The Transmitter: Alan Catlin Answers the Questions That Matter

Author Alan Catlin talks favorite albums and soundtracks, influential writers, and films.


The Coil: Describe your writing style to someone who’s never read you.

Alan Catlin: Having been described as a man with a thousand voices, there is no set style. The subject matter determines the approach. Most often the description of my work would be Dark.


How would The New York Times categorize your writing?

Weird.


What was the catalyst that made you start writing?

A need to express.


Your favorite —

Whisk(e)y: Do not drink. In the bad old days, Scotch.

Wild animal: Elephant.

Waffle topping: Blueberries. If I ate waffles. Which I don’t.

Poem: “a bummer” by Michael Casey.

Scientist or inventor: Steinmetz.

Broadway musical: Cabaret.

Badass getaway vehicle: I don’t drive anything.

Movie to watch alone: Last Year at Marienbad.

Quote: “Don’t shoot the piano player. I am doing the best that I can.”


Tell us about your favorite books or authors.

Too many and too varied to make a comprehensive list. And the list changes all the time. Writers who have influenced me the most include James Joyce, Bob Dylan, Cid Corman, Richard Hugo, Raymond Chandler, and Michael Casey.

Greatest books include Ulysses, Under the Volcano, The Good Solider, 2666, Infinite Jest, The Underworld, and Bleeding Edge.


If you could witness or participate in any historical event or time period, what would it be?

The Watergate Trials of Richard Nixon and friends.


Which underrepresented cause do you want to bring to our attention?

Starving artists.


Weapon of choice:

Pen.


If you could invent something that is missing from your life, what would it be?

Would have preferred to have been 6’7” instead of 5’7”.


The perfect soundtrack to your writing:

Songs from Liquid Days. If it has to be from a movie, then the soundtrack for Alexander Nevsky or Requiem for a Dream.


Which literary figure, dead or alive, would you want to —

Take tea with: Dorothy Parker.

Arm wrestle: Elephant Man.

Ice skate with: Diane Arbus.

Drink under the table: Dorothy Parker.

Get a blurb from: James Joyce.

Beat in a duel of wits: Oscar Wilde.

Have on your side in the apocalypse: Colson Whitehead.

Write your next book for you: Cormac McCarthy.

Write your biography: Borges.


The one thing in your writing routine you couldn’t live without:

Free association.


Set the perfect scene for you to write your next masterpiece.

A man, a woman, a gun, a foggy night, a solo sax playing, a voice over, “I could see she was my kind of woman. She liked all the things I liked in a woman. But she would have problems, lots of problems, not the least of which was …”


When writing makes you rich, you will:

My writing will never make me rich.

ALAN CATLIN has been publishing for five decades. Among his many chapbooks and full-length books are the 2017 Slipstream Chapbook Contest-winning Blue Velvet and Hollyweird from Night Ballet Press. Among his more recent full-length books are: Walking among Tombstones in the Fog from Presa Press and Wild Beauty from Future Cycle Press, which also published his book, American Odyssey.