INTERVIEW: Love, American Style

Chameleon on a Kaleidoscope (V Publishing, 2012), written by ANONYMOUS, is the author’s second book and continues where Diary Of An Oxygen Thief left off in terms of its honesty and originality. However, instead of alcoholism, the drug of choice here is sex addiction, online variety.

Although self-published, Chameleon is top notch, with writing that has been described as Sedaris meets Bukowski. But somehow this description doesn’t quite do it justice. The writing is raw yet intelligent, funny yet heartbreakingly sad. Told in the first person, the story has an immediacy that both hits you in chin and begs you to come closer, to sit down and get comfortable. Consider the opening: “I didn’t get laid enough to be called a sex-addict.” The dialogue, at times driving the story, is relatable while also showcasing the insanity of the characters.

Chameleon is relatively short and a quick read, but that doesn’t take away from its intensity. In fact, its sarcastic undertone spikes the text with a bite so ferocious it’s almost impossible to put down. Above all, the book is a seething commentary on our increasing dependence on modern media, one that, in this book, skips over the line of addiction and into a bizarre world that showcases the brilliance within the text. I had the chance to chat with the author about self-publishing, writing anonymously, and other no-no’s of the Madison-Avenue publishing crowd:

Patrick Trotti: For those not familiar with your work, Chameleon On A Kaleidoscope is your second novel right? Is it a sequel or a stand-alone piece?

Anonymous: Not so much a sequel as the next in the series; both stories are self-sufficient, but Chameleon on a Kaleidoscope evolves out of Diary Of An Oxygen Thief.

PT: You chose to self-publish. Some in the publishing community still attach a stigma to self-publishing; obviously, you feel differently. What went into your decision to self-publish? Has it been an overall good experience? Any suggestions to those out there considering going that route?

A: Yes, both books are self-published and I’m happy to say that this fact in itself has begun to seep into the narrative in ways I could never have predicted. Unreliable narrator meets unreliable publisher! With ten thousand copies of Diary Of An Oxygen Thief sold and a third edition on the way, it seems like something’s working. Self-publishing may not be right for every story, but it was definitely the way to go for this one.

My advice to anyone thinking about it is to e-publish first before going to print.

PT: Your first release, Diary Of An Oxygen Thief, has found an underground niche with a cult-like enthusiasm. What do you attribute that to? Why do you think your fans have found your work so compelling?

A: I think it’s the honesty. It’s something that can’t be faked. People respond to that.

PT: Why do you write anonymously?

A: I’ve found that anonymity provides all sorts of interesting benefits for a writer.

1) It focuses attention on the story and not the storyteller.
2) It embodies a certain humility.
3) Its genderless.
4) It goes against the grain of celebrity culture.
5) It encourages less inhibition.
6) It removes the need for a black and white portrait on the dust jacket (a pet hate of mine.)
7) It forces the reader to accept or reject the material based on their own preconceptions (after all, isn’t this how we go through life?)

PT: Your writing style is so fresh. Even for me, who’s read your work, it’s hard to classify. How would you describe your writing style to someone who’s never read you work before?

A: If my writing style is hard to classify I’ll take that as a compliment. How would I describe it? Fact rubbing up against fiction. I’m a writer of friction.

PT: How much of your writing, particularly this most recent book, is autobiographical?

A: Both books draw on experiences in my life.

PT: Do you write other forms, such as poetry or shorter fiction?

A: Yes I do. Upcoming projects include a book of short stories about a series of commercials I made and a large format book of a kind of poetry I call Paragraphy (more on this soon)

PT: What is your writing process like? Are you methodical, writing and rewriting consistently, producing multiple drafts before publishing, or is it more of seamless process?

A: I’m always aware that I’m competing with a constant barrage of tweets, emails, and texts (even right now). Yes, I write and rewrite and worry away at it until it’s something I feel happy with. And I’m very concerned with rhythm. (I used to be a drummer). Basically. my writing process can be summed up in two words; panic beautifully.

PT: What are you currently working on? Any plans for a third book?

A: In addition to the projects mentioned above, I’m half-way through writing a play called “The Amsterdam Project” and screenplay set in East London, and yes I’ve already begun work on the third book in the Oxygen Thief Diaries. It will be, for want of a better word, a prequel.

You can find Chameleon On A Kaleidoscope and Diary Of An Oxygen Thief at Amazon.com.

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