  I don't do that anymore.  I'm nobody's idea of a mentor.  Seriously.

How many current events under different names and places make it into your work?  I heard Michael Stipe from R.E.M. say If art does not reflect every day life it is bullshit?  Agree or disagree?

Gee, I'd hate to disappoint Michael Stipe.   :)

Why it is that when I play a note on the piano it sounds dull and boring, but when Van Cliburn did it was magic?  Why do people who all use the same language, when writing, not create or write the same? What is it that makes the note or the word in the hands of one, not the same when it is in the hands of others?  I realize people have different talents, but, my issue is not with amount of talent or kind, instead I am suggesting, the note or word is available to everyone. Why is it better with one than another?  How do some people capture lightning?

I think what you're talking about is what we call "voice" in writing.  I don't think that can be taught.  It can be teased out, but not taught.  We can teach students how to listen for it, and then, once discovered, develop it, but we can't say here is the formula to make yourself a voice.   I think even those ho capture the lightning don't completely know how they did it.

What would your readers be surprised to learn about you?

My first novel was a very hardboiled, gritty book called GUN MONKEYS.  I remember somebody meeting me once and saying, "YOU wrote Gun Monkeys?"  I just didn't match up to what they thought I should be.  I'm not tough.  I'm a huge wuss actually.  In some small ways my characters are like me ... but mostly not.
If you aren't, as you say, a mentor, do you yourself have a mentor?

I've had teachers who've helped me a lot, but my real mentors are every book (and comic book) I've ever read and every film I've ever seen.  I try to absorb storytelling any way I can.

How hard is it for a person to be published?  Is it harder than being published to be paid for it?

Writers have a lot of options these days.  But to be "traditionally" published can be difficult.  First you have to fight to finish the book, to believe all that trouble and all that typing is worth it.  Then you have to fight to get an agent.  Then the eternal wait, hoping your agent will score for you.
By writing comics I am sure you are familiar with them, but are you a regular reader of them?  IF so, what comics are providing entertainment for you at this time?

I'm actually reading a lot less of EVERYTHING these days because it seems my time is so limited.

Is there a danger in reading too much, that is, can an author unconsciously plaguerize another author's work?  Do you find that absorbing the influences and lessons from others brings forth their work in your own?

In a certain context it's dangerous.  I won't read things if I think I'm writing something similar. But generally, no.  Read all you can.

I asked you for the best advice you'd heard, so, now, what advice would you give for anyone wanting to be an author?

This goes well with the previous question.  My advice is read, read, read, read, and read. When I used to teach poetry workshops, I'd ask, "Who likes to write poetry?" and almost every hand would go up.  And then I'd ask, "Who reads poetry regularly?" and almost every hand would go down.  I'll let you do the math on that one.

What one skill or talent do you wish you had more of?

I wish I could play golf.  The more I practiced, the shittier I became. 

Is there any part of the creative experience that you wish wasn't part of it?

Outlines.  Ugh.  I get it.  I understand they're useful.   But ... man.  Just fuck 'em.

Find/Meet/Follow Victor Gischler at

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