Welcome to our new interview series, “Contributors’ Corner,” where we open the floor each week to one of our contributors to the journal. This week, we hear from Timmy Reed, whose stories “The Spider’s Eggs” and “Minutes from Meeting of Afterdeath Board of Directors” appear in 2.1 and 3.2.
Timmy Reed is a writer from Baltimore, Maryland. He has recently published or has work forthcoming from a number of places including Akashic Books, Vol. 1 Brooklyn, Everyday Genius, Necessary Fiction, and Atticus Review. He edits the “What Lit” section of What Weekly magazine and recently published a collection of stories, Tell God I Don’t Exist. Learn more here: underratedanimals.wordpress.com.
Can you share a moment that has shaped you as a writer (or continues to)?
All the good moments help, I know that much. Accumulating good moments seems good for the head. They happen when I leave my house here in Baltimore and see great people or whenever I am reading or rereading something that turns out to be vital to me or my writing in some way, and those things need to happen all the time to keep me feeling close to sane, whatever that means. Here is an actual moment though: about ten years ago now, when I was an undergrad at College of Charleston and interning at Crazyhorse, my teacher/editor was this guy name Bret Lott who taught me to try to relax, even when I am working my hardest, because ultimately the only instinct that would get me through was to realize I Know Nothing (not just about writing, but about anything) and let that humble curiosity be my guide.
What are you reading?
I always have a lot of books open and I read a lot of stuff online too. Right now, near my feet this morning, for both recreation and resource material for a couple projects I am working on, there are a couple books on the lives of the saints, Jeff Jackson’s Mira Corpora, Blake Butler’s There Is No Year, A High Wind in Jamaica, Mark Twain’s The Mysterious Stranger, Richard Brautigan’s In Watermelon Sugar, a xeroxed copy of Ernest Hemmingway’s “Big Two-Hearted River” (I needed to look up how he describes the grasshoppers; “sooty”), and two big stacks of my own manuscript pages. The answer to this question will be totally different by this afternoon though. I tend to keep a lot of stuff within reach, even if I only need it for something brief or specific. On my computer is a pdf of my friend Tracy Dimond’s new e-book, which I was reading some more of this morning and loving. And a bunch of e-mails. And an interview from a skateboard magazine. And Facebook, which I guess means the whole world in a way. I suppose I am always reading or potentially reading everything, if that makes any sense. I suppose I always count what might happen when I think of the possibilities.
Can you tell us what prompted your stories in HFR?
I had a story in HFR called “The Spider’s Eggs” that was more or less a true story. In that I did see a puffy thing I thought was a spider’s egg and squash it, only to find it there again, and again. I have no idea if it actually was a spider’s egg though. It was on a web, so … “Minutes from Meeting of Afterdeath Board of Directors” is a weird one though because it takes the form of meeting minutes in a kind of goofy, messed up, bureaucratic afterworld. That came as a kind of formal experiment at first; in a former life, pre-graduate school, I worked in urban planning and economic development for non-profit organizations here in Baltimore and I had to attend a lot of meetings (neighborhood associations, government, stakeholders, board members, committees, etc.) that went a little like this one and I had to write my fare share of meeting minutes as well. The story came out of that.
What’s next? What are you working on?
What’s next, huh? Well … let me take a breath … I have a short novel about ghosts coming out next year from Dig That Book Co. and I am excited for that, so stay tuned. I just finished a hagiography/road trip novel about a teenage foster kid and her still-born daughter, who miraculously keeps living, and I am shopping that around now, as well as a novel in the form of a fourteen-year-old boy’s journal, called Me, Retard. I’m also working on a novella about a guy who tries to take a month off of the Internet and a collaborative illustrated space epic project with the homie, Nicholas Smith-Rengarts. Then I am planning to write a short novel called Private School, hopefully starting sometime this summer. And always short stories. And I want to make more videos and music and skateboard a ton because that stuff is a lot of fun and helps clear the old head. I want to a burial mound in a vacant lot in Baltimore. I may even write a poem.
Take the floor. Be political. Be fanatical. Be anything. What do you want to share?
What hasn’t HFR asked me that I would like to answer? My family history? Just kidding. Let’s do something shorter and more relevant. How about my favorite kind of animal? You. All of you.