Last year this month my book Cockroach Blueprint was published by KUBOA Press, I was so scared that it was too insane of an idea. But, the founder of KUBOA Press Pablo D’Stair thought that it was a terrific and was supportive right from the start. I thought, in the back of my mind that I was completely crazy, for wanting to publish a book as to how cockroaches are killed -- as a cathartic release exercise. But you know what? I did and that lead to the anthology that had been released back in November. The long of the short of it is, my creativity is my only commodity and I’ll always find a way to turn lemons into you know what. And, my gratitude to KUBOA is one that no one will ever imagine, as it taught me to slowly and boldly cement myself as a Writer/Poet.
So, what do you do when you start a new press and reopen your blog? Well, ask your previous publisher for an interview -- of course. Pablo D’Stair has got to be one of the most interesting creatures that I’ve had the privilege of conversing with. His obsession with regards to writing makes me want to push my boundaries and my potential as a writer more specifically a poet. As someone who started writing at such a beyond tender age -- it really shouldn’t be much of a surprise that he is a prolific writer as an adult. We discuss everything from his obsessions of: Lucy Jinx, SELF PUB his new comic and writing in general.
Please feel free to follow Pablo on social media via his two Facebook accounts the first is KUBOA & second SELF PUB.
I’d go into more details but I would be simply repeating Pablo’s words… so without further ado… please enjoy my interview….
Oh, and, please read this work below with popcorn, chips, candy or chocolate as it truly is quite entertaining and very honest….
RMMW: I began writing poetry at the age of 13; at what age did you begin writing?
PD: Most of my earliest memories involve writing—the ones that don’t are remembered distinctly as though things that I wrote, if that makes any sense.
By six I would lay abed bringing myself to tears at the thought of my tragic biography which would be the tale of life constantly working with vigor to keep any trace of my creation from being recognized or remembered.
This didn’t upset me, though, life doing this to me—because in the end if would make for the amazing biography of the tragic scale I was so enjoying bringing myself to tears over.
I recognized early on that the greatest joy in art is in being anonymous and watching the absurd yet utterly obvious fact of the world overlooking you. What could be better than being the perpetual undergrounder, the outsider, the boogieman artiste that all the established icons would chatter-teeth in the dark over, knowing exists—the person just doing and doing and doing and doing, unknown, unconcerned with being unknown, uncaring of those who are known, making any mark of immortality these illustrious deities achieve taste sour and swamp down in their prideful bellies!? (bwahahaha!!!!)
RMMW: WOW! At 6 years old you were plotting story lines and moving yourself to tears with your own creativity -- that is pretty heavy. Now, as a prolific writer of different genres, do you remember the first piece you wrote? What was it about?
PD: I remember everything I wrote—at least I think I do.
I remember assignments I had to write for kindergarten, first grade (those both do and don’t count as “my work” in my mind—my writing wildly deviated from the prompts, but not enough I’d say it was, truly, MINE)
Third grade, I believe, is when I wrote my first novel—a tad earlier, maybe. All my early works were “Imagine if Lars von Trier directed a version of The Three Lives of Thomasina” –yes, that is about what I was up to in grade school.
Always about cats, always. Important to note, though: I couldn’t abide by having stories where the animals spoke, even to each other—this was always a rule, strict—so the vignette nature of my various works would have this or that cat’s life/escapades told through the stories of whatever the owners or other people tangential around were up to (oh, yes, I was very much in that Au Hasard Balthazar groove, even at such a young age!).
Also importantly: If the cats were alone, it was just physical descriptions given of the animal, the environs—usually trying to evoke a limbo, bittersweet tone of life always being between things. Admittedly, I might allow myself to suggest emotions and the like, but really would try to steer clear even of distinct inner monologue—that distant narrative voice was my prepubescent bag.
I could say what they were about, the books, I could tell you all about them…but honestly it would get quite complex: lovely tales, tightly intricate and each aspect of “the story” carefully built to justify and tighten each other aspect—but while there were plots (Dostoevsky-ian in their intricacy) for me the plot was always background noise, just stuff happening the point of which was to note the cat existing within—they were all always going to end as complexly heart rending as possible, the plots just vehicle to make sure every tick and tock, every permutation of hope and joy could be explored so that the nuance of the tragedy was all encompassing, had no corner left clean.
