15.7.2013 | 12:00
Me: You’ve written two ridiculously funny satires, one is the raunchy yet insightful of short stories, The Passion of the Christoph, a hysterical funny but oh-so-accurate book of celebrity poems – Psychoanalytic Celebrity Poems. Now, you’re writing a YA book. What made you jump from Non-fiction to YA?
Christoph: Fiction is my main love but I needed to get my writing swag/confidence back as I worked on this ridiculously ambitious literary novel for freaking years leading to no publication and just it being a shitty novel that needed 4 or 5 more revisions. It was young white male literary hubris, but I needed to experience it. So, I started writing non-fiction especially satire for writing to be ‘fun’ again and it came out really easy for me. I can just do it now; I can crank it out, non-fiction/humor you just can’t teach it; you just got it or you don’t.
I’ll be honest, even though I think I’m a cutie-pie, I’ve probably gotten laid a lot more than guys better looking than me because I’m clever, creative, and really funny and non-fiction is just being that: it using those tools and being a good story teller. What I do on a page is no different then I what I do at bar when trying to get laid. But fiction, especially a novel that shit is hard and I think that is why I think readers will always want fiction unless you’re a ‘brand’ or have a good platform for non-fiction. Fiction is the best art form next to Cable TV, which is basically a novel on the screen.
I am really proud of those two books I think they are great humor books but until I have that ‘brand’ established the average person won’t know or really care till I get what the pick up artists call ‘social proof’ or ‘pre-selection’. It is a little different in fiction, I can’t rely on charm and cleverness (unless you’re David Foster Wallace) I have to engage in 3-act structure, character, voice, premise, and revise hard core. I have to serve the story and have it make sense with what the characters do and the voice needs to match up—everything has to fit right. If it you don’t take the craft serious your novel is going to suck or you just got really lucky. But I love it, it is much harder than non-fiction but more rewarding; what is funny is about fiction is I feel I’m being more ‘real’ when writing it. With non-fiction, I’m just being funny Christoph, with fiction I’m just being and focused on the craft and serving the story.
Me: Can you give us a synopsis on what the YA book is going to be about?
Christoph: Fuck…I suck at this, I’m not a pitchman, but I’ll give it a go. It is about a 17 year old boy Joey Caldo who like all 17-year-old boys thinks he knows everything and ‘everything’ important is how to get girls. He thinks girls see guys the way the American public views movies, as most want to see The Blockbuster: tall, good looking, has money (bid budget), smart aka good plot, big star aka a big penis etc. you get the metaphor; Joey sees himself as an art film—an acquired taste, with an, um, average sized star. He meets and bonds with this ‘hot’ college girl Alexia who got a DUI who has to volunteer at his Jewish Grandma’s nursing home that he falls in love with and hopes he will be her art film…can’t give anymore a way. I like it, its very mainstream and very much draws on ‘John Hughes’, ‘Some Kind of Wonderful’, ‘Forgetting Sarah Marshall’, ‘High Fidelity’ and other non-lame romantic comedies but for YA. I’m revising one more draft for Book 1 and outlining book 2. I want it to be a series as I have a plot that feels natural and excites me for Book 2. I will say Book 1 can stand on its own. There is no cliffhanger.
Me: Be honest – is there a fabulously adorable character in there named Melissa? (Because all books should have a Melissa in them)
Christoph: You know, I have a lot of love for ‘Melissa’s’ one of best bro’s Brad, his wife I refer to as my mom because I look and act like a teenager. My cousin, and you, my home girl. But no Melissa’s in the YA book. There is an Alexia—the college girl, and there is a Valerie Kleinman (who was originally named Rachel but I needed to stop using that name because there will be a whole bunch poems about a girl named Rachel in my non-funny poetry collection At ‘Least I Get You In My Art & Other Poems’ I’m putting that out later this year with Swift Ink Books) the nerdy new girl that Joey confides in.
Me: Where do you find your inspiration? Not only for your stories, but as a musician, you’re a very creative person. What inspires you the most?
Christoph: I read, watch and listen: it’s usually other artists who are better than me that motivate me. I love the 2 K’s: Kurt Cobain and Kanye West, they are my favorites. They are just great songwriters who are unapologetic and I love that. I love artists who work ‘territorially’ who are like: fuck the market, I’m going to make something so good and original, the market will eventually come to me. I really wish Kurt didn’t kill himself I think rock music would be better, and Kanye’s got that Kardashian booty so he ain’t going nowhere. I just love melody and story telling. Song writing is just another aspect of poetry for me. I don’t see myself as musician even though I’m guitar pedal dork. Sean Quin Hanley my old lead guitar player, now that dude is a real musician. I am just a decent poet with a guitar. Sean he can shred, though, if anyone will save rock he’s young and talented enough to do it.
