Smoke and Mirrors—An Interview with Rolli

by David Ebenbach Read the Story June 22, 2015

“The Window” is fascinating, partly because you describe dramatic and potentially horrifying events in a matter-of-fact tone. I think that tone is crucial to the effect of the piece. Can you talk about why you chose it?

Life is matter-of-fact. That’s what makes it so horrifying.

Another interesting juxtaposition with the seriousness of the situation is the use of humor (e.g., the protagonist is in a full-body cast but refers to the bags under a man’s eyes as “suitcases”). What’s the role of humor here and in your writing more generally?

Well, I’m inclined to think of myself these days as a humorist. I’m a moody guy, which makes me a moody humorist. I’m writing a new book of stories all in the same moody-humor vein as “The Window,” though humor isn’t respectable and short fiction doesn’t sell. I call it Young Adult Trilogy.

The character invokes God in the first section of the story, and then we meet a Jehovah’s Witness but never hear about God. In the final section, there’s only the window. Has the character changed?

I hadn’t thought of it. Possibly. Probably. I hypnotize myself. Usually I stare at a candle. The writing is very direct—or indirect—and means a lot more than I realize, I’m guessing.

You’re also a cartoonist, and quite a few of your cartoons are of gravestones, with inscriptions like “I Am Currently Working on a Novel” and “No, YOU Hang Up.” What do you want written on your gravestone?

“Publicity Stunt.”

About the Author:

Rolli is a writer, illustrator and cartoonist hailing from Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada. He’s the author of two short story collections (I Am Currently Working On a Novel and God’s Autobio), two books of poems (Mavor’s Bones and Plum Stuff), the middle grade story collection Dr. Franklin’s Staticy Cat and two forthcoming novels – Kabungo (Anansi/Groundwood, 2016) and The Sea-Wave (Guernica Editions, 2016). His cartoons appear regularly in Reader’s Digest, Harvard Business Review, Adbusters, The Chronicle of Higher Education and other popular outlets. Visit Rolli's website  and follow him on Twitter @rolliwrites.

About the Interviewer:

David Ebenbach’s first poetry collection, We Were the People Who Moved, is forthcoming from Tebot Bach. He is also the author of two short fiction collections.

About the Artist:

Ashley Inguanta is a former art director of SmokeLong Quarterly and author of three poetry collections: The Way Home (Dancing Girl Press, 2013), For the Woman Alone (Ampersand Books, 2014), and Bomb (Ampersand Books, 2016). Next year, Ampersand Books will publish her newest collection, The Flower, about how death shapes us.