RMMW: That's pretty impressive, I can remember something if I have an artifact to remind myself exactly what it was that I wrote -- otherwise memories and stories become twisted with the passage of time. Now, that being said who is your favourite literary creation scribed from your pen? And why?
PD: Easiest two questions I have ever been asked—and they both happen to have the same answer. Who? Lucy Jinx. Why? Lucy Jinx.
RMMW: Lol so Lucy Jinx then... please tell us a little about your latest comic project: What is it about? Where can we purchase it? What characters we'll meet through the little ink squares you've created?
PD: SELF PUB is a monthly comic book I have started—I write and draw it (ink it, letter it etc.), a one man show kind of thing.
The series follows the exploits of author Vincente Smokestub as he loiters at the fringes of the world of Indie-Lit. Vincente is, really, a stand in for me, the series based on my personal experiences but presented as a series of semi-absurdist conversational vignettes.
Each issue is filtered through Vincente encountering readers of authors who I have had the pleasure of meeting (well...more or less) and whose work I both adore and stew in jealousy of (the issues to date have me running across fans of Stephen Graham Jones, Richard Thomas, and Scott McClanahan, and Amelia Gray—and many other luminaries who have ascended from the ranks of the underground/indie scene will feature in forthcoming issues).
It’s a satire to a degree, a confessional to an extent, a comedy and a commentary of sorts.
Each is 24 pages, printed black and white in newsprint booklet format (5x7) produced and hand cut by myself—quite enjoyable, actually, doing the entire production on my own. I had experimented with some outside printers, but in the end the only way to get the exact look and feel I wanted was to figure it all out myself (and this is the sort of project where, really, the artifact/artifacts are—to me at least—as important as the content—the objects themselves inform the content and vice-versa).
Info on the series with links to buy the issues can be found www.selfpubcomic.wordpress.com
RMMW: You are like the chimney sweep/musician from Mary Poppins marching to your own drummer. Sounds like you've surrounded yourself with solid characters in which you can pull inspiration from. Creating the comics yourself must be such a tactile experience -- even down to the folding & saddle stitching or staples. I’ve read the bits and pieces of your SELF-PUB comic that you’ve published. What came first – your ability to write or draw?
PD: I always wanted to draw. I was a “good artist” until about third grade—it was, like, how I was known: “Pablo is the kid in the class good at drawing.”
Then fourth grade happened and that stopped because literally everyone could all of a sudden draw better than me. I stopped drawing, give or take a doodle until maybe sixth grade.
Words became everything to me and gobbled up all expressive avenues else that might try to interlope. “Writing words became everything”, I should say—I never cared all that much for reading them, certainly not as much as people have the impression I did. Or, rather, I had a great, intense passion for reading them (especially the ones I wrote) just not a voracious one, no interest in reading thing after thing after thing (I was too occupied writing thing after thing after thing). What volumes I read I adored, I glutted myself on, I turned over and turned over and turned over, but it was murder to try to read something I hadn’t already read.
Really, I have only been drawing for about…7 months or so. I did a Graphic Novel called CENTRALIZED which was, I now see, more or less a necessary dry run to prep me for SELF PUB. That took me a month to do the writing and art for, then I tinkered around with how to get it printed to my liking for another two months. Then I started SELF PUB in the middle of October (2017) and that’s my full experience as a visual artist.
So yeah…writing came first.
It’s really grand, though, doing visual art now, because everything is me making it all up as I go along (my favorite way to do things).
I have no patience—each issue can take no more than 2 weeks from script to finalization or I get all tetchy—so I have to trust my impulses and run with them. Each issue (hell, each panel in each issue) refines things, technique wise, a little bit while also tethering in the same technique—I want to improve, I suppose, but also do not want the style to too drastically alter, issue to issue.
