an interview with riley from “wonder lust magazine”
riley michael parker runs “wonder lust magazine” and wonder lust press. parker is the author of “Our Beloved 26th” (Future Tense Publishing), Boys, and Sophie’s Choice (Wonderlust Publishing – parker’s own private press). i conducted an interview with riley michael parker and it yielded results most pleasant.
[interview after break]
HTMLGIANT: If you could talk at birth, what would be your choice for first words?
RMP: What a horrifying scenario. I live with so much regret for all of the things I said yesterday, and the day before, and all the things I said two weeks ago, and the things I said in high school, et cetera, et cetera. I cannot fathom the pain and turmoil I would go through every day if I had to live with what I said as I came out of the womb. Also, those first words would change my life drastically from the way it is now, especially if I gave some kind of warning to my parents, or suggested that they put away some money so I might actually be able to afford to go to college – and though a formal education may have helped in some way, I like my life as it stands, myself uneducated, my childhood a mess. However, to be a good sport, I will answer the question. I would say the “N” word. No, that’s a joke. An awful, awful joke. A worse joke would have been something about 9-11, or the economy, but I couldn’t think of anything. The current unemployment rate is the new 9-11, if you really think about it, but I digress. I would probably tell my parents to invest in Macintosh, and to stick with it, through all the ups and downs, until 2007, then to sell, sell, sell. But really, who would listen to a baby?
HTMLGIANT: Give us some details about your press and the kind of work you hope to produce.
RMP: Wonderlust! Publishing is just something I started in able to print and distribute my own work and my girlfriend’s comics, and, when you get right down to it, it almost doesn’t exist. However, I do plan to keep with it. I enjoy writing fiction – it is one of my greatest pleasures – and I like making books, so even when I get to the point where I am being published by major companies, I plan to make my own little books and to distribute the work of friends and peers. My friend Kevin Sampsell runs his own press, Future Tense Books, and he picks up and puts out several pieces a year from up-and-coming youngsters, helping a lot of talented people get there foot in the door. I was honored last August when Kevin put out a book of mine(Our Beloved 26th), and I hope that one day Wonderlust! will be in the position to help get new and interesting work distributed, and to get innovative young authors the spotlight they deserve. I am mostly interested in publishing flash fiction and novellas, seeing as that is the sort of stuff that I write myself, but there is no telling what the future will hold, and I look forward to each and every surprise – even the bad ones.
HTMLGIANT: What is important, in your opinion, for the opening of a book to accomplish?
RMP: I think it depends on the type of book, and on the synopsis printed on the back cover. I expect something different from every book, depending on how the book markets itself. But on the whole, I like honesty. I like a book to tell you a little bit about where it is going to go. I like stories that come full circle – it is nice, at the end of a book, to find that the last chapter is a parallel to the first chapter – so I guess I like when a book opens with a foreshadowing of some sort. But more than anything, I like an opening that shows me a character, that introduces me to someone – or, I suppose, a beginning that allows me to accept the entire work as a character; to see the book as its own entity. You think of a good book as a friend, don’t you? No matter what happens within its pages, no matter how dreadful the scenario might get, if its honest, if it reaches out to meet you, then you accept it as being alive and embrace it like you might your own brother, or at the very least a second cousin. I like an opening that is in all actuality an extended hand for me to shake.
(Ed. note: questions four and five were declined, i can’t remember what they were)
HTMLGIANT: What is the secret to happiness in life?
RMP: A strong sense of self and confidence in the idea that what comes is better than the things that came before. Have strong opinions about every topic you can think of. Argue with people, and when they say things that you agree with, add their opinions to your own to form new, stronger, and more innovative ideas about the world. Walk out of bad movies and put down bad books – your time is precious! Decide what you are passionate about, and follow it to the fullest. Make self-improvement your main self-indulgence. If you want to get thin, then make going to the gym a reward, or a treat, instead of a task or a chore. If you want to move to France, treat yourself to a language study-session on your lunch break. If you want to write a novel, then allow yourself to sit the fuck down and write one. “A hard day’s work is its own reward” is a true fucking statement. Anyone who disagrees is probably unhappy.
