Welcome to the blog, Brent! Could you tell us a little bit about your book?
It's a collection of stories about ordinary folks like you and me, facing the challenges of love and loss, addiction, religion, family life, the ongoing striving for awareness. I subtitled the book "A Web of Stories" because its thirteen stories are linked in a variety of subtle ways. Some of the characters are central to more than story, or they play bit parts in the stories of others. Also, some of the stories are actually made up of smaller stories that may seem disparate but are connected by a nearly invisible thread.
What led you to write this book?
I'd been writing short stories for nearly twenty years and had published a number of them in literary journals. Along the way, I noticed that the characters I'd invented had begun lurking on the edges of each other's stories. But I wasn't sure what that meant. Then one day as I surveyed the whole array of stories and fragments, a complex web of faint shimmering lines seemed to materialize before my inner eye, like Indra's net. These people, like all of us in "real life," were connected by vectors of chance, coincidence, ephemeral glancing touches. Subtle influences were being exerted, life paths changed in seemingly tiny, but possibly powerful, ways. So it was that vision that propelled me to finish a couple more stories, make edits to others, and assemble all the scattered pieces into one unit. My hope is that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts, but that each story is also very strong on its own.
Could you share a few thoughts on the idea of the Holy Fool as seen in your stories?
I wrote a little about the Holy Fool on my blog for April Fool's Day. It's not necessarily a big theme in my book, but there are a few male characters who can be seen through that lens. They don't behave outrageously like many of the Holy Fool archetypes. Instead, they lead me by their own simple unconsciousness toward intuitive lessons: the blind leading the blind. They're friends for whom I feel a little pity and a lot of fondness. They are boys, not men, and they need my love. They embody my own inner fool, who teaches me how to be wise.
What was the biggest challenge you faced when creating The Principle of Ultimate Indivisibility? How did you overcome it?
My biggest challenge was not in the writing, but in the publishing. The current marketplace is not friendly to collections of literary short stories, the least commercial genre in existence. After several rejections, I did receive a publishing contract from a small press, but the contract was, well... egregious was the word used by the Author's Guild lawyer I consulted. I asked for changes and their response was to retract their offer, no discussion. So I decided to self-publish. I enjoy the process of creating a book for Print On Demand, I'd done it a number of times already as a small regional publisher, so that was not a problem. The ongoing challenge is marketing the book, keeping awareness of it growing not disappearing: social networks, blogging, readings, etc. It often feels like there isn't enough time in the world to do it all. So I'm very grateful for this opportunity to be featured on your blog.
What is your best advice on writing?
Be true to yourself. Write what excites you, what you like to read, not what you think the market wants. And study the writer's craft with absolute dedication.
Thanks so much for stopping by, Brent!
Brent Robison emigrated west to east and is now rooted in the Catskill Mountains of New York state. His short stories have been published in print and online in over a dozen literary journals, and anthologized in When Last on the Mountain: the View from Writers Over 50. In addition, his work has won the Chronogram Short Fiction Contest, the Literal Latte Short Short Award, a Fiction Fellowship from the New Jersey Council on the Arts, and a Pushcart Prize nomination. He is formerly the publisher and editor of a Hudson Valley regional literary annual, Prima Materia.
Brent Robison can be found on this blog: http://ultimate-indivisibility.com. He can also be found at Bliss Plot Press, Facebook, Goodreads, and Twitter.
The Principle of Ultimate Indivisibility is available at Lulu, Barnes & Noble, and Smashwords, among other e-book stores.
You can even read one sample story on Kindle.