But doing a comic book, being an artist like that, is something I wanted since I was a kid, just was always rubbish at. Ran out of other things to do, though, by this point in my life, so now I do it and it is like discovering a youth pill. I am in love with all aspects of it (and my OCD is over the moon with it—so many moving parts to be hawkish over! Hahahaha)
RMMW: It takes you two weeks to get out each SELF PUB comic -- that is insane because you have to have all of your elements together in such a timely fashion. Now since we know you enjoy writing comics but what is your favourite writing genre: poetry, playwriting, screen or novel writing?
PD: Novels will always be my love. Prose. Always.
The genre of the prose matters little (I don’t really tend to think in those terms), but I am in lustful abandon over the disease of language and think its most raging form, Prose—especially prose fiction—is where the plague can best be indulged. Not to get me wrong—there are special loves in me for Poetry, I am dizzy over dialogue writing (plays/screenplays/self-interview), and working on films and on graphic novels is an unmitigated delight…but…a blank piece of paper to chickenpox with prose? That is more vital to me than food and shelter.
RMMW: I have to admit too, there is something about writing a dialogue -- looking at both points of view at the same time that is divinely delicious. All history comes with a pretty interesting back story -- what is KUBOA’s origin story?
PD: I always feel I should answer this question with a quote from Hamlet’s dead dad: “But that I am forbid to tell the secrets of my prison house, I could a tale unfold whose lightest word would harrow up thy soul, freeze thy young blood, make thy two eyes, like stars, start from their spheres, thy knotted and combinèd locks to part and each particular hair to stand on end, like quills upon the fearful porpentine”… but it really might be both over and under-selling the grandeur of my particular narrative.
Really, KUBOA just sprang from my earlier jaunt into publishing (BrownpaperpublishinG). There will be a special issue of SELF PUB which will go into the grandiose history of BPP so I won’t regale you now—suffice to say, eventually I got sick of it and of the whole scene and blah blah blah so just kind of stopped doing it (no real reason, in retrospect—I could have just left it all up and let it carry on but that goes against my scorched earth tendencies when I get even a bit of a tummy ache over something. “CARTHAGO DELENDA EST!” is my motto if I get a trifle bored or impatient with an endeavor!)
Anyway—after a while, I decided “Sure, I’ll start publishing stuff, again” but kind of as a rule I couldn’t use BPP anymore so I just started it all over, even more l’art pour l’art as KUBOA.
RMMW: Sigh! I too have a deep love for prose, there is something about the luscious language that allows one to linger on either simple or complex plot lines while it oozes words and phrases one could genuinely find themselves getting lost in. As we know names play an important role in everything we do... why did you select the name KUBOA for your publishing house?
PD: In Knut Hamsun’s novel Hunger, there is a scene of the narrator spending the night in jail—when the lights douse he is left in total darkness with just the violence of his own unstopping mind flagellating his fatigued body, and in the throes of this he convinces himself he has discovered a New Word. The word—depending on which edition of the book one owns—is Kuboaa.
So, I mean, what else is one going to call a publishing house (especially one run in my slip shod way)? KUBOA.
RMMW: Cool back story, I've always wanted to know but for some reason never asked. This is why I relish interviews so much -- you learn not only about the subject but their creative endeavours as well. Since, we are on the subject of KUBOA who was your favourite writer to publish? Does KUBOA have any forthcoming publications that you would like to share with us?
PD: Sarah D’Stair was my favorite author KUBOA has published—as she is the only living artist I have met that has made me aggressively jealous and actually made me doubt the music of my own work as being a worthwhile key.
All of the authors I have put out by KUBOA, though, due to how I select what I publish are authors I love. As I have said in a previous interview, there are two authors with KUBOA I published without having read more than two pages out of their novels because something in those two pages (in one case I decided based on a random paragraph) was so imperative, so needed, that even had every other word in the book turned out to be rubbish I would have had no qualms saying “This novel needs to exist.”
KUBOA has been on another of its semi-regular hiatuses, as far as acquisition and producing new volumes (it’s just me and…well…I’ve been busy). There are some titles slated for 2018 and there may be more and some other things in the works, but nothing is cemented yet.
