Puff Chrissy as we know him on Twitter, is an incredible writer, humorist, and University lecturer. Writing Insight was lucky enough to track him down in Poland (via email) and interview him.
What have you learned that seemed completely unrelated to writing at the time but has influenced your writing career?
The best thing I can think of is how when I created Drunk Hulk, I was fully expecting it to be a small writing exercise I could use for distraction from my bigger projects. I had no idea how popular Drunk Hulk was going to become.
Most writers have that huge epic story in their head that will change everything. Or that great American novel that's going to make you so famous people will want to steal your eyeglasses. I've published stories I felt were mind-blowing and incredible, and I was convinced that I'd get a positive response from readers and agents alike. And while I've gotten some wonderful feedback, I've never gotten the response I imagined I would.
It's taken me a long time to realize that just because the idea clicks in your head doesn't mean it's going to click with everyone else. And the most important part of writing is the process of discovery of getting that idea out of your head and on the page. If you can focus on that part alone, and not predict, second-guess and worry about what happens later, then you'll find yourself a much happier writer at the end of the day.
And if that story does change everything and if you find out your glasses were stolen and are now being held for ransom, then you can consider all that a massive bonus.
The point is you can't predict what's going to connect with your audience. So try a little of everything and be ready adapt. So when readers respond to your ALL CAPS 140 character tweets over your 3,500 word short stories, consider hitting the CAPS LOCK key and seeing what happens next.
I'm assuming the toy manufacturer either close to bankruptcy and desperate for ideas or my parents have inexplicably been made in charge.
I suspect that my action figure would look suspiciously like Charlie Brown with a goatee. My superpower would be the ability to sunburn easily ("Hey, kids! Hold the Puff Chrissy Action Figure under the light and watch it turn red like a poor man's Zartan!"). Accessories include a laptop, a pair of Hulk hands, and a Starbucks Frappuccino.
Hey, not all superheroes can be winners!
Do you ever regret deciding to become a professional writer?
Well, I'm not a professional writer, to be honest. Hopefully one day I'll be able to find out if I'll regret becoming one. That said, as a university lecturer and teacher, I get to spend days talking about my favorite writers and stories with some amazing students. Even if I was making good money writing, I don't think I'd be able to stop teaching. It's just way too much fun.
What is the best part of being a professional writer?
I'm going to guess what it's like being a professional writer. ""Get into character,"" as they say in all the writer workshops. I imagine getting up early in the morning and clearing my workspace. This includes cleaning the cocaine off my desk and the bits of mushrooms stuck between the keys of my keyboard, asking the previous evening's ""goddesses"" to go home, and then meditating for an hour like Master Splinter did in the cartoons. Once that's out of the way, I go online to catch up on the news, answer my e-mails, and then call my attorney to discuss suing someone who spoke critically of my work. High on power and motivated by the cost of legal fees, I take off my pants, sit down at the desk and write while listening to the music of Super Mario Brothers 3. And that's when the magic happens...
At least that's how Joe Hill makes it sound like on Twitter.
Give us a quick overview of what you write and where we can find it.
Despite all my best efforts, most people only know my writing from Twitter's Drunk Hulk.
My first book, Empty Rooms Lonely Countries, collects a lot of my nonfiction short stories published between 1997 and 2005. If you know me only as the writer of Drunk Hulk, I think there's enough laughs and alcohol in this collection to keep you entertained.
Last year I contributed to and edited a collection of euphiction (fiction inspired by music) called Cover Stories. I'm extremely proud of this book. You'll not only find 10 short stories I did, but 90 other stories by 9 other fantastic writers. You get a lot of bang for your buck with this one. Also, Volume 2 will be out later this year.
Other than that, you can find my work in magazines like GUD, Shock Totem, Ha!Art and more.
Even though I'm working on a novel, I'm beginning to suspect I'm really a short story writer.