Me: You have a great blog and you’re extremely active in the indie community, even before ‘Passion’ was available. How did you get started in the whole writing scene?
Christoph: I owe a lot to Jessica Swift; at first I was asking her help for the literary novel, and yeah I will admit I thought she was hot cause I got a thing for tall chicks…my mom is taller than my dad it is very Freudian….but anyways, we became like best friends along the way, and she was has been a great mentor—she was the one who got on me twitter and said to blog. It’s ironic, a lot of women find some of my writing and tweeting deplorable and misogynistic but it was this strong feminist independent successful woman that encouraged me to write this stuff and get on Twitter. As I was cranking these funny pieces we talked about publishing a comedy book instead of me trying to revise the literary novel again to submit to another really cool indie publisher who one day I hope to publish with but that is a later goal. Right now, giving up on that literary novel has felt great, I just feel free to write what is more my strength but I still will write that literary novel when I’m good enough to write it (I’m like 5-8 years away) but now I just write stuff I’m good at writing, that people enjoy, and have solid editors (Jessica Swift and Loren Kleinman) behind me. I don’t act it but I look at writing very professionally and very business like. Shout out to the book ‘The War of Art’ by Steven Pressfield that is my bible.
Me: Did find the creative process for writing a novel the same as writing a song? What causes you more heartburn? What’s your favorite?
Christoph: Oh writing a novel, no doubt about that one. The song is just like fishing, once you fucked around enough and caught 4-5 chords you like for a verse and 4 to 5 for the chorus and figured out a melody the song is done. I just have to find the right words. Same with poems. Poems just come but you just need a great editor to make them better. Poetry and songwriting is very mystical. To contradict Norman Mailer, I think songwriting and poetry is ‘The Spooky Art’ but fiction will always give me heartburn. I remember in revising the second act of the YA I knew it wasn’t flowing and I was so pissed even after I outlined like an OCD person, but with practice comes fucking up less and I was able to fix that second act, and now I’m feeling good; I got three solid acts for this YA. My only complaint with the book, I wish my protagonist was a chick, that is my only complaint from a business stand point just because guys don’t read as much like women do or if they do its about wizards and dragons and other subjects that dry out women’s vaginas. I want to write a blog post “It’s A Man’s World But A Woman’s Kindle.” Male writers have to account for female readers it’s just pure numbers unless your Tucker Max or some shit like that. I took out a scene that was funny as hell, I’m talking “Porky’s” funny but it didn’t make sense for my character but I also I felt it would alienate female readers and not in a cool punk rock way, in a way that hurt the story. Underneath it all, The YA book is a good love story and chicks love a good love story I think both sexes do. But I think female readers like a female protagonist more but the character Joey ‘The Art Film’ Caldo is a very Lou Dobbleresque he’s much more likeable than me as a guy which is a good thing for women readers.
Me: What else should we talk about? Oh – how fricking awesome you are. So tell us about Christoph. Aside from working in the porn shops in SE DC (which, btw, is hysterical) what made you who you are? (Yeah, I’m getting all deep and ish.)
Christoph: I’m a fucked up a guy with a really good heart. I’m like Kanye, I’m really egotistical, self-absorbed, and I know I come off as an asshole and rub a lot of people the wrong way but it’s just cause I’m really passionate especially about art. I have a tattoo of Gambit of X-Men, which shows I’m a nerd but also I have it cause I have all this energy and I have to put it in to something constructive or I do self-destructive shit. Not to get all Oprah and besides I’m a middle class straight white guy who shouldn’t have shit to complain about but I’m have my shit, I did the stints in rehab and military school which screwed me up even more and it was turning to writing and playing music that really kept me from probably being pre-Iron Man Robert Downey Jr. If y’all don’t remember, he was bad. He was lucky to get a role on ‘Ally McBeal’.
Me: We’re going to hang when I come up there in November right?
Christoph: Hell’s yeah, I hope to have a new band together by then so you can see me play live and get crunk. On a side note I’m in a ‘band coma’—it’s not dead but I need new members to play non-acoustic solo shows. So I hope by then I’ll have a band again by then. But who knows, I am getting itch to do stand up comedy maybe you can see a show of me doing that.