A Fevers of the Mind Quick-9 Interview with Alan Tenhoeve

Q1: When did you start writing and first influences?

Alan: : I’ve kept a journal on and off throughout my life but I didn’t start any projects intended for readers until a few years ago. I had an idea for a children’s detective novel so I bought a few craft books to figure out how to go about it. Once I realized they weren’t much help I just dove in and wound up writing five books for the series in about fifteen months. My influences for that were books like Goosebumps and The Mystic Lighthouse Mysteries. Boxcar Children. Stuff you find at Scholastic book fairs. Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys too, I guess. Things my kids enjoyed. Only recently have I attempted adult oriented stuff but it’s far more gratifying to write for kids. Fuck grownups, we fucking suck.

Q2: Who are your biggest influences today?

Alan: My biggest influence as far as style goes would be Charles Bukowski and his ilk. My goal is to keep it simple. Straightforward. No bells and whistles, no words I wouldn’t use in a real life conversation. That kind of thing.

As far as work ethic it’d be the small presses and writers who continue to create regardless of anything else. People who eschew practicality in favor of making something with little chance of reward, however that is defined. Especially those who manage it all while raising kids.

Q3: Any pivotal moment when you knew you wanted to be a writer?

Alan: I don’t want to be a writer. For me writing has got very little to do with want. I see it as a necessary function. If I don’t write something down every so often, even a journal entry, I get mentally backed up. It doesn’t have to be good. The act just has to happen. It’s the act that satisfies me. I’m acutely aware that doing just about anything else with the time I spend writing would be wiser. I’m not a wise person.

Q4: Who has helped you most with writing?

Alan: My wife and kids. They’re very supportive of my impulses and often give me good suggestions. Especially with my children’s stuff. Who better to help with children’s stories than a child?

After my family it’d be Bud Smith and Bram Riddlebarger. I was also part of a workshop with a bunch of awesome writers that helped and encouraged me but weren’t afraid to let me know when something didn’t work. Denise S. Robbins, Ishaan Goel, Nikki Volpicelli, Michael P. Lauer, Max Hipp, Kayla Murphy, Chuckry Vengadam and Felicia Urso. I hope anyone who sees this will keep an eye out for their work.

Q5: Where did you grow up and how did that influence your writing & did any travels away from home influence your work?

Alan: I’m from Northern New Jersey. Just outside NYC. I grew up living near a small airport and a stretch of highway lined with fast food joints, hourly motels and strip clubs. Many who lived in the area struggled financially, and in most other ways, which is a theme I return to often. Struggling. Trying to appreciate what one has because the only other choice is madness. Pretty basic, unoriginal stuff, but it is what it is.

I don’t like to travel. Now more than ever. But about twelve years ago I did relocate to the woods of southern New England. Until then I don’t think I appreciated the natural world as much as I do now. Except for ticks. I fucking hate ticks. They’re always starting some shit. I used to have chickens that helped keep the population down but we ate them a while back. My wife wants to get more. Maybe next year.

Q6: What do you consider your most meaningful work you’ve done creatively so far to you?

Alan: My children’s detective series. I made those with my kids in mind and they love them. Doubt anything else will ever top that. Unless someone out there wants to give me a bunch of money for something. That would rank pretty high.

Q7: Favorite activities to relax?

Alan: : I don’t believe I’ve relaxed since before March 2020. Sick of this fucking shit show. And since I have kids who are supposed to enter school in September I’d say it’s worse than ever.

Q8: What is a favorite line/stanza from a poem/writing of yours or others?

Alan: Can I give you two? Here’s two. This first one is from an unpunished piece called BURN. Hopefully context isn’t important here.

Ralph didn’t like the way she said his name, drawing out the vowel like she was leaning over a toilet, puking up a night of too much whiskey and fast food: Raaaaalph.

Q9: Any recent or forthcoming projects that you’d like to promote?

Alan:

I have a book coming out this Fall with Gob Pile Press (@GobPilePress) called NOTES FROM A WOOD-PANELED BASEMENT. Which is exactly what it sounds like. It will be available here: https://gobpilepress.bigcartel.com Until then, Gob Pile has some other titles worth checking out. I’ve been an admirer of those writers for a while so it feels surreal to be on the same press as them. 

I’d like to say that my children’s detective novel will be out on Scholastic soon but they haven’t come to their senses yet.

People can find me on Twitter @alantenhoeve though I do deactivate if I need to catch my bearings.

Gob Pile Press books can be found here https://gobpilepress.bigcartel.com  and on Twitter @GobPilePress 

2 Poems from Anthologies from Amy Barnes

(c) Geoffrey Wren
Wonderful Artwork from Avalanches in Poetry Writings & Art Inspired by Leonard Cohen by artist/writer Geoffrey Wren

Making Change with Cohen

Notes fell into my fedora in
Too poetic of a way
Too synonymous with a busker I
once knew
Once was
And his
panhandled songs
Stolen from places
And books and letters and the corners of my mind where music stood at corners
begging
As if there is such a thing as too poetic or too musical or too big of a fedora -
stuffed with first notes and last notes and echo notes and silent notes and end-notes
Left behind by no crowd and all crowds and crowded crowds and invisible crowds
Maybe there is and
maybe there is not but the double f alliteration that rhymes with clef and marches -
next together
in fell and fedora
Almost made me laugh
But I didn't
Instead
I inhaled
One more time my notes that smelled of music and sadness and grief and crescendos and
whole notes and half notes and
scribbled idea notes on napkins and marble slabs and cocktail umbrellas and gray -
matter
Not of a million fingerprints on faded dollars left in hats and boxes and must violin -
cases
I hummed a dirge
of faded songs
That made no one laugh
And
left my fedora empty

The Arborist

My tongue is a root where trees grow at night. I practice play speaking
with a mouth full of trees each day with rapid rhymes and twisters.
The rain in Spain falls mostly on the plains as she sells seashells by the sea shore,
all through leaves and acorns that drop plop into my gut. I cut the maples and oaks -
and aspens down each morning, making paper for haikus and haibuns and stressed-
syllable sonnets.
Before I can swallow the sunrise surprise saplings, a new tree grows to replace it,
branching into my gums and teeth, caught in each birch breath.  I swirl oil colors
to make Japanese paper and anime character letters to speak for me.
I last wrote a love note on mouth paper a century ago. Ocean ink was free from octopus lovers.
I sent them black hearts that bled into the sea, floated away in tiny corked labelless -bottles that flung themselves at the sugar sand shore, to be found by small children I never birthed or loved or taught to climb mouth trees.

Bio from 2020:
Amy Barnes has words at a variety of sites including The New Southern Fugitives, Flashback Fiction, Popshot Quarterly, Flash Fiction Magazine, X-Ray Lit, Anti-Heroin Chic, Museum of Americana, Penny Fiction, Stymie Lit, No Contact Mag, JMMW, The Molotov Cocktail, Lucent Dreaming, Lunate Fiction, Rejection Lit, Perhappened, Cabinet of Heed, Spartan Lit, National Flash Flood Day and others. Her work has been long-listed at Reflex Press (3rd place), Bath Flash Fiction, Retreat West and TSS Publishing. She volunteers at Fracture Lit, CRAFT, Taco Bell Quarterly, Retreat West, NFFD, The MacGuffin, and Narratively. She is nominated for Best Microfictions (Spartan Lit) and Pushcarts (101 Words of Solitude and Perhappened). Her flash collection, "Mother Figures" is forthcoming in May 2021 by ELJ Editions, Ltd. And soon to be an associate editor at Fractured Lit

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