the next big thing

thanks to Tawnysha Greene for tagging me in “the next big thing.”  supposedly i tag five writers to keep it going, but it’s all gone very quiet out there for the holidays, so hit me up if you want to be tagged. here are my answers:

What is your working title of your book? 

Licking the Windowpane

 Where did the idea come from for the book? 

From a series of short memoir/fiction stories I wrote back in early-mid 2011. I arrived at over a hundred pages of these loosely connected pieces and decided to work them into a “cohesive” manuscript.

 What genre does your book fall under? 

Fiction/Novel/Collection of linked stories.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition? 

The boy would have to be an unnamed actor from Ireland. The mother could be played by Imelda Staunton, the father by Colm Meaney.


What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book? 

 Licking the Windowpane is a novel of little treasures—a collection of objects and secrets discovered by a lonely, but funny, Irish boy.

 Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency? 

The book will quite likely end up published through some generous small press ready to push me forward onto the next step of the journey. Representation would be welcomed, but in the current marketplace I’m not too optimistic there’s a big enough market for the book to justify an agent taking a risk on it.

 How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

The stories came together organically, over four to six months, and then another four months to complete a cohesive draft.

 What other books would you compare this story to within your genre? 

Justin Torres’ We the Animals (Narrative-wise), Mark Richard’s House of Prayer No. 2 (Voice), Sandra Cisneros’ House on Mango Street (Structurally)

 Who or what inspired you to write this book?

The work I did about my Irish childhood was something my mentors, Jim Wilcox and Jeanne Leiby at LSU, always thought represented the strength of my narrative writing, and despite not quite believing them, I acknowledged that and went forward with this fictional narrative about a boy’s childhood in Ireland.

 What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest? 

There are strange characters in the book that pop up, like The Bird, an odd man from a town in the middle of Ireland where everyone looks very similar, and most of the inhabitants are too closely related by blood.


kidney trouble (originally published at Fwriction : review)

The silver wheels of my misshapen kidney no longer work. The doctor says there’s a problem with my spine, too. Mother’s eyes are puffy and she dabs at her shrinking tears. They help position me in the bed, my body lighter now than before, the boy I was ripped from the present and replaced with some shrimp-like version of a weaker self.

He would be here, too, if it weren’t for the drinking. She says if she had a gun, she’d shoot him, but I know she’s not serious. Serious is the blood in my urine. Serious is the rubber sheets I sleep on. Serious is the possibility I’ll enter the gates of heaven before either of my parents. In any case, she kisses me and tells me everything’s going to be all right.

While the doctor ties a rubber tube around my arm to take blood, his knuckle grazes my cheek and the skin is rough. And when the thin steel needle penetrates my vein, I grab hold of the bed-sheet and grit my teeth. A plant sits in a terracotta pot on the window-ledge and the sun strikes the plastic leaves as the glass tube fills with dark blood. My tonsils are missing and if I open my mouth to scream he’ll be able to see my stomach in terrible knots of fear. 

His hands trace the outline of my kidney and when he pushes in suddenly, it rattles. Not a good sign, he says. Extended stay, the doctor tells us. A month. Maybe longer. I want to go home, to sleep in my own room, with my soccer posters and stuffed bears. The doctor insists. He calls it acute nephritis. He says I’ll have to be restrained at night. I don’t know what he means, but when the nurse ties the straps around the bed-frame I begin to shake, and she gives me the magpie-eye.

Mother returns with my pajamas, toiletries, and a bundle of comics. The nurse brings me a slice of gammon ham with a pineapple ring and mashed potatoes for my tea. Mother kisses me and says she’s got to go home to get Dad’s tea ready, but I’m not to worry, because he’ll be in to see me after work. As she walks toward the glass double-doors of the ward, I open a comic and try to forget my broken parts.

Dad arrives later with the other fathers visiting their sick children. Raincoats and the evening newspapers are everywhere and the smell of damp and cigarettes makes me want to get sick. He ruffles my hair and says I’m to be a good soldier for the doctors and nursesHis thick fingers feel like lead weights on my head and he gently kisses my cheek. After he goes home for his tea I cry into the pillow for a while.

In the darkness of the ward the faint click of shoes on tile mingles with the breathing of the patients. I dream of capturing insects in jam-jars by the banks of the river, my skin set with sweat from the rubber sheets. I’m woken twice during the night by the metal knocking coming from my kidney. The noise reminds me of the way the corrugated iron roof of the garden shed flaps on a windy day. I mimic the sound: “ehhhh, ehhhh, ehhhh.” 

As the clicking of nurse’s shoes draws nearer I hush up and press the pillow to my side so she won’t hear my kidney’s metallic groans. Maybe it’s the pressure of the pillow, but I piss my pants and my pee spreads daffodil yellow on the bed and smells awful. I can feel the shape of my kidney through the skin and the way it vibrates from the broken pieces.