I was quite flattered when noted author/editor/publisher/translator/cool dude Nick Mamatas invited me to contribute to his latest anthology, Mixed Up: Cocktail Recipes (and Flash Fiction) for the Discerning Drinker (and Reader), co-edited by the equally prestigious author Molly Tanzer, who provides her own original concoctions.
There are certain names you recognize in your daily social media circles that command attention, feedback, interaction, and respect, and Nick is prominent on that exclusive list.
So it’s with great pleasure I offer you a short but scintillating spotlight into the mind of a true literary juggernaut…
Being an author yourself, how challenging (or satisfying) is it to edit the work of your peers?
I really enjoy editing—it's my day job, for VIZ Media, so I spend more time editing than writing. My greatest pleasure is short subjects, whether fiction or essays, so the anthology is the most satisfying form for me.
Do you think short story anthologies and novellas are the wave of the future, given shrinking attention spans, or does size even matter in a world where hardly anyone reads?
I think shrinking attention spans have the opposite effect—people don't want to invest their mental energy on learning about characters or a setting only to have the story end ten pages later, only to begin the process again with the next story.
The great saving grace of short pieces is the smartphone. Now people can read one story or longish article ("longreads") on their commute or while waiting at the barber's shop or while supper is cooking, anywhere, all the time. Not that people will binge, but they'll read one story or article, and then go about their business or daily tasks, and then read another hours later. I've done some work for a smartphone app called Great Jones Street—a Spotify/Netflix for short stories, that charges $1 a month for access to thousands of pieces—and I think venues like it are the wave of the future.
Considering how crowded and competitive the modern literary marketplace has become, why do you even bother? What compels you to continue in this line of work, both artistically and professionally?
I've asked myself, and other people, that same question, because I didn't know the answer. Then last year over a drink with the prolific weird fiction genius Michael Cisco, I asked him why he still kept at it and he said, "Because I still have something to say!" and that is good enough for me. I still have something to say.
One reason why we're doing Mixed Up is to find a new way through the marketplace—let's put fiction in the Food/Beverage section of the bookstore, where it will stand out as something different, unique.
What are some of your influences, literary or otherwise?
Early 1980s Marvel comics (Ann Nocenti and Mark Gruenwald especially), the Beats, Kathy Acker, H. P. Lovecraft, John Fante, Colin Wilson, Joan Didion, Steve Aylett, way too many to name...
What’s next for you?
I'm writing a supernatural thriller called Hexen Sabbath for Tor Books, and working on a novel about media conspiracies.
Sounds intriguing…thanks, Nick! Cheers.
Nick Mamatas is the author of several novels, including The Last Weekend, and I Am Providence. His short fiction has appeared in Best American Mystery Stories, Year's Best Science Fiction and Fantasy, and dozens of other venues. Nick is also an anthologist; his books include the Bram Stoker Award-winning Haunted Legends, co-edited with Ellen Datlow, and the Locus Award nominees The Future is Japanese and Hanzai Japan, both co-edited with Masumi Washington.
PHOTO: NICK MAMATAS