Christoph Paul is the author of five books of prose and poetry that cross multiple genres, including humor, poetry, satire, bizarro, horror and non-fiction. He's a musician and freelance social media strategist that secretly wishes he could be a full-time rapper (just playing). Before coming to New York City, he's studied writing at Wilkes University. His next book is Tits From Hell, which releases summer 2014. He's also working on a Young Adult novel about a high school boy's sexual and social misadventures.
Your books include Great White House, The Passion of The Christoph and the upcoming bizarre book Tits From Hell. I take it these books aren't "serious"?
To an extent they're a joke. But like a comedian telling a joke, they can change someone's opinion when their guard is down. The best author interview I heard was during the Miami International Bookfest with hip-hop artist turned novella writer Prodigy of Mobb Deep. He said, "You got to put the medicine in the meal, or people gonna be bored." He hit it right on the head. If I have any literary philosophy, that's it. I don't take myself too seriously. I care about reaching readers, about entertaining them. I'm true to myself and to my writing. If my books don't come off as "serious" it's only because they're not. They're entertainment. You're supposed to have fun when you read, right? I want my readers to have fun.
You're a musician too. Does that influence your writing?
It does. I always keep my audience in mind, but I have to still feel confident about what I'm doing. I might like that four-minute guitar solo, but my audience might want a two-minute one. I recently went to BizarroCon and heard a great panel called "Getting Yourself and Your Audience Off." The panelists talked about that idea of mutual fulfillment. Essentially, writers need to compromise. You never compromise your vision, but sometimes you need to cut. I tried applying that philosophy in all aspects of my work.
The other aspect is that as a musician you hustle. You promote. You play. I'm always hustling when it comes to promoting my writing. It's not always about sales, but again about reaching your audience by engaging with them on a consistent basis, about entertaining them. It's important to me that my readers/fans are fulfilled.
Who are your literary influences?
This is my favorite question because I can stop talking about me. (That was a joke.) Besides the old school greats: Melville, Shakespeare, Baudelaire, De Sade, Nabokov, and Hemingway, I love Mohsin Hamid, who should've won some awards for How To Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia. (I kill Hamid and Rushdie in a drone attack in my book Demons In The TV by the way.)
On the other side...Carlton Mellick III and South Park got me to want to write what is labeled "Bizarro"--I wish literary circles would give Mellick, that Bizarro, and Matt and Trey more credit and artistic merit. I also love satirists like Gary Shteyngart and Tom Perrotta.
I've read two women from Fungasm Press recently that have just blown me away: Violet LeVoit's I am Genghis Cum and Laura Lee Bahr's Haunt. Bahr writes in second person like Hamid, and I'm just impressed with that style. LeVoit's title story made me jealous in a good way.
Speaking of small presses Akashic Books has published some of my favorites, including Arthur Nersesian's Suicide Casanova, Marlon James' John Crow's Devil, and Kola Boof's book The Sexy Part of The Bible.
I'm no philistine and love poets like Kim Addonizio, Nate Slawson and Franz Wright. I also love literary critics like Camille Paglia and Anis Shivani. Both are punk rock.
What are your thoughts on publishing? Self, traditional, small press?
Writers and publishers get worked up about this. I have self-published, and probably will do many more times for financial and pragmatic reasons. I think small presses are probably the best and produce the most risk-adverse quality books as a whole. I personally don't worry about the state of publishing unless it affects me financially. I only worry about my own writing, my readers and the other writers I enjoy. The publishing part of writing is my own self-interest. I can only consider what's best for my books. That's indie.
Tits From Hell? Really? Explain.
I needed a good pitch before BizarroCon and just ran with it. But really, it's a response to the evils of plastic surgery. That sounds like something I should say in an interview with The Huffington Post.
In all seriousness, I'm excited for this novella. The story is surprising. But, of course, we'll see if readers agree.