Author Jared A. Carnie shares what he’s reading, what he’d like to say to his favorite authors, and skepticism toward musicals.
The Coil: Describe your writing style to someone who’s never read you.
Jared A. Carnie: Lean. In the meat sense. Not the Lil Wayne sense. Maybe that, too.
How would The New York Times categorize your writing?
I’m not that familiar with The New York Times. Do they have a “cool and brilliant” category?
What was the catalyst that made you start writing?
I don’t remember ever not writing. As a kid I always wrote. It just seemed a natural thing to do. There’re a lot of things going on in your brain and you can’t just expect people to listen to everything that pops into your head all the time. It’s okay to expect that from paper, though. That’s what it’s there for. That and paper airplanes.
Your favorite —
Whisk(e)y: Anything bought by someone else.
Wild animal: Alpacas.
Waffle topping: Anything sickeningly sweet.
Poem: For now, I’ll go with “Why I Am Not a Painter” by Frank O’Hara. It’s one of the reasons my next book is called Orange Juice.
Scientist or inventor: Professor Farnsworth.
Broadway musical: I’ve genuinely never seen a musical in my life. Please do get in touch if you have any recommendations for a musical skeptic.
Badass getaway vehicle: My boots.
Movie to watch alone: It’s Such A Beautiful Day.
Quote: “Don’t believe everything you read on the Internet.” — Abraham Lincoln.
Tell us about your favorite books or authors.
Rimbaud was the first thing I ever read where I thought, “Oh, this is what genius is.” Novel-wise, I’ve already accepted that I’m going to spend most of my life trying to duplicate Ask the Dust by John Fante.
At the moment, I admire Ben Myers for both his writing style and prolific output. I just read Danez Smith’s latest, and it was the absolute business. Claudia Rankine and Hera Lindsay Bird are probably the two poets today that I am always most excited to read new work from.
In terms of short stories, I’ve just started reading Carson McCullers for the first time, and the couple I’ve read so far were unbearably beautiful. I don’t know her that well yet, so I can’t claim she’s my all-time favorite or anything, so I’m more just putting her name down so that I remember to go back and read more of her stuff.
If you could witness or participate in any historical event or time period, what would it be?
I’d maybe like to have seen Verlaine shoot Rimbaud. I think it’d help cement my place in literary history if in every biography of Rimbaud that scene had to have the line, “Also, Jared Carnie was there watching.”
Which underrepresented cause do you want to bring to our attention?
If anyone reading this wants to do something undeniably good today, please take a look at my friend Sophia’s GoFundMe and donate if you can.
Weapon of choice:
If you could invent something that is missing from your life, what would it be?
A best-selling literary career.
The perfect soundtrack to your writing:
Any Tom Waits. Although I have to admit that probably would be my answer to any question that begins with “The perfect soundtrack to …”
Which literary figure, dead or alive, would you want to —
Take tea with: Richard Brautigan. I recently read his daughter Ianthe’s book, but even so, proportional to how much I love their writing, he is probably the writer I have the least sense of as a person. I’d just want to feel him out a bit. I get the impression he might want something a bit stronger in his tea.
Arm wrestle: William Blake. No reason, really. I just imagine, win or lose, I wouldn’t feel too bad after.
Ice skate with: Joan Didion. I’ve never seen a photo of her where she doesn’t look impenetrably cool. I think that’s quite a hard thing to do ice skating. I’m sure she could still pull it off, but I’m curious to see how.
Drink under the table: Bukowski. As revenge he would probably write a story where I couldn’t hold my drink and tried to read him my poems and pissed myself or something.
Get a blurb from: Shakespeare. “This guy has surpassed me in both quality and cultural significance.” I think that would help sales.
Beat in a duel of wits: Oscar Wilde. I’d like it if one of his famous quotes were just him saying, “Well, it wasn’t me, but Jared said the most hilarious thing to me one time …”
Have on your side in the apocalypse: Jack London. He always struck me as a pretty self-sufficient sort of a guy. He also loved socialism, so I don’t think he’d eat me unless it really was for the best of everyone.
Write your next book for you: James Baldwin. I’d like there to be as much of his writing as possible in the world, and I feel like he’d have some pretty important things to say right now.
The one thing in your writing routine you couldn’t live without:
A drink. I pretty much always need a drink at hand. I don’t even mean alcohol, just a liquid of any kind. When my hands are still active but my mind has run out of words, it gives them something to reach for and helps keep the physical momentum up. Usually by the time I’ve had a drink I’m ready to get writing again.
Set the perfect scene for you to write your next masterpiece.
I’m sitting in this very chair. I’m feeling very anxious. I’m about to finish an interview with The Coil and it’s reminding me that I’ve not done enough writing lately. I finish off the final question and then, in one sitting, in this very spot, I write the greatest piece of literature known to mankind. That would be perfect for me.
When writing makes you rich, you will:
Keep it a secret. I don’t want anyone saying, “He was much better before he made it. He was more hungry,” or any of that stuff. I’ll still be saying, “Well, nobody makes any money from writing,” even if I somehow make boatloads. Having said that, I guess for all anyone knows, writing has made me rich already. (It has not.)
JARED A. CARNIE lives in Sheffield, England. He was awarded a Northern Writers Award in 2015 and his debut novel, Waves, is available now. He can be found at jaredacarnie.com.