Micro-Author Interview — Michael Keenan Gutierrez (Author of The Trench Angel)
I recently read Michael Keenan Gutierrez’s excellent book “The Trench Angel”. Michael was gracious enough to allow me to interview him for my Goodreads Blog.
Michael Keenan Gutierrez is the author of The Trench Angel. His work has been published in The Delmarva Review, The Guardian, The Collagist, Scarab, The Pisgah Review, Untoward, The Boiler, Crossborder, and We’re History.
What’s your favorite sentence or paragraph from one of your books? What does it mean to you?
The opening to The Trench Angel — “The men lined up for their pictures before they died.”
I struggled for a few years with how to step into the novel. Sometimes I tried to give a more postmodern approach, commenting on the narrative structure itself, or I put the reader inside of the protagonist’s head right away, especially during the earlier drafts when the novel was in third person. The one that stuck came to me in the shower. What I like about how it came out is that it’s a strong image, hits the reader with the main theme — the commodification and manufacturing of death — and it’s slightly disorienting, like being in a trench during the First World War.
What advice would you give other authors starting out?
Write every day — timeworn but true — and don’t rush to publish. I think because I began writing fiction seriously a bit later than many writers — I was 26 — I felt I had to publish right away to keep up and The Trench Angel went out to publishers long before it was fully cooked.
I also think an MFA program can be a great experience. It gets a bad rap at times and I know people who’ve had rough times and say it’s pointless, but if you’re getting a teaching stipend so the program is free, it ends up being 2–3 years where you get to focus exclusively on your work, while being surrounded by cohorts who not only think that literature is emotionally meaningful, but that it’s socially crucial. You don’t get that in most aspects of life and if you get a great mentor like I did, it can change your life.
I wrote about my own experience here: https://themfayears.com/2016/05/24/writing-from-the-outskirts/
What question would you like to see in future interviews?
If Shakespeare could write a blurb for your last book, what would he say?
Bonus Question: If Shakespeare could write a blurb for your last book, what would he say?
How about this from “Venus and Adonis.”
“It shall be raging mad, and silly mild,
Make the young old, the old become a child.”