RMMW: I must do some research on Sarah D'Stair, I always enjoy reading authors others are passionate about -- makes me want desperate to look on and find their works. AS KUBOA is a small publishing house what do you think is the biggest challenge that small art house presses face in comparison to larger presses or publishing houses or even the self-publishing options available on the Amazon meat market?
PD: Oh, I’m the last person to ask about such things. I know nothing of larger scale publishing and of the other small presses I have any knowledge of, none of them seem to be doing the same sort of thing for the same sort of reasons I did my presses for (…not that I’ve ever been certain what my reasons are—which is, of course, why I’m the last person to ask.)
I’ve never tried to put out my own work or the work of others for any sort of profit nor tried to figure out how to “market” in any hep sense.
When it comes to producing volumes—designing, laying out, making available—I don’t see any challenges at all, especially with the way things are now. Indeed, there is an embarrassment of riches in how one can inexpensively and easily get to producing volumes of any stripe.
I guess I should add that while I certainly respect folks who attempt to make a business out of book producing and selling, I have never understood it. It’s nothing I would slag someone off about—it’s all wonderful that this is the passion of many, it’s just nothing I understand or can get behind.
Writing has nothing at all to do with Publishing or being Published—and more so to even the notion of being “published”, the idea of seeing any sort of traditional commerce as associated with Art weird to me. Getting a piece published is an addendum to the necessary act of writing the piece in my mind. And “getting paid for one’s work” is, to me, a “well sure, that would be cool if it happens” sort of thing, but just as much a “it would be just as cool it id didn’t happen” thing—either way, it’s nothing I have ever been able to make a lot of effort in the direction of.
And there is nothing different in Art that is published versus art that is not or is Self-versus Traditional or for which someone has been paid or someone has not. Frankly, that and discussions surrounding it is all quite boring to me.
RMMW: That's a good way of putting it... with regards to social media do you feel it is a hindrance or beneficial for contemporary writers? And why?
PD: Again, I am woefully unequipped to answer and have no horse in the race.
I suppose, like anything, it is whatever one makes of it. It’s a thing. It has nothing to do with Art—aside, of course, from artist who have taken to using the social media format as a new canvas (authors, filmmakers etc.)… but that is the same with anything, right? Art can always be made from a thing or within a confine—the Xerox machine brought us the Zine and there were amazing artists, musical and otherwise, who used the Answering Machine to produce stupendous stuff! Social media is just the same as that, as far as I see it.
Nothing should be a hindrance to a writer. Nothing, really, should be a benefit. Get a pen. Write something down. Anything beyond that is really not my bag.
I have a small and somewhat begrudging social media presence, but it is of no more consequence to philosophize about than is the Postal System, the Telephone, or the Ham Radio—I might have had and utilize these things to whatever extent (I could do so more, I could do so less and the effect would be different accordingly) but it has no impact on and is not integral to writing. Or it certainly shouldn’t be.
RMMW: To be honest, the whole concept of social media drives me insane, I can totally appreciate what you are saying... As a working parent, how do you find the time to write? How does it affect your work/life balance?
PD: Especially with my level of output—and my need to be outputting at the pace I do—I have conditioned myself over the years to use any tiny sliver of time to work on a project—often while many other things are going on (I am answering these questions while at work, right now, for example).
Most of my larger projects have literally been completed either while at my day (and sometimes night) jobs and/or while taking my kids to Bounce Kraze or what have you.
I used to (in my younger days) be able to pull multiple all-nighters (largely due to always having a graveyard shift job) but that ability has dwindled (as has my desire to force myself awake).
The ace up my sleeve is that my wife is also an artist (and a scholar and…well, she’s just all around better than me) and has to equally, if not more so, condition her life in this way and understands the particular travails. So if it really comes down to it, if there is ever an “I seriously need a full day to just do something” she will make it happen for me, I for her.
The realities of life, though, dictate that that can be wrangled only every so often and it is the better investment to just throw down whenever, wherever, whatever—it is often maddening and furied with it angst and wild highs-and-lows, but it also leads to an implicit and imperative trust in myself, in my work, in my belief that “this impulse needs to be followed through.”
