Smoking With Grant Bailie

Read the Story December 15, 2007

Give us a synonym for The Phantom Coalition.

I am not sure it has a direct synonym yet—it is kind of an organization I am still developing in my head. I have another Phantom Coalition story (on sale now in Air in the Paragraph Line #12; go here: http://www.lulu.com/content/1151437) and in that story it becomes kind of stand in for fate, and the forces of nature and chance, if all those things were different branches of the same mysterious, inefficient bureaucratic agency. I’m thinking of doing a book of stories about it.

“It was a blood more like flannel.” Excellent line. Evocative. What goes into writing a great simile or metaphor?

Thank you. The most important thing to remember about writing similes or metaphors is not to do it too much.

If the egg itself symbolizes birth, growth, the renewal of life, what does the egg shell—the cracking of, the discarding of peelings—represent?

The death of hope? Does that seem impossibly grim? I have been accused of being grim before, mostly by my wife, but really I think I am a fairly happy-go-lucky guy. But if you think about it, once the egg is opened—whether it’s hatched or fried—the mystery and promise of the thing is over. It can no longer be anything other than what it is. It is now just a chick or a fried egg. Chicks grow up to be chickens and lay more eggs. Fried eggs are eaten and go the way of all food. Hope becomes shit. I see my wife’s point.

I’m not a publisher, but tell me about one of your unpublished novels, in case a publisher is reading.

The one I’m working on now is a draft of something I wrote in captivity a few years ago—not in prison but a kind of art happening. It’s called The Buddha Pill and it’s about a guy who loses the ability to sleep. He doesn’t get tired and it doesn’t effect his health in any adverse way—it just makes the nights long and gives him too much free time. It is kind of a super power of the lowest order, and he uses it to get more work done at the office, and rises in the company, gains the respect of his employers and their secretaries, and subsequently uncovers a mystery involving dirigibles, kidnapped Buddhist monks, enlightenment in pill form, and non-carnivorous zombies. I’m pretty happy with it so far. I wrote the first draft of it in a month, but it has taken me about three years to fall enough out of love with that to see it clearly. Now I’m fixing it.

SLQ completed issue 18 at the close of summer and launched this issue, 19, on the threshold of winter. During the three months in between, the crops were harvested, the leaves fell, the rain returned, temperatures dropped, darkness lengthened. Death in increments. How does the turning of the seasons affect your “muse,” your inspiration?

I like the colder months because I can layer my clothes more and hide my girth. Also, I write in my basement and cooler weather seems to make the smell of the litter box less oppressive. Nothing better for the ol’ muse than a cleaner smelling litter box.

About the Author:

Grant Bailie is the author of the novels Cloud 8, Mortarville, New Hope for Small Men, and TomorrowLand, as well as numerous short stories and articles both in print and online.

About the Artist:

A native of Ohio, Marty D. Ison lives with his wife transplanted in the sands of the Gulf of Mexico. He studied fine arts at Saint Petersburg College. In addition to the visual arts, he writes poetry, short stories, and novels. See more of Ison's work here.