There is little known about our next donor. Some say he doesn’t even exist in this reality, that he is a mutant from another dimension running from… what? Who knows? What I do know is that Kevin Wallis stumbled through the doors of the Donor Center this morning, sat down and gave some blood. I’m not really sure I can use the green tinted fluid, but the conversation we had was interesting, to say the least.
AJ: Who or what is Kevin Wallis?
KW: Kevin Wallis is a husband, father, fighter, but most of all, a lover. He is the lingering scent of a smoldering campfire the morning after a lot of brotherhood and even more beer. He is Baron von Bloodhammer. He is the Lord and Master of right knee surgery. He is a left-winged Conservative, or a right-winged Liberal, and he despises both the left and right wings. He doesn’t fear clowns, but has proof that they do indeed eat children’s faces off, so he has vowed to destroy them. He is the cotton in your mouth the morning after. He has the respect of ninjas, and respects them in turn, except for tree ninjas, because anyone can hide in a tree. He’s the swaggering strut in Springsteen’s step, the visionary volume in Vedder’s voice. He’s the magical muse in McCartney’s mouth, the growling grace of Gilmour’s guitar. He makes a killin’, got money to da ceilin’, cuz he’s a muthaf&&kin’ ruthless villain. He throws his hands in the air, waves ’em like he just don’t c… wait… what’s that, honey? Oh, sorry, I misunderstood you, sweetie. I’ll fix it.
Apparently I’m just a dork.
AJ: Well, Mr. Dork, we can’t all be so perfectly rounded. I’m guessing you’re influenced by Sprinsteen, Vedder and ninjas (but, not tree ninjas, because anyone can hide in a tree). The eradication of clowns seems like a large task, given there are almost as many clowns as there are politicians. How do you plan on destroying them all (Either clowns or politicians)?
KW: Did you just call me round? Was that a shot at my waistline? Never mind. I know the PC thing to say is that I would kill the clowns and politicians with kindness, but that just ain’t me. Instead, I’d reach for my Jack Bauer Bag O’ Torture. The clowns are a tricky breed, however, since they actually invented most forms of torture (true story), so I would probably have to enlist the aid of the little known Sri Lankan Wheeled-Transportation Ninjas and mess with that stupid little tiny car.
AJ: I’m not certain I was referring to your waistline, but if it’s round, I’m sure no one will hold it against you. As far as the little known Sri Lankan Wheeled-Transportation Ninjas, are they somewhat related to the Nigerian Wooden Wheeled Ninjas? I think they could be. At any rate, you are a writer, or so I have been told. Would you like to share with me what drew you to writing and did you really write your first story in alligator blood?
KW: It was actually written in the blood of the first person to call me round, but let’s leave that in the past.
I’m not sure what drew me to writing; I honestly don’t know. I’ve been an avid reader since I was 6, and I wrote my first story (if you can call it that) when I was 9 or 10, just because I had a story in my head that wanted out. I started writing a little more in high school, getting a couple of stories in the school’s “literary” journal. Through the next ten years or so I would write when the muses slapped me hard enough in the pie hole, but didn’t get serious about it until about 3 years ago, studying the craft, networking and collaborating with other writers, and actually submitting my work to markets for them to perfect their rejection techniques (although I’ve managed to sneak 20 or 25 stories past the editorial goalies in the last few years.)
AJ: Editorial goalies? Being a hockey fan, I like that term and it fits nicely. What made you decide to get ‘serious’ about writing?
KW: A couple of reasons, I guess. As I got older, there were just too many stories in my head, and it was starting to affect my sanity. I still haven’t recovered much of it. Plus, the more great books I read, the more I wanted to write something to affect people the same way, give them that “damn, that was an amazing story” feeling you get after an incredible read. Not sure I’ve ever succeeded in that, but I like to think there’s maybe some lonely old man in, say, Sri Lanka, who has gotten through yet another rainy, ninja-filled Sri Lankan afternoon with the help of one of my stories.
AJ: Speaking of one of your stories, let’s talk about, say twenty-five of them. You have a short story collection coming out soon, right? Tell us about this.