The only words that matter are the ones that did get written down—if they are down, they are automatically better than anything you may think you might have written down, maybe, if circumstances were different. If it exists, it matters—if it doesn’t, write it down and then it will.
In the off chance I don’t like something (never happens, I admit) or that I look at a finished thing and think “Oh I could have done this, instead” (happens quite often) well…that is why there is always another thing to do.
The act of creation is constant, but that means, of course, the act of creation needs to actually be constant—art happens in life, not in time divided from it. For me, anyway. It’s beautiful and it sucks. There is nothing to do about it. And considering my output, for example, has only exponentially increased (quality and quantity) since having children…I can’t really complain about the things I have to complain about. They seem to work well.
RMMW: Time seems to be something all of us are stunted by, it's nice that you have the support to be able to focus on things you are passionate about it. Having a strong mate to help is essential I believe for creative expression... Do you have any artists rituals before starting a new piece?
PD: Oh dear God, yes—before starting and throughout at each step. To the point I feel I can’t even humor you with a specific! The amount of ritualist, superstitious, OCD aspects there are to everything I do is boggling—innumerable rituals!
I think, in reality, my output is just the residue left over by the friction of noise and neurosis grinding together, nonstop. That is, rather than see myself as a Writer I suppose it would be more true to say I am an Obsessive Ritual Fiend and in doing so what is produced is books and films and stuff.
To my credit, though, the things are produced—I don’t mess around with that. If I decide based on the fact that I had done X and Y that now Z has to be done and Z just happens to be a 620 thousand word book or a full length film or a monthly comic book series—for no other reason that X and Y happened and so it seems appropriate that Z happens next—well, by Christ, I will do it! And I will do it to the hilt.
Nothing could be worse than having an obsession, a compulsion and not acting on it obsessively, compulsively. Could you imagine it? Feeling compelled for no reason to film a movie in 8 days and then not trying to make it as complicated and insane making as possible? Why would you spend effort trying to minimize and simplify so it is not really all that distracting and possibly destructive to your physical and psychic well being? What a bore, right?
Never trust an artist who isn’t antsy and never trust an antsy artist who isn’t producing. They either don’t understand rituals, in the first case, or are failing to perform them, in the second.
RMMW: I loved your last paragraph it's so true and practical. Since we now know about your ritual process lets find out if you get creatively blocked or not... If yes, what process do you take to ensure the block is lifted?
PD:I don’t. Being honest. In the past I have said that “I do, kind of” or “I do, but by that I mean…” but the honest truth is I don’t, never have, and cannot imagine I ever will.
I do not understand the concept. I understand having a moment (or a day or two or whatever) of not being enthusiastic about doing a thing (this happens all the time) and I understand being in the throes of a work and having to wrangle the execution of a specific thing that might sometimes “stop one up”… but that is part of the act, that isn’t the same as what you are asking.
Also, I used to think when people talked about being “blocked” they only meant it like I would mean it—as I had just been describing—but it seems they don’t. It seems they mean: “there is nothing, no idea, no next word, no next image, there is an actual inability, an empty, a lack”. Which sounds awful.
I would say it sounds terrifying to me, but that would be dishonest. It doesn’t terrify me, because I have no tools to even imagine it. It’s ethereal, it’s an utter abstract notion to me.
Creatively Blocked? There is no such animal.
RMMW: If I am to be honest, I do not get creatively blocked either. I just keep going and eventually everything fits together. Being a lover of comics you've probably contemplated super powers often, if you had a super power what would it be?
PD: Of the “standard superpowers” my answer is always Invisibility. Second is Super Speed, but basically because I would be able to vibrate fast enough to be effectively invisible, right? (unless comic books have be lying to me).
But if I could go more particular, I would like the ability to assume any form and instantaneously understand all languages (including the idiosyncrasies, the colloquialisms etc) and the customs of any individual I encounter.
Or, if I can’t have either of those, I really like the idea of being able to zap stuff out of my hands.
RMMW: Thanks ever so much for the chat Pablo -- I really appreciate the time you took to answer my questions and wish you all the best with all of your forthcoming endeavours.