Adam Robinson lives in Baltimore, where he runs Publishing Genius and plays guitar in Sweatpants. He wrote Adam Robison and Other Poems and Say, Poem. He is a contributing writer at HTMLGIANT and recently published poems online at Small Doggies.
What story or book do you feel closest to?
I’ve got a book called A Treasury of Literature for Children that my parents must have given me when I was 7 or 8. It’s a big anthology that includes everything from Aesop’s Fables to the 39 Steps. One story, called Bedgellert, is about Gellert, a Scottish king’s best dog who would sometimes stay home to protect the prince, a baby. One day a wolf got in while the king and his men were out hunting, and Gellert fought it off in a long, bloody fight. The baby was knocked out of its cradle, I guess, but unharmed and Gellert finally prevailed over the wolf. Yet when the king returned and Gellert slumped out to meet him, bloodied and hunched, the king panicked. He went in search of the prince and, not finding him, assumed the worst about Gellert. He killed the dog with his sword. Then of course he found the baby and the wolf and understood and was sad and there is a grave for Gellert called Bedgellert. The story is about 500 words long. It’s my favorite because it works so well in plot and emotionality.
Do you have a mentor?
No, but if I have a hero I think it’s Bennett Cerf, the founder of Random House.
How do you stay creative? What are your tricks to get “unstuck?”
I suppose I don’t get stuck — I just move to something else. I’ve got so many different projects, within the business, within writing, within music, that I hardly even know if, say, I have writer’s block, because I’m just not trying to write. At that time, I’m probably building a timeline. Timelines are my new favorite thing.
What are your favorite websites?
Well, I guess I read htmlgiant most loyally. I’m not sure if it counts to say Google Reader. Lately the blogger who I like the most is Crispin Best and his We Will All Go Simultaneous. I used to really like We Who Are About to Die but I feel like Daniel Nester became a bit too much of a traffic cop so I had to switch to Crispin Best’s more specific blog title. I still don’t know exactly when it’s going to happen, but I know it’s immanent and when it happens it’s going to happen at the same time.
a. Paperback Books.
First of all, it seems like I need a name for this avenue within Publishing Genius. Making books was what I always wanted to do, but it seems like for a while it wasn’t the main part of the press. The books were just another part. This year, though, I’ve focused more on them than anything else. I think books might be the main deal going forward.
b. Chapbook Genius.
I just rekindled this series in the beginning of October. It got kind of hard to manage. When I would tell people how busy I am, they would say well just cut out the chapbooks. But I feel like there is a need for these things, maybe? When I read Buck Downs’ Another Helping I am glad it exists. Same with Jason Bredle’s Class Project, which just came out today, October 15.
Probably the funnest thing I do during the year is hang up poems and read them aloud when I do it and take pictures. I get stressed about it because I don’t feel comfortable doing abnormal stuff where people can see, but I always go home afterward feeling proud of myself.
d. Everyday Genius.
This is a tremendously rewarding series for me. I get to work with cool people who do the guest editing, and publish stuff I wouldn’t have thought to think of. At least 1/3 of the content is from submissions, but I love seeing what else the editors bring in.
What do you do with your time off?
Have a beer with Joe Young and gossip.
How do you feel that book culture is changing?
What is the landscape going to look like (for the book) in 5 years? I believe ebooks are going to become pretty common. In 5 years I expect mainstream publishing will be restructuring to accommodate them, bringing in new writers. In 5 years big houses will be trying out some disingenuous-seeming imprint like “HarperAmateur” or something that will accept many more manuscripts, but only for ebook publication. There will be a thousand 24-year-old editors working on bad books. No one will buy these. In 10 years, it will be back to the way it is now, except there will be more small presses doing only digital books. Someone will develop a way to integrate the social platforms and the books, so people won’t just network via the books they like, but through sections of books they like. Other than that, everything will be the same. We will all still be sad.
How does a writer knock your socks off?
With language and story, so that I forget I’m reading.
Thanks Meg! That was a nice way to start the day.
The Fictionaut Five is our ongoing series of interviews with Fictionaut authors. Every Wednesday, Meg Pokrass asks a writer five (or more) questions. Meg is the editor-at-large for BLIP Magazine, and her stories and poems have been published widely. She blogs at http://megpokrass.com.