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"Boatman's debut collection will knock you down and kick you in the teeth. Alternatingly hysterical, grotesque, bizarre, and fantastic, Boatman's collection is a must-read for anyone itching to get their hands on fresh new fiction that pulls no punches."--Ronald Damien Malfi, author of The Nature of Monsters and The Fall of Never
"Michael Boatman writes like a visitor from hell. Someone out on short term leave for bad behavior. I love this stuff. He's one of the new, and more than promising, writers making his mark, and a dark and wonderful mark it is."--Joe R. Lansdale
Questions for Michael Boatman
Jeff VanderMeer for Amazon.com: First off, please describe where you are as you're answering these questions.
Boatman: I'm sitting in my office, which is downstairs in the basement of my house. The windows in my office look out over my backyard and a thick patch of woods. It's 9:00 AM on a foggy December morning.
Amazon.com: How long have you been writing?
Boatman: I've been writing for about 13 years. I started after I injured my leg in a freakish household accident. I was unable to work for about 12 weeks. One day, Don Cheadle, who is a good friend, stopped by for a visit. He took one look at me, fat, bearded, and depressed, and encouraged me to explore writing, as I had always expressed an interest in creating a screenplay. The screenplay was terrible, but I loved the process and I've been writing ever since.
Amazon.com: Where do writing and acting intersect creatively? How do they influence each other in your life?
Boatman: Acting and writing both stem from the most primal form of entertainment, which is storytelling. I've come to believe that I actually became an actor as a kind of creative misfire. I was always a voracious reader. To this day, I'm unable to go anywhere without a book. However, writing was something I'd never considered. It seemed too mystical, something working-class kids from the inner city weren't supposed to do. I stumbled into acting in high school (of course to meet chicks), and I discovered that I enjoyed being a part of a creative endeavor. After more than 20 years as an actor, I've realized that, at least for me, the two art forms are linked. An actor communicates his part of the larger story in which he participates, but a writer creates the story. Now I find telling my own stories more compelling than communicating other authors' stories.
Amazon.com: Writing is a solitary activity. Acting is, I assume, solitary in the preparation but very social in its application--and dependent to some degree on the imaginations of other people. How easy is to navigate between those two worlds?
Boatman: I find it easy to navigate the two worlds because I've been an actor for so long that it's part of who I am; I know my way around Hollywood sets and the professional theater. Also, being a writer helps me understand another writer's intention for his characters in a way that I didn't when I was just acting. Recently, I was presented with the opportunity to rewrite huge chunks of a feature film in which I was acting. When I was younger I never would have had the courage to insinuate my ideas into someone else's screenplay. However, during production we encountered some serious script problems. The director took my suggestions and applied them to the script. Ultimately we wound up rewriting a lot of the film. Writing novels and short stories and screenplays on my own gave me the confidence to step in and effectively address the problems. It was great fun and a huge confidence booster.
Amazon.com: What writers have most influenced you in your fiction?
Boatman: Tolkien opened up the door to entirely new worlds for me. The Hobbit was the first book that took me on a quest. I read it when I was nine years old and it changed my life. In a weird way, that book introduced me to literature in general and fantasy in particular. I read the entire Rings sequence every few years and learn something new every time. Stephen R. Donaldson's Covenant books are a continuing source of profound enjoyment. On the darker frontier, David J. Schow and Joe R. Lansdale are my heroes. I said in another interview that since Dave Schow has become my friend I am even more in awe of his talents. I feel like Dorothy exposing the Great and Powerful Oz only to discover that the man behind the curtain really is a wizard. Stephen King is another writer who I believe to be, in a strange way, underrated. I think The Stand really may be the great American novel. And the Dark Tower books are unlike anything I've ever experienced.
Amazon.com: What projects do you have upcoming, both acting and writing?
Boatman: My novel, The Revenant Road, will be published by The Drollerie Press in 2008. Of course I've got "A Father's Work" in Weird Tales coming soon, and stories in a couple of anthologies. Two screenplays I've written are being considered around Hollywood. On the acting front, I'm costarring in an independent film called The Killing of Wendy. It'll be in theaters next June. Also a film called American Summer, coming soon.
Boatman is just as good as a writer as he is at acting. Hilarious work with plenty of tongue in cheek sly giggles.Published 23 months ago by savsmom
Boatman's got style and vision. The vast majority of the stories in GOD LAUGHS WHEN YOU DIE are wildly inventive and unpredictable, cleanly written and forceful. Read morePublished on August 20, 2012 by Heath
All very well written, in any case, which, sadly, tends not be customary.
As said, some of the stories, 3 or 4, are quite good. Read more
These stories are not for the faint of heart nor are they the kind of stories you want to curl up with in bed on a cold night. Read morePublished on March 7, 2012 by Jeffrey Miller
Michael Boatman, God Laughs When You Die; Mean Little Stories from the Wrong Side of the Tracks (Dybbuk Press, 2007)
Whether you take in this short story collection in... Read more