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Meet the Press

Describe your writing style to someone who’s never read you.
I write about situations that take place somewhere between hard life, religious hysteria, and fear and paranoia. I like to make it funny and ugly when I can, and it usually happens somewhere in the rural South.

How would The New York Times categorize your writing?
I’ve never read The New York Times, so I couldn’t say.

What was the catalyst that made you start writing?
A combination of needing to tell stories and fearing I had no stories to tell.

4.) Your favorite—
Whisk(e)y: I don’t drink.
Wild animal: Thylacine.
Waffle topping: I don’t eat waffles.
Poem: “Nathaniel” by Patrick Phillips.
Scientist or inventor: I don’t really know any scientists or inventors.
Broadway musical: I don’t know that I’ve ever seen one all the way through.
Badass getaway vehicle: An airplane? I don’t know. I don’t ever wanna have to make a getaway.
Movie to watch alone: Alien.
Quote: “Pain or damage don’t end the world. Or despair, or fuckin’ beatings. The world ends when you’re dead. Until then, you’ve more punishment in store. Stand it like a man. And give some back.”

Tell me about your favorite books or authors.
Two of my favorite books are The Book of the Dun Cow and The Book of Sorrows by Walter Wangerin, Jr. They’re more cut-and-dry than Animal Farm or Watership Down, and they negotiate love, loss, fear, faithlessness, and the problem of evil in ways that are inspiring to a teenager, comforting to an adult, and they never feel preachy or like they have any answers. They don’t have any answers, by the way, and none of the themes I just listed have any real solutions, I don’t think. But fiction that makes me forget that is important. I’ve recently been turned on to Wells Tower, Breece D’J Pancake, and Denis Johnson, and I think they’re all great. I also just finished David James Poissant’s debut short story collection, The Heaven of Animals. It made me want to be a more observant person and a better writer.

If you could witness or participate in any historical event or time period, what would it be?
I’d like to have been in my 20’s before the total integration of culture and the Internet/social media. I often wonder what it would’ve been like to be an adult without all this shit.

Weapon of choice:
I think guns are cool, but I don’t own any.

The perfect soundtrack to your writing:
I don’t usually listen to anything when I write.

4.) Which literary figure, dead or alive, would you want to—
Take tea with: I don’t take tea.
Arm wrestle: Regardless of who it is, I’d lose, so I’d wanna lose big. Let’s say Teddy Roosevelt.
Ice skate with: I wouldn’t ice skate with anybody.
Drink under the table: Pass.
Get a blurb from: Mike IX Williams.
Beat in a duel of wits: Any of my high school teachers.
Have on your side in the apocalypse: My fiancée, Celeste.
Write your next book for you: Leesa Cross-Smith

The one thing in your writing routine you couldn’t live without:
My computer.

Set the perfect scene for you to write your next masterpiece.
I wish I had a cool, sort of individualized, writing environment, but I don’t. I like to have a desk on which I can place my computer and a quiet room that’s most definitely not a coffee shop, bar, or hangout.

When writing makes you rich, you will …
Pay off my student loan debt, then do whatever money can do to give my fiancée and myself secure, happy lives.

You can find Schuler on Alternating Current with his collection of gritty Southern noir short stories, The Poor Man’s Guide to an Affordable, Painless Suicide and with his short story, “A Hindershot of Calion,” published on Go Read Your Lunch.

Schuler Benson’s work has been featured in Hobart, The Lit Pub, Kudzu House, The Pinch, and elsewhere. His first book, a collection of short fiction titled The Poor Man’s Guide to an Affordable, Painless Suicide, was released in 2014 by Alternating Current. He currently lives by the ocean with his fiancée and animals in South Carolina, and is a candidate in the MA Writing program at Coastal Carolina University. He tweets from @schulerbenson.

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