KW: Yeah, I’m really pumped about it. It’s called Beneath the Surface of Things and it’s coming out in September from Bards and Sages Publishing. And some dude named AJ Black or White or Brown or something like that helped me compile and edit it.
It’s gotten some positive reviews so far: Gary Braunbeck said, “An impressive, often unnerving, and always gutsy collection, ‘Beneath the Surface of Things’ easily marks Kevin Wallis as a writer to Beware of…” Steve “I Am Not a Leprechaun” Lowe said, “Kevin Wallis’ stories will stick with you for days, months, even years after you read them. This is an eclectic, entertaining, and satisfying collection of stories…” And my wife said, “You’re a sick bastard, dude. If I had known your sicko brain worked like this 15 years ago I wouldn’t have let you get me drunk and…” Well, it went on from there.
And since I get embarrassed and awkward when others say something positive about me, let’s move on to the next question, shall we?
AJ: You have no need to worry about any of us at The Donor Center throwing compliments your way. Only needles and maybe a snack if you’re good…
There’s rumor on the Internet and in various biker bar circles that you may or may not be the editor of an online publication. Would you care to clarify that rumor?
KW: Yeah, Liquid Imagination (liquid-imagination.com). I’m really proud of it. I accept and reject the fiction stories, then turn them over to the real brains behind LI, John “JAM” Arthur Miller and Sue Babcock. They find amazing artwork for each story and poem (Chrissy Davis does an amazing job with each issue’s poetry.) Brandon “No Relation to Hootie” Rucker supplies original musical accompaniment for each poem, and Robert Eccles narrates each and every story for those who either prefer their fiction in audio form, or can’t read a lick. I honestly don’t know another e-zine that offers as much as LI does, and I’m not just saying that because I’m staff. Ok, I am, but it’s still true. Check it out, and if you disagree, you can reach me at youropinionmeansnothingtome.com.
AJ: Being an editor, do you sometimes have folks get angry about a rejection?
KW: Why, yes! Funny you should ask. A couple weeks ago I engaged in a hilarious, spirited email diatribe with a man, let’s call him Rufus, who apparently lacked the ability to understand that I didn’t want to publish his story. He basically called me retarded. I tried to stay civil and explain in greater detail just why I didn’t like his writing (which really was amateur at best, and apparently proofread by Koko the Monkey Boy.) But after some back-and-forth, he had put me in a bad enough mood to get nasty with him. Now, I NEVER do this, but this guy was begging for it. So I let loose, and by the end of the day (well, it boiled over to the next day actually), he had read one of my published stories, attempted to critique it, and made enough of a fool of himself that he started to be nice to me. After that, I got bored and cut him loose.
When I reject stories, I always, ALWAYS, reply to the contributor with a detailed reason as to why I am not accepting it. I have received many thank you’s for this, and only rarely will a contributor get angry with me. Even then, I usually ignore their outrage, but it was fun messing with Rufus. I recommend it to all my friends. Email me for his home address and Social Security number.
AJ: Wow. Spirited indeed. Sounds like you made a friend and a fan all because of your ability to happily reject stories.
You’ve given your fair share of blood today, so we’ll cut you loose after one final question: Are those Sri Lankan Wheeled-Transportation Ninjas waiting outside for you?
KW: They’re always lurking. Always. They know that I know that they know that I know that they exist. But I’ve employed the aid of the uber-secret Tajikistanian Rust-and-Nail Ninjas, so I’m safe for the moment. Plus, I can always use my kids as a human shield. Wait… what, honey? No, I was kid… put it down, Sheryl, put it… gotta go, AJ. Thanks, man.
AJ: On that note, we would like to thank Kevin Wallis for his donation, but he is busy running out the door, bummed right knee and all…
(Herbie’s note: Sri Lankan Wheeled-Transportation Ninjas are indeed related to the Nigerian Wooden Wheeled Ninjas. No clowns were killed during this interview. However, a few politicians may or may not have been maimed during the process.)
(Herbie’s note part two: Beneath the Surface of Things is being published by Bards and Sages Quarterly, which can be found here: http://www.bardsandsages.com/
Liquid Imagination Magazine can be found here: http://www.liquid-imagination.com/ )