Welcome to the blog, Corey! Could you tell us a little bit about The Madness of Art?
The Madness of Art is a new collection of stories written over the course of about a year, each relating in some way to the artistic process. It’s as much about the hazards of the artist’s life as it is about the triumphs. The idea from the very beginning for me was to write a handful of stories that relate to each other thematically so that the reader doesn’t feel they’re given a loose assortment of stories, but rather stories that fit together into a rich and multivalent whole. Think of it this way: Joyce’s Dubliners is, of course, all about people in Dublin (but so much more) and The Madness of Art is all about artists.
What led you to write these stories?
Interestingly, the genesis of The Madness of Art can be traced back to a book that I stopped writing more than a year ago. I, for some intrepid reason, had it in mind to write a fictional modern interpretation of the life of the famous poet Robert Browning. This undertaking required tons and tons of research (too much, actually, which is why I put it on hiatus). In the process of researching, I read hundreds of pages of stuff about art theory applying to everything from poetry to painting to live theater and so on. Anyways, from my wide reading I came to wonder about just what art is, how it affects us, how it sometimes manipulates us, how it drives some of us mad, and from this questioning I came up with eight short story ideas, all of which make up The Madness of Art.
In The Scream, the figure in this famous painting comes to life. How did you make such a fantastic event seem possible?
From the get go, The Scream is a fantasy. The premise was inspired by the theory that anything, once it’s hung in a museum, is art (think of Marcel Duchamp putting a toilet in an exhibition or Warhol’s soup cans), but then I ask, what is art once it leaves the museum? So for this story, I revisit the real event from a few years back when thieves stole The Scream from a museum in Oslo, but in this version, the instant the painting is taken outside, the character from the painting suddenly has a real life. This is a story I think people are really going to respond to. It’s in many ways a bittersweet tale of a person feeling trapped and constantly fearful who is given a shot at true freedom, and how he acclimates to the notion that “with three-dimensions comes depth.”
Your short stories are all focused on art. Are you planning to write more about art in the future?
Yes, actually. I’m about 3/4 finished with the first draft of a novel that’s basically about a musician, a writer, and a painter living together, but that’s a project I’d like to keep hush-hush until I finally publish it, so those are all the details I’ll give out right now. Essentially, I have to wait and see if The Madness of Art becomes successful at all before I try publishing my next book. As for writing about art, I’ve started a blog where I frequently write about my love of movies and literature, as well as include essays about aesthetic theories.
What is your best advice on writing?
My best advice on writing is also my best advice on reading, and that is: don’t get too constricted by any particular genre. There’s an old anecdote about an interviewer asking John Barth what his advice was for writers and he said something like, “read everything from Gilgamesh to the present.” While I wouldn’t go that far, I would recommend writers try to read as great a variety as possible. I think if you want to be, say, a horror writer, and you spend all of your time reading horror, when you finally do produce your book, people will likely say it’s derivative of other popular horror novels, but if you read, say, Dickens or a book on quantum mechanics or a guide to gardening, maybe in the end you’ll bring something new to the table.
Thanks so much for stopping by, Corey!
I’ve been interested in becoming a writer for about as long as I can remember. My first published piece was Little Crescents in the Maui Review, a story I’ve since greatly revised and included in The Madness of Art: Short Stories. Apart from that, I also critique new books for The Portland Book Review Quarterly. I’m currently at work on a full-length novel.
My blog is http://coreysbook.wordpress.com. This contains a huge amount of stuff about movies, books, and thoughts on art in general. Also, this site includes free previews of my stories as well as quotes and a few videos and images loosely related to my book.
I’ve also created a Facebook page for the book. Just look up The Madness of Art: Short Stories. This includes news about my book as well as occasional opportunities to buy it at a discounted price.
The Madness of Art is available at Amazon and Barnes and Noble.
I should also point out that my book is only available in ebook form, but you don’t have to own any ebook reader to read it. Amazon and Barnes and Noble both offer free apps allowing you to read The Madness of Art on your PC or Mac, or read it on your iPad or iPhone.
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