Two Fictionauters walk into an inbox. One says to the other, “Nice sentence.” The other one says, “Ah, writing. Life sentence.” BADA-BING. Susan Tepper and Gary Percesepe wrote a book together. I kept thinking the Dori was painter Dori Ashton but it’s not which I’m glad we cleared up in this interview, among other things Gary and Susan enlightened me with.
Have you a collaborating active? Holla at me, but after you read this work, which is a take on perspective, gender, time, art, reality, conscious. The usual.
Q (Nicolle Elizabeth): Hi Gary, Hi Susan. You’re both Fictionaut oracles and now you have a new book out together and that is very exciting. Please update us with what’s new, how things are going and what the new book is all about?
ST: Our new book is a steamy love story told in letters exchanged between the artist Jackson Pollock and a fictional young woman we named Dori G (the G to make her sound more mysterious, and also anonymous, which is kind of how Jackson likes her, though he states otherwise in the novel.)
GP: Yo, Nic, here’s the thing that people don’t understand about being an oracle, ok? The pay is lousy and somebody always wants something from you. But on the other, sure, what Susan said. Except the character Dori is probably more “mysterious” and “anonymous” to Susan and to readers than she is to me, for two reasons: I wrote her (from the inside out), AND I based her on a girl from New Jersey who was my almost girlfriend back when I used to troll the Garden State. (Met her mother too, I think she liked me.) So anyway, I wrote this novel to see if I could find this girl from Jersey who in my mind has not aged a day-still a willowy blonde with green eyes sitting down to breakfast with me in a quiet corner of a dark house. I’m hoping she will find the book and meet me a reading somewhere in Jersey, or maybe down the road at the Bada Bing, up on that pole. See? I’m saying I wrote the damn book to get Dori back, Jackson Pollock be damned.
Have you always been interested in the lives of painters?
ST: I have always been incredibly interested in painting and the lives of painters. Before I was doing any writing at all, I saw this Woody Allen Movie where Nick Nolte plays a wild expressionist painter. I was mesmerized by the character and never forgot it, and that was a pivotal moment where I began to change course, moving from being an actor to a writer (at least in my mind). I did a few plays after that but had also begun writing seriously. As for Jackson Pollock, well, for me, his work is like no other. He forever changed the course of Modern Art. And that is no small feat. So when Gary changed the game-plan (last second) and told me to write Pollock– YIKES! At first I argued strenuously against the idea. But Gary has a persistent nature and so I gave in and wrote Pollock and he wrote Dori.
GP: Who is Jackson Pollock?
What advice can we fiction writers and readers learn from also paying mind to non-fiction?
ST: Well anything that jiggles your mind, stays with you, be it a story or something non-fiction, something in real life, well that is always a help toward your fiction writing. Life is just a bowl of cherries (as someone said) and so you get to cherry-pick which parts scream to you and that shows up in the work.
GP: I cannot believe Susan is misquoting Erma Bombeck and jiggling. Anyway, I read and write a lot of non-fiction. I wrote four books in philosophy, back in my addled youth. I read widely in philosophy, medicine, law, physics, eye surgery manuals, theology, and geography. Mostly to pick up women, it is true. Dori, are you listening? Fuck Jackson Pollock, I’m the one you want.
Anything else you’d like to tell us here. I have an inner ear infection from swimming in a lake so I see two computer screens. Trippy.
ST: It was an amazingly cool experience doing this book. I literally felt “taken over” by Pollock all during the writing, as if Pollock wanted this book to be written. I know this sounds crazy, but it is what I truly felt. Because I was writing a voice that was so new to me, and a male voice of a famous painter (I’m not a painter). It’s kind of mentally confusing to analyze: a woman writing a man who is in love with a woman. And vice-versa (Gary): a man writing a woman who is in love with a man. If you think that can’t jangle your brain a while, well, believe me it did. But we love our characters so much. And when Gary wants to manipulate me, he writes me emails from “Dori.” It makes me want to strangle him! But Gary can be persistent.
GP: It’s true, Susan regularly tries to strangle me, and this may be the first book tour in history where co-authors try to kill each other. As for the rest, I have no idea what she is talking about, all this man-woman-man literary stuff. It’s creepy. Sounds like bad porn. Here is what actually happened, how I wrote my part of the book: I would get a letter from Susan-as-Jackson. I would ignore it. I would then write a new letter based on my feeling for Dori (who is frickin’ HOT!) I mean, I tried to get inside her, in every way, and this is the honest truth. Nothing literary about it. I want to do a reading at the Bada Bing. If Dori shows up I am a happy man. Or Marisa Tomei. Up on that slippery pole, sure. I can see the future.
Folks, buy the damn book. It is so HOT. Support your local Fictionaut oracles. We cannot make it without you. Plus, will pay my cover charge at the Bing. The book is available NOW!