HTMLGIANT: Is there anyone you actually hate? Who is it and why?
RMP: I want to say yes, that I hate people, but the truth is “probably not.” I dislike people, and a lot of folks upset me, but I don’t wish anyone ill or anything. More than anything, I just wish certain people would move far away and never talk to me again. However, I do plan to pick fights when I am more financially stable; when the thought of losing my job over an overnight in the pokey doesn’t scare the daylights out of me. I am a fairly polite person, and it upsets me when people disregard my social courtesy, and the courtesy of others, and act like fucking cunts to complete strangers. Every time someone is rude in line at the supermarket, I just see nothing but red. I just want to grab the person and say, “That motherfucker ringing up your groceries is a human fucking being, and deserves to be treated like one! You look that person in the eyes, and you pay for your fucking food, with a smile on your face, before I put half of that wine bottle through your fucking throat!” I just don’t make enough money right now to start fights like that.
(Ed. note: question eight was declined too. i remember it. it was ‘what do you think of deb olin unferth’s VACATION?’)
HTMLGIANT: What is your favorite regular Nintendo game and are you a button smasher?
RMP: It is a four-way tie between Ice-Climbers, Lolo, Bubble Bobble, and Adventure Island, with mad props to Super Mario Bros. 3, Mega Man 2, and Zelda (though the original Zelda is nothing compared to the Super Nintendo installment, “Zelda: A Link to the Past”, which is by far the best video game ever made). And yes, sadly, when playing fighting games, I am a button smasher, because I don’t really understand how those games work. The only one I have ever understood was Smash Bros. and with that game, I don’t button smash. It’s all cold calculation with that game. But I am not a gamer, really. Outside of Nintendo products I like almost nothing, and the only system I own is a Game Cube, which hasn’t been hooked up for quite a while.
HTMLGIANT: What book first enamored you of writing and publishing?
RMP: I have wanted to make a living as a writer since I was a very little kid, like maybe six or seven years old, so I really don’t know what book did it for me. My grandparents were always reading, and they would always buy me books (along with my father), so I guess the answer to your question is every book I’ve ever seen. The Phantom Tollbooth and My Father’s Dragon both had an early influence over me, followed by the Louis Sachar books There’s a Boy in the Girl’s Bathroom and Dogs Don’t Tell Jokes. I liked Stephen King as a kid, and then eventually I found Kurt Vonnegut’s Breakfast of Champions and it completely changed my tastes forever. Every book I read makes me want to write fiction. On the other side of the coin, every book I would never read, the stuff I thumb my nose at, that makes me want to write fiction just the same – to try and put something “better” on the shelves. As far as publishing goes, I have to give credit to The Vice Guide to Sex, Drugs, and Rock and Roll. That book was totally inspirational! Reading about three fuck-ups who organized themselves and their loser friends to create and distribute one of the funniest, the most transgressive, and in my opinion, one of the most important publications of the last twenty years, made me want to start making and distributing my own zines, which in turn made me want to begin printing and distributing my own fictional works. Although in the long run I skipped the whole making and distributing a culturally-important international magazine thing, if it weren’t for Vice, I wouldn’t have started making little zines with my friends, and subsequently, I would have never started publishing my own fiction.
HTMLGIANT: Describe the people and situations in your ideal coloring book.
RMP: Ugly people having sex with each other on every single page. Graphic and comical, but honest, and, in a way, moving. Lots of saggy breasts and scar tissue. Bad facial hair. Pimples. Hairy bush. Crooked teeth. Bald spots. But totally beautiful, and with lots of speech bubbles. Either that or really violent monster slayings. Vampire deaths and the likes. An ideal page would be a werewolf who has just been shot with a silver bullet and is in mid-transformation back into his human self – but super graphic. With lots of speech bubbles, and bald spots.